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Recipe for disaster – Why ‘One click job applications’ are bad news for recruiters and candidates

Recipe for disaster – Why ‘One click job applications’ are bad news for recruiters and candidates

Posted on 14/08/2013 by Ryan Lamb

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Recipe for disaster – Why ‘One click job applications’ are bad news for recruiters and candidates

“I’ve sent out 30 applications this week and I haven’t had a response from a single one!” Whilst some agencies claim to respond to every application, the above is still the most common complaint levied at employment agencies. Yes this is nothing new but is the story as one sided as most of us think?

What’s the problem?

Without wanting to harp back to the good old days it is worth comparing how job applications are made today versus 5- 10 years ago. Is what seems like progress on the face of it actually a backwards step? Previously if you were applying for a job you would have to print out an application from, complete it and compose a covering letter highlighting why you should be considered as a great prospect for the company and role in question…….. A lengthy process involving a lot of consideration and leg work. 

Today’s job seekers can make a ‘one click’ application in a matter of minutes with little or no leg work. Add to this the rise of job aggregation websites with their ‘batch apply’ functions and you would be forgiven for mistaking, applying for a job, with doing your weekly online grocery shop. Whilst this may seem like a good time saving idea it begs the question “is the reality nothing more than a ‘shotgun’ approach to what is probably one of the most important decisions of your life?”. Whilst it may seem logical that the more jobs you apply for, the more likely you are to get find work, the reality can be quite the opposite.

The recruiter’s perspective

Their job is to match applicants to their client’s requirements, not just match key words on a CV to a job spec. They try to ensure they find the right skill set match, personal attributes, traits and motivations.

It is not uncommon to advertise two completely different jobs with polar skill set requirements and receive applications from the same person for both roles. This begs the question as to whether the applicant has actually read the job description especially when applications are received simultaneously! The tragedy is that whilst the applicant might actually be suitable for one of the roles, the fact that the recruiter is inundated with hundreds of CV’s for every role means they have to make a relatively quick judgment call as to what this says about the candidate as a potential employee. If they have not considered why they might be a good fit let alone go the extra mile to write a targeted cover letter and CV then the result is all too often, the delete button.

Understandably there is an element of over-supply in the current economic climate but the rise of the “batch application” with a few clicks means the candidate who is actually perfect for the job is hidden in an ever increasing avalanche of applications for the recruiter to wade through.

The candidate’s perspective

There is a temptation of course to join in and start clicking away with the crowds in the hope that more applications mean you are more likely to find work. Quite understandably the current levels of unemployment and economic environment only serves to increase this temptation.

However, it is, in my experience, a bad idea.  Hiring managers want to find someone who understands the role, the company and the challenges ahead. Standing out from the crowd in this hyper flooded market has never been more important. If you had to find the time to complete a registration form and do a cover letter, you would be more likely to do legwork and increase your chances of a successful application for fewer but more relevant opportunities.

So what should candidates do to increase their chances?

  • Before applying make sure you have considered why you want the job, do you meet the requirements and what could you bring to the role.
  • Think to yourself if you did get one of those jobs you applied for how long would it be before you start looking again?
  • Tailor your application to fit the job requirements, highlighting relevant experience and why you would be a good fit.
  • Don’t be tempted to start clicking away. Applying for four jobs that you have a higher probability of getting will work better than applying for twenty you have little chance of securing.
  • The best way to improve your chances of securing the job is to be selective and put in the leg work, it is not by mass applying for any job that seems remotely similar to what you want.


What should agencies do?

It goes without saying that recruiters need to do their bit by ensuring that the positions they advertise give potential applicants an accurate view of the minimum requirements for any application. There is no point complaining that you are inundated with CV’s if your adverts are 'generic, catch them all scripts'. Those applicants that make the effort to submit a considered application deserve better customer service.

If abused ‘one click job applications’ is bad news for both the candidates and the recruiters. Perhaps the trend towards ‘one click’ and  expressing opinions in just a few characters is more relevant for social media forums than something as important as finding your next career move. The way forward has to be quality rather than quantity.

Guy Barwell, Managing Director

Vitae Financial Recruitment is a recruitment consultancy with a track record in ‘real’ consulting, focusing on the highest of candidate calibre and the avoidance of the stereotypical, scattergun approach, synonymous with the industry.

   Ryan Lamb & Guy Barwell
   Managing Directors