Why Job Seekers Abandon Online Applications


In the dynamic world of online job applications, a staggering 60% of job seekers abandon the process in the middle due to its length or complexity. This surprising revelation raises a paramount question: why do potential candidates, even highly qualified ones, drop off during the online application process? This article delves into the reasons behind this trend and offers practical solutions to improve the online job application process, ensuring a smoother experience for applicants and a larger, more diverse talent pool for employers.


According to a report by SHRM, CareerBuilder, and ApplicantPro, a significant 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. This report echoes similar findings from other industry sources and confirms a persistent issue plaguing the recruitment industry.

Traditional thinking holds that lengthy applications will screen out apathetic candidates, with the assumption that dedicated talent will readily provide more information. However, the reality is more nuanced. Good candidates, aware of their worth and the numerous opportunities available in the job market, have a much lower tolerance for jumping through hoops than many employers think.

Recognizing the Implications

The ramifications of this issue stretch beyond the mere loss of potential talent. It leads to poor word-of-mouth from candidates frustrated with the process, damaging a company's reputation. Furthermore, in cost-per-click recruiting models, the higher costs associated with abandonment pose an additional financial burden for organizations.

Investigating the Tech Hurdles

Most job applications are completed online, with job seekers applying to 2-3 jobs a day on average. Any lag in the job application process can lead candidates to abandon it and move on to the next job posting. Several tech-related factors contribute to poor applicant experience and can be areas for improvement in the job application procedure.

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Unclear Instructions

Job applicants seek clear and obvious instructions for the application process. Clearly stating how and where they apply, and what information is required of them, can significantly improve the application experience.

Difficulty Uploading a Resume

Issues with formatting, problematic fonts, wrong file formats, or even the need to re-enter basic information because fields were not populated correctly can deter applicants. According to LinkedIn, inability to upload a resume can account for 55% of applicants dropping off.

Lengthy Application Forms

According to CareerBuilder, 60 percent of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity. Reducing the length of the application process to five minutes or less can boost conversion rates significantly.

Slow or Lack of Applicant Follow-Up

A significant 44% of candidates are deterred from a job if they cannot get a status update on their application process. Prompt follow-ups can significantly reduce drop-off rates and increase candidate satisfaction.

Non-Mobile-Friendly Applications

With 77% of the U.S population owning a smartphone, having a mobile-friendly application process is crucial. According to LinkedIn, a major blocker for applicants is if they cannot complete the application on a mobile device.

Multiple Login Requirements

Asking candidates to create one account to log on to a careers site and a second account to apply through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can turn off applicants. Simplifying the login process can significantly improve the application experience.

Proposing Solutions

Streamlining Applications

Recruiters can increase the odds of applications being completed by removing unnecessary questions and limiting the number of screens people have to navigate. Balancing what's convenient for recruiters with what's user-friendly for applicants is key to a successful application process.

Improving Job Descriptions

The content and length of job descriptions significantly influence whether candidates complete applications. Job descriptions should be of a balanced length—not too short or too long—for maximum impact.


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Building a Community

Easily finding a local professional or student chapter in your area and developing a personalized HR network can significantly enhance the application process.


In conclusion, while the issue of candidates abandoning online applications is complex, with careful analysis and targeted solutions, employers can significantly improve the application process. By reducing application length and complexity, providing clear instructions, and streamlining the user experience, employers can ensure that they attract and retain the best talent in today's competitive job market.

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