A Better Application Experience

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Nobody intends to make a crappy online application experience. At least I hope not. I’m not going to do a big sell on why you should make a good candidate experience. In this post I’ll talk about how SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting can be used to make the initial application form less painful.

Sidebar: Just Enough Info to Feed the Funnel

I’m going to focus on the application, but that doesn’t have to be the start of a love connection. Career site landing pages and data capture forms are a good way to capture minimal interest and experience related information targeted at a particular segment of talent. As an example, “Can you weld?” along with name, email and opt-in consent when you’re building a pipeline for welders.

Timeline of Application Information Capture

It is still common practice to have the kitchen sink approach to capturing applicant information, asking every question that may be needed at some point in the hiring process. Additional information is later needed for background checks and the onboarding process. Fortunately, many organizations are now taking the approach of just enough information at the right time.

Batman Application Form Meme
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The CandE Awards, run by the Talent Board are awards for candidate experience. This is determined by benchmarking the experience of candidates per the ratings of those candidates. A nice application is just one piece of the experience.

There will be information that is necessary at the beginning of the recruiting process, such as basic screening, compliance, contact information, a lot of information can be moved to later stages. Below are some tips related to SAP SuccessFactors recruiting.

Candidate Profile

Information that can have multiple rows such as work history should only have required fields that are really needed. A lengthy work history can become very painful otherwise. Resume parsing helps but will not typically copy every single piece of information from the resume to the profile.

Quick Apply

The standard application form is a one-pager containing both the candidate profile and the application. The profile is different from what you may have experienced in other recruiting systems. It’s a living set of information that updates over time, like a resume. It’s not specific to a particular job and contains information such as education, work experience. Below is an example of me applying for a job at jobs.sap.com.

Application at jobs.sap.com

The profile sections are collapsible and can support multiple entries (like work experience). You can see from the above screenshot that there are seven collapsible sections before I get to the actual application. For me this is better than having them on multiple pages and it’s mobile friendly. However, these sections of information can be intimidating for an applicant and if they are optional, the applicant may not be aware and still struggle. See my certifications section below.

Quick Apply removes the collapsible sections and just captures the minimum needed for the candidate profile, such as contact information and resume. The profile is still super useful for power searches, reporting, etc. When sending out the “Thank you for applying” email, it’s smart to include a link for updating the candidate profile.

Quick Apply came out in the Q4 2019 release so older customers have the opportunity for improving their existing system. Whether Quick Apply is used is dependent on whether the Quick Apply toggle is set during the creation of the requisition. There are some limitations so be clear on your understanding of the functionality. You can find a short read on Quick Apply here.

Multistage Permissions

This functionality allows application fields (not candidate profile fields) to be visible, editable, or not visible based on a combination of the role (e.g. candidate, recruiter) and the status of the application (e.g. Phone Screen, 1st Interview).

For candidates, I recommend asking for just enough information in the “Default” status (usually renamed “New Application” by clients). There is a temptation as a consultant to take the existing online application from their legacy system (and yes sometimes paper applications) and reproduce it. This should instead be a discussion about what is really needed when. When an application is moved into a status that requires more information, the system can automatically send an email to the candidate with a link to complete the information. In later information request stages don’t show the candidate fields they’ve already completed. It’s just confusing. However, if it’s a status where you’re not asking for information, show more fields. This means that when the candidate reviews their application they can see how they completed it.

Multistage permissions need to be turned on in provisioning and completely affect how you do application permissions. If you want to capture all information up-front still set it up as multi-stage, just have everything permissioned up front. If your consultant doesn’t automatically do this anyway, berate them. Gently.

When asking for information at a later stage, only make fields required if they are necessary. If a candidate doesn’t complete the information they can’t be moved forward in the process.

So what kind of information should you capture at later stages? The most common stage is after an offer has been accepted. References can be captured at that stage, though this may be at an earlier stage. The candidate has an incentive to complete the information so that the process can continue. Background check information is usually captured on the vendor portal and not stored in recruiting.

Don’t forget to give recruiters a nice user experience. Why should they have to see background check information when the candidate hasn’t been phone screened yet?


Don’t capture fields on the application that really belong in onboarding. Yes you can send those fields to onboarding as part of the integration, but just don’t do it.

Would you discuss your timeline for having children on a first date? Maybe. Hopefully not.

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