Job Applies Are Down: How Do Recruiters Recruit Tech Professionals?

Learn where to source candidates and solve common pain points during the application process.
Hiring manager talking to job interviewee/candidate via video call

Since 2019, tech job postings far outnumbered the total applications and actual hires for them, and those numbers worsened significantly in recent years.

Can recruiters reverse this trend in their prospecting efforts? Absolutely.

The Current State of Hiring

In 2021, the total number of tech job postings grew 81 percent, but the number of median applications per job decreased between 2019 and 2021. Furthermore, a record 42 percent of business owners in 2021 had job openings they couldn’t fill, while over 90 percent reported few or no qualified applications for the open positions.

In other words, job openings are far outweighing small applicant pools. As of July 2022, the unemployment rate for tech jobs is at 1.7 percent and job postings are 49 percent compared to this same time last year. So it’s safe to say that open roles are still outweighting candidate applications by a long shot, and the trend shows little signs of slowing down.

Recruiting the right candidates for the right positions requires a well-formulated, data-driven plan. With the right information and fundamental strategies, you can not only adapt to the current candidate landscape but see success in it.

Organic Sourcing

Organic sourcing refers to a recruitment process that’s open any job seeker with internet access and a resume, usually involving posts on online job boards like LinkedIn and company career sites.

But how often is tech talent using these posts to apply for jobs? Over 45 percent of screened-in respondents started their job search with a Google search or tech-specific job board, and about one-fifth looked at a general job board or career page of companies they admired, according to our 2022 Built In Tech Worker Survey.

From this, 80 percent of applications for tech jobs came from an organic source of hire. Despite that, they accounted for less than half of all hires. However, junior hires and entry-level hires were primarily organically sourced.


Inorganic Sourcing

Inorganic sourcing finds job seekers from a networking angle, which includes referral programs, prospecting and internal sources. Nearly half of all tech hires came from an inorganic source in 2021.

Referred applicants were nine times more likely to get hired than applicants who applied on company career sites. Mid-level hires and senior hires were most likely to come from prospecting.

Inorganic sourcing led to fewer applications but had the most actual hires. However, this type of sourcing also introduces more bias and less diversity into the workplace since employees tend to refer to people in their networks — people that often come from identical or similar personal and professional backgrounds as those that refer them.

Building a Better Recruitment Structure

Tech talent has a lot of complaints about many companies’ recruitment processes, from the application stage to the post-interview communications. Correcting these issues can improve applicant and hire rates, no matter the sourcing method. Here are some tips on common pain points.


Better Sourcing

Try to diversify where you post jobs. Look to new online job boards you have not tried before, particularly those geared towards professionals with diverse backgrounds.

With inorganic sourcing, you still want to keep a robust employee referral program. Be aware, however, of its potential to introduce bias. In terms of sourcing, it’s best not to play favorites. The secret is diversification, so keeping both in your toolbelt is essential.

Shorten the Application

For 66 percent of candidates, the length of the initial application is a factor in determining whether they’ll complete and submit to the job post. In this market, any friction candidates face in the early application process will deter them from completing. Making this as smooth and easy as possible will increase your chances of keeping a candidate.

Build More Transparency

Being more transparent in the expected pay or salary of the role and the details of the interview process can increase the trust and respect between recruiters and their candidates. Candidates want to know what to expect in the interview and how long it generally takes so that they are prepared. You can also include employer branding content that will give applicants a good sense of life at the company and/or on a specific team.

Respond With Speed

Almost 58 percent of candidates expect to hear back from companies in one week or less regarding their initial application. Despite these expectations, many companies are failing to keep up. More than 75 percent of job seekers have been ghosted after an interview, never hearing from a company again. This may damage the relationship with the potential candidate for future outreach.

Responding faster to candidates will not only draw top talent but will create a good relationship for future hiring opportunities with them. One easy fix to this challenge is building an automated email follow-up sequence.

Give Feedback

Today’s candidates don’t just want quick responses. They’re also looking for actionable feedback from recruiters. Over 70 percent of job seekers say they want feedback on an interview. Even if they did not receive a job offer, more than 60 percent said that receiving feedback during the interview process would make them more inclined to apply for future jobs at that company.




Overall, job seekers who face challenges like lengthy initial applications, slow recruiter response times and follow-ups, unprepared and late interviewers, inconsistent feedback and ghosting will be quick to move on. To appeal to today’s talent, companies need a streamlined and structured hiring process that makes every candidate feel valued and respected.


The right candidates are out there, they just need to be found and offered an enticing recruitment experience. This information, combined with strategic updates in the recruitment cycle, will help recruiters adapt to 2022’s talent acquisition.