The dichotomy of the one click apply

Written by Theo Smith

Theo is a Welsh Wizard. After leaving his Celtic land he set out on a journey to help organisations attract more talent. This has included global executive search, RPO, in-house and recruitment marketing. He now talks on a wide variety of recruitment related subjects. He is also the podcast host for Neurodiversity – Eliminating Kryptonite & Enabling Superheroes

The candidate application process should be simple, right?

“Application forms. If I can’t apply for a role quickly, preferably within one-click but certainly in under five minutes, it’s not happening. No matter how good the job looks”

Simon Rutter, Global Leader in Employer Branding

I recently wrote a post on Linkedin asking the question: what do candidates really want?

1.) A simple one click application process

2.) A user friendly, but more robust application process that gives a better guarantee of results

The question opened up some interesting debate and I’ve included some of the comments within this blog to explore why this question divides opinion.

I think we can all agree we want the candidate to have the best experience possible. But nothing exists in isolation and combined with achieving the best journey we need to achieve the best selection process.

“Our experience and research has found clients like the notion of one click apply as it removes the registration process enabling a greater number of applications”

Shaun Hewitt, Talent Acquisition Lumesse

The candidate application process to apply should be like the consumer journey to buy

“I believe we can move away from “apply” being the first step. The first step should be “express interest” – with one click”

Alan Walker, Founder Udder & #ChatTalent

The only problem is, I don’t know about you, but the ability to buy stuff from the likes of Amazon or ebay in one click, means you end up buying a lot more stuff you don’t actually need!

I’m often talking to friends and I myself, have bought stuff like;

A camera phone photo magnifier; never been used.

Detachable keyboard for the ipad; come on the whole point of an ipad is that it doesn’t have a keyboard!

Handy plugin Bluetooth for the car; my car already has Bluetooth! But it was cheap and seemed cool :o/

Basically we consume a lot of garbage and create a lot of rubbish; from fizzy drinks to plastic bottles; from digital fads to composite bin bags; from fake news to real news…

or should that be the other way around!

I’m no Marxist, but didn’t he have a theory on the consumption of stuff we didn’t need would be our destruction? Or something to that effect!

The reality is that we are consuming more and more, faster and faster, to the point we can’t stop ourselves. Who will be the one to stand up and say enough is enough?

Speed is powerful, but it can also be destructive.

Technology in the future will allow us to achieve things with the speed and efficiency that we once only could have dreamed of. But we need to have control over it and understand when and where it can be used.

“Great thoughts Theo, I agree with you. I think the challenge for Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing today is to be really crisp and clear about

  1. what the job is about and will look like – in an simple and user-friendly design based on the personas and
  2. what the employer is offering from an EVP perspective and
  3. to leverage both as a filter to help candidates decide if this is the right job and employer to avoid too much frustration on both ends”

Martin Lehnert, Employer Brand Specialist EMEA at Thermo Fisher Scientific


The challenge with Public Sector recruitment

Are you in the public sector, academia or 3rd sector?

If the answer is yes here’s your instant challenge to the simplification of the application process. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but certainly ads barriers.

The way these organisations are managed are not like corporate businesses. No big surprise there!

First of all they are run by public money, or the money of the donors or students. This means they answer to those people and therefore are under greater scrutiny around what they do and how they do it.

At NICE we score and assess every single application we receive with a panel of 2-3 people and we do it based on the essential criteria. This is common in this sector.

We need to be able to provide good evidence around our decision making process at each stage.

The pros; every single applicant will be independently scored on their application. If an applicant feels they have the right experience and skills and fill in the application form correctly they have a good chance of getting selected for interview.

“I suppose another way of looking at it is – as a candidate would you happily complete a long-ish application form if you were 100% certain that it wouldn’t go into a black hole and you would get some feedback either way?”

Lee Harding, IT & Digital TA Partner, Shop Direct

Con’s; the application process is therefore robust, not via CV and requires the applicant to give independent thought to how they answer the questions. The answers need to directly resolve the needs of the essential criteria and copying and pasting parts of the CV will likely not directly answer the question.

The candidate also needs to upload career history independently, which clearly is not ideal!

“The challenge is how do you get the balance right, ask enough of the person to know that they are worth spending time with at the risk of losing them vs not asking enough and being inundated with candidates that you have no real way of sifting in a timely manner”

Patrik Heggberg, BD Manager TA Tech, Oleeo

Candidates outside of the sector seem to struggle with this process, partly because they have been conditioned into applying for jobs with a CV and partly because they assume that common sense will prevail, it does not and cannot, as that would show bias!

But outside of the public sector there is possibly more flexibility around the early assessment of candidates and how you sift and select them, but be careful because if you get the early assessment piece wrong, you’ll be wondering where all the talent has gone!

“This all depends on the dynamics of supply and demand in different areas. There are more graduates than graduate trainee positions so employers can make them do a decathlon to get to the application page. There is 1 fire engineer for every 25 fire engineer jobs in the UK. The employer needs to do the decathlon in this instance”

Adam Gordon, CEO Candidate.ID

The complex world of the ATS or CRM

We have moved away from the days of having a single system that can do it all. Or have we?

GDPR has changed the way we can handle… candidates… the conversations we have… about their life, their aspirations and motivations… career path… It can include their family, their pets, their hobbies… That information will not be covered in an application; that’s the information that we share with Hiring Managers… It’s a shame that technology often sifts out great people who have applied because an algorithm…  It’s the conversations we have with people that give us the true indicator of their suitability for a role.  Sadly time pressures mean this isn’t always possible…

Gemma Parker, Candidate Engagement Specialist, Balfour Beatty

If you’re an up and coming fast growth company like Brewdog starting from scratch you can implement Greenhouse with other supporting technologies, refusing to be weigh laden by archaic mega systems and technologies.

But this is surely not the reality for the rest of us. We have this dichotomy of do we throw out the bath water only to realise later on that the baby went out with it!

Ben Gledhill recently at #RecFest18 brought up the important topic of should you select a new ATS, ignore your current provider or work harder to look to improve the one you already have?

A lot of decisions happen in isolation and the reality is that the grass is very rarely greener, it just has patches of green grass in different places!

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood…”


The big shift from super systems created to be the ultimate in human information management, collating everything from your first address, to your shoe size and which university your Dad attended, surely has been found out!

 “Yes!!! Preach Simon! The application needs to be catered to the end user, not to the internal process of the organization (i.e. why the heck should I sign a background check authorization when we haven’t even spoken yet?!)”

Kristina Finseth, Content Marketing Team Lead, Phenom People

The world has evolved from a one size fits all volume recruitment model to support the need for a more dynamic flexible resourcing model.

The rising roles in digital, engineering, research… have forced us to shift from reactive process management to proactive attraction and engagement of these niche talent groups.

 “It’s a broken process that is frustrating for all involved. New age talent dealing with legacy tech that’s too fragile the change all at once. The best candidate journeys sit with the businesses that started building out their stack in the past 2/3 years”

Bobby Leonard, The Recruitment Events Company

So is it too late and should we have all been on this recruitment tech stack train long ago?

The short answer: no!

There is a lot we can learn from those who’ve stepped out before us. Not all of these technologies would have lived up to expectations and met the needs of the business in question.

So there is an opportunity to begin our own journey to the creation of a tech stack and one that meets the individual needs of your team and organisation. Also it doesn’t have to be costly and you don’t have to select all of the above, or even those that are trending.

Understand what it is you’re trying to fix and put a simple plan with timelines and priorities in place.

See if you can trial some new products and build relationships with suppliers, so that you can get in early on those technologies and solutions that could add value.

ClickIQ for example are attaching a Bot to support the application process and the conversion of applicants via their marketing channels.

This is incredible work at converting more applicants who otherwise would have dropped off. They will also be capturing key data and analysis to help improve the conversion rate in the future.

“For me the conversion point should be minimal…get the application then find ways of supplementing that info in the future…this is one of the key ways a chatbot with link to FB messenger/sms/whatsapp can help optimise conversion and then capture further info in the future”

Iain Hamilton, MD Recruitment Bot, ClickIQ

This is a simple advancement through combining innovations in technology and will be highly valuable to those recruiting Nurses, Administrative roles and other higher volume applicant vacancies or those more visible and engaged on job boards and social channels like Facebook and Twitter.

I would have loved this capability when attracting Nurses whilst working for Four Seasons and later an RPO client Spire Healthcare.

The question is will it also help you attract niche technical roles like a stress engineer? Probably not, but that doesn’t matter, the key is understanding and testing which tech to use when and where.

“It should all be just in time, tailored to what candidates need and want. Meaning predictive analytics and machine learning should help recruiters reach out to the right people and content to be distributed to whom it’s relevant”

Stanislaw Wasowicz, Global BD VONQ

So the question still remains; what should we be doing:

One click apply do or die?

The decision is yours!

Press here…


Application Process: Want to know what candidates want

Jobs the word’s Horsefly did some research

It ended at over 3000 responses.  The goal of survey was in the context of researching a new candidate focussed product (data driven career advice), but very relevant to this conversation. A major insight was that if a candidate thought they were applying directly to a Hiring Manager, rather than a recruiter, they would be far more motivated to make an application.

Will Crandle, CEO Jobs The Word



Have an opinion you would like to share?

We’d love to hear from you!

This is the beginning of the debate, not the end…

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