Hiring is tricky. There are so many variables to juggle, and the consequences of making the wrong decision can be brutal. Your company wants you to ensure that every candidate has a great experience, the best people are getting interviews, and ultimately you hire an excellent employee who will exceed expectations in their role. No pressure, right?
We get it. When it comes to hiring, the stakes are high and you need to be at the top of your game. After all, candidates who are applying for your open position are also applying for jobs at other companies. Things like speed, experience, responsiveness, professionalism, and convenience will all factor into a great candidate’s decision. To become a preferred destination for great employees, you’ll want to follow these 8 steps to instantly improve your hiring process.
1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your candidates.
Just as the candidates read through a job description before applying, you should read, and re-read your job descriptions before posting them. Today’s world is plagued with copy-cat job descriptions that don’t match the company culture, don’t set realistic expectations, and don’t even give an accurate description of the job.
This is because writing job descriptions is hard.
It’s complicated to know how much information to include, how much to leave ambiguous, and sometimes we just don’t know enough about the job itself to write a great job description.
So before you get that job posted to all your favorite job boards, and before it goes live on the company careers page, actually take an hour to figure out what you’re looking for.
Give the employee an idea of what they’ll be expected to do on a day-to-day basis. List out the skills that are absolutely necessary, and make a separate list of skills that are preferred but not required.
The cardinal sin of job descriptions is including too many requirements. Be realistic about who you’re hiring. If it’s an entry-level position, don’t ask for 3-5 years of experience. If it’s a graphic designer, don’t require that they also be a world-class videographer.
Your job description should also sell your company to the applicant. Tell them why they should consider working for you. Brag a little about your amazing benefits or office. Include compensation ranges if you know you’re competitive in the industry. This is your chance to market your company’s culture, product, and mission to potentially hundreds of people. Take the time to get it right.
In the end, your inputs will greatly determine the outputs. If you want to attract great talent, you’ll take the time to create a job description that’s honest, thoughtful, and highlights the benefits of working at your company.
2. Shorten your job application.
Did you know that 60% of job applicants will leave their application unfinished because the application is too long? Think about it. Great people have options. If they feel like your application is too long or too burdensome to complete they’re going to find a job elsewhere.
Of course, shortening applications to get better applicants is somewhat counterintuitive. It’s common to think that longer applications are more effective because they produce more data. While true, these longer applications get abandoned at a much higher rate and are mostly being abandoned by talented people who have other options.
So how long should your application take to complete?
We recommend that it take five minutes or less.
Why? Because it’s an application, not an interview.
This is just enough time to collect an applicant’s personal information (name, phone number, email address), professional information (upload a resume and maybe a cover letter), and then ask a few questions related to the job.
Typically three or four questions are ok, but anything more becomes burdensome to complete.
By shortening your application, you’ll get more responses. Sometimes this can be good, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. After all, the average job opening received over 200 applicants in 2019.
If hiring is all about speed, how are you going to get to the best candidates quickly?
Well, you’re in luck. Read on and you’ll learn about creating shortcuts.
Do you need help hiring better candidates faster? Do it with Eddy!
3. Create shortcuts.
Because many job openings receive dozens or even hundreds of responses from hopeful applicants, it can be extremely challenging to sift through all those resumes.
If you’re experiencing problems like this, we invite you to create some shortcuts to help you cut through the noise.
A hiring shortcut can be a simple but effective addition to the application process to identify and weed out less serious, or unqualified candidates.
An example of a hiring shortcut is a “knock-out” question about a job requirement. For example, a job may require a certain license or certificate. On the application, you should ask candidates whether or not they have obtained this qualification. If the answer is no, you know you can reject their application immediately.
Another example of a hiring shortcut is adding unique instructions for applicants in the job description or on the application itself. For example, if you have applicants email their resumes to you, you might include specific instructions for the subject line of that email. Any applicant who sends an email without following those instructions can be rejected.
We advise that you use shortcut strategies carefully. Some companies take shortcuts to the extreme and end up with almost no candidates because they use too many knock-out questions or require too much specificity on the side of the applicant.
These shortcuts are not meant to be tricky or elaborate. Rather, they should be designed as small, simple tests that serious candidates can easily pass.
4. Respond to every applicant.
As we mentioned previously, a job posting is not just an opportunity for candidates to apply for jobs, but it’s a showcase of your company’s culture. Applicants will form opinions about your company based on your job description, the ease with which they can apply for the job, and the response they get from your company after they apply.
Whether you believe you will hire the candidate or not, it’s important to understand that the hiring experience will influence how a candidate thinks and feels about your company.
One simple way to build a good experience for each candidate is to respond to every applicant.
This response can easily be automated through software and it is widely considered best practice. When a candidate’s application is submitted, send a simple email thanking them for the submission, letting them know their resume will be reviewed shortly, and letting them know they’ll hear back from the company in the future.
Of course, if you tell a candidate all of this, you’ll have to actually follow through. This is a step we’ll cover later on, but it’s vitally important. An OfficeVibe survey found that 66% of candidates wish they heard from employers more often. Job candidates are desperate for communication. If you want to improve your hiring process you have to be willing to communicate with every single applicant.
Need help automating emails for job candidates? We’ve got you covered.
5. Send rejection emails.
Just as every candidate should have the pleasure of receiving an email letting them know their resume was received, most of your candidates should also be sent an email letting them know they are no longer being considered for the position.
Although this seems like basic, common courtesy, many companies struggle to send rejection emails consistently. This is mostly due to negligence on the company’s part. After all, they receive hundreds of applicants, and writing emails for every rejection seems like a serious pain.
But do not forget how the candidate’s experience is shaping their view of your company. When companies go quiet and stop communicating with candidates and don’t afford them the courtesy of rejection, they often get mad.
It’s in the best interest of your company to notify an applicant as soon as you know you won’t move forward with them. This gives the applicant a chance to move on and doesn’t keep them holding onto a false hope of a future opportunity.
What do you need to say in your rejection email? Not much.
Feel free to keep it simple and generic. At Eddy, we often thank the candidate for their interest in our company, let them know we are pursuing more qualified candidates, and invite them to apply again for future roles as they become available.
This brief, cordial communication ensures that no candidate is left to wonder where they stand.
6. Incentivize employees to make referrals.
The not-so-secret secret about hiring is that employee referrals often make the best candidates. If you already have great people working for your company, then those people are likely to know people of similar caliber. They likely have friends or colleagues who know how to work hard and get things done.
Every time you post a job, you should make the posting known throughout the company. Every employee should be notified that a new position is open, and should be encouraged to refer friends to apply.
We have found that referral bonuses are a great way to incentivize employees to participate in referral programs. Hiring, of course, is a very expensive, very time-consuming activity. In fact, it’s recently been reported that the average cost per new hire is over $4,000. So if you can shorten the time it takes to find the right candidate, why wouldn’t you?
So how does a referral bonus program work? Well, it’s pretty simple. If an employee refers a friend who ends up getting hired, you reward the employee with a bonus. That bonus could be in the form of cash, an experience, paid vacation, stock grants, or anything else you can think of.
Talk to your employees to see what gets them excited. Figure out what kind of bonuses would motivate them to refer their friends. Creating great referral programs will reduce the speed and cost of hiring, all while adding great people to your organization.
7. Keep your promises.
The hiring process requires a great deal of trust. Prospective employees trust your company to treat them fairly, set realistic expectations, and manage the hiring process with respect and class. You, as a stakeholder in the hiring process, trust applicants to be honest and forthcoming, to have accurate and factual information on their resumes, and to have genuine ambition to work for your company.
One quick way to ruin this high-trust relationship is to break promises. Of course, not every promise will start or end with the words “I promise…” but candidates will interpret most of what you say as some sort of guarantee.
For example, if you tell a candidate that you’ll get back to them within the next three days, then that’s exactly what you should do. The candidate will not care if you were busy, if you went on vacation, or if you just forgot to get back to them. They’ll lose trust in you if you do not stay true to your word.
With this in mind, only make promises you can keep. If you know you’ve got a lot of candidates to interview and it’ll likely take a week or longer to get back to a candidate, tell them this. Be upfront and honest. They’ll appreciate it because it’s so rare in hiring.
If you’re dealing with a lot of candidates, you’ll probably end up making a lot of promises. This can be hard to keep track of. Rather than rely on yourself to manage it all, get some help managing the process. Put reminders in your phone. Put times to get back to candidates on your calendar. Do whatever it takes to keep your word and follow up when you say you will.
8. Use software to help manage the process.
We’ve mentioned software a few times in this article, so it’s only right that it has its own section. Hiring is such a complicated process, that it’s nearly impossible to manage it on your own. If you’re really serious about improving your hiring process, you’ll find software that fits your needs.
Hiring software is often referred to as an applicant tracking system or ATS. These software platforms can do many things, from posting jobs to job boards, automating emails and interview scheduling, streamlining communication with candidates, tracking and managing applicants as they go through your hiring funnel, and so much more.
One of the core features built into Eddy is our hiring software. We’ve helped hundreds of companies improve their process. If you need some help, and you want to improve your hiring process, consider reaching out. We’d be happy to get you started!
Developing a great hiring process is challenging, and there are lots of moving parts. We know that you likely won’t be able to tackle these eight steps in a single day, and maybe not even in a month. But as you work towards improving your hiring process, we can guarantee that following these steps will help.
Remember, communication is the key. It starts with what you write in your job description and it continues throughout the entire process. Your hiring process will often be a job applicant’s first impression of your company. Make sure it’s a good one.