Here’s Why 60% of Talented Sales Recruits Fail to Complete Their Application

Published on Aug 25, 2021

Here’s the scenario. You create a job ad to find a top level salesperson. To achieve this, you design an application for candidates to fill out so you can gather key information and add them to your database. 

But after posting the ad, you’re underwhelmed by the response, and you don’t receive anywhere near the volume of candidates you were hoping for. 

This is an issue encountered by more sales companies than you may think. And one of the biggest reasons is because a good chunk of talented sales recruits simply don’t make it all the way through the application. In this post, I’ll unpack why this is so common and how you can avoid falling into this trap. 

What the Data Says

There’s one very specific reason why nearly two-thirds of job seekers don’t complete their applications. According to 2020 research by G2, “60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity.” 

It’s really that simple. Most people don’t want to deal with the hassle of painstakingly answering a gauntlet of questions and meticulously providing detail after detail. If this happens, many will end up abandoning the application and looking at other sales job opportunities. 

But why do so many brands ask for so much information?

The Logic Behind Lengthy Applications

There are two main reasons why sales recruiters use long applications. One is simply to gather as much information as possible on candidates so recruiters can learn all they can about their experience, qualifications, education, and so on. 

The other is to weed out lazy candidates who aren’t willing to complete a lengthy application. Conventional logic often states that top tier talent is dedicated enough to complete an application in its entirety, even if it’s long winded. 

“But, in reality, the opposite is true,” explains user research manager Sarah Gregory. “Good candidates know their time is important and they have plenty of opportunities in the job market. Their tolerance for jumping through hoops is much lower than many employers think.”

And this totally makes sense. Elite talent are acutely aware of how much value they bring to the table. Many never even end up performing a formal job search in the first place because recruiters come to them. But if they do fill out an application, most will feel frustrated if they’re barraged by seemingly never-ending questions and needless complexity. 

So in many cases, asking candidates to fill out lengthy applications may do more harm than good and cause you to miss out on high caliber salespeople. 

Finding the Sweet Spot

This isn’t to say you should go to the other extreme and ask too few questions, as this can lead to a flood of under qualified candidates. The takeaway here is that you want to ask enough questions to get adequate information and filter out low level candidates, but not ask so many questions that you turn off talented sales recruits. 

In other words, hit the sweet spot. This, of course, will likely require some trial-and-error before you get it just right. But if you’re finding you’re not getting the number of applicants you want — the average job ad receives 250 resumes, by the way — the application will likely need some condensing. 

Also, make it a point to simplify it so you’re not asking job seekers to jump through unnecessary hoops. 

Other Ways to Optimize the Job Application Process

Besides that, I have a few other suggestions on making the job application process more pleasant and user-friendly. 

One is to allow candidates to apply through LinkedIn. You can, for example, include an “Apply with LinkedIn” button to a job ad, which looks like this. 

Given that many people are already active on LinkedIn (there were more than 774 million users as of mid-2021), this can take a lot of friction out of the process. To learn how to set up an “Apply with LinkedIn” button, check out this resource

And if you’re using LinkedIn as one of your main channels for posting sales jobs, you may want to consider using the “Easy Apply” feature, which lets job seekers apply with just a few clicks. This is a feature I actually use myself. 

While it’s not always a great choice for high level positions like a sales manager, it’s certainly worth considering for many sales rep positions. 

Also, never require candidates to create an account in order to apply for a job. This is something that’s become increasingly common as of late, especially with larger enterprises. But it can be a huge deterrent to prospects and injects pointless friction into the process.  

Finally, don’t ask recruiters for references on the application unless you absolutely need it. “Why not wait to ask for references when you reach the offer stage?,” notes talent management expert Tiffani Murray. “You don’t need to add that information burden to candidates when a high percentage won’t make it to an offer.”

Eliminating Unnecessary Obstacles 

The numbers don’t lie. 60% of talented sales recruits abandon an application when it’s too long or complex. 

If you’re not getting the number of applicants you’d like, this is one of the first areas to investigate. By trimming off extraneous questions and generally simplifying the application, it should make for a better applicant experience and keep a steady stream of talent coming your way. 

Looking to fill your talent pipeline with top tier sales reps? See how HireDNA can help using science-based assessments and intelligent matching. Companies that use our suggestions have a very high success rate, with a staggering 92% of recommended candidates reaching the top of the sales force within their first year. 

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