Be Prepared! “Resume Spamming” Is On the Way

You have heard of email spamming, but it’s time to get ready for “resume spamming.” Resume spamming is the process where applicants use Web technology to deluge a large number of company websites with “volume applications” for almost every job in the company. Think of it, the time is rapidly approaching when, with the push of a button, any person could literally apply to every job at every company in the world. The technology already exists, and as soon as some smart entrepreneur begins to offer the service, applicants will no longer have to visit individual sites to apply for a position. Technology will seek out the sites and automatically apply for them. The horror story behind this is that the volume of resumes received by any company could increase tenfold, putting a dramatic strain on current applicant tracking systems (ATS). Before you dismiss the notion out of fear or disbelief, think about it. As firms make it easier and easier to apply for a position (as they should), there will be a temptation for individuals to “over apply” to as many jobs and firms as possible. Why not? There’s no “penalty” for submitting multiple applications. It’s in the applicant’s best interest to “stretch” their applications to jobs that they might be only be minimally qualified for and to any company they might even remotely consider. It’s just human nature to consider increasing the number of resumes you send in, because it increases your odds of your getting a “hit” and there is no penalty for “over-applying.” The result will be that company websites will be inundated with a huge volume of resumes, many of which will be of low quality and/or a weak job fit. What does this new use of technology mean to employers?

  1. Volume, Volume, Volume. This dramatic increase in volume will be due partially to the weak economy but the remainder will be due to resume spamming. The result will be a tremendous strain on applicant tracking systems. Systems that were designed to handle a limited volume will be inundated and taxed to the point where they may actually cease to work. In order to prepare for this dramatic increase in volume is essential that firms look at their current ATS’s with their eye toward say either expanding its capability are replacing it with a more robust system.
  2. The Sorting Problem from Hell. As the volume of resumes increases, the quality will not. With such a huge volume, it will be virtually impossible for “humans” to physically sort through the number of resumes that will be received. As a result, applicant tracking systems must be dramatically improved or be replaced by next-generation systems. These newer systems can handle a large volume but at the same time they can accurately sort and screen resumes. Most current sorting systems are based on keyword searches. Unfortunately applicants can easily fool the system by including all of the key words found on the job description in their resume. As applicants learn to “beat the system” it will become even more essential that companies begin to look at ATS systems that use “fuzzy logic” and other tools to improve the accuracy of their resume sort. Otherwise managers and recruiters will end up missing great candidates that can get easily lost in the volume, or they will end up with such large numbers of resumes, that the time involved in selecting the final candidates for interviews will increased dramatically.
  3. A Global Problem. As technology spreads throughout the world individuals will be able to apply for jobs in every country from anywhere with the push of the button. In addition, due to the increased volume of international resumes, firms will now need to begin to learn how to sort out resumes based on the firm’s relocation limitations. A secondary issue will be that the number of resumes that are received in different languages will also increase. This means that ATS systems will either have to reject non-English resumes or must be capable of sorting in multiple languages.
  4. Legal Issues. If current EEOC definitions of “an applicant” remain unchanged, any increase in the volume of spammed applicants could result in an EEOC nightmare. In addition, the inherent difficulty in obtaining diversity information from these casual “spanned applicants” will make record keeping and EEOC audits a nightmare!

Prepare for the flood.

Wise employment managers must begin to think ahead and prepare for this increased flow of resumes. This means reassessing their current applicant tracking system, and either upgrading it or perhaps planning on buying a new one with “next generation” tools which can accept and accurately sort large volumes of applicants. The Reverse Search: Companies Spam Applicants.

Speaking of new technology, there is a reverse side to resume spamming. It’s called applicant spamming! Currently firms recruit based on the traditional model where an applicant actively comes to the firm and applies for position. However technology is now advancing so fast that it will soon no longer be necessary to wait for the applicant to come to you to apply. Using sophisticated search engines it will soon be possible for firms to proactively search their web 24 hours a day for the names and/or the resumes of nearly every working person on the planet. Think of it, instead of waiting for applicants to come to you the computer can search around the world and look at every individual that can be found on the web. The computer can find them and then sort out the most qualified on a continuous basis. The very best that make the final cut could have jobs “pushed” to them for consideration without ever needing to formally apply. This “reverse spamming” will allow companies to “find them” before they “find us.” The model is intriguing, and it is certainly superior to the current one which requires individuals to know your firm first and to spend time coming to your site and submitting a resume. As 24/7 search engines become widely used, job boards will become obsolete. This is because it will no longer be necessary to “wait” for someone to post his or her resume to a particular board. Most working individuals will have their own personal web page or will be can be easily identified through association, demographic or even geographic databases. Conclusion.

At first thought this notion might seem far-fetched. I assure you that it is not. Wise recruiters and employment managers must begin to look ahead before it’s too late. They need to realize that their current systems won’t work as the flow of applicants (real and spammed) increases dramatically. The weak economy alone will drive a record number of applicants to corporate sites that were developed during higher employment times and when applicant traffic was slower. HR software developers need to plan ahead and advance their products to the point where owners of their software can take actually take advantage of the large volume and turn it into an opportunity. Don’t take my word for it. Check the increase in the volume of applications on your site for the last few months…you will see that the flood has already begun!

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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