The death of the inbound applicant, and why this will change everything you know about hiring

Role complexity

Over the last two years, the Fill team has interacted with more than 300 employers and learned that sourcing and inbound candidates is their biggest pain.

You can't make good decisions without clear information, and that's why we're going to share some of our data with you regarding the death of an applicant.

We love data so much it is one core mottos at Fill! With this powerful tool in hand everyone has access to better alternatives for their business or personal needs- regardless if they are experts or laymen alike. That is why we will share some of our data with you regarding the death of the inbound applicant.

Summary of this post:

  • Over the last two years, the Fill team has interacted with more than 300 employers and learned that sourcing and inbound candidates is their biggest pain.
  • Sourcing and inbound applicants is the biggest pain point for all employers, regardless of company size
  • Time consumption – hiring is still very-much a relationship driven business, it is far from being automated
  • When there are fewer applicants than roles offered, employers need to spend more time sourcing candidates

Over the last two years, we’ve interacted with more than 300 employers ranging from10-20 thousand FTEs. We interviewed and sold to them; helped solve their problems as well but first of all by listening carefully – asking questions such: What is your biggest hiring pain?, What are your biggest talent related problems?, How do you source candidates? and How do you know you provide a relevant candidate journey?

All interviews have been logged and tagged as a way for us to better categorize the data from the interviews, and make analysis easier.

And yeah, conducting meetings and interview is perhaps not that exciting for the average blog post reader, but what we believe is exciting is the outcomes of the interviews.

The more we talked with employers, the clearer it became that many of their biggest hiring pains had a common theme. The same types problems kept coming up over and again-even if they were expressed differently in different interviews.

Hiring is hard.

At least, that's what the data says. In fact, recruiting is one of the most difficult aspects of running a business.

Overall biggest 3 themes:

1) Sourcing and inbound – finding candidates have never been harder and candidates are not applying

2) Keeping talent engaged – candidates churn faster than before if they feel they don’t understand why they should invest their time

3) Time consumption – hiring is still very much a relationship-driven business, it is far from being automated

They all share the same problem

We looked to see if there were any differences between the sizes of employers we talked to. We realized that it was hard to understand how big an impact each problem was for each type of employer. So, we made a survey where they had to rank which problem was their biggest pain today. Turns out, they all have the same type of problem.

No matter what size of the company you are, it seems like sourcing and finding candidates is the biggest problem today, by far.

Perhaps not the biggest of insights, but still. It is clear that companies of all sizes are struggling with finding and converting candidates.

If you look closely, you can see that smaller companies (1-100 FTEs) say that finding candidates is a bit easier than their bigger peers. One reason could be that they can utilize their networks better. At smaller firms, people might have a stronger sense of camaraderie and try to help each other out more. Perhaps they post something on LinkedIn or shoot an email to other people in their network to solve their hiring problem. This could answer some of the differences between these numbers. Perhaps when companies get beyond 100 FTEs, hiring becomes more process driven and less personal so the company relies on professionals(recruiters) to solve this problem instead of trying to do it themselves.

Inbound is dead

To triangulate this data we also found some external sources from the Front line sourcing group that stated that 73% of in-house recruiters are struggling finding candidates.

Anyways, the point of the argument is, people are not applying to open roles any longer.

OK, so people are not applying for roles. How big of a problem can it actually be?

Big. Like, before and after the first iPhone, kind of big. This shift has dramatically changed how companies need to operate and invest in order to hire key personnel.

Talent surplus vs. talent scarcity

If you have more people wanting the job than you have positions available, and most of the time you spend on hiring will be spent on reviewing application, from candidates who have applied themselves. You will review resumes, send out test and conduct interviews, preferably at mass. This can be a pleasant problem to have, but it can also take up a lot of time. Having a surplus of candidates means that you have to be careful about how you assess them and how much time you spend on each one, so you stay efficient.

When there are fewer people looking for jobs than there are jobs available, it is called a scarce talent market. This means that employers have to spend more time looking for candidates than assessing them. And anyone who has ever sourced candidates will testify that it takes much more time than assessing candidates. Shifting focus from assessing and instead start to source candidates is not a zero-sum game.

The problem is that when companies are operating in a scarce talent market, they have to be more specific about their hiring criteria. This means the time investment for finding those specific candidates will dramatically rise - making it even harder to find good replacements since there are less people out on job sites looking.

In a talent market driven by scarcity, the employer needs to balance between finding, selling and assessing in a much more delicate way than before. A problem few companies have yet solved.

We will write more about talent scarcity in a future blog post.


So, if you’re an employer who is feeling the pain of a scarce talent market, don’t worry, you’re not alone. And while there are no easy solutions, at Fill we have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of employers and learn what their biggest pains are. Hopefully by highlighting some of these common problems and sharing our own experiences, we can start to provide some useful insights and help make your sourcing and assessment process just a little bit easier. We're constantly iterating our products to fit the new and changing market. Book a demo if you want to know more.

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