Let me be the first to break some news that you can’t find anywhere else: a lot of people are looking for work right now. Really. I swear.
Allow me to trot out some data to support my extraordinary assertion. At Accolo, people join our Career Network for one primary reason: they want to apply for a job that we’re supporting for one of our clients. (The second most prevalent reason they join is to be part of the coolest Career Network around, but I think it’s safe to assume that people are more focused on employment than coolness.) In the fourth quarter of 2008, we had a 78% increase in the number of people who joined our Career Network compared with the same period in 2007, adjusted for the number of jobs we supported. In fact, for every job Accolo supported, the average number of people joining our Career Network went from 65 to 116.
Depending on how you look at it, this deeper candidate pool is a blessing or a curse. The benefits are obvious: more options as you look to fill an open position, backup candidates should one of the finalists renege, and an ability to negotiate on compensation all come to mind. On the other hand, how do you evaluate that many applicants? And who is burdened with that responsibility?
Most companies have two options: the hiring manager or a recruiter. The hiring manager has a day job, and extra time spent filtering through resumes is time not spent on core business initiatives. That seems like a losing proposition. So what about the recruiter? You could be forgiven if this scenario seems like a recruiter’s dream: tons of qualified candidates who aren’t exactly flush with other opportunities. But when they’re seeing a 78% increase across every position they are asked to fill, don’t be too surprised to find your recruiters curled up under desks that are threatening to collapse under the stack of unviewed resumes. Since most economists are projecting that unemployment will get worse before it gets better, we’ll likely see even more applicants over the next few months.
Since you’re still with me, I’m guessing you’re at least mildly intrigued about how to solve the “massive number of applications” issue. The best option is to automatically interview and pre-qualify candidates as they apply. This enables you to do two things: highlight the candidacy of qualified individuals and screen out those who are not a fit for the role. If done properly, a hiring manager only spends his/her time speaking with qualified candidates. You can also respond to everyone who is not a fit for the role, treating them with the respect they deserve. If you guessed that Accolo enables you to choose option three, then you’re like Yogi – that is to say, you’re smarter than the average bear.