Skills shortages across several sectors have been well publicised in recent years. Against this backdrop, it might be logical to think that in a market where there are increasing numbers of candidates applying for roles, as has been the case since lockdown started to lift in the UK, it should be easier to hire the staff you need to push your business forward. 

However, a candidate-rich market is not always skills-rich; in fact, the sheer volume of applications being received for job postings at the moment can make it even harder to find the top talent you need with sought-after skills. At PageGroup, we know from speaking to our clients that huge volumes of applicants are applying for jobs - anything from 200-400 just for one role alone. At a time where organisations need top talent to shape their future in a post-pandemic world, finding the right talent among these applications is a critical challenge. 

So, how do you process a high volume of applications and find the talent you really need?

Be applicant ready

The first thing to do is to be prepared. Businesses looking to push ahead for the rest of the year, and into 2021, must be ready to cope with the wave of applications that will come through and have robust systems in place for sifting through applications, shortlisting and then assessing talent. One of the expected legacies of the pandemic is that many interview processes will remain remote, particularly at the early stages. Operating in this way gives the clear advantage of being able to meet more candidates in a shorter amount of time – a clear advantage when weighing up multiple applications.  

I’m a hiring manager, what should I do?

Run the rule over your advert: Is it targeting the right type of individual and is it posted in the right place? It should not need saying, but if you target incorrectly then you will not receive the response from the right individuals. With a shift in mindset, behind salary candidates now rate flexibility and location amongst the important factors to consider when applying for a job. In addition, posting onto job boards and social media platforms that your target audience do not tend to engage with will be a waste of time.

Quality check: when dealing with such large volumes of applications you may have to be quite strict. Do not be afraid to discard CVs with errors or poor formatting etc.

Have an open mind: The CV will show you a chronological timeline of work experience, but be sympathetic to the unprecedented times we face. Circumstances may dictate that a person has had to temporarily move to a job far removed from the previous roles stated on their CV.

Reduce the risk of unconscious bias: Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are widely available and are able to strip out applicant names and other areas that lead to bias. If such a system is not in place, consider splitting the process amongst different people in the hiring process to gain varying viewpoints

Scoring: Score the remaining candidates against essential and desirable skills.

Narrow it down: From the remaining 10-15 candidates, begin producing your shortlist for the initial interview process.

Remember to feedback to unsuccessful candidates if you can and retain that pipeline of communication. They may not be the right fit for the job they have applied for, but they might fit something else in the future. 

I recruit for a large company, should I consider applicants from smaller companies?

The skillset of an individual should be more important than the size of the company they have worked for. But ultimately, it depends on the role and the sector.

Alice Plisnier, Customer Engagement Manager, PageGroup said: “It is really individual to different sectors and different companies. For some companies and sectors, it is essential that they have worked in that sector before. However, in my experience, it is becoming less important. The flexibility, and the skills that can be translated across different industries, are widening. More people are being trained in wider skills than just their own particular niche skill set.”

The main priorities when recruiting in this challenging environment are:

  • Be clear on what you are looking for and what is important

  • Be understanding with regard to job hopping and employment gaps. There will be people that have switched jobs after being furloughed which will be reflected on the CV.

Alice commented: “The need for top quality [candidates] is not going away. I think if anything, it might become even more important because companies have been streamlining.”

Work with a recruitment expert

At PageGroup, we believe that the war for top talent will continue. However, whether this presents a bottle-neck effect at the top of the job applicant funnel remains to be seen. No business seeking to hire is immune to the impacts of the pandemic, but the key thing will be how they respond to the crisis.

We recruit positions on behalf of some of the world’s top employers, and our exclusive market data drives both our own and our customers’ hiring strategies to ensure the most efficient processes. We guarantee the visibility of our customers’ vacancies, ensuring they are seen by top talent, and our speed of response and the quality of candidates is second to none. If you are a hiring manager submit a job spec today. We can help you find the top talent you need.

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