Once upon a time if you wanted to recruit staff you would place an advert in an appropriate journal or local newspaper. On seeing the advert potential applicants would need to contact your organisation to request an application pack. Sometimes they even had to send you a self-addressed envelope.

A team of staff would have been occupied taking calls, opening letters and deciphering answerphone messages. They would then make up the application packs and post these back to the people making the enquiries. The potential applicants then had to fill the forms in by hand and post them back to you by the closing date.

This is the reason that traditionally adverts had a full 2 weeks from publication to closing date, it took this long to get through this process.

So why is it that many organisations still insist on putting unnecessarily long closing dates on campaigns and then closing them whenever they feel like it, with no warning or consideration of people spending time and care on their applications?

We strongly recommend that once a vacancy has completed the internal approval process, and that all the necessary documentation has been received, that the Recruitment Officer discuss closing dates with the line manager so that the post can be put out on an appropriate date and for an appropriate length of time, taking into account:

  • the speed with which suitable applications will come in for this type of post
  • the closing date and availability of managers to shortlist
  • any external advertising being done, for instance is the advert due to appear in a professional journal

Therefore a popular, entry level post might only be put out for 1 or 2 days, rather than for 2 weeks and then closing it early.

If you put up a notice saying that you'll be closing a post once you've had enough applications this is the same as saying to applicants that it's far better to submit a quick, poorly completed application which might have things like out of date referees in it, rather than taking care in its completion, as spending any additional time on completing or checking your application may mean that you'll be too late to submit it.

This may feel like it's going to increase your workload but in reality this additional bit of planning at this stage is going to result in fewer complaints, better quality applications and hopefully faster shortlisting.

If the post is one that is going to attract a lot of applications please do consider using either "blocking" questions, that stop people from reaching the application form, and/or additional application questions that are designed to help extract important information from applicants that will make the task of the shortlisters quicker and easier.

Finally, on a purely practical note, if you close adverts early you could be at risk of a claim under disability discrimination rules as it could be argued that you're favouring people who respond the fastest and thereby disadvantaging people who need more time to create and submit their application.

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