How to Handle High-Volume Hiring (Without the Headache)

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High-volume recruiting is one of the most challenging types of talent acquisition. With thousands of applications pouring in and positions opening constantly, it’s crucial to have a tried-and-true hiring process in place.

Let’s break down some of the most common recruiting obstacles in these high-turnover industries—and how to overcome them. 

What is high-volume hiring?

High-volume hiring focuses on filling vacancies year-round, although some industries experience seasonal hiring surges. This type of recruiting is common in high-turnover industries with many positions, such as retail, restaurants, hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate in retail was 64.6% in 2021, and in food and hospitality, the turnover rate was 86.3%. Companies that need to fill these gaps and recruit at a high volume could receive anywhere from 250 to 1,000+ applications per position.    

Consider those turnover percentages across major chains like Amazon, 7-Eleven, or Walmart, and you’ll begin to see why the issue of recruiting and hiring is amplified in these industries. Pressure is mounting on talent managers and recruiters to keep up, even with thousands of applications to process. 

Obstacles of high-volume hiring

Here are some of the most common obstacles of high-volume hiring and how you can overcome them.

Hiring within time constraints

With frontline work, roles need to be filled immediately—and this need is amplified during seasonal rushes. You can’t close down stores, restaurants, and manufacturing lines for months while you hire enough talent to fill vacancies or staff locations at the perfect level. Customer needs still need to be met, even during busy seasons. 

While high-volume recruiting naturally comes with time constraints, there are simple ways to work more quickly and efficiently. 

Solution: Automate key areas of your hiring process

To solve this, automate your screening process to shortlist best-fit candidates as applications come in. Studies show that recruiters spend about seven seconds reviewing a resume. Multiply that by 10,000 resumes, and you lose hours (or days) to this pre-screening step that could be automated instead. 

Similarly, you can use automated chatbots to answer FAQs. This way applicants can easily get answers they need without taking time away from your recruitment team during a hiring surge.

Ultimately, the more you can automate, the faster you can get open positions filled—and when you’re in a hiring crunch, speed is key.


Providing a positive candidate experience

Candidate experience can take a back seat when you’re trying to bring in dozens of new hires at once. However, the application and interview process is a candidate’s first experience with your brand, so it should be a positive one.

Solution: Streamline the application process

Make sure your application process is optimized. Is the application long or repetitive? Do you ask for supplemental assessments or forms to fill out? Eliminate barriers to application completion as much as possible and save forms for later in the screening process. 

Additionally, rely on automated scheduling to make the interview process as simple as possible—for the candidate and the hiring manager. Optimizing the process pays off: Using automation technology, Sigma was able to increase their candidate hiring satisfaction to 95%.

Dealing with resource constraints

For organizations where high-volume hiring is a constant state, companies often struggle to find a long-term, sustainable solution. Most HR teams have nowhere near the staff or resources needed to handle it on their own.    

A recent McKinsey report highlights the inevitably of widespread turnover in frontline fueled industries, noting that nearly “half of US frontline retail employees and two-thirds of frontline managers say they are thinking about leaving their jobs in the next few months.” 

Solution: Use automation to eliminate busywork

Automation and artificial intelligence can offer reprieve and reduce bottlenecking. However, only 25% of all organizations take advantage of these options to alleviate the challenges they face in their hiring process.

With the right hiring tools and techniques, companies can ensure they have the workforce they need to satisfy demand and remain operational when turnover strikes.

5 techniques to simplify and improve high-volume hiring

Now that we’ve covered various solutions to common challenges of high-volume hiring, let’s discuss tactics your team can proactively take to advance your HR organization overall. Here are five effective techniques to consider:

1) Create catchy, straightforward, and honest job ads

Make sure your job listings are candidate-first, considering what they really want as individuals. Job ads should mention not just the responsibilities of the role but also the perks, like bonuses, incentives, paid time off, and flexible scheduling.

That said, make sure the job ads accurately reflect the role’s expectations. When actual job duties or benefits don’t align with what you advertise, it can cause new employees to turn over quickly. Set the right expectations for your open positions by:

  • Creating accurate job descriptions: Include information about job duties, but also the hours, pay range, perks, and other important details. Be sure to include expectations beyond what the job title suggests. For example, a cashier may primarily be responsible for operating the register, but may also be expected to manage inventory or do some cleaning to maintain the store’s appearance. Include these additional duties in the job description so that new hires are prepared.‍
  • Holding effective, transparent interviews: During the interview, reiterate the daily responsibilities of the role (including any additional expectations as mentioned above). Give the candidate plenty of opportunities to ask questions and provide clear, accurate answers.

Remember, the candidate is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. If they can come out of the interview with a clear understanding of the role’s expectations, they can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s a good fit.

2) Offer flexibility with virtual interviews    

We now live in an age where recruiters can arrange interviews with potential candidates from anywhere. Video interviews tend to be more efficient, helping you get through a bigger talent pool more quickly than traditional face-to-face interviews. Virtual interviews can also provide a better candidate experience as it is less disruptive to the candidate’s schedule.

Some recruiting software platforms simplify the interview process by scheduling interviews between candidates and hiring managers automatically. 67% percent of recruiters spend half an hour to two hours scheduling a single interview, so automating this process can result in huge time savings.   

3) Gather data for optimizing the hiring pipeline

Data is your biggest asset when attracting and capturing quality candidates. Recruitment metrics give you insight into how effective your process is at attracting suitable candidates. Below are some examples of the kind of data your organization should be regularly gathering and tracking:      

  • Time to hire
  • Candidate satisfaction score (candidate NPS)
  • Candidate funnel stage
  • Application conversion rates
  • Candidates and hires by source 

Gathering actionable data is a heavy lift for companies that rely on manual hiring processes. Even if you use job posting platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed, the amount of data you have access to is limited at best, which makes optimizing your hiring pipeline a challenge.

4) Leverage a variety of channels to distribute job postings

Don’t forget that your existing candidate database may be your most effective avenue for finding qualified candidates quickly. 

A talent acquisition and management tool can help you monitor for pools of talent that weren’t available the last time you reached out and are now seeking employment. After all, this is the nature of working in a high-turnover industry. This talent has already been vetted and qualified, so be sure to leverage your candidate database when positions open up.

Social media is another great channel for attracting talent. Depending on your brand and company goals, you may leverage popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube. Using paid ads on these platforms will direct job seekers to your career page and draw in applications. Other channels include employee referral programs, recruiter networks, and career sites.

5) Use tools to automate manual tasks

As touched on above, automation can be a valuable asset for a hiring team. Using AI-driven pattern-matching technology, you can streamline your screening process by automatically identifying candidates that meet your criteria.

Tailor your recruiting automation tool to search for certain keywords or characteristics in applications. This way, you can automatically filter through resumes and applications to find the best candidates from the pool of job seekers.   

From there, you can use the technology to match the best-fit candidates with the right jobs. In retail, for example, you might choose candidates based on previous experience, leading to pools of cashiers, salespeople, buyers, or inventory managers.

The simple truth is that any company that needs to scale its hiring process can benefit from the automation that recruitment tools offer. Recruiting platforms can also give your organization access to valuable data, like which sources produce the most applicants and which produce the most qualified talent. 

If you’re looking for a tool and feel overwhelmed by the options, this resource details what to look for in recruiting software and offers a few great options to consider.

Hire at scale with software built for the job—try Emi

When you need to hire frontline staff quickly and with limited resources, you need recruitment tools to organize and simplify the process. Emi’s automation tools can reduce your time to hire, ease the burden on hiring managers, and make the application and hiring process much smoother.

Find out how Emi can simplify your recruitment process to help you bring in more qualified talent with less turnover

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