How to Implement a Paperless Employment Application

If your small to mid-sized organization has started to hire employees more frequently, and with an increasingly higher number of positions posted at any given time, then it may be time for you to consider moving to a paperless employment application available through some type of electronic, web-based portal. After all, in a fast-paced hiring climate, having to still rely on a paper application to collect applicant interests and experiences can be tedious, slow down your hiring process and turn off many potential applicants. In this blog, I’ll offer a quick checklist of considerations for your review as you plan the implementation of a paperless recruiting process.

Examine Your Current Employment Application

First and foremost, before you create a web-based version of your application, it’s critical that you take a look at your current paper-based version. Is it up to date? Particularly, have any recent federal or state laws applicable to your industry and employer size been passed that necessitate some changes to the wording of some questions? For example, a handful of states, such as Indiana, recently enacted laws that limit the scope of criminal history questions on an application. Check with your employment attorney if you are unsure of what is permissible to ask on your application.

Also, consider the length of your application and the depth of information you obtain when an applicant answers all questions.

  • Are you satisfied with the nature of the standard questions?
  • Will it be important for you to be able to customize job-specific questions on an as needed basis in a future paperless tool?

Thinking through these questions and auditing your current application process can help you better determine which questions should be asked of all applicants, and which ones are only necessary for certain positions once a thorough job evaluation is conducted.

Determine Your Budget For Paperless Hiring

If you are a smaller organization, than financial resources may be more limited when considering software applications for the Human Resources department. Discuss feasible expense ranges with the stakeholders and decision makers involved in the hiring process, and then come up with a list of must-have features, followed by a list of icing on the cake features that would be nice to have…but not required. Knowing your non-negotiable needs will be key to the negotiation process. If initial estimates come in higher than your organization can tolerate, then you may be able to reduce the cost by eliminating the “nice-to-have” features.

Assess Your Target Applicants’ Potential For Embracing A Paperless Application

There is no doubt that technology has become a permanent, ever-changing aspect of our daily lives; however, there are certainly some industries that caught on earlier than others. In my experience, companies within manufacturing and production environment-related industries, or restaurant and convenience store chains, are sometimes more likely to be reluctant to embrace paperless hiring. HR professionals from small- to mid-sized companies in this segment are occasionally hesitant to change processes because some of their positions don’t necessarily interface with computers regularly on the job.

However, don’t discount the ability for your potential applicants to access easy, free email account services (if they don’t already have an email address to use to apply to your organization), as well as the potential for a company to have an on-site kiosk with a desktop computer for allowing interested individuals to apply on site. Sure, it will be a culture change; however, some growing pains may be necessary to realize the cost and time savings associated with no longer having to file hard copies of applications or search through paper resumes to find potential candidates for a new production floor position.

And, don’t forget about your hiring managers. Depending on how involved your staff members are in screening applications and making hiring decisions, you’ll want to think through the process of engaging co-workers with the new technology. Make sure your potential vendor can help you through that process; as well as, provide for restricted levels of software access for those individuals who do not need or want to access all functionality of the software.

Research Applicant Tracking Software Vendors

Consider a handful of different ATS software vendors as you decide what you prefer for your paperless employment application. Different vendors will target different employer sizes, and will of course offer different features for varying price points.

Ask vendors for insight on the following considerations:

  • What security measures are taken to protect applicant data related to your hiring process?
  • Are different versions, with varying levels of features, available for the software (i.e. a Lite version vs. a Pro version for example)? Will company have to pay for new features as they are rolled out; or, are they automatically available to all users of this software-as-a-service application?
  • Once the company is beyond the implementation stage, are changes to the employment application configuration and/or the branded careers portal possible? If so, do these changes incur additional charges?
  • If there is turnover in company staff, will additional training sessions cost more money?
  • Is it possible to request a data export of hiring software portal information should the company ever wish to make a change to another vendor?
  • Describe the means by which ongoing customer support is delivered. How is information about new product features communicated to existing clients?

Test Your Paperless Employment Application

I cannot stress this enough. If you truly want to understand the experience your applicants will undergo when applying for a job with your organization, than it is critical that you test the application as an HR professional (in applicant shoes) before launching your new web-based application. While you should trust your vendor to honor all of your application change requests and make suggestions as necessary, there is still no substitute for your own personal insight into how long it generally will take your applicants to complete the process; as well as, whether or not the questions are asked in such a way that makes sense and has a natural flow.

In fact, it makes sense to submit a sample application perhaps as often as once a year…just to remind yourself of the content as well as to create an excuse to periodically reassess whether any new questions may need to be added or obsolete ones removed. Ask your ATS software vendor about other ways in which you can be an active, engaged client during the implementation process, as well.

Monitor Application Conversion Metrics Over Time

Once you are satisfied with your paperless employment application, monitor its effectiveness and impact on your hiring process over time. Some recruiting software tools include built-in metrics and analytics modules that allow you to see how many applicants are viewing your various job listings, as well as how many actually start an application and then how many go on to complete and submit an application. Establishing some benchmarks for these key performance indicators will allow you to respond and make changes to your application and/or career portal if/when your conversion percentage ever slips below your ideal number.

Conversion percentages may be impacted by the following elements, just to name a few:

In closing, there are a number of different moving parts to consider when implementing a paperless application for your recruiting process. However, with a systematic approach and collaboration with decision makers in your organization, as well as, knowledgeable technology provider vendors, you can be on your way to a more efficient hiring process in a relatively short amount of time.

If you’re wondering whether its time to implement a web-based employment application in your business, contact ExactHire today or view our resources section to watch product demos and access white papers.

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