Quality of Applicants Versus Quantity of Applies

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g. you@yourcompany.com)
Please enter your work email
(e.g. you@yourcompany.com)


We can all agree on at least one thing: The ultimate goal for any hiring manager is to make a good, quality hire and fill the position as quickly as possible. The ideal hiring process entails opening a position; interviewing 3-5 qualified and interested applicants; ranking those qualified applicants according to factors like experience, cultural fit, attitude, hunger, and potential; and then extending an offer to the best one.

Probably not a lot of disagreement so far. It is what precedes this part of the hiring process that lends itself to healthy debate.

Schools of thought often diverge on the sourcing side of the equation. To get those 3-5 qualified and interested applicants, you must often review dozens of applications. You also may have to conduct an exhausting number of phone screens to separate the qualified and interested applicants from the large pool of interested but unqualified applicants.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. In fact, sourcing this way is an active choice. Rapid advancements in recruitment technology over the past few years have provided several switches you can hit for assistance in separating the wheat from the chaff or finding diamonds in the rough.

Ultimately, your sourcing method really depends on your preferences, tools, and organizational hiring philosophy.


Volume-Based Approach: More Is Better

If applicant quantity is your primary focus, recruitment advertising platforms can deliver many applicants. Features like one-click apply make applying painfully easy and yield an abundant applicant flow. If you have the time to sort through dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants, you may enjoy this approach. Just keep in mind, most of your applicants will never even read the job description, so much of your effort will be expended in digging through the rough to get to those diamonds.

One-click apply unquestionably increases applicant flow and respects the job seeker’s time. Desperate job seekers can apply to dozens of jobs in five minutes without ever reading the job descriptions, requirements, or minimum qualifications. Click, apply. Click, apply. Click, apply.

While this approach will drive a heavy flow of applications, many will be curiosity clicks instead of informed applicants. Most of these applicants won’t even meet the minimum qualifications outlined in the job description. Of course, you can include screening questions to help pull the weeds, but all that really does is help you more efficiently waste your time.

It’s surprising how many companies, especially small businesses, gauge the success or failure of their efforts strictly based on volume of applies. Clearly the “more is always better” mentality is very prevalent with this segment of the market.


Quality-Based Approach: Less Is More

While dedicated recruiting teams may have the resources to diligently weed through the pile of applicants to find those who are qualified, this process just isn’t practical for most small and mid-sized businesses.

If you have the “less is more” mindset, you might think twice about utilizing one-click apply functionality. Instead, you might consider an approach that requires all job seekers to apply directly on your career site, where you can list fully detailed job descriptions, minimum qualifications, and necessary experience. You might also want to consider adding a handful of light screening questions to help weed out those applicants who don’t possess the minimum requirements.

You can (and should) continue to broadly distribute your job openings across relevant and general recruitment advertising platforms. However, by routing the responding applicants back to your career site to review the full job description and requirements and to complete a simple apply process, you can have the best of both worlds: a quantity of interest resulting in a reasonable number of qualified applicants

Will your apply volume drop? Absolutely. Will your efficiency improve? Undoubtedly. Perhaps instead of looking at 50 applicants to extract the 3-5 you want to advance, you only have to screen 8-10 to yield the same number of qualified and interested candidates.

In conclusion, there are no right or wrong answers in talent acquisition. Your approach depends on industry, geography, reputation, brand recognition, job type, resources available, etc. You know your company better than anyone, and you are the only one who truly knows all the factors that make your hiring needs unique.

That said, you would be well advised not to overemphasize volume of applies as the most critical factor in your selection of resources, partners, and advertising platforms. If the ultimate endgame is to interview 3-5 qualified and interested candidates to make your hire, you should look first at quality, then quantity. If you can accomplish the same goals with less effort, why wouldn’t you?

Mark Anderson is the vice president of client engagement at Glidepath.com. has an extensive background in the online recruitment marketing industry.

By Mark Anderson