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evolution of job application

The Evolution of the Job Application

How to beat your competition for the same labor force in a tight market

Kwantek Team

In this exclusive blog series, Kwantek and Affinity HR are partnering together to take a deep dive into the full lifecycle of employees in high-turnover industries - specifically Building Services and Contract Security.

We’ve talked a lot about the labor market over the past few years, from labor trends in the BSC industry to the realization the job seeker is in control.

And the trend continues. There are still over one million more job openings than unemployed people.

What’s more, 44% of the workforce in the US is considered a ‘low-wage’ worker, which is defined by this study as any worker who works for less than ⅔ the median salary in the US.

That works out to an average threshold of $16.03 per hour - more in some areas like California and less in some areas like West Virginia.

44% of the workforce works out to be more than 53 million people.

If you are in a high-turnover industry like contract security or building services, odds are high that your wages are hovering at or below that “low-wage worker” threshold.

This means you are competing with major employers in the fast food and retail industries for the same labor pool.

Understanding the competition - and how fierce it is - will give you a competitive advantage as you work to build your teams.

The Job Search is a Numbers Game

Take a look at any number of Reddit threads (like this, this, or this) and you may be surprised to see the volume of applications people are submitting.

While there aren’t any published statistics on how many job applications a job seeker might submit, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence like the Reddit threads linked above that suggest the answer is easily in the double digits.

Think back to the last time you were truly in need of employment. How many jobs did you apply to?

Prevailing logic says if you need a job, you need to submit as many applications as you can!

The good news for the job seeker is there are most likely dozens of jobs they can choose from.

The better news for the job seeker is they no longer have to drive around the city to stop in for a job application! They can just hop on their phones and apply with a couple of presses of a button.

How McDonald’s Treats the Application Process

Years ago, to get a job at McDonald’s you needed to walk into one of their restaurants and request a paper application.

The applicant might grab a seat in the restaurant and fill it out, or they might take it home along with a stack of other applications acquired on their journey.

Today, this is literally how you apply to McDonald’s for a manager position:



If you’re counting, that’s 6 button clicks and a keystroke.

For a management position.

Rest assured, McDonald’s is going to make that applicant complete a significant amount of paperwork - the EEO information, the legalese, all the stuff their lawyers demand they complete for compliance issues.

But they’re not going to ask for that up front, because they can always get it later. They care more about filling up their applicant tracking software with potential employees than gathering EEO data before they talk to them.

The application has evolved.

Many of our clients bring a valid argument to the table: if the applicant doesn’t care enough to complete the full application, they aren’t worth contacting.

Frankly, it’s an excellent point and a tough argument.

But consider this:

If the prospect is applying for dozens of jobs, you should expect that prospect is going to receive a relatively high number of responses.

All of a sudden, you are in a competition with dozens of other employers for the same candidate!

Your full application is a formality.

It does not provide you with game-changing information, and it can act as a barrier between you and qualified prospects.

McDonald’s recognizes the new goal is to have as many conversations with qualified prospects as possible.

With this “partial application,” they are getting the following:

  1. The candidate’s resume (what is their work history?)
  2. Where the candidate lives (is it going to be easy for them to get to work?)
  3. Job specific questions (are they qualified to do THIS job?)

You should be monitoring this critical metric for your organization: how many qualified prospects are you able to have a conversation with?

Speed Kills

In any competition, be it sports or business, speed is a competitive advantage.

As a small business competing against giant corporations with large and bureaucratic hiring structures, you can create a competitive advantage by contacting these qualified prospects faster than they do.

Think back to the job seeker’s numbers game. If that applicant is applying to multiple jobs, they are in need.

If you can meet that need before anyone else and provide them with what they want, you are putting yourself in great position to win the competition for the candidate’s services.

This can also increase your likelihood of getting people to show up to your interviews!

One of the main reasons people don’t show up for interviews is they’ve already accepted a job elsewhere… and that could have been because you were too slow to schedule an interview with them and somebody beat you to the punch.


  1. Define your minimum qualifications and remove barriers for completion.
  2. Contact qualified prospects ASAP for a phone screen.
  3. Request additional application information prior to in-person interview.

The most important message we can possibly convey is you are competing with multiple companies for the same candidate.

Being able to speak to more candidates faster than anybody else is going to give you a dramatic competitive hiring advantage.

In the end, you will decrease your time to hire, increase your interview show-rate, and create a much larger pool of willing-to-work candidates to select from so you can make sure you’re placing the right person in the right job at the right time.


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