The CV Factory: Job Boards seeing SMEs get 100s of one-click applications for a single low-paid role

Small employers are receiving hundreds of ill-matched applications for a single vacancy advertised on some job boards. One company received 600 applications for a junior role, while others have received applications from hundreds of miles away from candidates who have no intention of moving for a role.

Jenny Evans, CEO of, said,

I recently posted a new opportunity on one of the major job boards, asking for a cover letter and CV as part of the application process. I received over 600 applications, which might sound great, but only a tiny proportion of those who applied followed the guidance for applicants I posted – in fact, only 15 sent a cover letter – and many candidates simply did not meet the criteria for the role. This created a huge amount of unnecessary work for me and has left me questioning the value of job boards that encourage mass applications.”

Lucy Griffiths, CEO of, explained.

“This ‘CV factory’ issue arises repeatedly – applicants easily upload their CV to some job boards and, in their desire to find work quickly, they apply to as many roles as they can. They can click once to apply for any job, anywhere in the country. I’m sure it provides some comfort to candidates to apply for more roles, but the truth is that applying in an unfocused way may mean they are less likely to achieve their goal. In some cases, this kind of mass application doesn’t serve either applicants or employers.

“For applicants, there is a false sense of security in having applied for a large number of roles, and for smaller employers who can’t afford to implement sophisticated filtering systems, it’s an industrial-scale, manual process with a huge time-cost. Larger employers have found ways around this by implementing tests and filtering systems, but this still isn’t ideal as there is potential for great candidates to be filtered out before they have had a chance to shine.”

The mass application approach to recruitment that has developed over recent years seems to value quantity of applications over quality of compatibility between employer, role, and candidate, according to Griffiths.

It has spawned its own industry designed to help employers manage the workload. Although it may seem to have become easier for candidates to make applications, they will often be just another CV in a huge pile, and so it has, paradoxically, become harder for organisations and the most suitable candidates to find each other.”

Scott James, Founder of Coaltown Coffee, agrees:

As the owner of a growing business, recruitment is a major priority for me, so I’m keen to promote our opportunities as widely as possible. However, I’ve found that using systems that allow one-click application has resulted in a huge number of applications from people who haven’t really considered whether they’d be right for the roles I have on offer. This creates additional time-cost for me and my business and makes it harder to find the right candidates.”’s Griffiths advises:

  • Smaller employers should carefully consider whether mass promotion on ‘pay-per-click’ job boards that allow ‘one-click’ applications will get them the best results when recruiting to local roles and consider other recruitment options like specialist and local job boards that enable them to manage their own applications process.
  • Employers can help applicants ‘select themselves in’ by using targeted promotions – for example employers should use a site that can target their promotions based on location, hobbies and interests, personal attributes, and industries of interest.
  • Employers can create an application process that requires a level of commitment by asking for submissions that do not fit the standard ‘CV’ format. Although this creates some extra work for candidates, the likelihood of receiving applications from those who genuinely want the job on offer is much higher, and candidates benefit from having an opportunity to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
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