Tips to Reduce the Volume of Unqualified Applicants

When unemployment levels rise, employers that are still hiring may find themselves with an abundance of applicants for any given job vacancy. Unfortunately, this often means a lot of the applicants are simply applying to everything they can rather than only to jobs they’re well-suited for. Employers may have a lot of applicants but also the unenviable task of sifting through all of them to find the ones who are actually qualified.

Source: Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

Given the situation, many employers are looking for ways to reduce the volume of unqualified applicants without discouraging the right people from applying. Let’s look at some options.

Keep the Volume But Screen Them Better

One option for employers is not to stress over reducing the number of applicants but instead to find better ways of screening them quickly to reduce the burden of making a good shortlist.

One way to do that is to include some form of screening as part of the application process that only those qualified will pass or one that has a cutoff line, making for easy sorting. For example, perhaps the job has a technical need or specific experience required. A question to that effect can be included in the application, and then you can screen out those who do not meet the minimum standard. (Note: Be careful not to be too selective. You don’t want to disqualify someone who could easily do the job but just doesn’t have x item when x item is discretionary or simply preferred; that could actually be discriminatory.)

Another screening option today is to use some form of artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in the process. This could be as simple as allowing AI to prescreen résumés with searches for keywords, for example. Or it could mean utilizing software that matches up candidate skill sets with the job requirements and ranks all applicants. While this also doesn’t reduce the total number of applications, it can help you direct your focus first on the ones that are the most qualified.

One more way to prescreen is to use phone screening to make a shortlist rather than inviting everyone to in-person interviews. This can at least save time in the initial screening.

Be Clear About the Job

One way to reduce unwanted applications is to let people self-select out who won’t be interested in the end. This often boils down to being clear and specific about the job. Be specific in what the job entails, including responsibilities, working environment, and overall conditions. Be clear about what specific skills and experience are required.

Also be upfront about the pay level. This need not be a conversation that is put off until the end of the hiring process. If you explain the pay and benefits upfront, people who are not willing or able to work for that pay level are less likely to apply. It can even be included in the job post.

Use Methods Likely to Draw Quality Applicants

Last but not least, to minimize unqualified applicants, utilize recruiting methods that are more likely to produce better-quality applicants in the first place.

For example, an employee referral program can be a great way to find people. Good employees should know what skills and other attributes will make someone successful at the job, so if they refer someone, that person is more likely to be qualified.

Another way to help get better-quality candidates is to consider promoting the job ad to ensure it gets seen by people with the skills you’re looking for rather than just relying on it to be found in search results.

In addition, work to ensure the message the organization presents publicly shows what the organization values. Spend time with other people in the organization to craft, build, and communicate the employment brand so applicants know what the culture looks like when they research the organization. This will help people see whether it’s a good fit before they apply.