Companies are in a crunch to find the right candidates for their open positions, and one of the biggest reasons for this is that they simply aren’t getting enough applicants in the first place. Factors like the skills gap and the low unemployment rate are having an impact on just about anyone who is in the business of hiring. But these widespread trends don't change the fact that you still need to fill your open positions.
When your goal is to hire the best person for the job, you don’t want to feel constrained by a tiny applicant pool. While there’s no easy solution to a lack of applicants, here are a few things that might be preventing you from getting as many applicants as you possibly can:
1. Sourcing in the wrong places (or not enough places)
Sourcing is how you get applicants to notice your job posting. Poor sourcing efforts can be a major bottleneck on the number of applicants that come your way. One way to improve is by rethinking which job boards you are using to advertise your jobs. If you need more applicants, you should be pursuing job boards that have access to the most job seekers– if you aren’t aware of which those are, a quick Google search should help you figure out which ones you might want to prioritize.
You can also choose job boards based on the type of job. Some niche job boards are better at targeting more specific roles, which can help you get a better ROI on your sourcing efforts. The point is that, if you've been using the same job boards for the last 10+ years, it could be time to start testing out new job boards to access the most applicants.
2. Using the wrong job title
Once you post a job description online, you want to make sure that relevant job seekers can find it. The main way that job seekers search for jobs is by job title. If your job title doesn’t match up with the typical language a job seeker would use, you could be missing out on some actively interested applicants.
But which job title is the right one? There are a couple of ways to find out. First, compile a list of potential job titles you think job seekers would search for, and enter them into different job boards to see how many results come up. This will give you a sense of what terms are common in the industry. Similarly, you can use a tool like Google Trends to compare which search terms are more commonly used, and then select the more prevalent term. By optimizing your job title, you ensure that you’re getting the most eyeballs out of your sourcing investment.
3. Listing too many job requirements
While every employer would love to have an applicant pool full of seasoned candidates with a wealth of job experience, this is rarely the reality. Most employers are faced with few candidates, many of whom don’t seem to have much in the way of relevant experience. If you’re suffering from too few applications, it can be helpful to reevaluate what it means for someone to be “qualified” for the position, and whether you’re currently asking for too many requirements. Cutting out some of those unnecessary requirements can help you receive far more applicants who would’ve been reluctant to apply unless they checked all the boxes.
4. Not selling the job in the job description
Once a job seeker does land on your job description, it’s your opportunity to convince them to apply. Few applicants are going to rush to submit their resumes if all the job description does is list the job duties and requirements in the most mundane fashion. While not every job is exciting or flashy, there are still ways you can make the role appealing. When listing job responsibilities, take the opportunity to call out what the employee will learn while they are in that role. One of the biggest ways to attract millennial job seekers, for example, is by providing them with career development opportunities. Highlighting these opportunities can help your job description stand out.
Take time to also emphasize the larger purpose of the role, whether it is about helping solve people’s problems or playing an integral role in helping the company meet its goals. Job seekers want to feel that their role will have purpose and will contribute to something greater, even if the role on its own isn’t that exciting.
5. Making the application process too complicated
Once someone does decide to apply, don’t make them jump through unnecessary hoops just to submit their application. For example, if you’re going to ask for a resume, don’t ask your applicants to fill in all that information a second time on an online form. This cumbersome process can lead to candidate drop-off, especially if candidates feel like their time is being wasted.
If you simply can't get enough applicants, the key is to identify any roadblocks or points of friction in that pre-application stage, and seek to minimize them.