The battle for quality over quantity in job applications

By liamarus, 17 September, 2013

Recruitment management is shifting gears to favour the quality over quantity of CVs received as HR inboxes overflow with large numbers of applications that don't meet the minimum criteria stated in the job advert. HR managers are beginning to realise that they can do more with fewer but better-quality candidates. 

Especially in South Africa, with a very high unemployment rate of around 25%, general job boards generate huge volumes of irrelevant applications. Large volumes of CVs actually make life more difficult by increasing the amount of administration required and it takes an inordinate amount of time to sift through all the applications and identify the worthwhile candidates.

It also means that most employers aren't able to respond to all the job applications they receive, which directly impacts the company brand. In certain types of businesses, applicants may be prospective customers and a bad hiring experience can negatively influence their purchasing decisions.

Quality CVs over quantity of CVs
While recruitment historically seemed successful when you receive 500 new CVs for one job opening, the ideal is rather only to get 20 relevant ones with five really good applications. Sourcing these high-quality candidates will require much more targeted recruitment campaigns aimed at smaller numbers of exactly the people you want. 
Fine-tune your approach

LinkedIn and Facebook make it possible to target very specific candidates based on the information in their job profiles. Pay-per-click campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation with keywords and phrases describing a position or qualifications can help channel search results for more relevant applications. Applicant-tracking systems can also help pre-screen applicants with specific questions related to a job.
Time to get creative

With a strong employer brand in place, HR departments need to communicate the right message to the right candidates via the right platform. 
A starting point is to speak to your own staff or survey other key groups to find out where they hang out online so that you can target the platforms where you can find like-minded staff. For example:

  • Use Pinterest boards for architects,
  • Investigate niche communities like Microsoft developer forums, or gaming portals for software engineers, or
  • Place clever posters in the fitting rooms at fashion retailers to recruit new sales staff.

Candidate referrals are another disruptive force

Good people know other good people and by financially encouraging recommendations, HR departments can quickly access high-quality talent who might not be on other employers’ radars yet.
There are now job referral applications that can synchronise with a company’s applicant tracking system, offering full social media integration. Every time staff share a job or recommend a candidate, they get points that accumulate on a leaderboard as their referrals make it through the interview process to hire. These points can be cashed in for real money, extra leave or weekend getaways.  

 Casting out the net

The ideal is to build up pipelines of high-quality talent to tap into for future recruitment rather than frantically searching for appropriate candidates every time a new senior or specialist position at the company opens up.
It’s important to remember that a highly targeted message will attract fewer applications because of the special skills and experience sought. If it takes a while to get a response, that’s fine – be patient and don’t panic. 
The goal is to wait for the right candidates to respond and not get another bunch of inappropriate applications. Campaigns might also run longer or be more open ended for constant niche skill requirements. But saving on recruitment agency fees with even a single direct hire should offset the cost of creating and running a campaign. With only a handful of replies, but applications that are spot-on, that’s a successful mission.

by Mark Gray

This article first appeared on HR Pulse.



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