What is your strategy when faced with a high volume of applications ?

Let’s say you’re a small company with limited resources, time and budget.

You publish a job ad for an open position in your company.
Within 24 hours you are submerged by hundreds of applications.

You simply do not have the time to go through all the resumes.

How do you deal with that ? What’s your strategy ?

Views: 144

Comment by Robin Eads on March 26, 2010 at 6:43pm
I'm curious to see the responses to this. My feeling is if you publish an ad that gets THAT many responses, something is wrong.

1. It's a common position that you can probably source someone for without having to post an ad.
2. You've written a vague job description that leaves too many applicants open to interpretation ("I can do that job!")
3. You've posted the ad on a space that allows too much "general" applicant traffic and not enough "specialized" applicant traffic.
Comment by Alexis Perrier on March 27, 2010 at 1:24am
Hi Robin,
I agree with your conclusions, there are many ways to avoid the situation by better preparation and targeting. However the case I'm referring to is more of a small company that is looking for applicants without specific skills and is not using the services of a professional recruiter.
For example, a small real estate business, looking for an junior assistant.
Not a mid-sized software company looking for a Java developer with 6 years of experience.

In today's job market, it is common for that kind of job ad to generate a lot of incoming resumes.

Right now the only approaches I've seen are either to spend a lot of time going through all the resumes or just to select a few resumes and get rid of the remaining ones.

Using an ATS does not seem to change the problem. You still have to look at the resumes.

Any other idea or practice ?
Comment by Ian Jones on March 30, 2010 at 11:00am

The problem with reviewing a high volume of resumes, is that it's hard to compare apples to apples. Resume formats vary widely, making review time consuming and inaccurate.

I'd suggest developing a quick exercise for applicants to complete in addition to submitting a resume. Something simple, but relevant to the position and representative of what that person might actually do on the job.

In the past, I've found those exercises to be valuable in a couple of ways. They cut down on the amount of resume spam. Candidates not really interested in the job won't complete the exercise. It also gives you a much better way to compare work product and communication skills within tangible work product.

If a candidates exercises don't look good, then there is no point in reviewing the resume.

Good luck!
Comment by Alexis Perrier on March 30, 2010 at 11:25am
Ian, thanks a lot for your input.
I like the idea of asking candidates to do some extra work when or after applying for the job.
Extra information filled in an online form is easy to implement. Or any kind of writing assignment for that matter.

I'm wondering what kind of exercise you would have in mind ? A quizz ? A basic math problem ?
The exercise has to be easy to check for the recruiter.

Could you please give me a concrete example ?
Comment by Ian Jones on March 30, 2010 at 11:40am
Sure. Hard to say specifically for this role, I'm not familiar with what a junior assistant does at a Real Estate firm. But I'd start by thinking about what this person would actually do for you on a daily basis, then figure out a way to give them and exercise that could put them in a similar situation.

In the past for, say junior marketing analysts, I've provided them with sample data and asked them to do some basic computations, and submit an analysis on what they've found. That's an easy one.

For your junior assistant, I'm guessing they do some mix of research, communication and scheduling. I might ask them to submit an draft email, requesting a meeting for the CEO of your company, with the CEO of a potential partner company. Gives you a chance to see non-resume business writing, and communication skills/style.

Or for research, I might ask them to submit a list of 10 commercial spaces currently for rent within a local zip code you define. Probably not that hard to find, and it would be interesting to see what you get back. Some might send an email with a list of addresses, while others might send an Excel sheet with columns for address, broker, square footage, price, etc. Once you get to the interview process, it would be interesting to talk with them about the approach they used to gather their information. Probably a lot more insightful than standard interview questions.

The challenge is always getting an exercise that's relevant to the job, but also simple and doesn't require a ton of institutional knowledge.

Does that help?
Comment by Alexis Perrier on March 30, 2010 at 11:47am
yes it helps a lot. lots of good ideas in what you write.
The junior assistant position in a real estate firm is in fact an example to make the problem more concrete.
As you say the problem is creating an exercise relevant to the job and its environment.
But research, communication, scheduling, data analysis, ... make a good base on which to extrapolate
Thank you for your input. This is a very strong and relevant idea you gave me.


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