Three Tips to Make the Most of a Recession

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By Caitrin O’Sullivan, iCIMS Public Relations Coordinator

While it may be a turbulent time, all is not for naught. There are many ways to not only weather this storm, but to actually leverage it to better prepare for the inevitable pick-up of the economy.

Drowning in a sea of resumes?

The number one complaint we’re hearing from hiring managers and recruiters is that they are being absolutely inundated with resumes, to the point that they simply cannot handle the overload.

A recent study showed that while the number of jobs posted online has increased greatly in the past ten years, the number of applicants online has also increased, but at a much faster and greater rate. Therefore, even before the recession, there were far more applicants than job postings, and that effect has become even more prominent since the downturn began.

A larger applicant pool may seem like a great thing at first. However, if you review a resume for an average of 45 seconds, and you receive 700 resumes for one posted position (which is not at all an uncommon number when unemployment is at a soaring rate) it would take one recruiter almost 9 solid hours to get through that stack. Additionally, more candidates does NOT equal more *qualified* candidates. The amount of true talent may stay the same, while the amount of noise and detractors grow.

One best practice that recruiters can follow is to utilize an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). While most medium to large organizations already have an ATS, or Talent Platform, in place, it is crucial in this economy that you actually leverage that technology and all that it has to offer. Not only does it make it easier to search and screen candidates, doing away with filing cabinets and email folders, but it also ensures that no top talent will get lost in the shuffle by having all of information centrally stored.

A particularly useful element of a Talent Platform is the Requisition Management tools included, which are crucial to help HR professionals weed through the influx of resumes. These easy-to-use tools enable users to create screening and “knock out” questions that trim down the unmanageable candidate pool considerably. This allows you to devote more of your time to looking at qualified candidates, as opposed to wasting resources wading through non-qualified candidates, all the while maintaining EEO and OFCCP compliance. This helps better allocate time and money, and also helps HR teams create and maintain more consistent hiring processes.

Automating and streamlining the applicant tracking process, including everything from resume collection to EEO reporting and more, undoubtedly saves overwhelmed recruiters’ time, but also makes the process more efficient and enables more accurate and detailed reporting to provide greater visibility into the organization’s bottom line.

You may think with decreased hiring, a Talent Platform would become obsolete. But any flexible Talent Platform can match your needs in lean times, while maintaining the ability to grow with your organization once hiring initiatives resume. Implementing and leveraging a flexible Talent Platform to help you meet long-term recruitment goals is a common best practice of top organizations.

Where is your top talent coming from and where are you wasting your money?

There is certainly a plethora of available applicants when many millions are unemployed, but again, this does not directly correlate with the quality of that talent. Best of breed HR professionals use a period of reduced hiring as an opportunity to learn more about where their most valuable talent is consistently coming from.

Do your best candidates come from job boards or a corporate career site? Do large boards like Monster and CareerBuilder yield the best results, or do niche boards perform better? Are you spending too much on third party vendors or are they consistently providing top talent? These are the kinds of vital questions that hiring managers and recruiters must understand, and now is the time to determine the answers to these questions in order to help drive business outcomes.

Without the ability to identify the most effective means of acquiring talent, recruiters shift their resources around each year with little sense of direction. A Talent Platform gives users access to best-in-breed source tracking and source effectiveness reporting tools, allowing users to identify ways to draw talent to their organization. These robust sourcing capabilities give recruiters the edge they need to bring in both active and passive candidates.

Many organizations rely on outside agencies to assist in the staffing and recruiting process. A Talent Platform provides a secure forum to manage the communications with those agencies, allowing you to control the openings and the agencies to deliver and track their best candidates. Automated Vendor Manager tools track the source of all candidates, allowing you to accurately report vendor performance and their individual effectiveness.

If you’re not taking advantage of a downturn to improve your sourcing and vendor management, you should be. Again, benefits include being able to:

  • Run easy Source Effectiveness reports for key business metrics and to help create cost-effective recruitment advertising campaigns
  • Gain visibility into your talent pool by viewing each candidate’s source
  • Develop reliable strategies for finding the best candidates for your company
  • Manage vendor discussions on interviews, qualifications & screenings
  • Easily identify the best sources of candidates
  • Streamline communication with numerous vendors

So make the most of your resources! Now is the time to assess which sources are supplying you with quality candidates so that you can allot your time and financial resources accordingly, putting you in an ideal position for hiring increases.

If you had to fill 50 jobs tomorrow, would you be ready?

Maybe you wouldn’t have to fill 50 and maybe the drastic uptick won’t be that drastic. Even so, as the economy picks up, no organization wants to be caught flat-footed, where jobs need to be filled quickly and efficiently, and they’re left suffering what is known as the scramble effect.

While the applicant pool is still large, it is important to capitalize on that and be constantly building your talent pipeline. Do you have many jobs open at the moment? Maybe not. But don’t let that deter you from accepting applications, bringing people in for interviews and constantly looking for talent to add to this pipeline.

Using powerful candidate relationship management (CRM) tools help organizations remain in constant communication with candidates, both passive and active, throughout the process.

Automated CRM allows users to develop relationships with contacts through branded HTML postcards and invitations with corporate logos, graphics, and more. Additionally, you can leverage the system to send out coupons and other incentives that keep candidates interested in your organization.

These activities help companies establish a pool of talent from which they can easily engage, track and search from anywhere in the world.

There are a number of additional benefits of using CRM tools, such as:

* Build lasting relationships with passive & active candidates by always remaining in contact

* Reduce turnover by hiring better qualified candidates the first time around

* Create unique groups of contacts for targeted CRM campaigns

All hiring managers and recruiters believe in building and maintaining a talent pipeline, but best of breed HR professionals recognize this time period as a prime opportunity to make the most of top talent out there.

So see the silver lining in the cloud! Even if unemployment is high and there is less recruiting to do, there is still an influx of candidates to manage, and if this is done effectively and efficiently, you will be well-prepared for an economic turnaround. Implement these three best practices and don’t just weather a downturn, but take advantage of it to advance your company’s bottom line.

Caitrin O’Sullivan (Caitrin.osullivan@icims.com) is the Public Relations Coordinator at iCIMS, the third-largest provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions and an Inc. 500 honoree focused on solving corporate business issues through the implementation of easy-to-use web-based software solutions. iCIMS’ Talent Platform, the industry’s premier Talent Platform, enables organizations to manage their entire talent lifecycle from applicant tracking through onboarding and beyond through a single web-based application. With more than 750 clients worldwide, iCIMS is one of the largest and fastest-growing [talent management system](http://www.icims.com/content/solutions) providers in the space. To learn more about how iCIMS can help your organization, visit http://icims.com or view a free online demo of the iCIMS Talent Platform at http://www.icims.com/tour/1053/2450](http://www.icims.com/tour/1053/2450

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