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Post a job, prepare for the flood

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

If you're one of the few companies growing enough to be posting a job opening during these troubled times, count yourself lucky. Then start counting the resumes filling your inbox.

As the ranks of the unemployed swell and the number of job vacancies dwindle, it’s becoming increasingly common for a single job posting to draw hundreds of job applicants. Al’s Garden Center, which operates three stores in Oregon, recently received more than 300 applications for a position in the tree and shrub department at their Gresham location over the span of 48 hours. Suzanne Kludt, HR director for Al’s Garden Center, says she’s “never seen anything like this, ever.”

With so many candidates, hiring directors can afford to be choosy about who they employ, but only if they are first willing to wade through hundreds of applications. And although processing mounds of applications may seem daunting, there are ways to make the process manageable, says Marianne Moore, president of Portland staffing agency Action Employment Services.

Streamlining how vacancies are advertised and how candidates are screened can greatly reduce the number of applications a business receives, while ensuring more suitable candidates reach the interview stage.

Job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder and Craigslist are great for attracting high numbers of applicants. However, if a posting fails to outline the position’s specific skill and experience requirements, be prepared to receive an excess of candidates with a dearth of qualifications. Posting openings on industry-specific job boards, as well as on the company’s website, will attract more candidates with a vested interest in the company and industry.     

During the hiring process, companies often face the largest time and resource drain while completing the initial screening process. Even if a HR director spends only three minutes reviewing each application, if there are 300 applicants, the process will take 15 hours.     

When choosing which candidates to interview, Moore suggests prioritizing candidates based on the relevancy of their work history and how closely their skill sets and experience meet the job description.  

“Go with the people who most jump out to you,” she says. Everyone else is out.

If the volume of applicants is just too large, companies may find it easier to use a staffing agency, which will pre-screen candidates and send an employer the most suitable.

For companies with 1,500 employees or more, pre-employment screening solutions such as Kronos’ workforce acquisition software can be a cost-effective way to simplify the hiring process. The company’s talent management division, based in Beaverton, produces software that can assess whether an applicant meets the basic requirements of the position and judge the likelihood of the candidate succeeding if hired. Unqualified applicants are screened out before the hiring manager ever sees an application.

NICOLE STORMBERG

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