Manufacturing firms leading the way with user-friendly job applications


New industry data has revealed that manufacturing firms are offering some of the best candidate experiences during job application processes.

The Access Group’s Recruitment and Resourcing Index has revealed a significant gap between candidate experiences when applying for new jobs across the major sectors – which could be preventing them from completing the process.

The index was compiled using different metrics – including user-experience of careers pages, the number of questions on an application form, and whether candidates can apply via LinkedIn or need to send a covering letter. The higher the score, the better the candidate experience. 

The findings come as the British Chambers of Commerce latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook (QRO) found that 80% of UK businesses have reported difficulties in recruiting – down just 2% from the ‘highest level of recruitment difficulties on record’ last year.

The Access Group, a business management software specialist, analysed 20 industries including manufacturing, legal, healthcare and logistics to find out which ones offer the best candidate experiences, and where there is room for improvement. The lower the index score, the worse the experience. 

Manufacturing firms were the fifth most likely industry to land top talent due to offering the best candidate experiences during the recruitment process. 

Topping the index as the industry more likely to land top talent are retail and ecommerce businesses, offering candidates the best user experience when going through recruitment processes. 

Bookstore Waterstones had the best-performing website, while Hobbycraft, Mamas and Papas and Bargain Booze came out top with the best application processes

Top ten industries for providing the most seamless candidate experience 


Average index score

Retail and ecommerce


Homeware and interiors








Energy and utilities


Food and beverages






Travel and tourism


When it comes to the worst candidate experiences, industries with long-standing skill shortages led the way in the index with accounting and finance, automotive and building and construction firms all ranking highly in the index of industries struggling to land top talent.

The ten industries potentially missing out the most on industry talent


Average index score

Accounting and finance




Building and construction






Creative arts and design


Warehousing and distribution


Transport and logistics






Commenting on the findings, Julia Harvie-Liddel, Head of Recruitment at The Access Group said:

“In today’s competitive jobs market, organisations cannot afford to risk losing candidates at the final stage because of poor experiences with their website and arduous application forms. 

“The good news is that with a few improvements, employers could see a vast improvement in the number of people who complete their application form. Make sure your careers pages or microsite is performing well from a technical perspective. Like customers, candidates will be put off by sites that are slow to load or don’t display properly on a mobile, so ask your digital team to check its Core Web Vitals (CWV). Just as important is updating your website with the latest roles and engaging content – everything from rewards and benefits to company life.”

She added that in-house recruitment software can also play a valuable role in achieving this.

“This technology enables firms to create a professional branded website that attracts candidates, engages them at every stage of the journey – keeping them updated on the status of their application and completing checks as efficiently as possible.”


The Access Group used two key metrics to compile an average index score for each industry analysed, based on the UK’s top 100 brands by turnover by sector.

  • Core Web Vitals (CWV)
    • It ran each company’s jobs/  career related page through the Core Web Vitals tester (Lighthouse) then took an average score as the result. This would include the careers page, job listing pages, job description pages.
  • Ease of Application (EOA)
    • The Access Group took the number of form fields needed to fill out the job application on the website and took that as the EOA.

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