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Don McIntosh

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Ten tips for successful applicant management

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This article was written by Don McIntosh, Director of RecruitActive, a division of Konetic.

If you advertise smartly, screen applications carefully and use the right tools to assist with online recruitment you will attract, identify and engage with the best talent for your organisation. The starting point is a solid and realistic job description that outlines the core skills that are necessary to fulfil the role. You need to be specific. Decide up front what is important to you and then clearly describe how candidates will qualify or be disqualified through the recruitment process. Once you have made the decisions you need to stick with them. Otherwise, you take the risk of muddying the waters and confusing the issues.

Below are a number of points that you should consider carefully when managing your applicants:

  • Make it easy for candidates to apply, including the facility to save a part-completed application and return later. Make sure you have chosen a system that allows you to prompt incomplete applicants as you near the closing date for the role to maximise the number of applications.
  • If your application form is excessively lengthy you will lose a sizeable number of applicants through the process. People are used to doing things quickly online, so aim to keep this part of the process simple.
  • Be clear about the minimum key information you need to decide the suitability of an applicant. Create killer questions at this initial stage and then gather further information as the recruitment process moves through other stages. People are more likely to respond positively to you after receiving feedback from your organisation and in the knowledge that they are making progress.
  • Ensure that you are able to uniquely identify each candidate. This will prevent duplication of applications, such as two agencies submitting the same candidate, but will still enable candidates to apply for multiple roles with your organisation.
  • You may need different types of application processes for different roles so make sure you choose a system that makes it easy to add new application forms or change the existing process as your recruitment needs evolve. Of course, internal candidates will expect the application form to recognise them as existing employees and be treated differently. This may require a different, perhaps simpler application form and process to that of external applications.
  • If you are recruiting internally it is important to clearly define the process so that everyone involved knows their role. For example, should internal candidates pass their applications through their line manager?
  • Decide if you want “killer” questions (such as, do you have the right to work in the EU?) to ensure only candidates who meet the minimum requirements can apply for the role.
  • If you attract high volume responses to adverts consider using filtering and killer questions to help identify the most suitable applicants. These can be enhanced with automatic Shortlist scoring routines if you have clear rules you can apply. Choose a system that allows flexibility when the process is live.
  • Choose “scoring” processes to score the answers that candidates provide in their application. It is important to ensure the same scoring is applied to internal & external candidates.
  • If you are recruiting for roles with skill shortages, make sure the application form is very simple and collects the minimum information you need. For more popular roles, use your system to limit the number of applications received and simplify those where you want to encourage a greater uptake.

Whatever your approach, there is a range of excellent tools available to you to help make your recruitment drives as successful as possible. It is crucial that you make the experience as fluid and pleasant as possible for the applicants to engage them throughout.

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