Apr 15, 2020

Get ready for 100+ applications per vacancy

How life post Covid-19 is going to change for HR teams and hiring managers.

Up until two weeks ago, we were in a candidate short market. In recruitment terms, this means there are more jobs than there are job seekers, and it’s hard to find the right talent.

However, the last three weeks has seen a complete 180-degree shift with the global pandemic of Covid-19. This has now resulted in 80,000 or more returning New Zealand Residents and Citizens. Combine this with an increase in redundancies across a range of industries, and we have ourselves the exact opposite: a candidate saturated market.

With such a massive increase in potential applicants, it will have flow-on effects to how companies manage their recruitment as the country moves back business as usual. 

Whilst it may be manageable to receive applications via email when you only have 20 candidates to review, our predictions are that most roles will see upwards of 80 applications per vacancy and that creates the need for a totally different recruitment process.

Here is our advice for SME’s who will be navigating this saturated job seeker market to find the best candidates quickly and easily:

1. Invest in an applicant tracking system. 

There are literally hundreds of options in the market now at all price points. Our advice is to use an independent provider (not one tied to a specific media as then your advertising options are severely impacted).  You should also strongly consider the country of origin. When it comes to technology, you may find that where the technology is headquartered is the privacy laws for data you will be governed by. You don’t want to find you are inadvertently breaching candidate privacy laws because your software is based out of China.

2. Build a great application form.

A good application form allows you to gather essential information upfront in a uniform manner. CV’s come in all shapes and sizes and if you are going to be dealing with 100 applications for the same role, it’s good to have some key metrics laid out in a uniform way. Consider questions like salary expectations, years of experience, knowledge of various computer programs, Visa or residency status.

If you have invested in a good applicant tracking system, your system should categorise your candidates in order of preference which further speeds up the review and selection process.

3. Skills test, skills test, skills test

I have seen numerous clients get caught out with their final candidate unable to perform at the standards they promised throughout the interview process. This was because an assumption was made based off previous experience. – IE ‘if you have used Word before, then you are a competent user of Word’.  Every person has a different opinion of what competency looks like, so invest $20 and save yourself headaches later by having candidates complete a skills test. It’s always better to know upfront what you are getting. 

4. NEVER bypass reference checks

By the time you get to this stage of the recruitment process, fatigue can be setting in. You just want your new recruit to sign on the dotted line and start and be done with the process.  So often I see my clients bypass the reference check stage because of this and it can lead to DIRE consequences. A reference check could be 20 minutes of your life that saves you from complete disaster. Problematic team members, personal grievance claims, criminal activity, theft, physical abuse towards other team members – these are just some of the stories I have discovered during reference checks of supposed ‘dream candidates’. Sadly, some people are just great actors, so avoid the temptation to just “trust your gut” – invest $70 and get a reference completed by a professional.  Or invest the time to do your own investigating to give yourself a better chance of uncovering anything that should help you with your final decision.   


Recruitment is a business operation where market changes can have a profound impact on your success, and your sanity!  

If you’d like any further insights or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Talent Propeller works with over 600 businesses across the country and specialises in supporting SMEs with their recruitment process. Part technology, part advertising agency and part human services, we handle over 2000 recruitment campaigns a month across a range of industries.