What might've been - why you're losing candidates in your recruitment process

29th January 2019 | JGP

Have you ever been looking to buy something online, attempting to buy it and giving up because that particular company just made it too difficult? In the e-commerce world it’s referred to as “shopping cart abandonment” and any self-respecting online retailer is constantly on the lookout for the best ways to reduce it as much as possible.

As employers, and recruiters, we face a similar challenge – how do we, wherever possible, prevent ‘application abandonment’? At every step of our recruitment processes, a candidate has the choice of whether to continue or give up and go elsewhere. In the highly-competitive environment that we all operate in, we’re all fighting it out for the best people and so it’s vitally important that we aren’t giving candidates an excuse to abandon us.

So, how can we keep candidates in our recruitment process?


The first hurdle you face and, unfortunately, the point where you will likely lose the most people is your job advert.

Now, there are plenty of positive reasons that your job advert could put people off your vacancy or organisation. A well-crafted job advert should give a clear insight into the opportunity and organisation, this should not only attract the right people to your vacancy but also deter those who either aren’t right for the vacancy or wouldn’t be the right fit for your organisation. However, if you’re putting people off for the wrong reasons then you have a real problem as you could be losing candidates that are perfect for the role – do you get enough applications that you can afford to lose good people?

Our studies have shown that 81% of candidates would be put off by a poorly-written job advert. When your job advert is often the first step on a candidate’s journey with you then you owe it to yourself to make sure that it is the best possible first impression.

Taking the extra time to ensure that all spelling and grammar is correct, information is easy to access and the formatting allows for easy reading can make all the difference.


Studies continue to show that an online application form is favoured by the majority of candidates (54%), as answering specific application questions about their experience, skills and suitability gives more confidence than simply submitting a CV and cover letter. Candidate preference is key at a point when employers are competing for applications, as those that match them are often likely to come out on top.

It never ceases to surprise us that some employers are still using extremely outdated and unnecessarily clunky forms of application but claim that they struggle to get the applications they need.

If you are struggling to secure sufficient applications, then a close look at your application process might be needed. Put your candidate hat on and think: is this overly-complicated? Is it efficient as possible? Is there a way it could be streamlined?

For those that do have an online application form, this isn’t the final piece of the puzzle. Ensure that you have tested every aspect of your form to ensure that it’s functional. There is nothing more frustrating for a candidate who wants to apply for a job than not being able to do so.


Many might think that once the applications are in, the work is done and then it’s just a matter of choosing who you want to progress. It isn’t quite that simple.

Always remember that your applicants are almost certainly applying for other opportunities and therefore the competition is far from over.

The more that candidates know about what to expect moving forward, the more likely they are to stick with you through it. Providing them with any information you might have about the process, including how long you expect each stage to take avoids any situation where candidates might get frustrated waiting to hear. This doesn’t mean that you have to rush through your recruitment process, you just need to keep candidates updated and in the know. If you’ve been delayed at any point, then an email to inform your applicants that they are still in consideration can go a long way in keeping maximum numbers of them in the process.

Going back to the comparison with online shopping, when looking at your recruitment process think about Amazon. Generally, product pages on Amazon have a lot of information that’s easy to access, the buying process is quick and easy (sometimes too quick and easy) and they keep you informed regarding when you can expect your purchase to be delivered. If you can get your recruitment process to emulate this as much as possible, you’ll likely find that your application numbers begin to rise.