Extreme recruitment: How one HR department handled 41,000 candidates

by Chloe Taylor30 Apr 2015
The Department of Human Services has reportedly received 41,000 applications for just 1250 jobs at Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, numbers that many HR professionals can only dream of when attempting to attract new talent – but of course, there are pitfalls.  

In a report last week, The Canberra Times revealed that the department was inundated with responses after it announced in October that permanent jobs were available throughout the organisation and across Australia.

Thousands of candidates were informed that their applications had been unsuccessful last week, and were reportedly told that it was not possible for the department to provide them with feedback due to the volume of interest in the jobs.
The majority of the jobs in the department’s service delivery, IT and program support units, were only open to applicants already working in the public service.
A spokeswoman for the department said that the hiring process was ongoing – and would be for a while – but that 512 of the vacancies had already been filled.

“Recruitment actions are at various stages for the different selections and there are varied milestone dates for each process," she said. "To date, 923 offers have been made with 512 acceptances."

“All recruitment is being undertaken in line with current recruitment guidelines specified by the Australian Public Service Commission,” she added.

HC spoke to Karen Evans, managing director of NGA.NET, about how employers should handle oversubscribed job vacancies.

“Using clear job descriptions and qualification requirements for advertised positions can help to manage the number of applications,” she said. “Adopting software and other forms of technology which can automatically shortlist and track applicants is the most effective way to handle these situations.”

According to Evans, it is important for employers to remain in a position where they are able to provide feedback to applicants who were unsuccessful.

“Best practice suggests that following a face to face interview, when feasible, employers should give feedback to candidates if asked,” she told HC. “It allows candidates to improve, and creates a positive impression of your company’s brand. Talented candidates are more likely to apply to companies with a great image, who have a track record of respecting applicants and employees. Remember an interview is a two-way process: it’s a chance for the candidate to see if they want to join the company, as well as a chance for the employers to choose a new staff member.”

Evans added that employers need to remember that succession planning is becoming increasingly important due to the rapidly ageing workforce.

“Over the next 30 years, 23% of Australia’s population will be of retirement age or older,” she said. “Businesses and HR departments must understand what their organisation will need in the next three to five years and beyond. This involves pinpointing the roles that you expect to become vacant, and start to upskill staff in these areas to prevent a company brain drain.”

But planning ahead in regards to succession has more than one benefit.

“Succession planning has the additional benefit of driving employee engagement as staff have a clear progression and development path,” Evans added. 


  • by Rosalie 30/04/2015 1:25:05 PM

    sounds a lot of applications (and it is) but averaged out at 33 applications per vacancy - perhaps not so big at all?

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