Six tips to avoid being overwhelmed with job applications

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With so little recruitment this year, organisations with vacancies report being inundated with applications for the limited roles they have on offer. Suzanne Hurndall shares six tips for coping with a high volume of applications.

With a record number of people looking for jobs following the vast number of redundancies due to the pandemic, many recruiters and companies are reporting being inundated by applications for each vacancy they advertise – some even suggesting they’re receiving applications in their thousands.

But how can an already busy HR team handle this rapid increase in applications? This situation is only expected to worsen when the government’s furlough scheme draws to a close at the end of October and further companies are expected to announce redundancies.

These six tips will help HR teams process a high volume of applications and find the right candidate.

1. Getting the job description right

Firstly, firms need to provide a detailed job description that ensures that all applicants have a full understanding of the job and are not misled by incorrect or deceiving job descriptions. We’ve seen this at my organisation, hr inspire, far more than you’d expect, regardless of the size of the company. Make your description inclusive, interesting, appealing and optimised for search so when the right people find your listing they are compelled to apply and you will have better candidates during the process.

2. Shorten the application window

Having a short application window can also be crucial to prevent too many people applying. There is no need to promote a role for more than one week in the current climate, with so many qualified people already looking for a job – it just adds to your workload and lowers the odds for applicants. With Mondays proven to be the best day to first post a job you are likely to have a busy inbox in just a few days. Use an online application form or web-based version to gather as much information as possible about each candidate.

3. Determine how the shortlist will be decided

Once these foundations are in place, create a dedicated shortlisting process for the role to help identify the applicants with the skills you need. Determine the criteria and the maximum shortlist number. Technology is an important aid to high volume recruitment to make it more of a manageable task, so automate the process using keyword identifying tools to automatically sift candidates who don’t meet your basic criteria and review and evaluate applications, saving the team time and paperwork.

4. Screen in, not out

The aim should be to screen candidates in, not out. By using the right recruitment technology including pre-employment assessments you can make screening faster, more accurate and more efficient.

You could also try different apps and tech-based processes such as CIPHR, Workday and Breathe. An Applicant Tracking System can also ensure you stay on top of a high-volume application job so you can quickly track each stage of the recruitment process from beginning to end.

5. Develop a scoring system

Giving candidates a score is extremely useful to quickly prepare shortlists and for deciding who should get the role. Having solid cut-off points prevents you from wasting your time with candidates who just aren’t a strong enough fit and ensures quicker deliberation. It is unlikely that all of your candidates will meet all your criteria, but you can identify your strongest candidates by giving them a score. This can be a simple numbered scoring system; how do they score against your criteria that is mandatory, essential, desirable?

Once you have your shortlist it’s a good idea to run online pre-interview tests for many roles which can be done by different scenario-based competency questions.

Having solid cut-off points prevents you from wasting your time with candidates who just aren’t a strong enough fit and ensures quicker deliberation.”

6. Don’t forget the candidate experience

Finally, remember that recruitment is a two-way street – while you may initially attract many applications for your business, they may (including the best candidates) lose interest if the hiring process isn’t a good one. This could not only prevent applicants reapplying in future for other roles, but potentially also put them off becoming a customer or supplier if they work for another connected business in the future. It could also deter them from recommending your organisation to others.

Consider the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory, the concept that all people are just six, or even fewer, social/work connections from each other. This theory, along with common courtesy, is also why candidate feedback is so important. Providing candidates with at least basic feedback improves your candidate experience. By simply responding and letting the candidate know the outcome of their application says a lot about your brand.

Candidates who receive a polite response are more likely to have a better perception of your organisation compared to those who don’t get a reply. This too can be automated at the early stages to speed up the process and handle large volumes of applications, while those who make it to the final interview stage will appreciate a more detailed and personal response.

If you have the right job description and application window, the right tech tools, efficient shortlist scoring and communicate clearly and in a timely fashion, you’ll not only avoid being overwhelmed by job applications, but also make the experience far more rewarding for every candidate.

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Suzanne Hurndall

About Suzanne Hurndall

Suzanne Hurndall is relationship director at outsourced HR consultancy and support business hr inspire.
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