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How to Create an Efficient Pre-Application Stage for Candidates
12 min read

How to Create an Efficient Pre-Application Stage for Candidates

The term candidate experience means 'how a candidate feels about a company once they have experienced the hiring process'.

A company's focus on a candidate and ensuring they have a positive experience begins when candidates are through the door and have sent their application for a position.

But that misses out on something significant!

How do companies get suitable candidates to the door in the first place?

How do they make sure the best candidates with the right mix of talent, loyalty and desire apply for their jobs?

So, a better approach to a company's candidate experience would be starting your focus earlier. Ensuring your candidates have a tremendous pre-application stage. And engaging with your candidates before they have even applied for a role to make sure we attract the right people with the job.

Therefore, in this article, we will show you how to create a fantastic pre-application stage and the benefits of such a move. 

We will explore how you can do this by:

  • You are placing more emphasis on the importance of your company's reputation and employer branding.
  • Make sure you are hiring for a real purpose rather than for the sake of it.
  • Ensure the pre-application process is straightforward. You are personal, professional and tailor it to your candidate's needs.
  • Offer a career, not a job. Give the candidate something more than just a 9-5, and in the process showing them how this job can improve their lives.


Your reputation precedes you: The importance of excellent employer branding.

In a pre-application stage, with candidates searching the Internet for a new career path or an exciting job that could be of interest, an excellent reputation can help to set you apart from other companies. 

It can draw the attention and eyes of potential candidates. Having heard excellent things about an organization, candidates may now try to learn more about what this company is about and what jobs they have on offer. 

40% of Millennials say market reputation has the most significant influence on their impression of an employer.

So, your reputation alone can sometimes get candidates halfway through the door. And so, you must make sure that the first time candidates meet your brand, it builds interest and a hunger to learn more.

Sell your company as a workplace to a global audience of prospective hires and why your company's values, culture, and focus on the professional development and growth of employees make it the best place to work. 

You can do this using normal marketing means. 

Or, as is often the case today, via social media to get your message and brand out to the world. With 79% of job seekers and 86% for younger job seekers, saying they are likely to use social media in their job search, it seems like a good place to start!

The creation of marketing material dedicated to potential employees is an excellent place to 


Just as you would when communicating the value and excellence of a new product, you can use this material to sell your company. 

You are telling the world, "Hey, welcome to XXX. This is a great place to work. Come and see for yourself!" 

You can promote this on various platforms, such as:

  • Your company's website
  • Commissioning blogs to be written. These could provide testimonials of the work your company does, to the minutiae of everyday life there.
  • Social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Show a personal side to your company. Employees with happy faces. More to this company than the work it accomplishes. It is interested in the holistic development of the staff, which can attract even more candidates.
  • Job portals
  • Newspapers or tailor it to where in the world you are actively recruiting. So to make sure you get the right audience viewing your postings. 
  • Word of mouth. Your employees are your best representatives. They know the company and know the reality of working there to sell it to other potential recruits.

Have your organization and its professional and personal side broadcasted to the world. 

Plant the seed in your potential candidate's mind that they should keep an eye on your company and start to imagine what a great opportunity it would be to work there. 

The next time there is an opening, you never know; they may seize it. 


Hiring to fill a need, a real need

To create a tremendous pre-application stage, you need to know what it is you are looking for. 

By taking part in a skill-gap analysis, your company can piece together what you are missing. And hopefully, work out what type of skills and individuals are best suited to solve this problem.

This prior planning during the pre-application process will help make the recruitment far swifter and more straightforward.

With your essential skills identified, the focus of your recruitment process can now be on what your candidates need to have.

It helps eliminate the grey area and vagueness and makes your recruitment far more definite and assured.

This will allow you to find the right people to meet your business needs. 

And provide candidates when they apply with a more precise and better-defined job description and list of duties and responsibilities.

It leads to suitable candidates applying, and those candidates who may not have the qualifications or relevant experience of doing a particular skill do not.

Thus preventing any negative candidate experience as a consequence of rejection from occurring. 


Provide candidates with an easily digestible job description

We have all seen them. 

An overly detailed job description. 

It just doesn't stop. There is so much information crammed in—a life story of the role and company.

A bingo of buzzwords and catchy business phrases. 

You've lost many potential candidates within the first few sentences from exhaustion and a lack of interest. 

Not the best of starts.

So, let's bring our job descriptions back to basics. 

Here's what you can do to improve them and guarantee you don't lose potentially interested candidates during this part of the pre-application stage:

  • Make sure it is easy to understand and read. Clear and simple.
  • The tone of voice is inviting and personal. You welcome the candidate to apply, showing them that this is potentially the right workplace, so you want to show off your company. Make the candidate feel that they are engaging with someone directly—a real person and not a robot.
  • Don't overuse the buzzwords and phrases. You want people to understand the actual job description.
  • The criteria of skills and qualifications of your preferred candidate are front and centre. Don't be vague; list the requirements you are looking for. A concrete few is far better than an endless list.
  • Describe the challenges and importance of the job. Explain to your candidates why this role may make perfect career sense for the right person. If explained adequately, it will capture the attention of the right people.
  • Include testimonials or videos to provide candidates with the opportunity to learn more about the company' position. Express the human side of your organization, putting human faces and interactions at its heart. This shows candidates that you are more than just a faceless organization. 

A clear, succinct job description, can capture the attention of the best talent and give them the exact information that they require to affect their decision making.

And possibly, place your jobs and company higher in their estimations when thinking about their future directions.

Furthermore, with the clarity in your message regarding what your company is looking for in a specific job and its candidates, it may mean you will not have to spend as much time examining and rejecting unsuitable applicants.

Simple is sometimes the only way! 


It should be easy to apply for a job!

37% of candidates believe that they will move onto another job opening if they cannot find out any information on the company in question.

If candidates don't know how to or what the application process entails, how can you expect them to apply? 

The career page of your company's website should be easy to find. The potential candidate should not have to search for ages for information or work out where to go.

You do want people to apply for your positions, after all, I presume?

It should be front and centre. You are proud of your organization, its work and achievements; you should want people to want to join and showcase to the world how great a workplace it is!

You must provide:

  • Clear application instructions. How do candidates apply with a minimum of fuss and hassle? No one likes an over-complicated process which will only certainly turn candidates off before they have even applied.
  • Guidelines on what a candidate needs and should prepare. Surprises not involving cake are never welcome. Providing candidates with explicit instruction on what you require means they can prepare themselves ahead of actually applying.
  • A timeline and expected duration of the application stage. Candidates don't want to complete an application that will take longer than 20 minutes. Bear this in mind.
  • Also, provide the option of applying through other means. For example, through LinkedIn. With 87% of recruiters using LinkedIn to check candidates, why not use the resource to get applications? It can, in certain instances, make the experience of applying far shorter and more accessible. With most candidates having uploaded their CV and personal information upon sites such as these, it can make their application super fast. And also mean that there is no need for another log-in or password combination used once and inevitably forgotten.

Build the bridges between you and your prospective candidate

Candidates have questions.

Applying for a new job is a big deal. And candidates want to make sure they are choosing the right career or company for them. They want to know as much about the place that could potentially take up most of their days and maybe even weekends.

So, as a business, it would be wise to acquiesce to their wishes for further information.

You could do this by making potential candidates aware of a point of contact they could write or contact. 

With their permission and established contact hours, it could be an employee responsible for hiring, a department manager, or even a

The open approach would help address any questions a prospective candidate may have regarding a role, the qualifications and specifications or even your company as a whole. 

If a candidate has found your job description confusing or has any questions preventing them from applying, an applicant may decide to move on. So, instead of bringing them clarity and resolving any issues which your communication could get, you have lost a potentially excellent candidate.

The communication between the company and possible candidate builds a relationship between the two parties. 

It also can bring to the attention of your recruitment teams and company the active candidates—those seeking information and showing a keen interest in your company and its roles.

These are the candidates you want to apply for your jobs. So, remembering names can hopefully bring about a fruitful relationship between yourselves and the candidates. 


How to identify the right people for your jobs

You have everything in place, but you still need to get your company in front of those who could be interested.

Depending on the budget and the type of candidate you require, you can promote your company and its positions across many different formats and platforms.

How do I find suitable candidates? Can't I go door-to-door?

The beauty of the twenty-first century and the best friend of any Internet-savvy business, data! 

Data is all around! It can paint a digital picture of all of us. 

It can inform you on the sites we use the most on the Internet and where and how long we spend on these.

By keeping track of data, we can learn where potential candidates come from and tailor our messaging to potential candidates to draw their interest and possibly lead them to apply for a job at your company. 

We can learn how we should interact with possible candidates. 

Where do they get their information, is it social media or traditional advertising, within the press or industry-related websites and publications? 

What are they searching for, what jobs match certain areas, what words and messaging clicks with potential candidates, what motivates them? 

All with the hope of getting them onto your website looking at job postings.


Don’t offer a job. Offer a career and a brighter future.

In a crowded job market, your role should be to excite your candidates. Rather than being content with the present, always aim your sights higher and constantly forward. 

Potential candidates want to be blown away. 

They want to learn about businesses that are pushing boundaries and challenging themselves to be the best. 

Show potential candidates how you are accomplishing this. Promote it! It is key to your brand and reputation.

Which could help possible candidates in their search for a new job. And seek to find out more about how they could be a part of that bright new future if they apply.

Furthermore, as candidates search for a great company to work for, encourage your candidates to think about their targets and goals. Do they match the companies? Do you have similar aspirations?

A little bit of soul searching is never wrong and can ensure a business gets the right people with the right attitude to apply for their jobs.

The benefits of a tremendous pre-application stage

It is time for companies to rethink their candidate experience to consider the candidate's interaction with a company before applying for a job. 

You must sell the organization, the jobs, that your teams are friendly and supportive, and planting the seed, they would like to work there one day. 

By improving the pre-candidate experience, it will be easier to manage the actual candidate experience. And the focus on how you engage with talent before they apply will make sure you are bringing in people who are perfectly qualified for the role.

How many more talented people would you be attracting and possibly hiring by this change in focus and boosting your employer brand and reputation globally, which could ensure further sales and a lovely increase in revenue!

It is a win-win!

So, here are the steps your organization can follow to create a great pre-application stage and reap the benefits further down the recruitment pipeline:

  • We remember the importance of the employer brand and how an excellent reputation can build interest and attention among active and passive candidates.
  • Hiring for a purpose and not just to keep your teams busy. Find the right people that match what you need.
  • Making sure the application process is easy to follow and complete. Ensure candidates have all the information they need to complete an excellent application.
  • Communicate with candidates before they are even candidates. Answer questions and queries that can shape their decision making.
  • Find out the ways you can best approach and attract candidates. What type of messaging works, where should I focus my attention. Answering these questions can help find your perfect candidate.
  • Offer the possibility of a better future. Show the candidates what your company is about and how your aims and trajectory could match those searching for a new place to work.