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The Job Applicant Flood

 Fewer openings, more seekers, less resources: How to steer through today’s talent whirlpool.
By Gary Bragar
Although many companies are forecasting less hiring for the remainder of the year, more candidates than ever are applying for every job opportunity. We used to think that 100 candidates applying for every single job was a lot of resumes to process. Today, with unemployment levels near 10 percent, it is common for recruiting departments to report receiving hundreds of resumes, sometimes more than 1,000, for every opening. Two key dynamics have made it increasingly difficult for internal recruiting departments to review, screen, and select the best talent:
• Internal recruiting department staffs have been reduced, due to company-wide cost cutting initiatives and the view by senior executives that if hiring has been reduced, then surely the number of recruiters needs to be scaled back as well.
• Recent client investment to improve process and technology has been limited, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon.
Although the need to reduce cost has come back as the top driver for outsourcing, higher talent acquisition demand, i.e. better quality talent, remains the top issue faced by business executives today. Thus, organizations now face a two-pronged dilemma:
• More candidates than ever are applying for fewer open jobs, yet fewer and fewer recruiters have state-of-the-art sourcing technology and processes, resulting in increased difficulty to screen and select the best talent and be responsive to all candidates.
• And what will happen when hiring demand spikes again? Do organizations want to re-build their own internal recruiting teams and potentially be forced to downsize again?
RPO can help clients recruit the best talent as providers have the latest technology and leading-edge sourcing, screening, and selection and assessment tools and processes. RPO specialists also have the resources to scale up quickly and can scale back, should hiring soften again. Clients also benefit by reducing high fixed costs and paying for success, based predominately on number of hires. Candidates receive timely feedback, whether or not they proceed to the next step of the screening process. The client wins again as every candidate is a potential customer. This is more than just a nice catchy thing to say.
Remember, for every job vacancy, as an employer, you don’t want 1,000 prospective buyers to have a negative view of your company simply because the system failed to ensure that they were treated with respect in a timely manner.
Let’s look at an example of how one RPO provider, Manpower Business Solutions (MBS), improved the recruiting process for a Fortune 100 retail brokerage company. The current issue: How to manage more than 500 resumes received daily, identify the best talent, and improve the candidate experience. Here’s how MBS addresses and improves the process:
1. MBS receives resumes from a web-based career site and uses client-specific criteria to evaluate each resume. MBS implements “No Candidate Left Behind,” whereby every candidate should have a positive brand experience; through an automated system, letters are immediately sent to candidates whose qualifications do not match the hiring criteria. Service Level Agreements are established regarding contact throughout the process.
2. For candidates who meet the initial criteria, the recruiter sends an assessment profile to determine how well the candidate will fit the client’s corporate culture. Those who pass are scheduled for a phone screen with an MBS recruiter.
3. The recruiter conducts a customized pre-screen with the candidate, providing more details about the company, the corporate culture, and the position itself.
4. A candidate “bundle” is then submitted to the client, which includes the candidate’s online application, resume, screening results, assessment profile results, and candidate summary.
5. MBS applicant tracking proprietary software interfaces with client technology and transfers data seamlessly. Click here for further results.
Gary Bragar is the lead HR outsourcing analyst for NelsonHall’s HR outsourcing program. He can be reached at
Information contained in this article includes the latest analysis from the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Market Analysis published by NelsonHall in May 2009.

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