Why your applicant pool sucks

Man pushing a pull door

So, you’re trying to fill a position and you find yourself sitting at your desk, staring at an inbox full of resumes from totally unsuitable and underqualified applicants.

Why does this happen? Probably due to a number of factors, all of which are fixable, though not necessarily easily.

Here are a number of reasons why your applicant pool might suck, and what you can do about them.

Your website is outdated, or nonexistent. The first thing a good candidate will do before applying for a position is Google the company. They’re going to look at your website. If that website looks like it was built on Geocities in 2001 and hasn’t been updated since, they’re going to lose interest. Update your website. Your written content, your images, your company who’s who – make sure it’s all shiny, new and up to date.

No social media presence or a bad social media presence. While this might depend on your industry, in many cases a lack of social media presence is the killer of candidate interest. After they look at your company website and your Glassdoor profile, if you have one, they are going to look at your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Make sure these are active and well managed. Equally bad as no presence is an inactive page. If your last tweet was in 2012, consider taking down the account.

Confusing job description. Just like you don’t want to have to read between the lines of a resume, the job seeker doesn’t want to have to decipher the job description as though it’s some kind of code. Be clear about what the position is and what the required skills and qualifications are.

Offputting job description. Other things that might turn candidates off include an unrealistic list of credentials, or language that is demanding rather than friendly – ie. “The successful candidate will be required to…” vs. “The successful candidate will have the opportunity to….” Read your job description and ask yourself if you would want that job.

Bad employee/past candidate experience. I was once interviewed by a company that told me I was hired and then I never heard from them again. I sent a couple of follow up emails then, rather than become a stalker, let it go. But I started telling anyone who thought about applying there not to, because that’s totally rude. Make sure to treat your applicants professionally and courteously at every stage. The same, of course, goes for your employees. Treat them badly and they will tell their friends.

Here’s the thing: you don’t want just any candidates, you want top talent. And top talent has its choice of where to work. So, you have to appeal to them as an employer. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with bad candidates. And nobody wants that.

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