When did getting a lot of applicants become a problem?

“We are getting too many applicants as it is”.  This is a phrase I’m hearing more and more from recruitment marketing organizations. Organizations feel this way for a few reasons:

1. They feel their recruiters are swamped as it is and additional screening would just add to the work pile.
2. They are currently hiring candidates that are good or acceptable for their positions
3. They have no way of knowing what type of candidates are dropping off during the apply process

Some organizations are even looking to decrease the amount of applicants they are receiving by instituting harder / longer job applications, increasing the # of qualifications for a position and reducing the reach of their job distribution campaigns.

In general recruiting organizations are making decisions on what they do know (that their process is making acceptable hires and filling positions) over what they don’t know (how many & what type of candidates are falling off the process.)

But there’s a few problems with this train of thought.

First, there are a significant number of candidates that are falling off your apply process today.  Some a unqualified but there are also great candidates that you want in your ATS or CRM.

Second, many organizations are looking at these candidates as potential applicants only for the current position they are looking for.  These candidates should not only represent a potential fit today but should be utilized to fill future positions (if they are not hired for the current position.)

Third, depending on if you are sourcing candidates yourself, you may not be using methods or channels that are as successful as they could be at bringing in candidates that are qualified.  You need to have robust recruitment metrics to understand this.

So how can we deal with the increased applicant flow more effectively to ensure that we aren’t missing out on the best candidates?

Today’s problems and potential ways to solve it

There are a few main issues on why this is such a big issue today.  Let’s take a look at all of them and some potential ways to alleviate the problems:

Automated Screening is Ineffective:While I don’t advocate screening candidates solely through automation, it can be a great way to give you an idea of the candidates that best fit a position (when you start your personal screening).  Today there is an obvious disconnect in the technology used for screening (mainly ATS) and the users using it.  Whether that is a usability issue or an education one depends on your ATS.

The Solution:You need to figure out what your ATS can do in terms of screening.  Work with your ATS provider to identify how and what you are able to screen for and educate your recruiters on how to use this functionality.  Some ATS provide great ways to automatically screen candidates that apply for a position.  The key is learning how and what to screen for.

Screening during the apply process: When screening candidates before they apply it is more important to focus on making sure the right candidates get through the process and less about making sure that the right # of candidates make it through.

The Solution:To make sure the right candidates make it through try and put screening questions and steps into the process that qualify candidates.  Whether that’s in your job application, in your job ad messaging or determined by the recruiting channels you use, it’s important to think out how you can screen the right candidates during every step of the process.

An example is a mobile start-up that requires an AWESOMEcover letter with each application.  They require this because they want candidates that have high energy and are creative and this stage in the process makes it simple to identify these traits.

Not knowing who’s dropping off:Many organizations today don’t know when & how many candidates are dropping out of their recruitment funnel.  Most importantly, they are unable to capture candidates that don’t complete the apply process into a database.

The Solution: First, your organization needs to start collecting real-time recruiting metrics.  These metrics will help you understand what’s happening in your recruitment funnel and determine what your candidate drop off rates look like.  Second, you should use dual purpose job ads.  This means including a quick opt-in form directly during the apply process to capture contacts in your Recruiting CRM before they get into your job application.  This enables you to capture candidate information even if they decide not to apply for the position (to be used in future job campaigns.)

Just like in Marketing, you want to get as many prospects into the top of your recruitment funnel as possible. Once you have that mass of candidates, it’s time to figure out better ways to more effectively screen these candidates and understand where your most qualified candidates are coming from.

The bigger the applicant pool you have, the more likely you will find qualified candidates.   The key is to understand what qualified means for your organization (and for the position) and make sure to screen for that during the apply process and once they are in your ATS.

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