The average number of applicants per job continues to be its highest since 2013 due to COVID’s higher-than-average unemployment rates. Pair this with the skill shortage in the marketplace, and the result is a large number of candidates who are not qualified for the jobs for which they are applying.

This flooded employment market has employers scrambling to find ways to comb through a greatly increased candidate pool without spending too much time on those not suited for the job.

How can hiring managers find new, strategic ways to survive the stress of this new environment and its obstacles?

Below, we offer 5 strategies to consider for hiring managers who need to sharpen their edge and add to their toolbox.

Strategy #1: Use Technology Such as Pre-employment Tests and Applicant Tracking Systems

Time is the most important asset when hiring. Technology can save lots of it, by quickly identifying the best talent from hundreds of unqualified applicants all while keeping a hiring manager organized as they hire for one or many roles.

Online pre-employment testing is one such tool. It helps hiring managers tackle cumbersome candidate pools by removing poor fits from the lineup, and has the added benefit of reducing face-to-face contact, which is essential amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

By testing early – prior to interview, or even phone interview – hiring managers can rapidly eliminate applicants who are not a good fit, allowing hiring managers to focus their limited time on applicants who are.

Pre-employment personality tests such as those offered by Resource Associates are able to be administered remotely and are scientifically-designed to match personality traits with workplace success. Never has this been more important than in an economy flooded with higher-than average volumes of under-skilled job applicants.

Other software products known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help hiring managers keep their applicants organized. They can track, follow-up, and report on a candidate anywhere in the hiring process. It also helps to administer necessary forms and contracts, and often, they record the communication between the company and candidate.

Strategy #2: Move Away from Traditional Hiring Processes

The traditional hiring process  – which consists of posting job ads, receiving and screening résumés, and conducting job interviews – is even less effective than it was before COVID-19. Not only is it ineffective in predicting a candidate’s performance, but it’s an unrealistic process when faced with a high volume of possibly underqualified applicants.

Instead, start by strategically posting jobs in places with the highest likelihood of producing qualified applicants. Then, narrow your field of applicants with pre-employment testing. Then, move onto other screening methods. After those steps are complete, then begin to review resumes and conduct short phone interviews, followed by longer online interviews.

Strategy #3: Grow your Own Talent Pool

Companies can make the most of the situation they find themselves in and grow their own talent pool as fast as they can, while they can. This situation is not going to last forever, and the pre-COVID-19 talent shortage could return. Look for systems that can store all applicant data, and mine and match that data to job requirements now and in the future.

Job boards, employment branding, and candidate marketing promotions will bring the volume, and “suggestive technology” will point hiring managers toward applicants whom companies should be considering.

This can save time and money as the talent pool grows and companies can become their own version of LinkedIn. Homegrown talent pools should be a focus for hiring managers during these times as they can bring long-term benefits.

Strategy #4: Use Video Technology in Your Hiring Process

Video interviewing and screening technologies are the norm now. Zoom is a household name. Many applicants and hiring managers will likely default to this option for interviews for years to come as opposed to face-to-face interviews.

With people not able or not wanting to travel unless they absolutely must, video technology is now a requisite of the hiring toolkit.

One efficient way to do this is to have video capability embedded into your applicant tracking system. If this isn’t available to you, ensure you have a basic video platform, such as Zoom, ready to generate meeting links that you can quick copy / paste into emails out to candidates who are up for interview. Keep hiring now – save the automation and sophistication for later.

Strategy #5: Take Advantage of Remote Collaboration

Employees will be working from many different locations going forward. Collaborative tools are essential with team members working from different locations and collaboration among hiring managers will continue to be important.

In addition to shared cloud storage for candidate information, you may want tools and “code” candidates to keep them organized as they move between different team members. For instance, look for a system that flags applicants green, amber or red with one click. It’s also useful to have a collaborative tool that stores comments on applicants as well as interview notes so that hiring managers can collaborate with all involved in the hiring process. This will make the process faster and can increase the quality of hire.

Remote Tools: Important Now More Than Ever

These are unusual circumstances and hiring has changed abruptly and unexpectedly. Hiring managers must be versatile, and proactively use technology and change their strategies to make the most of it.