Candidate Quantity or Quality? Why Less Is More in Modern Recruiting

  By Jason Hayes  |    Friday July 16, 2021

Category: Productivity, Recruiting

Would you rather receive 100 job applicants, 90% of whom are unqualified or irrelevant for your open position? Or would you rather attract 10 applicants, 90% of whom are high-caliber, top-notch candidates? 

I frequently hear from recruiters who are hyper-focused on candidate quantity: they cast wide nets to increase their chances of finding the right fit. While it’s understandable that some may take this approach – especially if monthly quotas must be met and “number of applicants” is a critical KPI – focusing on candidate quality can be a far more efficient and effective strategy. 

Think about it this way: If just 10 applicants out of 100 meet your requirements and warrant an interview or phone screen, you’ll spend valuable time and resources reviewing resumes and cover letters to narrow down your talent pool. That process is even more cumbersome if you don’t have an applicant tracking system (ATS). 

Now, if you receive just 10 applicants who are largely well-qualified, you’ll have a much easier time paring down your talent pool to identify your eventual new hire faster. This leaves you with more bandwidth for engaging and nurturing applicants and ensuring a positive candidate experience (with plenty of personalized communication). 

Quality Over Quantity: A Smart Strategy in 2021

Given today’s unique employment landscape, a “quality over quantity” approach is particularly savvy. With more than 9 million unemployed Americans, you’re bound to receive a flood of applications for in-demand job titles. That reason alone is enough to steer your focus away from applicant volume. 

By casting a wide net in your recruitment, you may attract the wrong type of modern job seeker – one who, although qualified on paper, may never respond to your request for a phone screen or, worse, “ghost” you for an interview. 

Further, with a quality over quantity approach, you’ll be able to act quickly on top talent. Without an application overload, you can zero in on just a handful of qualified candidates. A-players are likely applying for multiple jobs and receiving competing offers, so the sooner you can move them through your funnel, the better. Additionally, when you’re reviewing dozens and dozens of resumes and have just seconds to spend on each, it’s easier to let a great candidate slip through the cracks – mistakes happen when you move too fast! 

Go Industry-Focused for Qualified Talent 

Testing the waters of a “quality over quantity” approach to recruiting can be as simple as expanding your recruiting toolbox. If you typically post jobs or search for resumes on large, all-encompassing job boards, why not try an industry-specific or niche platform? 

With an industry-focused approach to recruiting, you’re more likely to attract candidates who are dedicated and passionate about their particular sector. They know their career goals and possess real-world experience in their field (or are actively working to obtain that experience). Plus, industry-focused job seekers don’t have the time to wade through all the irrelevant jobs on larger, generic platforms. In many cases, these job seekers aren’t even using general job boards, so recruiters enjoy the added benefits of tapping into a different talent pool with no overlap in candidates. 

That said, niche job boards tend to be most fruitful when hiring for highly specialized positions – those hard-to-fill roles that require very specific qualifications – as well as mid- and upper-level and salaried positions. For example, if you’re looking for a licensed veterinarian, you’ll attract just that, versus job seekers who aspire to hold a veterinary career or simply “like animals.” Similarly, if you’re looking for a proven sales account manager for a construction firm, you won’t be bombarded with applications from retail sales associates and cashiers. See the difference?

Whether you try an industry-specific job board, niche talent community, or association website, aiming for candidate quality over quantity pays off. With this approach, less is more in modern recruiting, as you save time, resources, and frustration in finding the right talent in a competitive, crowded job market. 


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