This is how your employer branding is not neglected in the digital application process

Who still applies by mail with an application portfolio and travels across the country for the first non-binding meeting? The pandemic has brought about structural changes and fueled the digitization of recruiting out of the necessity of forced social distancing. Employers who have not yet established a digital application process appear unattractive and antiquated, and not just to GenZ. We tell you how you can score points with your employer brand despite physical distance in the digital recruiting process and at which key points employer branding should not be missing.

A good 80 percent of HR managers see themselves as well positioned in terms of digital processes in recruiting. According to Statista, 70 percent of companies in the DACH region recruit new talent via job portals and impress with their employer value proposition (EVP). 42 percent of candidates who apply directly via career sites do so from an employment relationship and rate the potential new employer as better. Among the most popular social media platforms for searching job ads are LinkedIn and Xing. Those who present a strong attractive employer profile here win.

Everyday life is characterized by digital technologies. Attractive employers must meet their applicants in their digital world. Social recruiting in the variants of active sourcing or performance recruiting is the trend. 
There are many ways to reach potential candidates digitally. How can employer branding be consistently mapped in all phases of the digital application process so that a coherent and attractive image of your employer brand is conveyed at the end?

Employer branding in the 4 phases of the digital application process

The digital application process includes all phases from advertising the position to filling it with onboarding. We have divided it into four main steps as an example with a focus on digital implementation. According to bitkom, some companies have digitized the entire application process, relying on digital assessment centers or online testing (9% exclusively, 44% partially), digital signing of the employment contract (3% and 26%, respectively), or digital trial work (1% and 18%, respectively). However, most companies make the application process hybrid and do not abandon the on-site meeting altogether. Our following tips should therefore be understood as suggestions for the phases that you implement digitally and not as a valuation to recruit exclusively digitally. After all, personal contact on site - if it can be facilitated without complications - makes it much easier to build trust and assess each other.

1. advertise the job digitally

Online, there are numerous competitors vying for the attention of talent. In addition, the attention span of users is lower than offline and the potential for distraction is higher. The implication for your digital job posting is that it should spark interest at first glance and lead to a scroll stop. Keep the text of your job ad as short as possible, provide all the important information and structure it clearly.

Our tips:

  • Use emotional images from your company with real employees. Symbolic or stock images look impersonal and do not reflect your employer brand. 
  • Design the entire ad according to your corporate identity (CI). Make sure the rest of your digital presence also reflects this CI (career website, company page, social media profiles, recruiting funnels, etc.). This will create a recognition effect.
  • Avoid standard phrases, they make you interchangeable. Incorporate your wording as well as your tone of voice and describe briefly and clearly what it's about (What position is to be filled? What are the requirements? What are the general conditions? What do you expect from the applicants professionally and what soft skills are important to you?
  • Describe your individual employee benefits. These say a lot about you as an employer and the corporate culture. Do not emphasize pseudo-benefits.
  • Introduce yourself as a company with your EVP in a concise and crisp manner. Show why you are unique and the better employer. What is your corporate culture? Who fits to you? Be careful not to make your introduction too long and refer to the more detailed presentation on your career website. This should generally function as a content hub for all aspects of the application process and offers you a platform for comprehensive presentation. Here we tell you what you have to pay attention to.

Give interested parties the opportunity to apply digitally quickly and easily with just a few clicks. Eliminate technical pitfalls and avoid unnecessary queries in online forms so that everything remains clear and does not drag on unnecessarily. Especially if you want to address the GenZ (born between 1995 and 2010), it should also be possible to apply via smartphone. According to Statista, about 95% of the GenZ own a smartphone and use it more intensively than laptops and the like. Therefore, performance recruiting with appealing recruiting funnels on social platforms is particularly suitable for recruiting the GenZ.

2. digital receipt of applications

Four out of ten companies rely exclusively on digital application documents, the rest at least partially (source: bitkom). Make sure that your prospects receive prompt confirmation that their documents have been received. The digital world is fast-paced, so quick responses are expected. If you let too much time pass, you will look uninterested or disorganized. Whether you set up an automated response or get back to them individually, the following tips will make you look appealing as an employer right from First Contact.

Our recommendations for making contact:

  • Signal interest by responding promptly and address your talent by name to appear personal. Select the form of address according to the corporate culture.
  • Provide transparent information about further procedures and specify a time frame until you have reviewed the documents and will contact you again. This gives applicants a better orientation. 
  • Point interested parties to your digital presence (social media, career website, etc.) for further information about the company and offer to subscribe to feeds or newsletters (if available). This allows you to stay in touch while waiting and provides additional insight into your company.
  • Make sure that the review of the documents is done quickly so that the final feedback does not take too long. 
  • It is best to select a specific contact person from your company for any contact. This way, your candidates will feel personally looked after, which will help build trust. In addition, your HR department can get a better picture of the respective talent, because all information and impressions are bundled with one person.
  • It's better to contact them too much than too seldom. This shows interest and appreciation and prevents ghosting.

Prevent ghosting

Ghosting in the application process - i.e. the sudden interruption of contact without explanation - is becoming increasingly common on both sides. According to Personalwirtschaft and Indeed, 90 percent of HR managers have already experienced ghosting with applicants - 26 percent at least once a week, eight percent even on a daily basis. Wirtschaftspsychologie heute suggests that there is a certain connection between the candidate experience and ghosting behavior: the more positive the experience that applicants have with your company and "the more the parties involved can 'warm up' to each other on a human level, the higher the commitment and the lower the probability of ghosting behavior". So, personal contact moments and small talk are extremely important in the application process - especially in the digital one. Instead of just sending emails, it's a good idea to pick up the phone in the meantime. 

Reject with appreciation

"You always see each other twice in life." This saying is particularly apt in professional life. Even though some talent's profiles may not fit your currently advertised position, they may be exactly what you're looking for in your next job posting. So ask if you can save the data for your talent pool internally and contact them again if needed. This reduces the frustration factor of a rejection and may save you research time.
In general, your rejection should be appreciative. It won't cost you anything and will leave a positive impression on prospects, even though they didn't make it to the next round this time.

Here are our tips:

  • Address applicants by name and address the specific job in the subject line.
  • Thank them for their interest in your company, their time and their commitment.
  • Justify the rejection with a positive formulation. If appropriate, you can refer to the resume or cover letter to explain in which other direction your search was focused.
  • At the end of the letter, wish the talent all the best for the future and motivate them (if it makes sense) to apply for other positions in your company.

Make an appointment for the next round

If an application seems particularly promising, make personal contact with the candidate as soon as possible. Often, interested parties have several applications open. If you hesitate too long, you will lose out. 
We recommend that you use the telephone to make an appointment. This is more individualized, simplifies the appointment process and gives a more comprehensive first impression than by e-mail. For applicants who are applying from an ongoing employment relationship, pay attention to the timing of your call and ask whether there is currently an opportunity for an undisturbed exchange. The lunch break or later in the evening is a good time. Name a specialist contact person in your company for possible questions about the position and explain how the application process will proceed. Discuss the technical conditions for the digital job interview and, if necessary, offer a brief technology check before the interview begins. This relaxes the situation and reduces excitement. Summarize all relevant information in an e-mail to accompany the telephone call.

3. digital job interviews

According to bitkom, one in six companies conducts job interviews exclusively by video conference, while 63 percent do so in part. Almost 80 percent of participants rate the interview as positive (Appinio Study 2022, Statista). Nevertheless, 56 percent perceive video interviews as inferior to on-site interviews (Candidate Experience Study 2021/22). 

Here are 7 tips to convey your employer brand in a compelling way virtually:

  1. preparation:
    Send the link for participation ahead of time with clear information (brief instructions, participants in the interview, procedure, time frame) and pay attention to your CI in words and design.
  2. Style:
    Make sure that all participants of your company are dressed according to your dress code and arrive on time. You all act as brand ambassadors! The camera should be positioned at eye level and provide a view of the office space in the background. It goes without saying that the technology should work smoothly and the conversation should not be disturbed.
  3. Warm-up:
    Start your interview with a warm-up phase to reduce nervousness. Some small talk is important to mitigate the lack of on-site contact. It gives you an opportunity to adjust to the applicant, build trust, and give your interviewer time to mentally arrive at the situation. 
  4. individual questions:
    Avoid asking too many standard questions and stand out from your competitors with your own choice of words and focus of questions. For example, ask applicants what strengths they value in a company and what deficits would make them feel uncomfortable in the company culture. This allows you to draw many conclusions about the talent's own strengths and weaknesses, and also gives you the platform to put your company culture and work atmosphere in perspective.
  5. Virtual tour:
    Give new talent the opportunity to get to know your working atmosphere and corporate culture through visual impressions and take them on a short virtual tour of the office. However, let the colleagues present know beforehand (personal rights) or integrate a company film.
  6. Team fit:
    If applicants are shortlisted, arrange a virtual meeting with the team. Here, questions can be asked about the way of working, the daily routine, the team culture and both sides have the chance to see if the chemistry is right.
  7. Feedback:
    Give your applicants a time frame by which you have made your decision and will contact them again. For your applicants, the waiting process is very unpleasant, especially if there is no statement about the duration. This is also not good for your image as an employer, because it conveys a lack of appreciation.


If you have to turn down the interviewer, do so in an appreciative manner (see 2. above) and preferably make a phone call. This acknowledges the previous commitment of the interested party and gives you the opportunity to positively justify the decision as well as to convey the impression that a renewed application could be profitable in the future. A rejection by mail, after investing time in an interview, comes across as very cold and does not reflect well on your company as an employer.


A reason for joy - for both sides. Your employer brand and the advertised position are convincing. Make sure that the salary and contract details are clarified promptly. Ask what your new employee is looking forward to and what is important to him or her. Keep in mind that you should not slacken your efforts to find the right talent. You may have recruited successfully in the meantime, but you now want to integrate the promising employee well into the company and retain him or her in the long term. The good impression from the application phase should be consolidated on both sides - otherwise you will soon part ways again.

Tip: You can always get better. Ask the candidates how they have felt about the application process so far. Maybe you'll notice some levers that you can tweak. Your inquiry shows interest in the candidate experience and your efforts as an employer to pay attention not only to the needs of existing employees, but also to those of future employees.

4. hiring and digital onboarding

Recruitment and onboarding are often more challenging to implement digitally than on site, because the reaction of the new employee is not immediately visible. It is therefore extremely important to provide intensive support for the new hire - this prevents misunderstandings and upsets. The employment contract should be worded clearly and comprehensibly - in line with your tone and CI. Go through the document with the new talent on the phone and leave room for questions. 
After the contract is signed, the employee life cycle begins and your internal employer branding measures can take effect. Make sure the onboarding process is structured. A checklist and a mentoring program are recommended to make onboarding easier. Especially for employees who work in a home office or remotely, digital get-to-know appointments should be actively planned. This promotes team integration and prevents feelings of isolation. Our tip is for team leaders or supervisors to schedule regular consultation appointments with the new talent to accompany the onboarding process and provide further support as needed. In this way, you can lay the foundation for a lasting bond with your employer brand. 


Basically, the relationship of employer to employee:in analogous to a private relationship. It is important to make a lasting effort for each other. Above all, this means engaging in mutual exchange, promoting mutual development and being open to feedback. Especially with digital means of communication, misunderstandings and slights can arise that would not have occurred face-to-face. Online, it is much more difficult to assess how the other person is feeling. In this case, it is worthwhile to train the personnel managers and, depending on the size of the company, perhaps even to hire an internal happiness manager (also known as a feelgood manager or chief happiness officer).

As a full service employer branding agency, we will be happy to advise you on all aspects of digital application processes and internal employer branding.

Your contact:

Katrin Jetter
Senior Consultant
0711/ 925388-10
[email protected]





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