Responses, Responses, Responses…How Do You Manage All Those Internet Ad Responses?

In Part I of this series we created WOW by improving our job titles. In Part II we created WOW by focusing on the job content. Implementing both of these tips on all job postings will help to more successfully generate the candidates for which you are searching. In Part III, we focused on keeping the postings organized, managed, and updated. In Part IV, the final part of this series, we will cover ways to manage the inundation of ad responses. WOE: “Posting ads on the Internet is a double edged sword. On the one hand we receive many, many responses to our ads, which is GREAT. On the other hand, only about 10 percent are actually viable candidates. Because all responses to our ads go directly into our applicant tracking database, our database is now populated primarily with non-viable candidates. The recruiters are now frustrated because their searches on the applicant tracking system deliver unqualified candidates.” WOW: Pre-Screen Resumes prior to entering them into the applicant tracking system.

Unfortunately there is no getting around the arduous task of pre-screening resumes. This is an essential part of the recruiting process. The key to efficient management of the process and maximizing use of the resume tracking system is having the ability to pre-screen the resumes prior to entering them into the candidate tracking system. Only qualified (on paper) candidates need to be entered into this system. This can be accomplished while still tracking all responses for EEO purposes. Currently there are a few software companies that are beginning to develop products to help address this issue. Also, there are some “home grown remedies” that you can try as well. Pre-Qualifying Databases

Some of the automated posting services like Resumix’s Internet Recruiter offers an interface that asks the candidate a series of qualifying questions. If you use this product, you can then go into the results and forward only the qualifying candidates to your applicant tracking system. The soon to be released JobLauncher product from eQuest has a similar feature that allows you to specify which resumes you want sent to your applicant tracking system and through a few clicks, all the selected resumes can be sent at one time. e-recruiting hosting services that are designed to attract both the active and the passive job seeker also has an interface that asks the candidate a series of qualifying questions. Their feature can set up to automatically send only the qualifying candidates into the database. Home Grown Remedies

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If you don’t have the option of using one of the automated tools, you can still create your own system for pre-qualifying candidates. Currently, the process by which most companies manage the responses to their job ads is by having the candidate respond via an e-mail that routes directly into the applicant tracking system. Instead of sending all resumes directly into the system, consider creating a “holding pen” for all incoming resumes. Remedy 1: Have all ad responses sent into an e-mail address set up specifically for job responses only. The more advanced e-mail systems, like Microsoft Outlook 98, allow you to create “rules” for incoming e-mails. First, set up file folders in the e-mail in-box for each job or job category posted. Next, set up rules to have the ad responses automatically forwarded to the appropriate file folder. Then individuals can manually view each resume within a category and only route the appropriate ones to the tracking system. It’s tedious on the front end but helps move things along much more efficiently on the back end. Remedy 2: Have all ad responses sent to an e-mail address that is set up specifically for job responses. Make this file accessible to the recruiters that are responsible for sourcing candidates. Use a product like Alta Vista Search Tools to search the in-box of resumes for candidates that fit your profiles. Tools like this allow you to do the same type searches on your databases as you would at the Alta Vista Site — i.e., keyword and Boolean searches. The Alta Vista tool supports web servers, file servers, and Lotus Domino servers giving you the opportunity to search other internal files as well. Only the qualified candidates are then forwarded to the applicant tracking system. Dealing with EEO. Depending on how your company defines an actual applicant, you may need to include all ad responses (qualified and unqualified) in your EEO statistics. If this is the case, you can save a copy of your “holding pen” with the unqualified applicants to include them in your statistics. To summarize, managing the job responses is a critical step in the recruiting process. The ability to work within a database of only the qualified resumes will allow the recruiters to spend their time more efficiently, resulting in reduced cycle time. If anyone has any other ideas on how to manage the influx of ad responses please share them with me at

Karen Osofsky ( is a co-founder of, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.


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