Quality vs. Quantity in Recruiting

With the prospect of getting past COVID-19 now looking more realistic each week, employers are trying to figure out how to scale up operations efficiently. For many, this means hiring a lot of new employees—and fast.

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You’d think hiring would be easy in a labor market with high unemployment levels, but employers are finding it’s not always that cut and dry. Although there is a large pool of applicants, not all of them are qualified for a given vacancy, and employers still have plenty of competition. Combine that with the need for a larger scale of hiring than in the past, and it’s easy to see why some employers are wondering how to go about this in the coming months.

There are also a few trends that can cause recruiting frustrations:

  • Right now, more people want remote work, but not all jobs can be done remotely, making it tougher for employers filling in-person roles.
  • The number of candidates who ghost employers at all stages of the recruiting process has been growing for years.
  • Job search apps make it easy to apply for jobs without even reading about them—many even as simple as one click. This means that would-be employees may not even know what they applied for and, as a result, be less likely to show up to an interview because they’re less invested in the process.

Quantity vs. Quality in the Recruiting Process

When it comes to hiring efficiently, quality versus quantity in applicants is often viewed as either-or.

For example, if you place an ad that casts a wide net, it will attract more candidates, but fewer of them will be ideally suited for the role, and even fewer will still want the role when they learn the specifics.

The idea is to get them in the door for an interview so you can explain more about the job. Doing it this way will give you the chance to talk to a lot more people, and you’ll need to recruit a lot of them to get past those initial hurdles and get a lot of people in. This method can get lots of candidates in quickly.

On the other hand, if you place an ad that is tailored to the specific job—one that is tailored to the exact candidate you have in mind—you’ll likely get fewer applicants but ones who are more likely to be a better fit.

Having fewer candidates may feel frustrating and as if the time, effort, and money spent on the process were wasted, especially if you don’t end up hiring a great candidate in the end. But even though there will be fewer applicants, they are more likely to be a good match, meaning you’ll spend much less time with unqualified or uninterested people. This could ultimately result in a good hiring outcome.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, and which makes the most sense for you may depend on how much the specific qualifications matter for the role you’re hiring for.

For many entry-level jobs, especially ones that don’t require a specific degree or experience, the quantity approach may work perfectly fine and even result in quicker hiring. But if you need a specific skill set or if you are hiring for a demanding job, you may find that the turnover with the quantity method isn’t worthwhile.