How To Hire Your Perfect Next Employee Series: The Applicant Journey

How To Hire Your Perfect Next Employee Series: The Applicant Journey

Welcome to our How To Hire Your Perfect Next Employee Series. Whether you are a new or veteran hiring manager, our series can help you improve your recruiting processes. In so doing, you will find perfect employees faster. And it will cost you less.

The Applicant Journey

In today’s post, we describe the process from the applicant’s point of view. This is called the applicant, or candidate, journey. Unfortunately, the applicant journey doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. Yet the ApplicantStack candidate interface is key to our success. That means it’s key to your success as well.

ApplicantStack creates an exceptional applicant journey. Your company deserves nothing less.

Branded Recruitment Marketing

With ApplicantStack, you can brand your recruitment marketing. Or use our default layouts. In this article we’ll show you examples of both.

The Applicant Moves Through Stages Along The Applicant Journey

Before we continue, I want to remind you about applicant stages. It’s important to understand them.

A stage refers to one specific step in the hiring process. For example, an applicant could be in the interview stage. Or they could be in the manager review stage.

As you move an applicant through the hiring process, you change their stage in the system. Stage changes can trigger actions. For example, if you change an applicant’s stage to Do Not Pursue, you can cause the system to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you’re not a fit for the position’ email. You create a template for the email and even personalize it with merge fields. ApplicantStack will insert the applicant’s name.

As we talk about each point of contact between the applicant and your company, keep in mind that you can tie the applicant’s stage to auto communications.

The Applicant Sees Your Job Posting

Your job posting is the first point of contact in the applicant journey. Candidates can find your job posting on your chosen job boards (such as Indeed, Google, JuJu, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.), social media sites, or your careers page.

Here are ApplicantStack job postings on Indeed. See the listing for the SwipeClock jobs:


ApplicantStack applicant journey


Candidates look at these sites for jobs. Your ApplicantStack job postings start engaging candidates immediately. With branded postings, the applicant meets your employer brand at the first point of contact. Branded postings reflect the look and feel of the client’s website.


When the candidate sees your posting, they click a link which takes them to your application. (An application is called a ‘Questionnaire’ in the ApplicantStack system.)

Here is a questionnaire created in ApplicantStack:


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee

Notice how easy it is to upload a resume. Applicants can use Dropbox or Google Drive. ApplicantStack makes everything easy and natural.

ApplicantStack has flexible settings to fit your ideal candidate. You can set the resume upload to allow the applicant to write a cover letter. If that isn’t customary in your industry, leave that turned off.

ApplicantStack Eliminates Redundant Processes

When the applicant uploads their resume, ApplicantStack parses some of the contact information. The applicant won’t have to reenter all of their contact information going forward.

Repeating tasks unnecessarily is frustrating for everyone. It’s especially frustrating for a job candidate who is in the process of applying for jobs at multiple companies.

Reentering contact info again and again wastes their time. And it makes your company seem twenty years behind the technological curve.

Personalized Candidate Emails

When the candidate fills out the application, they immediately receive a personalized email that confirms you received their application. If they are a good fit, you can reach out to them immediately.

The applicant never wonders ‘Did they get my application and resume?’ They see that your company is prompt and professional. You respect their time. You appreciate their interest in your company.

Candidate Screening

In ApplicantStack, you can use questionnaires for pre-screening. Screening questionnaires can play a role in a great applicant journey.

Here is a screening questionnaire:

Screening Questionnaires

Pre-screening questionnaires with knockout questions help eliminate unqualified candidates. This is how a questionnaire with knockout questions works:

You create a screening questionnaire with knockout questions. The knockout questions will depend on the job description.

The candidate completes the questionnaire. If they aren’t qualified, the knockout questions will filter them out.

You won’t waste any more of their time. If a candidate is eliminated, you can program ApplicantStack to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you aren’t a fit for the position’ email. You create an email template and ApplicantStack will use merge fields to enter the necessary information. (As mentioned previously, all candidates receive a ‘We have received your application,’ email immediately after applying.’)

If they pass the pre-screen questionnaire, the system presents the more extensive questionnaire.

If you want your applicants to receive the full questionnaire initially, you can program it that way. You understand the recruiting standards of your industry and company type. The job position also influences how you want to craft the process for your applicant.

You customize ApplicantStack to create an applicant journey that’s most effective for your hiring pool.

No-Hassle Reference Checks

In your questionnaire, you can ask for references. Your applicant will enter them when they apply. ApplicantStack saves them in the candidate profile. If the applicant passes the pre-screening and interviews, you can move them to the ‘Reference Check’ stage. When this happens, ApplicantStack will automatically email the references. This is called a Questionnaire Action in ApplicantStack.

This saves your applicant the trouble of re-entering their references. And you won’t have to ask them for their references again or find them on their resume. It keeps the process moving and eliminates a common bottleneck.

Interview Scheduling Reinvented

If the candidate passes the questionnaire screening, they are invited to schedule an interview. ApplicantStack interview self-scheduling is a game changer. ApplicantStack integrates with Google and Office365 for interview scheduling. Because of the integration, any non-available time slots will be hidden from the applicant.


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee


Let’s discuss this in detail.

Decide how many members of your team need to be in the interview. For this example, let’s say three team members need to be there.

ApplicantStack will pull information from Google Calendar or Office365 for each member of the interview team.

Let’s suppose there are four specific time slots where all interviewers are available. The applicant is only presented with these time slots. The applicant can choose the most convenient time slot.

Let’s suppose there is only one time slot for which all hiring members are available. If this is the case, ApplicantStack presents the applicant with one interview time.

Your Applicant Won’t Be Frustrated With Scheduling Hassles

Interview scheduling is a hiring process bottleneck for many companies. With slowdowns, you run the risk of abandoned applications. Interview self-scheduling keeps the process on track.

Job Offer

When the background and reference checks are complete, it’s time to offer the job. Here is an offer letter email:


How to Hire Your Perfect Next Employee

Notice the electronic signature. The applicant can sign and accept the offer immediately.

ApplicantStack ensures that you never lose an applicant because they are confused. ApplicantStack is always ready for each stage change. Candidates advance through hiring stages as quickly as your team chooses to process them. You will never have a slowdown because of the ApplicantStack platform. Your hiring team, the applicant, and their references control the timeline.

ApplicantStack can send hiring team members task reminders. Task reminders help your hiring team support a fluid, timely applicant journey.

ApplicantStack Reports

By running reports in ApplicantStack, you can identify bottlenecks in your hiring process. This allows you to continually refine your process and keep improving your company’s applicant journey.

How To Hire Your Perfect Next Employee

We hope you’ve found our How To Hire Your Perfect Next Employee Series helpful. Here are the links to the posts on each specific step in the process.

We also have a comprehensive whitepaper, handy infographic, and hiring checklist.

The Ideal Applicant Journey in 3 Steps: Use Hiring Psychology Like a Pro

The Ideal Applicant Journey in 3 Steps: Use Hiring Psychology Like a Pro

What is applicant journey mapping?

The process of creating a graphical representation or map of a job applicant’s journey. It depicts what the applicant experiences through each stage of the recruiting process.

What is an applicant persona?

A semi-fictional description of your company’s ideal job applicant. 

Both of these methods are components of hiring or recruiting psychology.

Why should you use these techniques to improve your applicant process?

  1. It’s becoming more difficult to find quality employees
  2. A favorable applicant journey improves quality-of-hire
  3. An effective applicant journey improves company brand

What factors have altered the employment landscape?

  1. Millennials are now the largest employee demographic
  2. Unemployment has decreased substantially
  3. Employment patterns have changed
  4. Small companies can compete more effectively
  5. There are skills shortages in emerging industries
  6. Businesses have less control over their online reputation

Are you recruiting like you did ten years ago? This will inhibit growth and lower your chances of success.

Employers Haven’t Responded to the Big Shift

The advantage has shifted from the employer to the job candidate. If your recruiting practices are still company-centric, you will continue to struggle. Hiring will get more difficult.

Consider this:

Only 28% of millennials plan to stay at their job longer than five years.

This means you are starting at a disadvantage with the largest employee demographic. Think about that. When you hire a millennial, they already have low expectations.

It’s critical to raise their expectations. A so-so applicant journey will confirm their perceptions.

The Applicant Journey Influences Your Company Brand

Applicants, employees, and customers interact with your company. Each group shares their experiences online and offline. They don’t exist in separate worlds. A poor applicant journey reinforces a negative brand or reputation.

Successful companies take a holistic approach. They value their applicants and employees as much as they value their customers. Neither exists in a vacuum. Your applicants and employees are also customers.

An applicant who has a negative experience will probably never be a customer. They will discourage others from applying.

Dissatisfied employees also discourage people within their spheres of influence. As we all know, spheres of influence continually expand.

What Can You Do To Create The Ideal Applicant Journey?

Now that we’ve established that old processes don’t work, it’s time to start from scratch.

Any sized company can use hiring psychology. Don’t let the term ‘psychology’ intimidate you.

Follow these steps to create or improve your applicant journey.

Step 1: Create An Applicant Persona

This is representation of a quintessential employee. Not just an ideal applicant, an ideal employee.

How do you identify these elements? Look at your best employees. They may not seem similar at first glance. But they share traits that help them thrive in your culture and their job roles.

Talk to team leads throughout your organization. Conduct ‘stay interviews’ with high-performing employees. Identify their characteristics and what motivates them.

Here are elements in an applicant persona:

  • Biography: Address, education, job title, personality traits
  • Goals: Desired career path, personal ambitions
  • Benefits: What benefits are important to them?
  • Challenges: Why are they looking for a new job? Why are they unsatisfied in their current position?
  • Job Search Process: What avenues and tools do they use? What online sources do they consult to research your company? Who do they talk to?

Go into more detail than you believe is necessary. You may need several personas if you have diverse job roles.

IMPORTANT COMPLIANCE NOTE: Don’t let your applicant persona introduce bias into your hiring process. The point is to improve the experience for the job applicant. For example, your applicant persona may include age if you think it’s relevant. But you can’t discriminate based on age when you hire. Use the fictional lifestyle details to identify and respond to your applicant’s needs. Be especially mindful of protected classes.

Step 2: Map The Applicant Journey

You can’t disrupt your process if you can’t see your process. An applicant journey map portrays the process graphically. The point is to understand it from the applicant’s perspective.

Stages of the Applicant Journey

If you’ve mapped your customer journey, you know the stages or elements. They are only slightly different for a job applicant.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Interest
  4. Application
  5. Selection
  6. Hire

Touchpoints in the Applicant Journey

What are the touchpoints in the journey? A touchpoint is an interaction between the applicant and your company.

They could include some or all of the following:

  • See your job posting on a job board
  • Visit your careers page
  • Visit your corporate Facebook page
  • Check employee reviews on Glassdoor
  • Talk to a recruiter at a career event
  • Fill out an application
  • Send their resume
  • Receive confirmation email
  • Fill out questionnaire
  • Receive telephone call to schedule interview
  • Come to your office for an interview or have video interview
  • Receive ‘Thank you for interviewing’ email or phone call
  • Receive job offer
  • Accept job offer

Step 3: Determine The Applicant’s Needs

Identify the job candidate’s needs at each stage in the journey. In the customer journey, these are sometimes called pain points. Use your applicant persona.

Their needs will vary depending upon the position. A student applying for a part-time customer service position has different needs than a 45-year-old applying for an executive-level position.

Walk your applicant through the journey. Flesh out what takes place with each touchpoint or interaction. Do this several times. Solicit feedback from everyone on the hiring team. Talk to current employees.

Now you have the tools to remake your recruiting process. The formula looks like this:

Applicant persona + applicant journey + applicant needs = effective recruiting strategy.

Applicant journey mapping will help you:

  • Create highly-targeted job descriptions
  • Identify the most effective recruiting channels
  • Tailor communications to your ideal applicant
  • Eliminate redundant steps
  • Provide multiple avenues of communication

Hiring Software is a Must-Have If You Want To Improve The Applicant Journey

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is the best tool to improve your applicant journey.

  • Create a strategy based on applicant journey mapping
  • Set up hiring workflows in your ATS: job postings, communications, filtering, interviews
  • Automate 90% of workflows
  • Measure hiring outcomes and adjust as necessary

Do you want to start improving your applicant journey today?

SwipeClock ApplicantStack Recruit is ahead of the curve in the recruiting industry. Our web-based hiring software was designed by recruiting professionals. You don’t need to sign a contract. You don’t need help from your IT team.

Start your Free Trial of ApplicantStack Recruit today.