The Problem with Your Application Process

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14 Minute Read
Posted by Ryan Young
Application Process

The Problem with Your Application Process and How to Improve It to Attract Better Candidates

Many agribusinesses may be wondering how to improve the efficiency of their recruiting performance. The first way to bring about positive changes in the hiring process involves pinpointing the problem with your application system.

Streamlining the talent search reduces costs but speeding things up can cause you to possibly pick the wrong candidate for the position. In this article, we will explore how to hone the application process to hire the best person for the position you are seeking to fill.

Some talent acquisition professionals who work with agriculture employers to find seasoned executive candidates often fast-track the hiring process, which causes leaks in the system. If you aren’t careful, you could miss out on superior candidates who will slip through the cracks.

In a study carried out by SmashFly, it was found that 74 percent of candidates who start the application process do not complete it. They are effectively lost due to a leaky funnel system.

What is the leading cause of candidates dropping out of the application process? In a nutshell, they become frustrated when things take too long. ERE Recruiting Intelligence has reported that application rates will drop by 365 percent if it takes longer than 15 minutes to complete an application from start to finish.

Clearly, companies must take the steps needed to improve their application processes, so they function like well-oiled machines. Anything less is unacceptable and could end up costing you a potentially outstanding employee.

Attracting The Best Candidates

Improving your company’s application process is not easy because you probably function on a budget with limited resources. Most teams are focused on doable projects, new platforms, branding innovations, optimizing tools, and site updates. They have little time or funds to waste on talent acquisition and to recruit.

A company remains only as strong as its team of employees. If you are not bringing in qualified candidates, then your long-term outlook starts to dim.

Persuading leadership to dedicate time and financial resources towards the application process might seem challenging, but the payoff is enormous in the long term. You’ll have more significant application numbers and an impressive pool of seasoned agriculture executive recruitment applicants to pick between.

How Do You Make an Application Process Easier?

As any recruiter knows, you can lose a candidate at any stage of the application process. One of the top roadblocks reported by job seekers is problems with online applications. According to a Jibe Talent Acquisition Survey, if applicants encounter time-consuming problems, the odds of them applying to the company again dwindles significantly. It was found that 23 percent of applicants won’t return to a company with online application headaches.

Keep Application Instructions Clear

When drafting an application, you must strive to keep the instructions clear and concise. Software Advice found that 93 percent of job seekers wanted easy-to-understand applications.

If you want job seekers to apply online, then be sure to provide a link to the job application. If you prefer they apply via email, then include all contact information. Always include a call to action.

Some companies require specific inclusions for all applications. If this is the case, then outline the requirements using precise wording and bullets such as:

  • Reference number
  • Portfolio
  • Salary expectations
  • References

You want there to be no doubt in the applicant’s mind about what is required before starting the application process. This way, there are no surprises in the middle of the application process that sends the job seeker scrambling to find the required information.

Online Application System Expectations

When using an online application system, let the would-be candidates know exactly what to expect before starting the process. Draft an overview that states all required information, the number of questions included in the application, and an estimate of how long it will take to complete.

Ideally, you should try out the application yourself to make sure it is simple and easy. Create a mock application and work through each one of the steps as if you were a job seeker.

Request that others at your company also complete the mock application. You want to determine if it is easy to understand or if applicants might become confused or frustrated which will lead to a high abandonment rate.

If there are problems with the online process, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and redesign everything.

Focus on Short Applications

Yes, you want the application to provide critical information about the job seeker, but you also don’t want the process to become tedious or lengthy. Job seekers are likely to throw up their hands in frustration if it becomes too tedious or time consuming.

The perfect length for any application is typically only five pages and less than 15 questions.

Weigh the questions you are using in your application process. Try to categorize them in the following way:

  • Necessary questions
  • Questions to ask later in the screening process
  • Unnecessary questions

Remember to save the long questions for the interview process. Take the time to shorten all the necessary questions and make them easy to understand. Offer multiple-choice or drop-down options to speed things up.

CareerBuilder reports that most applicants do not want to take longer than 10 minutes to fill out an application.

Candidates do not like repetition. If they upload a resume, applicants typically do not want to fill out the work history section. Autofill of information is typically appreciated by candidates who do not want to manually fill out the same information repeatedly.

Provide a Confirmation Email

Upon completion of an application, a job seeker wants to know that you received all their information. It is imperative that you send them a confirmation via email, letting them know a human did receive everything and will contact them.

Applicants who do not receive a confirmation email quickly lose faith that they will ever hear from the company and might end up taking another job offer in a rush to find a position.

Automate a dedicated email that will go out for all incoming resumes and applications. Also, set up an out-of-office reply that acknowledges the recruiter has received the information from the job seeker.

You’ll want to include the company’s contact information and a concise outline of the next steps in the application and interview process so that the job seeker feels confident they did not waste their time applying for a position with your agribusiness.

How Can I Improve My Online Application Process?

Here are just a few key easy to improve your agribusiness’s online application process:

  • Links and Load Times: A common point of frustration is broken links or extended load times.
  • Save Option and Return Later Feature: No one likes to fill an application out halfway and then encounter a glitch that causes the loss of all progress. Ensure there is a save your application option at least midway through or allow an applicant to save everything, leave, and return to the process later.
  • Upload Ease: If you want job candidates to upload a cover letter, resume, or references, then make sure the process of uploading documents and portfolios is straightforward.
  • Review Before Finalizing: Let applicants review all attachments before they take the step to finalize their submission.
  • Apply, Share, and Link: Make sure that applicants can apply, share, or link on an application form through sites like LinkedIn.
Mobile-Friendly Online Job Applications

Nowadays, everyone has a cellphone, and they rely on their mobile more than ever before. Many job seekers will not fill out an application if it is not mobile-friendly and can’t complete it on their mobile device.

Job seekers are hunting for career positions on the go. If they see an exciting position while using their mobile device, they do not want to open their laptop or head for their desktop to apply. Instead, they want to complete the application process using their mobile phone.

You’ll want to optimize your application experience to include mobile devices by ensuring all pages are correctly formatted to work across a wide range of devices. Each page should load quickly and be easy to read.

When designing an application for mobile devices, you’ll want to reduce the number of components and actions needed for each page. Also, let the job seeker upload their resume using LinkedIn, Dropbox, or Google Drive, all mobile-friendly platforms they can use to share their resume.

Ag Recruiting Strategies

Now that your company has contoured your application process, it’s time to shift your focus to successful ag recruiting strategies to attract the best candidates to fill your position.

If you are an agriculture recruitment firm that wants to attract executives and experienced candidates, you might have to think outside the box regarding recruiting strategies. You want to land an excellent pool of candidates so you can pick the cream of the crop to move on to the interview process.

As you probably already know, the longer it takes to fill a position, the more it costs the company, and the greater the frustration level that occurs up and down the ladder.

In a pinch, a recruiter can make a lousy hiring decision that ends up wasting money if they feel like their back is against the wall and they are facing a serious time crunch. Yes, you want to speed up the recruiting process, but you don’t want to miss out on hiring the best candidate. It’s a catch-22 situation.

Nowadays, everyone is internet-centric. Without a doubt, technology has made job recruitment more accessible, and it has also opened employment opportunities to a much broader range of people. Connecting with qualified candidates takes strategy.

You’ll want to focus on transparency by presenting the information about your company upfront when formulating your recruitment strategy.

Are you a small farm or a comprehensive agriculture technology corporation? Are you seeking agriculture employees or c-suite executives? Ultimately, you want to attract the right job seekers for the position, so you don’t waste your time or their time.

A skilled agriculture recruiter knows the qualities to look for to find the perfect contender. Let’s look at the best-recruiting strategies when hiring for agriculture, so you attract better candidates.

Social Media for Recruiting Job Hires

Where do Millennials and Gen Zers look for work? Social media is a hotbed for would-be job seekers. You’ll find young and ambitious candidates looking to embrace jobs in the agriculture industry because they aim to improve the world with greater sustainability and eco-friendly choices. Advertising on social media is sure to grab their attention.

Social media is an essential tool in hiring. You can share your job listing using your own social media account and encourage others to share it. Recruiters also often use a third-party account to communicate with candidates.

The use of social media shows that your company is modern and geared towards surging ahead in the future. These are critical factors needed to attract the best-of-the-best and are sure to appeal to the younger generation.

Advertising on social media is a little different because you need to focus on your company’s brand identity. Feature graphics and photos to truly showcase what makes you stand apart from others in the industry. Branding is crucial nowadays.

Job seekers are more discerning than ever before. They can pick and choose from a bevy of possible employers. Many of them want to work for a company that has a personality and stands for something. Creating a solid brand identity for your company via social media will resonate with job seekers and set you apart from the competition.

Places to publish your job listing include:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Universities (such as student newsletters)
Importance of Your Ag Job Listing

Your job listing matters. It’s the bait you put out to catch the big one! You want to lure a high-quality candidate so you can snag them up.

  • Describe the position and company attractively. A job seeker should want to work for your business and be excited at the prospect of being your employee. The job listing should create excitement.
  • Formulate job titles that are to the point.
  • Draft a job description that provides the factual components of the position in a short and sweet fashion.
  • Offer background information about the company and position.
  • Mention the company perks such as insurance, paid vacation, retirement (401k), vacation time, daycare, college tuition, etc.
  • Summarize the position.
Agriculture Recruiters

Suppose you do not have an in-house talent acquisition branch or recruiters. In that case, you might want to hire an experienced agriculture recruiter to find the best candidates to fill your agriculture business positions. Picking a niche recruitment firm does have its perks.

With a recruitment firm, you can let the pros do the hiring from start to finish. They will carry out a focused strategy that reaches an extensive network of quality candidates. Many firms even have access to passive candidates who might be interested in your position.

Working with an agriculture recruiter could potentially give you access to an even greater pool of skilled job seekers.

Referrals and Word of Mouth from Current and Former Employers

According to a study by the Southeast Area Agricultural Economist at Kansas State University, Research and Extension, the most successful employee recruitment method carried out by agricultural businesses was simple referrals and word of mouth from employees (both present and past).

Some ag companies even offer a bonus to employees who refer a qualified applicant for the job opening. If the applicant is hired and stays with the company for a certain amount of time, the employee who referred the new hire receives a bonus.

Community support is also essential. Typically, certain businesses stand out in a town as the ‘place to work’ or the ‘employer of choice.’ Such businesses have no problem finding qualified applicants even in a tight labor market. The locals in the community will quickly spread the word that your company is hiring if your business is considered a truly great place to work.

Being a stellar employer will also help your company retain quality employees while honing your reputation in the region as a truly outstanding employer.

Additional Recruitment Method for Agricultural Companies

Additional ways a company can bring in an impressive pool of job applicants include the following recruitment methods:

  • Advertise at schools/universities/colleges that offer agricultural degrees
  • Reach out at ag government agencies
  • Use a private agency
  • Place an old-fashioned advertisement in a local newspaper.

Usually, a concentrated recruitment effort is more successful than a shot-gun approach. You don’t want things to be scattered, or you’ll bring in random applicants that might not have the skills you seek.

How to Improve Recruitment and Selection Process

If you are not getting the response you are seeking to your job listing; then you might need to improve the recruitment and selection process with a few tweaks.

Here is a list of quick ways to improve your ag business recruitment process:

  1. Create a Checklist: Checklists might seem old-school, but they work by helping you stay organized and remember important things. You can use a checklist to help you effectively prepare for an interview. You can also rely on the list when screening calls. You’ll have the list right before you as you speak to candidates, and you can work your way through each topic, checking it off as you go.
  2. Email Templates: Yes, sending out personalized emails is essential, but if you have a large pool of likely candidates, it's not feasible to write out an email for each of them. Instead, you’ll want to use templates when asking for things such as referrals or when inviting a candidate to interview. Take the time to update your email templates to keep them fresh regularly.
  3. Recruiting Software: Nowadays, you’ll find a wide array of video recruiting software such as Job, HireVUE, and Jobma, which help you interview remote candidates. You can manage all stages of the hiring process. Most software brands have a place where you can maintain a searchable database of candidate profiles.
  4. Stay Connected: It’s important to stay connected with job candidates. You can use LinkedIn as a social networking platform to keep each job seeker in the loop every step of the way. Some recruiters also have staff call candidates back or send out email updates. Staying connected from start to finish can also help you access exceptional talent who might have previously interviewed or worked for the company and might be seeking a position again.

5 Tips on Evaluating the Best Agricultural Applicants for Your Ag Company

It’s hard to evaluate applicants, especially if the position is complicated and requires numerous skills. You’ll want to make sure the job seeker has all the skills for the position by evaluating their skillset

1. Written Tests

Old-fashioned written tests are a great tool to gauge the applicant’s ability to write and read. The forms are a significant hurdle. You can also use written tests that focus on the technical knowledge required to carry out the job’s day-to-day functions.

The format of the test can vary with short answers, an essay, or multiple choice. You can even allow an ‘open’ book’ test where the applicant can rely on materials to answer the tough questions.

2. Computer-Based Tests

Computer-based tests are usually easy to grade and might be appropriate depending on the position you are filing. The test can be multiple choice or questions and answers.

3. Oral Tests

An oral test will effectively gauge the application’s communication skills. You can also use an oral test to determine their technical knowledge. Verbally ask the candidate a hypothetical question/problem, and then let them tell you the steps needed to resolve the situation. An oral test can be carried out at the time of the job interview.

4. Hands-On Test

Depending on the job, you might request that the applicant work on a piece of machinery or effectively laid feed onto a trailer in an orderly manner, making use of the space. A hands-on test evaluates the applicant’s physical performance and how well they think on their feet. Such testing gives insight into the applicant's thought process so you can see how well they prioritize tasks. Physical hands-on tests should always be strictly supervised to ensure that the applicant does not injure himself.

5. Checking References

Checking the candidate’s references is a critical way to evaluate the applicant. They should give you the names and numbers of several past employers and from people they know (personal references). Often personal references are the best way to get a firm feel for the applicant because people have different perceptions.

Getting to the root of any problems with your application process will help you attract the best candidates! At AgHires, we offer complete assistance with your agriculture recruitment or agriculture executive search. We are a skilled and experienced agriculture recruitment firm that specializes in all aspects of recruitment and advertising for horticulture and agriculture career positions. Let us help you find the best employees for your agribusiness!

Explore how to hone the application process to hire the best person for the position you are seeking to fill. 
Ryan Young

Ryan Young

Ryan Young is the Chief Revenue Officer at AgHires. With over 20 years of Marketing and Sales experience, Ryan has helped grow AgHires from start-up to what it is today. Ryan enjoys working closely with clients recommending talent solutions to grow their talent pipeline and ultimately grow their businesses. AgHires is a leader in recruiting and job advertising within the agriculture, agribusiness, food production, produce, food processing, and horticulture industries.