Are you recruiting enough qualified candidates?  If not, you’ll need to stand in line with many other companies.

Finding applicants - needle in haystackFor some jobs and for many companies recruiting is like finding the needle in a very large haystack…blindfolded! Anywhere from one-third to one-half of companies report difficulty filling open positions, depending on the survey source, job type, and industry. The number one reason for the crisis – a lack of available applicants or no applicants, followed closely by a lack of technical skills.

For sure, a dearth of applicants with essential skills is a pervasive and growing problem, especially in the trades, healthcare, and many STEM industries.  The problem is simply a lack of supply for too much demand. The ultimate solution for a lack of skilled workers requires an aggressive approach and collaboration between schools, government, and business.

While that strategy is somewhat working, the fix is slow and far too distant to do any good today.

For the business without enough workers who need a more immediate fix, two options exist:

  1. Find better ways to filter out the “unqualified” hay
  2. Find sources that reach and attract more needles!

And there’s the rub. Many managers choose option #1 – eliminate the unqualified applicants without having sound metrics about which sources that might be better. It sounds good in theory but is impractical and unrealistic. They throw darts at a wall, hoping the next source will result in fewer unqualified applicants and more future superstars.

What typically happens is that a company latches on to one source for recruiting. If too many unqualified applicants apply, they cut the cord instead of finding a better way to filter applicants.  Besides if there was a source that only attracted qualified applicants, don’t you think every company would be using it? A recruiting problem wouldn’t exist …and I wouldn’t be writing about it.

But that doesn’t stop companies from using trial and error. And due to time and budget constraints, most companies expect to win the hiring lottery by going all in – only one source at a time. They rationalize that throwing out a wide net (using multiple sources) overwhelms recruiters and hiring managers. That’s absolutely true because without an effective process and some type of automation in place, companies have no other choice but to hunt and peck rather than broadcast job posting. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of narrowing the search is significant.  With fewer views, companies get fewer applications. With fewer applicants, they get fewer “needles.” Time to hire increases as does the cost to fill a position.

Here are a few numbers to support this premise.  One study included 10 million applications from 50 million job seekers. Several broad conclusions could be drawn and they begin with a solution that many companies don’t want to hear.

The reason that your company might not be attracting enough candidates is your job posting is simply not seen by enough eyeballs.  Specifically, it takes 536 people to see a job posting to get 59 to apply. You might be thinking that’s easy … and you’d be wrong.

Unfortunately only 12 percent of those applicants ever make it to an interview and only 17 percent of those interviewed are qualified to get a job offer. And the story doesn’t end there.  Of those candidates offered a job, one out of 10 declines or withdraws.

From the top of the funnel (people who see your job posting) to the bottom of the funnel (candidates who you hire), the average company needs 536 visitors for each job posting to end up with just one hire.

Of course the numbers vary by company size, source of applicants, industry, and even geographic.  But these numbers are consistent with other studies as well. Another recent study described an even larger funnel was required – 1,000 job posting views to one job offer. On the other hand, Glassdoor’s results found it only took 250 applications to 1 job offer (although 1 or every 5 declined it.) In every case it takes a lot more applicants than most companies are generating. And in most cases, it is not because not enough applicants are looking.  In fact, the number of employed workers looking for a change is increasing.

For most organizations, the low quantity of applicants is the results of inadequate recruiting and/or a lack of process. Since they can’t seem to be bothered by sifting through all the unqualified “hay,” they elect to cut back on reaching more applicants.  It’s a ludicrous option and one that management should be embarrassed to admit occurs.  Can you imagine their reaction if customer service and sales requested that marketing stopped website traffic because they were getting too many leads?  That’s crazy but the same thing happens every day in thousands of companies. Why scale back on the number of people your recruiting campaign reaches when the yield is too low? The goal should be and must be to get more people to view your ad for an open position.

It seems obvious – to find more qualified workers more people, not less, need to hear and read about your job openings. To fill more positions, you need bigger haystacks, not smaller ones.  Finding quality workers is a function of skill, art and science. Too many recruiters and managers want to rely on magic, luck, and gut. Only after a company acquires enough applicants that can be hired can they begin to look for ways to improve the yield from views to new hire.  In the interim, blame the process (or lack of one) and not the quantity of applicants. If you don’t source right, the right applicant will never know you are looking for them.