An Onslaught of Applications is Coming. Are You Prepared?

Alex Oliver
June 9, 2020
AI & Machine LearningChanging TechIndustry Trends

Most companies started 2020 in good shape. The economy was roaring. Unemployment was at historic lows. Wages were creeping up, albeit slowly. The chances of a full-bodied recession seemed remote. Things were looking good.

Today we’re in a very different place. But as signs point to a recovery and employers begin to expand their workforces, be prepared for an avalanche of newly-unemployed applicants. At the same time, the situation on the ground has changed. Recruiting budgets are slashed, workers furloughed. Ready or not, hiring is ramping up — and it needs a targeted approach.

Big names, big numbers, bigger creativity

First, let’s play a game…

Imagine you’re a recruiter at Goldman Sachs. Each year you receive 500,000 applicants. You can only hire just 3% of them. Most are qualified, motivated, and would do well at your company. For every hire you make, you’ll eliminate multiple potentially good fits. How do you choose who stays and who goes?

Now imagine you work for the American Heart Association. Each year you can expect to receive somewhere in the ballpark of 225,000 applications. That’s less than half that of Goldman Sachs. Surely, this task will be easier.

Except it’s not. This time, you’ll be asked to hire just 0.5% of those applicants, most of whom are also donors, volunteers, and survivors of strokes and heart disease – the lifeblood of your organization. No one can afford a poor candidate experience. But if there’s an organization that surely can’t, it’s yours.

You might be thinking, “my company doesn’t get that sort of volume.” Or maybe it does and up until now this hasn’t been a problem. Maybe your candidate experience is already top notch. But with so many out of work and looking for jobs, can your team handle an increase in application volume by 10, 20, even 30 percent?


Here are three areas of opportunity that will help you find and hire the best talent without overwhelming (or completely reinventing) your current recruiting process.


1. Diversify how you communicate

The popularity of mobile recruiting software and recruitment chatbots has grown steadily for years. Then came global lockdowns. Billions of people around the world found themselves sheltering in place, seemingly overnight. This changed how we communicate – take the sudden ubiquity of Zoom and other video platforms for example.

Text and chat are godsends when it comes to hiring. They allow us to communicate with candidates quickly, easily, and more consistently. In a world full of distractions, people give special attention to their phones. Whereas an email sent by a recruiter will be opened about 18% of the time, a text message has a 99% change of being opened. Responses come quickly, too – the average is just 12 minutes. Better still, integration into your existing recruiting system is quick and painless, no tech savviness required.


2. Let AI and automation boil the ocean for you

Above, I asked you to picture yourself as a recruiter for Goldman Sachs and the American Heart Association. Both hire in large volumes, but only accept a fraction of the applicants they receive. What I didn’t say is how they do it.

Goldman Sachs uses iCIMS’ ensemble AI – a combination of three algorithms designed to screen candidates and match the right person to the job. That might sound complicated, but the output is simple. AI finds and recommends a manageable list of best-fit candidates. Recruiters are freed up for deep dives with top contenders and ensure they receive personal consideration.

American Heart Association’s approach is similar, though their emphasis is on saving time by automating manual processes including skills assessments and background screening. “Embedding automation into our workflow frees up time. It allows recruiters to do more interviews, source passive candidates, and engage and build relationships we otherwise would not have access to,” says Dennis Wilson, Director of Talent Acquisition and Attraction at American Heart Association. All said and done, his organization saves over 1,000 hours per year by cutting out manual tasks – time which recruiters have used to increase sourcing activity by over 200%.


3. Onboard with retention in mind

Once you’ve got people in seats, the last thing you want to do is find new ones in six months. Sure, with high employment people might be more inclined to stick around longer— but only if you give them a reason to. Onboarding is your first, best card to play.

Whether you’re training in person or remotely, great onboarding starts before a new hire’s first day. We call this preboarding – it differs from traditional, old school onboarding in that it supports new hires as they transition from candidates to employees. It works by creating a virtual portal that follows new hires through the process, centralizing the resources, information, and paperwork they’ll need before and after their start date.


Targeted at all stages of the hiring process

Together we covered just a few points throughout the hiring process, but we haven’t yet touched on how to create a focused hiring strategy. You can learn how to do this easily with best practices for posting, career sites, and applications in The Definitive Guide to Targeted Recruiting. Download your copy today.


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About the Author

Alex Oliver is a Content Writer at iCIMS with experience in brand storytelling and content marketing strategy. He also has a keen eye for strong copy and well-placed commas. When not at work, Alex can be found torturing his mind and body at the nearest obstacle course race.