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checkGenerally speaking, when we refer to applicants, it means people who apply to job postings at companies or recruitment agencies. It is the initial step in the recruitment process and the term does not confer any status or level of qualification. You might hear either a corporate recruiter or agency recruiter say, “We received 56 applicants to our job post, but none were qualified. So we have no candidates and we’re back to square one.”

Turning Applicants into Candidates

In the recruiting industry, there are a few terms that may seem interchangeable to outsiders, but are actually different. Most people would think that an applicant and a candidate for a job are the same thing, but recruiters have a different view. An applicant is anyone who applies to the recruiting agency or the position, and a candidate is a person who might be a good fit for the position. Once the applicant gets through a screening process, they have an initial interview with the recruiter, then with the hiring company. The recruiter tries to turn this candidate into a hire by getting them the job. This is the recruiting process in a nutshell.

The volume of applicants to a particular job is of course a concern – in general, you want high visibility for your job opening and a steady stream of interest and job applications. However, the problem that most recruiters encounter is not the volume, but the quality of job applications.

Qualified candidates are the recruiter’s bread and butter. Without qualified professionals to fill positions for clients, recruiters simply can’t be successful. Therefore, the process of screening applicants and choosing the right candidate for the position is one of the most important processes in recruiting. Luckily, there are several key things that recruiters can do to screen their applicants and produce more new hires.

Adjust Your Job Postings

If a recruiter finds that he or she isn’t getting the type of applicants needed for a particular position, the first thing the recruiter should do is look back at their job postings. Check over the wording and make sure that the call for applicants reflects the company’s culture and the specifics of the position. Vague or confusing postings will get a wide range of responses.

Analytic Recruiting Tools

There are a ton of software solutions for recruiters these days that have automated vetting processes. With software, recruiters can screen through a large database of applicants to find the best people for the job by using metrics and other analytical tools. These can be a simple questionnaire emailed to your applicant pool or as complicated as a computer program that screens and sorts resumes. There are also web spider programs designed to crawl through the host of job seekers online and return results on the applicants that would be most likely to fit the job description.


Cyber-vetting applicants is the process of using the web to eliminate applicants based on their online information. The simplest form of this would be to look up an applicant on social media to make sure you have the right information. While checking an applicant’s information online is a common first step, it is extremely important for recruiters to not be discriminatory when looking at applicants online. The Internet is meant to give recruiters a more complete view of a job applicant’s experience, skills and qualifications, rather than a way for them to dig up dirt or disqualify someone on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation or disability.

Read more in Job Applications is an on-demand recruiting platform providing flexible talent acquisition solutions that scale from startups to the Fortune 100. With an on-tap network of thousands of recruiting professionals, advanced artificial intelligence sourcing software, and recruitment marketing automation, helps businesses solve today's complex hiring challenges.