8th February 2021

How to draw up a stellar shortlist when you’re overwhelmed with applicants


Competition for jobs is reaching fever pitch. Over 370,000 people were made redundant in the last quarter of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and most of these professionals want to secure new career opportunities as quickly as possible.

It’s very much an employer’s market at the moment, which is good news for recruiters. But you may find yourself inundated with applications for each new role. How do you sort through a large batch of candidates quickly, to put together a stellar shortlist? We’ve got some suggestions…

The longlist will only get longer

When it comes to filling vacancies, there’s no shortage of talent. Rising redundancies, the financial impact of furlough and general itchy feet are driving huge volumes of people to look for new positions.

As stories of job ads receiving over a thousand applications demonstrate, many employers are finding themselves overwhelmed by response levels. And with the Freelance Informer predicting that up to 7.5 million people employed by limited company directors could find themselves unemployed in the coming weeks, application longlists will only get longer.

For recruiters, there’s a prime opportunity for you to step in and help companies streamline their hiring process. But to capitalise on this opportunity, you need to move quickly.

Here are some ways you can process candidates effectively – to create the best possible shortlist for each new role:

1. Centralise your candidate database

The quickest way to utilise your entire talent pool is to put it in one location. Invest in a recruitment CRM system that centralises candidate data, which your team can access and update easily.

To make the shortlisting process even simpler, choose a CRM that supports candidate outreach. For example, some software includes in-built scheduling tools, email templates, live chat and even a click-to-call function – so your team can get in touch with strong prospects as quickly as possible.

2. Keep a detailed record of skills, strength and experience

Logging candidates in a single system is a great first step, but your CRM is only as powerful as the data it holds. To create comprehensive shortlists, you need to keep a detailed record of each applicant’s skills, strength and experience. Then search by these key areas when putting your list together.

In addition to matching the right type of person to each role, you can use your candidate database to drive proactive opportunities. For example, some recruitment CRM software includes integrated marketing automation – so you can create a ‘spotlight on’ series to highlight the best available people.

3. Make it easy to share talent

While centralising your database means contacts can be accessed by anyone in your agency, not every team member has the time to trawl through records. Many hands make light work – so find ways to support inter-company collaboration.

Make sure your CRM is supported by productivity software that enables reliable email access and cloud storage. This way, people can ask for input when they are recruiting for new roles, and colleagues can easily share CVs, profiles and other digital documents that showcase their strongest talent.

4. Speed up the onboarding process

Building trusted client relationships involves more than assembling a strong shortlist – you need to get candidates through the interview and onboarding process as quickly as possible.

Put the compliance tools in place to complete applicants’ essential checks without delay, to show clients how efficiently you operate. Features like auto-signing multiple contracts and online centres where candidates can upload their ID make it much easier to expedite essential paperwork, and get people integrated with their new colleagues.

5. Make the admin happen automatically

All of the techniques we have recommended are based around one principle: reducing the time your team spends finding and assembling appropriate candidates, so they can focus on shortlisting people with the right skills and preparing them for interview or appointment. However, it’s not just the selection process that gets slowed down by admin.

All too often, recruiters are so busy dealing with back-office demands like payroll, timesheets and paperwork, that you can’t focus on higher priority activities.

The more admin tasks you can run through recruitment automation software, the more time you’ll have to focus on your clients’ needs. And in the current saturated market, strategic support is your most valuable asset.

ETZ’s ultimate recruitment tech stack cuts the cost of agency admin by up to 85%. Speak to a consultant to find out more.

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