How to Handle a High Volume of Job Applications

Hiring Managers: Here’s How to Handle all of those Job Applications

So many hiring managers are finding themselves in need of new team members—but when it comes to the application process? The daunting task of sifting through all those resumes alone can feel overwhelming. Here’s how to get through the difficult task of finding that special candidate within that haystack of job applications. Hint: the key is not braving this alone! Put your hiring anxiety aside and let’s get into it together…

Step 1 - Be clear on your must-haves

The greatest tool you have from the beginning is a solid job description. This is your opportunity to set expecations and define your requirements upfront. You need to include required hard skills as well as desirable soft skills. Experience level is also a key metric in finding the right person—be sure you’re vocal about both the years of experience needed as well as the type of experience. For example, if you need someone already at a director’s level with over five years leading teams, state that in your job description. Industry-specific knowledge or types of project experience also may be a part of your requirements. You can make a list of “like to haves”, too, though you should label them as such if you include them in the job description. This list will be more helpful in narrowing down your search later. Finally, enlist either your HR representatives or a professional recruiter (like us!) to help find you candidates based on your requirements, while also ensuring your job description is free of bias. With your recruiter’s help, you’ll notice they’re able to find the best people for the job who might not even know you’re hiring!

Step 2 - Get help to make the stack manageable

First, eliminate anyone who doesn’t fulfill the baseline must-haves. It's best to work with a recruiter or HR rep who can filter out unqualified candidates before the resume reaches your desk. You can also use AI tools to filter specific job-related keywords in or out. If you choose to work with AI, be wary of tools that have a track record of negative bias and involve your human helpers to ensure your AI tool isn’t filtering out the wrong people. Some AI tools that come highly recommended are TalVista and Harver, which use machine learning to question candidates on their skills and competency while ignoring irrelevant personal details like age or gender.

Step 3 - Do your own (light) screening

Once you have a smaller stack of resumes (say, ten) that feels manageable to you, start screening. Now would be a good time to bring out the “like to have” list of qualifications, introducing new qualities into your mix of “must-haves”. Think about what your team really needs to round out everyone else’s skills and personalities—aka your Culture Fit criteria. If you need help figuring out what type of culture your company fosters, we have an article for you. Pay attention to qualities like creative problem-solving within their portfolio case studies and their language around how they work with their teammates.  Then, once you’ve whittled down your list to about five candidates, you’re ready for the next step.

Step 4 - Develop a consistent system of evaluation

Before you schedule interviews, develop a consistent line of questioning to ask the small group of hopefuls. Again, work with your recruiter to create a system of evaluation so that all candidates are up against the same line of questioning and will receive adequate feedback from you and anyone else conducting interviews. Within your evaluation system, be sure that there is space for team members to weigh in on their experience when they get to speak with the candidates. Then, you can meet with your team and evaluate the candidates together, thereby lessening your burden and making this process more of a team effort.

Step 5 - Lean on your culture fit criteria

Your final decision will likely come down to a handful of great candidates, making it tough to choose who will get the job. This is the time to bring back what you know about your team’s culture and company and think about how each candidate would likely fit. Don’t neglect what your team is missing—if you find you need someone to shake up the status quo in some way, that might be a great solution to revitalize your team. Review the candidates’ answers, their former experiences, communication style, work ethic, and qualifications to determine who ticks the most boxes for your team. Still having trouble? Ask your team and your recruiter for their thoughts. Even though you are making the choice, you don’t have to go through any of this process alone. 

TLDR: While receiving a stack of resumes a mile high is daunting, you are not meant to do all of the sifting alone! Lean heavily on your recruiter, perhaps utilizing a trusted form of AI, and you’ll be able to find the best candidates within all those applications. After you make a list of your top ten, involve your team and make sure everyone has time to offer feedback after interviews. Your final decision will likely come down to which candidate is the best culture fit, in addition to all of their hard and soft skill requirements. And, after this long road of hiring you are still stumped, you can always count on your recruiter to weigh in with their thoughts.

If you are looking for a recruiter to help you find the best people for the job, we’ve been in the business of finding and placing top-tier candidates for decades. 

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