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The Applicants vs Suitable Candidates Debate

Did you know that most job applications are filtered out before even making it to the recruiter’s desk? Automated systems and keyword filters analyse the application before it can reach the talent acquisition team. A huge number of people are applying for today’s senior positions in the energy sector and the market can be very competitive. But for recruiters and employers, are they necessarily the right people who are applying?

Modern recruitment has long debated the characteristics of a genuinely suitable candidate versus a general applicant. Choosing from a wide pool of applicants, grading their qualifications and analysing the best fit for a position is tricky. In fact, the entire acquisition and retention process has become harder, owing to the sheer number of applications received.

A growing percentage of unsuitable applicants only adds to these recruitment challenges. But differentiating applicants and candidates at an early stage can be a crucial part of the solution. It’s well worth allocating the proper time for this process in your recruitment and selection before you get started!

Defining A Candidate And The Recruitment Process

For recruiters asking the question “Who is a candidate?” let’s put it simply: anyone who is aware of the organisation’s offerings can be classified as a candidate.

These may be people who visit the company website regularly, follow social media postings or initiate contact, directly or indirectly. With current mass redundancies and layoffs, markets have become more candidate heavy. There are a lot of job seekers out there, but how many of them can be considered applicants?

Candidates who submit a formal request with regard to working with a company are classified as applicants. They may do this through a variety of channels, including job boards, networking groups or employee referrals.

It then becomes the recruiter’s responsibility to ensure a positive candidate journey; the way recruiters treat prospective employees greatly impacts their overall reputation. Be it sifting through resumes, scheduling interviews or onboarding new team members, prompt and positive engagement is vital at each step of this journey.

The Role Of Automated Applications Technology In Recruitment

In today’s digital world, a combination of tradition and technology is commonly used by recruiters to strengthen their employer value proposition. A few ways of doing this include:

● Applicant tracking systems: Keyword filters, ready-to-deploy applications and custom software can track an individual’s history and run background checks to eliminate unsuitable candidates without taking additional time.

● Diverse digital sourcing: A mix of social media, job boards and online recruitment services can do wonders, especially for niche positions and people looking to re-start or shift careers.

● Predictive analytics: Automated sifting and screening techniques enable a narrower search in terms of the candidate’s resume, skills and level of experience.

● Programmatic media: Data-led systems and programs can liaison with a candidate’s social media and online profiles to acquire talent that truly is the best fit.

These tools ensure the collation of candidate details in one place. Given the sensitivity of this information, it also stays encrypted in online environments.

While all of the above aid efficiency and ensure faster turnaround time, there are also some disadvantages. The most evident is the lack of a personal touch or face-to-face interaction, which was previously the first point of contact between a prospective employee and a business.

To manage this change, clear, prompt communication should be a key focus area for the recruiting team; connecting with the applicant helps them understand the job role better and sets up a positive impression of the business.

Good recruiters are those who are not just worried about finding ideal candidates, but also nurture them in line with changing industry trends.

The Difference Between Applicants And Suitable Candidates

Research shows that owing to the prevailing uncertainty in the job market, most applicants are ready to settle for roles that may or may not be a good fit for their profile in the long run.

For recruiters, understanding the difference between suitable candidates and applicants forms an important part of the screening process. There are a variety of tools to help achieve this including keyword filters, resume deep dives or targeting specific skill sets and educational qualifications.

The real challenge here is to whittle out those who just ‘look good on paper’ from those who could be genuinely great in the position.

Here’s a checklist that can help with differentiating between an ideal candidate and any other applicant, especially for hiring senior-level executives:

Self-Starter Capabilities

Most candidates use the word “passionate” in interviews and resumes, but being self-motivated means going a step further. Recruiters should keep a lookout for candidates who have previously and are now, willing to walk the extra mile while knowing when to stop to avoid burning out or overworking themselves.

Good Cultural Fit

The better an individual’s values align with the goals and aspirations of the business, the easier it is for new hires to blend in. Onboarding someone who identifies with the people and the fabric of the business goes a long way to mitigating initial roadblocks.

Technical Know-How

For mid and senior-level roles, a deep understanding of the industry adds immensely to the candidate’s skills. The more knowledge one has about the technicalities, the more streamlined the onboarding process is likely to be.

Agility And Adaptability

The last few years are a clear indication of how quickly entire workforce models can change. In such a scenario, it is critical to hire people who can tackle change head-on, and move from one challenge to the next. Agility, flexibility and a willingness to learn are highly valued traits in the market today.

As the world economy recovers from the pandemic, recruitment in the energy sector has shifted focus to become more specific. The transition to cleaner energy is more prominent now, alongside the prioritisation of digital transformation.

It is no surprise with these demands that the industry faces a skills shortage for senior leadership given the complexities of these challenges. Technical skills rank the highest in creating a flexible, future-proof workforce, followed by behavioural skills. As a result, hiring managers are seeking professionals who promise adaptability as a key behavioural skill.

Adaptability is one of the key range of skills that have become expected for workers at a senior level to possess. Digital proficiency, communication skills, and the ability to work collaboratively are also expected across the board. Recruiters and employers should seek to identify these before looking beyond for specialised skills in a particular field.

Only then can you really dig into the specialised skills; recruiters in the energy space, for example, need to be cognisant of upcoming demands and current challenges. Where there are shortages within the industry, with some creativity it is possible to hire from neighbouring industries to build a diverse workforce that can in fact add value to your business.

But achieving this requires recruiters to minimise the time they spend on candidates, and optimise their processes to focus on genuine applicants.