What to Do When You Have More Applicants Than You Can Handle

Features Recruiter.com

Recruiters at large or particularly well-known companies are often blessed with a very unique problem: They have almost too much interest from candidates. Without even going out of the way to highlight their employer brands, some organizations receive hundreds, or even thousands, of applications due to name recognition, prestige, or brand alone.

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Generally, this a good problem – I'd way rather have too many candidates to choose from than too few. But it certainly has its downsides, too. If you get a few dozen applications each time a commercial airs, finding a qualified candidate can feel like searching for the needle in a haystack.

At Dollar Shave Club, we found ourselves in that situation back in 2012 when our name recognition really started to take off. And over the years, awareness of our brand and products – as well as the number of interested candidates – has only gone up. Fortunately, we've also become more adept at dealing with a high volume of applications.

Here are a few of the things we've found to be essential when it comes to managing an influx of candidates:

Don't Fear Transparency

In recruiting, there's sometimes a tendency to only tell candidates what they want to hear. You might talk up your competitive salaries and great perks, but beat around the bush when it comes to the long hours employees sometimes have to put in for fear of scaring candidates off.

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In the context of dealing with a high volume of applicants, however, taking a bold stance like that can actually be a good thing.

At my company, we make sure to highlight the universal positives – generous perks, a good work-life balance, a modern office – but we're also upfront about the issues that could potentially be negatives for candidates. I've had several interviews, for example, where I've been asked if Dollar Shave Club allows flexible hours or working from home. When that happens, I make a point to let them know that while we pride ourselves on having fun, we also know that we're a relationship-driven organization that works best when everyone's in the office during core business hours. Sure, it might cause some people to lose interest – but if it's truly that important to them, then they likely wouldn't have been happy with the job anyway. And when you set expectations around key areas like communication style, operating mode, and company culture early on in the process, you help ensure that you get the right kinds of folks applying for the job.

Automate the Legwork

If you're still stuck in emails and spreadsheets, it's time to upgrade. Recruiting as a whole has been a little slow to adopt new technology compared with other fields like marketing and sales, but there's no need to hesitate. In particular, a good applicant tracking system (ATS) is an essential part of being an agile organization nowadays, and it can make your day-to-day job a whole lot easier – especially when you're dealing with many job applications at once.

One of the key value propositions that ATS platforms offer is minimizing, and sometimes even eliminating, the mindless but time-consuming tasks that monopolize your day. At Dollar Shave Club, we use Jobvite, but you should choose whichever platform best suits your organization's needs. With the right ATS, you can pull candidate information into a centralized database, share open positions to different social networks and job boards, and send reminders to hiring managers to provide interview feedback, all without having to lift a finger.

This, in turn, frees you up for more thoughtful tasks like interviewing and candidate communication. And at the end of the day, that not only improves your efficiency, but also it increases the chances that you'll find someone who's an ideal fit for your company.

Be Accessible and Respond, Respond, Respond

One thing I've noticed at certain organizations is that recruiting teams will sometimes try and limit the amount of team members reaching out to candidates. One group will be responsible for sourcing, for example, while the other (usually more senior) folks will own outreach. Often, this comes from a place of wanting to carefully control outgoing messaging. But today, candidates can reach out to nearly anyone on your team via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook – and with that increased accessibility comes the expectation of quicker response times. Given that, there's really no reason to not make everyone on your team available to candidates.

The bottom line is that if you trust an employee enough to be on your team, you can trust them enough to interact with candidates. While everyone needs a little coaching – especially when it comes to handling sensitive issues like dealing with a candidate who was turned down – you'll probably find that empowering everybody to reach out to candidates will lead to a quicker response rate and, ultimately, an improved candidate experience.

Sometimes, it can be hard to be thankful for a high volume of applicants – especially when you have dozens of applications to go through. But when so many organizations have to fight tooth and nail among their competitors just to get candidates' attention, this is most definitely a good problem to have. And once you improve your efficiency through automation, transparency, and increased responsiveness, it gets even better.

Peter Moore is an experienced leader of talent acquisition teams in fast-paced industries, which include entertainment, technology, consumer electronics, and retail.