The recruiter’s dual dilemma: either not enough candidates, or too many candidates. It’s a perpetual problem that oscillates wildly (we had to work in a Smiths reference today) depending on the type of job you’re working on and the credentials it requires. An entry-level sales job for an interesting company (or even a convenience store clerk opening) might net you hundreds of candidates, while a high-level database development position might take a bit more to fill. To understand why people aren’t applying, you need to understand what kind of job you have, and what it means for your job application process. This involves not only looking at the skills involved, but also the marketplace for those skills. Here are a couple of ideas for skills-based boosting of your job application numbers.
Test Hard Skills
Are the skills necessary for this job “hard” skills? That is, can they be tested? If you have a programming job, you should certainly be planning to give programming tests to any applicants. Test any hard skills that you can. This will not only give you a better idea of what candidates can really do, but also motivate them to apply. After all, a chance to do some programming is more welcome to most programmers than filling out twenty pages of background information. Better yet, allow programmer candidates to program a script that will autofill their application for them–they’ll not only enjoy it, but it’ll teach you a thing or two about how they approach solving problems.
Showcase Soft Skills
Plenty of jobs involve very important “soft” skills, like dealing with people. These can be harder to test directly. Although there are countless pre-employment tests available, many of them have better salespeople than predictive results. Better to test soft skills with a scenario or by asking for samples of previous work. If samples are hard to come by, it’s probably the case that this person doesn’t have the experience you need. For very entry-level positions, consider having candidates come up with samples as part of the evaluation process. It’s a lot of work, but candidates who need to prove themselves will go to these lengths.
Find What’s Missing
Gawker’s amusing takedown of this search for a highly qualified, highly motivated convenience store employee is snarky, but it also has a point. None of the more than twenty questions satirized by the site relate directly to what convenience store employees will have to do day in and day out: deal with customers. There are questions about planning, drug testing, following the rules, and whether you think variety is the spice of life (really?), but nothing about how you approach customer service–the core of this position! If you put all your candidates through a litany of questions like these, it’s no wonder you don’t get more qualified people. The best people will be out the door within 30 seconds.
Creating high barriers to application may seem like the best way to screen out unqualified candidates, but it’s actually the best way to screen out the most qualified candidates. Highly qualified, already-employed individuals are not willing to jump through hoops to take a chance on an unknown job. Make it easy for qualified people to show you their stuff, and you’ll get more qualified people applying.
What are some tricks you use to get qualified applicants to complete your job application process?