I was recently asked for my thoughts on the future of recruitment. Having worked in the aviation HR and recruitment industry for over 12 years, I’ve seen lots of changes, some which are relevant to many sectors, while others are specific to the ‘glamorous’ world of air travel.

Front and centre was the biggest change of all, the exponential growth of the digital world, with online applications being the method of choice for recruiters and candidates alike. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I received a job application through the post! Paper CVs really are a thing of the past.

This phenomenon, which is most likely here to stay, has advantages and disadvantages for the industry.

The continued growth of online job boards and increased use of smart phones and mobile ‘apps’ has made it much easier for candidates to apply for jobs. With one click, their CV is sent to the inbox of a recruiter or HR professional who can review the relevance of the application for the vacancy.

From a recruitment perspective, this makes for a speedier process, as we can receive and respond to applications almost instantly. This allows us to be more agile, increasing our chances of talking to the most suitable candidates before they get snapped up for another role.

Also, the simplicity of applying online gives us a larger pool of candidates to choose from, greater brand awareness for the employer, and less physical paperwork. The latter is a huge help, as when we say to candidates we’ll keep their CV on file, it’s stored in an online folder, rather than an actual filing cabinet!

When it comes to aviation and other forms of international recruitment, online interviews are also a game changer. This has proved to be a very valuable asset to our company when we are placing pilots, cabin crew and other aviation professionals with customers around the world. At AeroProfessional, we strive to provide the best candidates to our clients, and online interviews enables us to get a good feel for the candidates we are recommending without the costly travel arrangements needed for a first interview.

But of course, digital recruitment isn’t without its drawbacks. Firstly, the reduced process means that candidates don’t really need to think about what they are applying for, often resulting in mass applications, regardless of whether they are actually suitable for the job or not.

At AeroProfessional, we recently received applications from a Nail Technician, Hospital Theatre Technician and a Slimming Consultant for a Senior Airline Ground Operations Controller role! While these candidates were obviously not suitable for the position, it takes time to filter them out whilst ensuring that suitable applicants don’t get overlooked.

Our recent insight paper ‘Candidates don’t want your job’ reinforced the downside of digital recruitment for an employer. With the increased use of the internet comes a rise in the number of job boards, and of course recruiters, some of whom advertise the same job post. As a result, our paper revealed that applicants use an average of 18 sources when looking for a job and taking just 76 seconds to read and consider a job description before deciding whether to apply. This means that candidates are able to submit applications for a significant number of positions in a matter of minutes.

We also found that 57% of respondents admitted that they applied for an aviation role knowing they didn’t meet the relevant qualifications or experience criteria set by the recruiter, so whilst the employer may receive an influx of applications, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are inundated with suitable candidates.

So what can the industry do about this? As recruiters and HR professionals, we can take some steps to mitigate an influx of unsuitable applications. Appropriate qualifying questions is one option, with the option of ‘locked’ applications where candidates have to answer some preliminary questions before they proceed to the application process.

Also, having adequate resources in place to deal with the sea of applications is a must. All too often, overworked in-house HR or recruitment departments juggle sorting through applications along with other duties. This may seem like a cost-efficient solution, but it results in delayed processes and candidates not receiving feedback on their applications, leading to disengagement.

These are just a few solutions, and while they won’t completely solve the problem of too many unsuitable applications, they can help ensure that employers can take advantage of the benefits of the digital era, while minimising the disadvantages.

With more than 12 years’ experience in the aviation HR and the recruitment industry, Sam leads a team of professional consultants who provide strategic HR advice and people solutions to airlines worldwide. Sam’s in-depth knowledge of cross border engagement, aviation skills, and large scale recruitment enables him to provide specialist industry insight, as well as comment on a range of issues affecting the HR and recruitment industry as a whole. Sam’s strong flair for business and sales saw him promoted to Director at AeroProfessional in 2013.