Today’s hiring process isn’t what it used to be. These days, it takes an online presence and greater flexibility to connect with qualified candidates. At the same time, frequent state regulatory changes mean employers must continually monitor and update their job applications to avoid legal risk.

With the new Job Application Smart App, our small business customers get the best of all worlds. It provides the simplicity and built-in compliance they’ve grown to know and trust from us, along with a convenient and affordable new way to expand their recruiting efforts. Busy employers are no longer limited to having candidates visit a location to fill out a form. Now they can add a link to their job application on their company website, intranet, LinkedIn post or via email.

Just as important, the app is tailored to serve small businesses that may not have a large variety of jobs open at once. It offers the unique benefits of online software for their hiring needs — without the tremendous cost of a full-blown application-tracking system. Many of those systems charge a subscription based on active monthly postings (which adds up quickly), but our app is just $60 a year.

The Unrealized Complexities of State Laws

In the early 2000s, we started offering state-specific job applications to a handful of states and continued to add more until we covered all 50, including the District of Columbia. Our expansion into state-specific job applications was designed to address a growing compliance issue for small business customers.

As it is, most businesses aren’t even aware of the need for state-compliant job applications that include nondiscriminatory questions, statements and other legal disclosures. In our recent survey, Small Business Hiring Practices, we asked small businesses if their state “Bans the Box,” or forbids inquiries about criminal history on a job application. Most respondents didn’t know the answer, or if they thought their state did not ban the box, 63% of them were incorrect. Additionally, when we presented potential job application questions such as “Where were you born?” or “Are you part of a union?”, 63% also incorrectly identified some or all of the questions as legal when they’re actually federally banned.

Unfortunately, when small businesses overlook these requirements and use generic job applications that aren’t attorney written or approved, they run the risk of violating federal, state or local laws. This points to a clear need for a product such as our Job Application app.

Consistent Monitoring and Updating Built in

With such a wide variety of state laws pertaining to job applications, the foundation of the Job Application Smart App is exceptionally strong. Our in-house team of legal and HR experts monitor federal and state legal changes in real time to ensure job applications are always 100% compliant.

Updates happen automatically with the online tool, with no delays or extra work for customers. With a paper application, whenever there were state changes affecting the application, our customers would have to discard their current applications and purchase updated forms. Not so with the app. Because they’re posting or sending an electronic link, rather than a PDF or printout of the application, their postings and communications will always include the most up-to-date application available for the state.

Here at HRdirect, we understand that smart hiring begins long before the interview. We designed the Job Application app to assist employers with a successful, legally sound hiring process from the start.

Excellent Candidates Are Out There: Reach More of Them

Here’s how the app works — and the features that make the most difference for small businesses:

Built-in compliance assurances

After employers fill out a short company profile, the Smart App provides the most current job application for a specific state. The application includes the required questions and legal disclosures for the state, as well as a list of compliant nonrequired questions. Whenever state requirements change, the employer is notified, and questions are automatically modified or removed. We did this to relieve employers from the burden of keeping abreast of the ever-evolving state regulations, ensuring you’re in compliance.

Broader connection with candidates

Employers can provide access to the job application on the company website, intranet or an online ad (such as a LinkedIn post). The job application can also be emailed directly to the candidate from the Smart App. If employers still want to print copies for walk-in candidates, they can do that, too. This gives small businesses a full range of delivery options.

More efficient application experience for candidates

Once candidates open the link, they can securely fill out the job application electronically by entering their responses. They can also attach their resumes and cover letters to the application before submitting it.

Streamlined next steps in the hiring process

A simple tracking and summary view lets employers see all applicants at a glance. They can review applications online or save them as PDFs that can be emailed (or printed out) to share with other hiring managers.

Simplified recordkeeping and document storage

Upon hiring, employers can update the status of each applicant, separating candidates as rejected, withdrawn or hired. The Job Application app then seamlessly creates the hire’s online profile in the free Employee Records app. It also provides guidance on the proper legal storage and retention of applications, an important protection against discrimination charges.

It’s Time to Put Job Applications to Work for Small Businesses

Hiring doesn’t have to be a time-consuming burden for employers. By upgrading to electronic applications with the new Smart App, they can expand their recruiting range and eliminate many of the inefficiencies of paper forms. Just as important, they can be certain their applications meet all federal and state requirements, for a smart AND legal screening process. Check it out here.