How to manage a rise in job applications

Over the last year, the number of applications per advertised job has increased significantly. This is due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as more and more people are finding themselves out of work. To make the problem worse, businesses are being more cautious overall when it comes to hiring and there are fewer jobs being advertised too.


This means that those job roles that are being advertised are being inundated with applications, significantly increasing the workload of those who will have to sift through cover letters and CVs to find the best candidates. On top of this, the more applications you receive, the less time you will be able to spend reviewing each one, therefore, you risk missing out on the top talent. You also risk providing poor candidate experience, making it more difficult to secure this top talent and risking damaging your reputation.


So how do you manage this sudden influx of applicants? Here are a few tips to help you manage your workload and efficiently pick out the candidates that should get to the next stage.

  • Take more time on the job ad

The first step, especially if you find yourself trawling through applications from candidates who don’t have the required skills or experience, is to take a look at the ads that you’re posting. Are these specific enough? Have you accurately detailed all of the requirements for the role?


Make sure you work with the manager who will be looking after the new employee on this. Are there any skills or qualifications that should be moved from the ‘desired’ list to the ‘essential’ list? Have you made the role’s level of seniority clear? Over the last year, with so many of us working remotely, certain soft skills have become more important, such as communication and the ability to adapt quickly. If there is likely to be remote work involved for the role you’re advertising, have you considered highlighting the need for these skills?


This should cut out a chunk of applicants who won’t be considered in the first place and save you time for looking at the qualified applicants. It’s still likely that you’ll get some applications through from jobseekers trying their luck but if you make it clear that candidates who don’t have X, Y or Z won’t be considered, then you should cut the number of these down.

  • Make a cover letter a requirement

This is an excellent method to very quickly sort out the serious applications from the irrelevant ones. There will be some job seekers applying to anything and everything and are unlikely to be suitable for the role that you’re advertising. The requirement for a cover letter takes time on the candidate’s side and will put off those who aren’t serious about the role.


Some applicants may repurpose the same cover letter for multiple job applications but this is very easy to spot. They will have a templated, generic feel where they may have inserted the name of the company, the role and a few of the skills mentioned on the job ad in certain places.


Those that have taken the time and effort to write a good cover letter will be obvious. They will have recognised the opportunity to tell you why they would be a good fit for the role beyond what their CV can tell you. They are also likely to demonstrate knowledge of your company and why they’d be an attribute to it in particular.

  • Hone in on skill sets

If you have carefully crafted your job description, this should be a very easy step. Those applications that have passed your cover letter test now need to prove they have the skills for the job. As with the cover letter, you want to see a CV that has been tailored to the job you’ve advertised. You don’t want to be picking through every bit of work they’ve ever done to find evidence of the required skills, they should be presented to you clearly and concisely.

  • Get a screening process in place

By now, the pile of applications you’re still considering should be looking considerably smaller. Now it’s time to start looking a little deeper. If the candidates have included links to a website or examples of their work, start having a good look at these. You should generally expect to find LinkedIn profiles for most applicants as well. If they maintain this profile well, you should be able to tell whether they might be the right fit for your company pretty quickly.


The advantage of having a quick look at their LinkedIn profile is that while their CV should be tailored to the role you’ve advertised, their public online profile won’t be (if they’re applying for other jobs at the same time). You’ll be able to see if there’s anything that they’ve chosen to omit on their application or anything that they’ve highlighted to a greater extent on the CV you’ve received. These insights will help give you a more rounded view of the candidate. Take a look at the posts they’ve shared or written too. This could help you determine whether they share the same values as your company.

  • Invest in technology

One way to considerably ease your workflow is to invest in technology that will do a lot of the work for you. An Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is a software programme designed to simplify and speed up the recruitment process. There are various options out there and they can help you do anything from sourcing candidates to testing and selecting the top talent.


Using a system like this to scan applications for the required skills for a role, for example, could save you lots of time that could be spent taking a closer look at those candidates that do have the skills you’re searching for. You could also use these systems to screen candidates, send out interview invitations and organise calendars. If there is a test element to your application process an ATS could also manage this for you, from sending the test to selected candidates to updating you with the results. Initial interviews can also be carried out by these systems via video with a selection of pre-recorded questions.


In the current climate, higher numbers of applications should be expected. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by a sudden influx of job applications, there are plenty of things that you can do to ease your workload while still making sure you get the right candidate for the job and providing an excellent candidate experience. Be smart with your time and try out a few of the tips above.


Even simple things, like requiring a cover letter or moving a valuable skill from ‘desired’ to ‘essential’ will cut down on the number of irrelevant applications you receive. If you are still left inundated with applications after refining your job descriptions, focusing in on skill sets and getting a screening process in place, an ATS might be worth investing in. When used well, these systems can free up a valuable chunk of time for recruiters. This time can then be used to prepare for the stages of the process that can’t be automated, like final interviews.