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Make Recruiting More Empathic and Equitable for All

Many companies secretly tag serial applicants who apply for multiple roles without meeting the qualifications. This practice underscores the difficulties both job seekers and employers face.

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Jun 5, 2024

Many companies have a special code for them. They’re not willing to share one publicly, but they have one nonetheless. I’m talking about tagging serial appliers in their systems of record – job candidates who apply for multiple jobs at once, all the time, and they’re never qualified for the roles they’ve applied to. I’ve heard “banned for life” among other system tags.

What’s too bad about this is that there are a lot of potential hireable candidates looking for jobs and companies struggling to fill their jobs. It’s been a tougher market for candidates compared to two years ago, even with resilient industries like healthcare, hospitality, and others that keep hiring.

Challenges in Candidate Job Searches

Based on our CandE Benchmark Research this year, 50% of candidates said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months. And nearly 10% said they’ve been applying for more than six months across all job types (hourly, professional, management). Here’s a breakdown of the recent research:

  • For hourly candidates, 37% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 7% said for more than six months.
  • For professional candidates, 49% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 13% said for more than six months.
  • For management candidates, 47% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 12% said for more than six months.

Last year, in 2023, 70% of candidates said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months. Nearly 8% said for more than six months. Keep in mind that candidates apply across all job types. Here’s a breakdown of 2023 research:

  • For hourly candidates, 62% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 8% said for more than six months.
  • For professional candidates, 55% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 10% said for more than six months.
  • For management candidates, 65% said they were actively researching and applying for jobs from 4 weeks to up to 6 months, and 11% said for more than six months.

Based on our research, the job market has shown some improvement for job seekers over the past four weeks to six months. However, a slight increase has been observed in the number of professional and management candidates actively searching for more than six months this year. We must monitor if the May jobs report continues the downward trend seen in April, where unemployment increased slightly. Despite remaining historically low, candidate resentment—which we measure by the number of candidates reporting poor experiences and unwillingness to engage with the business or brand again—is at its highest level in 13 years!

What can candidates do when the market sours and slows on them?

Resume and cover letter writing has been a thriving industry for decades, and career strategists and coaches abound, but candidates now have AI tools to help them in their search. This year, we’re asking candidates for the first time if they’re using AI (ChatGPT, Bard, etc.) to help them with their resumes and cover letters.

  • So far this year, in our CandE Benchmark Research, only 9% of hourly candidates have told us that they use AI to help them with their resumes and cover letters. 4% said they don’t know what those AI sites are.
  • Only 11% of professional candidates said they use them as well, and 2% said they don’t know what they are.
  • And only 10% of management candidates said they use them as well, and 1% said they don’t know what they are.

The odds are good that these percentages will increase dramatically over the next few years (we’ll continue to add questions about how candidates use AI for their job searches).

However, today, there are sites called LazyApply.com, Simplify, LoopCV, Behired, Autojob, and others where candidates can get even more job search automation help, including automatically applying for millions of jobs.

Jobs + Applicants = Empathy

There are millions of jobs. It feels oddly like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies writing “millions,” but that’s a lot of applications from probably a lot more serial applicants and unqualified candidates. This, in turn, impacts the employers with leaner recruiting teams that push the remaining teams to better leverage their most likely under-optimized and underutilized recruiting technologies.

In our benchmark research, only 25% of candidates who applied were scheduled for a screening and/or interview event across job types. That means that another 75% are not and have to be screened out via humans and tech. AI will help combat the influx, but there will be (and are) many candidates with potential lost in the chasm below the processes and technologies.

Being a job candidate today is tough, and being an employer today is tough. The employers still have the power, whether it’s a candidate market or not. And today, it’s not.

I always say that we’re in the business of “no” in recruiting because we say no a lot more than we say yes. But we do help people get jobs, so let’s keep improving our processes and technologies and make recruiting and hiring more empathic and equitable for all. Even the serial applicants.

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