Prioritize the job applicant experience

Anna Burgess Yang

Even as talk of a recession comes on the heels of a red-hot job market, there’s no denying that candidate expectations for the hiring process have changed. In today’s job market, candidates are evaluating you as an employer as much as you’re evaluating them — and that’s unlikely to change even if the job market cools.

Much like your customer demands for a seamless, and often digital, experience have increased, the same can be said for job seekers. Transparency and a speedy application process will go a long way toward building trust — and increase the chances that your offer letter will be accepted.

Many candidates won’t hesitate to write a negative Glassdoor review or scathing LinkedIn post about a negative application experience. How you treat people, even if they don’t get the job, says a lot about your company. 

Centralize your applicant tracking

How streamlined is your applicant tracking system (ATS)? Do you even have one?

Your bank is probably posting current openings on multiple job boards. Behind the scenes, the ATS should be hard at work as a single repository for every job applicant, regardless of where they applied. This can be done by including links on a job board that take the candidate to your ATS to complete the application.

An easy application would prefill data from an uploaded resume or a LinkedIn profile. More than likely, your candidates are applying to dozens of jobs and data entry is tedious. The easier it is to fill out the form, the more favorable the candidate’s impression will be. 

Once the application is submitted, the ATS should route the information to the correct person internally for review. An ATS should also allow your team to collaborate internally by leaving interview notes or discussions about the candidate. Don’t let that information get lost in emails; keep a centralized “profile” for every applicant. 

Some ATS systems will turn an accepted offer into an employee file and track the steps of onboarding. You can gather documentation such as a W-4 and a background check, storing everything related to the employee in a single solution.

Communicate with your applicants

According to CareerBuilder, 52 percent of all job seekers say that the biggest frustration during the hiring process is a lack of response from employers. Potential employees can slip through the cracks because it takes too long for someone at your bank to respond at any step of the process.

An ATS can help by automating some of the more tedious steps, such as initial communication that an application is being reviewed, providing a calendar link to schedule an interview, or letting candidates know (nicely) that you’re passing on their application. When it comes time to make an offer, your ATS can generate the offer letter and collect signatures electronically. 

Even if you’re sending personalized emails to the candidate, this should be done through the ATS. That way, you have a record of all written communication with the candidate.

Review your employee analytics

An ATS will give you a lot of insights into your hiring practices. As you track people from application through employment, you will collect a lot of data. Through an ATS, you can report on reasons for hiring (or not hiring) and the length of time it takes to hire. 

You can also track employee data, such as tenure and reasons for turnover. If you notice patterns, it is something you can address with future candidates and address internally to avoid additional churn. 

If your bank is committed to DEI, an ATS can remove some of the human biases in the hiring process. Some systems will anonymize applicant information, such as removing the candidate’s name, while the application is initially being reviewed. Studies have shown that this leads to the selection of more candidates from underrepresented groups.

As your candidates progress through the application process and turn into employees, you can review analytics on candidate diversity, and compare compensation based on gender, race and ethnicity. This data will help you measure the success of your DEI efforts.

If your bank’s application process is in need of a reboot, you should prioritize finding a better solution — or you may find your bank at the losing end of the talent war.