Who Is an Applicant?

Who Is an Applicant?

November 23, 2023

An applicant is a person who formally requests a position, and their pursuits extend across different domains. In the employment sector, an applicant is someone actively expressing interest in a job opportunity. This can span diverse fields such as employment, education, or memberships. In the job context, an applicant is an aspiring candidate vying for a specific role within an organization. In educational spheres, an applicant seeks admission to a program or institution. Also, people can be applicants for memberships in clubs or groups.

The term "applicant" encapsulates the proactive nature of those expressing intent. It highlights a deliberate effort to be considered for a particular role or opportunity. Whether in the professional, academic, or social realms, the role of an applicant is pivotal in shaping outcomes and fostering engagement within diverse spheres. In essence, an applicant is someone in the initial stages of the hiring process, demonstrating eagerness and suitability for a particular position, hoping to be one of the chosen candidates.

Who Is a Candidate?

the stages in the recruitment process
The recruitment funnel stages. Source: AIHR

A candidate is someone actively considered for a specific position after progressing beyond the initial application stage. Distinguished from an applicant, a candidate has moved further in the selection process or recruitment funnel, as it is fondly called, garnering closer attention from the hiring entity. This transition typically occurs when an applicant's qualifications align closely with the job requirements, prompting the employer to look deeper into their suitability. 

At this stage, the person undergoes assessments, interviews, or additional evaluations to determine their fitness for the role. Unlike an applicant who expresses initial interest, a candidate signifies a more advanced stage in the hiring journey, showcasing a heightened level of consideration and potential alignment with the desired position.

Types of Applicants: Internal vs. External

internal recruitment vs external recruitment pros and cons
Internal vs external recruitment with pros and cons. Source: Quora

There are two main types of job applicants: internal and external. Internal applicants are current employees of the company who are looking for a new position or promotion within the organization. External applicants, on the other hand, are people who are not currently employed by the company and are looking for a job opportunity.

Internal Applicants

According to research by the Kansas University School of Business, companies often prefer internal applicants because they are already familiar with the company culture, policies, and procedures. They have already demonstrated their work ethic and have a track record of success within the organization. Also, internal applicants may require less training and onboarding than external applicants.

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to hiring internal applicants. For example, it may create resentment or competition among employees who were not selected for the position. It may also limit the diversity of perspectives and ideas within the organization.

External Applicants

External applicants bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the company. They may have experience and skills that are not currently present within the organization. Additionally, hiring external applicants can help to increase diversity within the company. However, hiring external applicants is more time-consuming and expensive than internal hiring. It may also require more training and onboarding for the new employee.

External applicants come in various types, reflecting the diverse ways people apply for positions. 

  • Remote applicants are those looking for roles that allow them to work from a location outside the physical office, using some communication technology like Zoom. Notable organizations offering remote opportunities include tech giants like Google, where employees can work remotely from anywhere.
  • In-office applicants apply for roles requiring a physical presence at a specific location. Companies like retail giant Walmart often seek in-office applicants for positions in their stores, emphasizing hands-on customer interactions.
  • Freelance applicants operate independently, offering their services on a project basis. Platforms like Upwork connect freelance applicants with clients seeking specific skills, allowing flexible work arrangements.
  • Temporary applicants apply for short-term positions, often to cover specific projects or periods of increased workload. Temp agencies like Randstad facilitate connections between temporary applicants and businesses requiring short-term support.
  • Contract applicants apply for fixed-term positions, committing to work for a specific duration. Government agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau often hire contract applicants for projects with defined timelines.
  • Part-time applicants seek roles with reduced work hours, balancing employment with other commitments. Retailers like Target frequently attract part-time applicants for positions accommodating varied schedules.

Percentage rate of mobile applicants from 2017 to 2022.
Mobile application rate. Source: Withe

According to Withe, 70% of applicants completed theirs online using mobile devices in 2022. This means that the applicants needing to complete theirs online, like remote and freelance applicants, are getting popular, while those offline, like the in-office applicants, are not.

The Application Process: Steps and Procedures

The application process
Moving from being an applicant to having the job. Source: Hochtief.com

The application process involves a series of steps and procedures for people seeking employment opportunities. To begin, a potential candidate typically identifies a suitable job opening within an organization. This may involve browsing job listings on a company's website, job boards, professional networking platforms, etc.

Once a potential position is identified, the person submits an application, this is when they turn to applicants. This typically requires the completion of an online form or submission of a resume and cover letter. For instance, when applying for positions at Amazon, candidates navigate the company's online application system, providing relevant details and documents.

Following the submission, the organization reviews the applications to shortlist candidates. In this phase, they assess qualifications, experiences, and alignment with the job requirements. A company like Microsoft utilizes automated applicant tracking systems for efficient candidate screening.

Shortlisted people, who are now candidates, proceed to the interview stage. This can take various forms, including in-person, phone, or video interviews. Google, known for its rigorous hiring process, often conducts multiple rounds of interviews to evaluate candidates thoroughly.

Following successful interviews, candidates may be required to undergo assessments or tests relevant to the job. For example, technology companies like IBM may assess coding skills for software development roles.

The final step involves the job offer and negotiation. The organization extends an offer to the selected candidate, outlining terms and conditions. The candidate may negotiate salary, benefits, and start date. Facebook, in its offer process, ensures transparency and addresses candidate preferences.

Once an agreement is reached, the candidate accepts the offer, marking the conclusion of the application process. This structured and sequential approach ensures a systematic and fair evaluation of people seeking opportunities within an organization or anywhere else needing applicants.

Future Trends to Look Out for 

The Future of Jobs Report 2023, as presented by the World Economic Forum, forecasts significant trends impacting job applicants. Firstly, the report indicates a heightened integration of AI in recruitment processes. Organizations increasingly employ AI for tasks ranging from resume screening to candidate matching. Applicants must anticipate engaging with AI-powered tools, requiring familiarity with and adaptation to these technological advancements during the application process.

Secondly, the report underscores the expanding realm of remote work opportunities. Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become a prominent feature in the professional landscape. Many companies now extend remote work options to employees. Applicants must be ready to embrace remote work postings and possess the essential technology and communication skills conducive to this evolving work environment.

In essence, applicants should proactively equip themselves with the technological proficiency demanded by AI-driven recruitment processes. Also, being prepared for remote work scenarios enhances the adaptability and competitiveness of prospective candidates in the evolving job market.

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