Navigating the Job Application Avalanche Part 2: Why 80% of Your Ideal Candidates Aren’t Applying

March 19, 2024

Matt Gainsford

Matt Gainsford

As we embark on Part 2 of our exploration into the complexities of modern recruitment, we delve deeper into the journey of applicants once they've clicked on a post. Beyond the initial application surge, what lies beyond the ATS gatekeeper? Dive in to learn more.

passive recruiting strategies

In the first part of “Navigating the Job Application Avalanche: The Role of Passive Recruitment Specialists,” we explored the challenges and intricacies of the “post and pray” approach in modern recruitment. A SHRM study found that only 10% of applicants are qualified for a job opening. The optimism behind this method, aiming for a flood of applications, is undeniable; however, employers often find themselves knee-deep in thousands of resumes, prompting a need for a more deliberate and strategic intervention. Part 1 uncovered the truths behind the surge of applicants, the overwhelming volume of applications, and the necessity for embracing passive recruitment specialists in a market flooded with potential candidates.   

In peeling back the layers, the focus shifted to the benefits of passive recruitment, offering access to untapped talent, reduced time-to-fill positions, quality over quantity, enhanced employer branding, and the strategic building of a talent pipeline.  

For many, Passive Candidate recruitment is the last step of their strategy and only takes place once all other areas are exhausted, but with 80% of candidates being passive job seekers, it’s an avenue that needs more exploration. 

Introduction to Part 2:  

As we embark on Part 2 of our exploration into the complexities of modern recruitment, we delve deeper into the journey of applicants once they’ve clicked on a post. Beyond the initial application surge, what lies beyond the ATS gatekeeper? What percentage of applicants successfully navigate the entire process? In this installment, we unveil the hidden realities, providing insights that transcend mere statistics, offering a profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities in finding top talent. Join us for an in-depth look at the journey applicants undertake and discover why a more nuanced approach is essential for both employers and candidates. Stay tuned as we unravel the mysteries that lie beyond the application avalanche. The first stop (and the last for many candidates), is your ATS.  

ATS Filtering: Unveiling the Algorithm:  

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are commonly used to streamline the hiring process, but they often serve as double-edged swords. The automated filtering mechanisms embedded in ATS prioritize specific keywords, educational backgrounds, or previous job titles. As a consequence, a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study found that only 10% of applicants who make it through the ATS filter are truly qualified for the job opening. This means a significant portion of qualified candidates, potentially 40% according to a Harvard Business Review study, are being inadvertently sidelined due to a lack of specific keywords on their resumes. This perpetuates the challenge of finding the right match and wastes recruiters’ valuable time sifting through unqualified leads. The average recruiter spends 19 hours per week screening resumes [Aberdeen Group], highlighting the inefficiency of the “post and pray” approach. 

The Hidden Secrets Behind Limited Candidate Pools:  

While the surge in job applications might suggest a vast pool of talent, the reality is that a significant portion of the candidate pool remains untapped. A LinkedIn study reveals that 70% of professionals are passively open to new opportunities, meaning they are employed but receptive to career advancements. These high-caliber candidates are not actively searching job boards, and their resumes may not contain the specific keywords that trigger the ATS filter. Furthermore, industry-specific nuances and evolving skill sets can further limit the visibility of qualified candidates. This creates a paradox for employers: an excess of applications but a scarcity of candidates who truly align with the organization’s needs. 

The Human Touch in Recruitment: Beyond AI-Driven ATS:  

Despite the technological advancements in Applicant Tracking Systems, the importance of the human touch in recruitment cannot be overstated. ATS may efficiently filter resumes based on predetermined criteria, but they lack the ability to discern the nuances, creativity, and achievements that set exceptional candidates apart. A ManpowerGroup survey indicates that 75% of job seekers consider the interview process a major factor when deciding on a company. Human interaction during the recruitment process allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of a candidate’s potential fit, cultural alignment, and soft skills which are crucial for long-term success. 

Why Humans Still Matter:  

Humans bring a level of intuition, empathy, and understanding that artificial intelligence struggles to replicate. Recruiters can gauge a candidate’s potential cultural fit, interpret nuanced achievements, and identify transferable skills that may not be explicitly mentioned in a resume. Moreover, they can navigate complex scenarios, such as addressing attrition concerns or fostering diversity and inclusion, where AI-driven systems fall short.  

While the surge in job applications may present challenges in talent acquisition, the integration of passive recruitment specialists becomes imperative. These specialists go beyond the limitations of ATS filtering, proactively seeking out talent, understanding industry-specific nuances, and adding the human touch necessary to uncover exceptional candidates. In a landscape where attrition and filtering constraints persist, passive recruitment emerges as a strategic solution to build a robust and resilient talent pipeline.  

The Wrap-Up – Why You Need to Be Active in Pursuing Passive Candidates  

As the job market continues to evolve, so does the approach to talent acquisition. While the surge in job applications may seem overwhelming, the integration of passive recruitment specialists into your hiring strategy can be the key to unlocking untapped potential and securing top-tier talent for the long term. Embrace the changing dynamics of recruitment, and let passive recruitment be the compass guiding your company toward a brighter, more prosperous future. 

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