The never-ending to-do list – how to prioritise hiring process improvements

hiring process

The best-laid plan of mice and men (Robert Burns) is a proverb used to suggest that even the most carefully intentioned planning doesn’t necessarily ensure success. We all know that having an SOP (standard operating procedure) in place ought to be at the centre of every business, but often, with the changing tides of the working world, it can be challenging for any business leader to stay on top of it.

People are at the heart of every business. Ensuring your recruitment process is smooth for all involved is crucial. Not only do you have to ensure systems and procedures are up to date and in good running order – but your internal teams need to be savvy with the hiring process, so that potential candidates can have the best possible experience. 

What are some of the most common recruitment challenges out there?

Recruiting today is a real challenge. With smaller budgets and leaner teams, we’re still expected to produce the same excellent results in attracting and hiring talent. Here are some challenges we know organisations and business owners experience:

  • Having a system that doesn’t work or is too complicated – what do you currently use? And if it doesn’t work – why is that?
  • Attracting suitable candidates from a vast pool of people – how are you attracting the right talent?
  • Engaging qualified candidates – how do you retain the right people with the right qualifications and skills?
  • Good communication is vital – from websites to blogs, job descriptions and the hiring process, straightforward language and comms are essential. Cut the jargon and make it easy for people to connect with and potentially work for your brand. 
  • Hiring quickly – ensuring the process is consistently smooth and timely is essential, or people will disappear into the ether.
  • Using data-driven recruitment – get razor sharp with your data!
  • Ensuring your candidate experience is the best it can be – if you want the best talent, you must ensure it’s an equally gold star experience for them.
  • Being inclusive – and fair – in recruiting – is essential in today’s market. 
  • Creating an efficient recruitment process – look at the current steps and ask, “Can it be streamlined?” 

If it’s not always clear what your organisation says about itself and the kind of people, it employs – and wants to attract – how can we change this? Attracting candidates through the hiring process can be complicated. When candidates find themselves lost in the system, you could lose them at the first hurdle.

How can you streamline to make the recruitment process much smoother for all involved?

  • Use a candidate and application tracking system (ATS) – do your hiring teams use a sound tracking system? Some excellent ones are out there, so do your research if your current process isn’t working.
  • Lean on your team – existing team members can improve the recruitment process without cost. Look at the possibility of hiring from within with the following: 
  1. Promotions – internal people know your culture. Offering the right (skilled) people the opportunity to apply before formally starting to recruit shows your team members that you value them and support their career prospects.
  2. Referral scheme – encourage candidate recommendations and get creative with the incentives you offer your employees.
  3. Having employees as recruiters – great people know great people. How about building an internal branding team by encouraging them to tap into digital networks? With good copy and social engagement support, they could spread the word through social media and attract the right people.
  • Build a talent pool (look at previous and current hiring processes) – what’s worked and hasn’t worked? Is this something you can have – and develop?
  • Only use simple language in job descriptions and include must-haves – people only want to know what the job is they’re applying for, what experience is expected of them and what the reward package is. They will also want to know the flexibility of the role and its inclusiveness.
  • Make candidate communication a priority – don’t delay the process, or you’ll lose some of the most skilled people in the process, and it will feel like you don’t care.
  • Meet candidates where they are in their careers – younger talent, starting in their careers, are more likely to be present in the digital world and on particular social media platforms. More experienced candidates are potentially on different platforms and more ‘traditional’ job boards, forums, and recruitment websites.
  • Streamline your interview process – while HR and recruitment teams are qualified to find, screen and interview people, getting those people involved in the interview process itself may also be prudent.
  • Develop your talent funnel – sourcing candidates for roles before they become vacant will significantly reduce your time-to-hire. Building your talent funnel — especially for positions with historically high turnover — will help you connect with and engage prospective candidates early. An effective funnel, however, will only be good if it’s full of potential candidates.
  • Feature your organisation’s culture on your website – people attract people, and your organisation’s culture will be important to people looking for the right company. Have employee and team spotlights on the website with real insights and information about who you are and what you stand for.

By examining what needs to be involved in the recruitment process, you’ll identify what you need, what needs to be simplified and what isn’t working before you look for the talent. Talk to your HR and hiring teams to identify these needs – and ask your staff what they think would work and what doesn’t (after all, they applied for their roles at some point!)

While you’re getting the nuts and bolts in place, you can work on how you can make the process for each candidate an easy and positive experience:

Ensure the hiring process is clear for everyone involved, especially potential candidates: 

  • Be specific about the position – use a clear job title, include something about the organisation/brand, and always use clear language.
  • Search for candidates – ask internal teams and individuals who they think might be ideal, contact previous candidates (keeping all your contacts up to date and relevant), ask for recommendations and referrals, use social media to find people (in relevant groups, communities and pages).
  • Check a candidate’s competency for a role – read their CV carefully. Check projects and work experience in detail – what did they bring to each role? Structure the interview process clearly and include tests if relevant.
  • Do you have an interview plan? Have a clear strategy and include others in the process.
  • Make the application process EASY – making this part of the process will ensure a candidate doesn’t get lost. Make it inclusive so they can shine as people, telling you about their qualifications and experience for the role. Ensure the process is FAIR and CONSISTENT for all applicants.
  • Having e-mail templates and checklists – will keep you on track and keep any potential candidate up to date in the process.
  • Have a realistic timeline for the process from beginning to end; see above for checklists!
  • Automation – will help you save enormous amounts of time and errors. Take a look at AI (Artificial Intelligence) and see how you can use and tailor it to fit the culture, voice and tone of your business if, for example, you’re considering using Chatbots.
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