i Dear Workforce-i What’s The Definition Of An Applicant How Do We Track Their Resumes

December 9, 2002

Dear Inundated:

Unfortunately, there is no one good definition for the term "applicant,"and many different definitions exist in companies around the world. The federalgovernment is of little help; the two main government offices that police thearea of recruitment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and theOffice of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) provide no firm definitionof what an applicant truly is, at least until they audit you.

The best way to narrow down your applicant pool is to follow these few steps:

  1. Have written application and hiring procedures in place. A key part ofthis would include requiring a candidate to complete a formal application forany job; this can eliminate a good chunk of the resumes that pour into youroffice. Of course, to ensure that you’ve communicated your policies to thecandidates, you will need to develop a system to indicate the formal applicationrequirement to the candidate, such as a postcard, return e-mail or banner onyour Web site.

  2. Have minimum requirements for each job. Even if someone completes a formalapplication, you can eliminate him from "applicant" status if he doesn’tmeet the minimum requirements for the job. It wouldn’t hurt to communicate tothe candidate the minimum requirements they didn’t meet just to be safe.

  3. Notice the terminology -- "candidate" and "applicant." In anaudit, what you call your job seekers can have an impact. Depending on how youtrack applicants, you may want to set up an initial file where the "candidates"first come in, and then depending on how they stack up against your writtenhiring policy, ship them out or move them to "applicant" status.

  4. Don’t hold on to "applicant" information forever. If you have threeapplicants for one job, and one gets the job, you will have two applicants’information to keep. In your written (and communicated) policies, put a clock onhow long you’ll keep the information. One year is the norm. You may also wantto put in terminology that will require re-application after the one-yearperiod.

There are many computer-based systems available to track applicants, and manyof them incorporate the philosophies listed above. A good system will keep youin compliance and allow you, at a moment’s notice, to identify where anapplicant is in the hiring process. Depending on the size of your company, youmay also want to have dedicated staff that is in tune with hiring requirementsand compliance issues.

SOURCE: Bill Dickmeyer, CEBS, Madison Human Resources Consulting LLC, Verona,Wisconsin, June 18, 2002.

LEARN MORE: See "The Basics of ApplicantTracking"

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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