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Improve Your Hiring Process: Communicate With Applicants

How often is your recruiting department fielding unsolicited calls from applicants that are inquiring about the status of their application with your company? Too frequently? Well, its time to proactively communicate with your candidates so they don’t even feel the urge to pick up the phone or shoot off that next email inquiry.

In the fourth installment of this “Improve Your Hiring Process” series, I talked about managing your pipeline of applicants effectively. A major component of that is keeping your applicants informed as they travel through your selection process. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself fielding numerous phone calls and/or emails from applicants wanting to know if they’re still being considered, what are the next steps from here, etc.

Similarly, this also ties in with the idea of protecting your brand — both your employment brand and your business/consumer brand. You don’t want to give people the ability to take shots at your organization. But if they feel their resume/application goes into a “black hole” or if they hear back a month after their interview (or not at all) that they’re no longer being considered for your position, you’re feeding the most common frustration of applicants. That complaint? Not hearing from you!

Keep Applicants Informed of Recruitment Progress

Now, if you fill 3 positions per year and only receive 5-10 resumes/applications per position, you likely don’t have this problem. You can keep your applicants up to date pretty easily with email and/or an occasional phone call. At the same time, if this is your situation, you probably lost interest in this topic long ago!

The more common scenario is that you have dozens (or hundreds) of applicants per position and multiple positions open at any given time. In this scenario, you have three options for keeping your applicants informed:

  1. Ignore the issue because branding isn’t applicable to your situation.
  2. Keep your applicants organized in a spreadsheet and utilize Outlook or Gmail templates to correspond with those applicants as you move them to different steps in your recruiting process. This is pretty involved and requires a good deal of effort, but it can be done.
  3. Use an applicant tracking software tool to automate this process for you.

This happens to be a pretty big sweet spot for quality applicant tracking system tools. Because you now have all of your applicants in a single spot, including where they are in your process at any given moment, the chore of logging that data is taken care of for you. From there, a good tool of this sort will allow you to automate mass emails in a one-to-one format to applicants as they move through your hiring process. You save time, applicants are kept posted as to where things stand, and you dramatically cut down the phone calls and emails asking for updates — everyone wins.

Next up is the final installment in this series — Bringing Objectivity to Your Hiring Decision.

Image Credit: By Einar Faanes (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Applicant Encounters of the Third Kind

For many of you, it may have been quite some time since you have last searched for a job. Imagine back to that moment. Did your interaction with that company cause you to have a more positive impression than when you first began the application process? Was the interaction less than spectacular?

You are an extension of your company. I like to think of Human Resources as “the first encounter.” If the first alien life form you encountered was like E.T., you might have a pretty decent impression of aliens and the planet they live on. However, if the first alien life form you encountered was from the planet LV-426, you might decide to flee and have no further contact with anyone in any shape or form from that planet (that is if you got away alive).

Instead of thinking of ALL these GREAT things you can do to keep people from thinking they have just stumbled upon LV-426, pick one or two things that you can master. Here are the top two things that you can do as recruiting and human resources professionals today to help:
Tell applicants your general timeline
Tell applicants if they are not selected

Tell Applicants Your General Timeline

On your automated ‘Thank You for Applying’ email, add a typical timeline. You could also add a page to your applicant tracking system (ATS) that references your timeline. These timelines can be similar, or the email could reference the ATS page. I can hear you now, “What if we don’t have an exact timeline?” It is okay. Sharing basic time frame expectations, but if necessary acknowledging that exact time frames aren’t always known for certain positions, will work.

Consider this: you create a page on your applicant tracking system’s branded career portal called ‘Our Hiring Process’ or ‘What to Expect.’ Then fill it in with what you want your typical process to look like. Here’s an example:

We are so thankful you are interested in joining our team! If you have already applied or are considering applying, here are some things you should know about working at Our Company. After we review your application, which can sometimes take up to three weeks, we will let you know if we think you may or may not be a good fit. If we do not think you are a good fit for the position we will tell you but that does not mean that you are not a good fit for all of our positions. Keep an eye on our postings and consider applying for another listing.

If we think you are a good fit, we will contact you about exploring the possibilities further. Typically we will first request a phone interview. If that goes well, we will occasionally have a second step of application information for you to complete online. This does not happen with all job listings, but with a few it does. From there, we will conduct a face to face interview. If the fit still seems good, on our behalf and yours, we will conduct a second face-to-face interview. Sometimes we are still looking for that little differentiator and want to be sure YOU like us as much as we like you – it’s a two-way street around here – so we may ask you to come in to the office and job shadow someone. From here, we will make a decision on who to hire.

We will do our best to communicate with you if we think you would be a good fit for this specific position. Best wishes on your search and again, thank you for showing your interest in Our Company.

Tell Applicants if They Are Not Selected

Follow through with what you are telling applicants. Communicate if they are not selected. Even the standard email template is better than no news at all. I hear on a daily basis how applicants will never buy products or recommend a specific company because the company did not “respect” the applicant enough to communicate that they were not selected.

Be an E.T., not an alien from planet LV-426!

Image credit: ALien by State Farm (contact)

5 Ways to Use Video in Your Recruiting & Hiring Process

Looking for ways to spice up your company’s recruiting brand? Check out this quick list of five ways to use videos in your recruiting and interviewing processes. Then, start converting more of your career site visitors into actual applicants, and eventually, new and engaged employees.

1 – Highlight Videos on Your Company’s Careers Portal

Use Video to Promote CityThis may be the most obvious and already widely used idea; however, it just might be one of the most effective for engaging your site visitors to stay on your pages longer. A wide variety of subject areas can be covered on the branded careers portal available through your applicant tracking system (ATS). Videos might focus on the following topics:

  • Testimonials given by current employees about why they enjoy working at the company
  • Highlights from various company events and charitable projects to demonstrate the company culture to potential applicants
  • Informational videos about the city or region in which your business resides – this is particularly helpful if you do a great deal of nationwide searches for candidates and relocate new employees to your area

2 – Make Your Confirmation Emails Memorable & Informational

These days it can be very difficult for even medium-sized businesses to personally respond to each individual that submits an employment application. As a result, its quite common for organizations to use their ATS to set up auto-generated email responses whenever a new application is received. These are critical as they confirm to the applicant that his/her submission was successful, and they can greatly reduce the number of phone calls received by applicants who want to check on the status of their application. However, even though personalization strings can be used in these email templates, how exciting is email text for the applicant who is anxious to learn more?
 Use Video in Application Confirmations
In your email message, why not embed or link to a video that your company has created to explain the steps involved in the hiring process:

  • In the intro, thank the applicant for his/her interest in your company.
  • Explain how long it might take to process all applications for the position and when responses are generally sent to inform applicants of next steps.
  • Describe the different interview phases that are usually involved in the hiring process – including time intervals between each phase as well as who is generally involved from the company.

Not only will applicants be impressed that you have created a video for this step, but they will come away from the experience with more information about what to expect — without additional effort from your recruiting staff.

3 – Embed Video in Job Descriptions in Your Applicant Tracking System

When adding a new job listing to your ATS, embed code from your video hosting website to feature relevant videos from right within your job description. In this scenario, videos focusing on your office or field environment, and/or interviews with other employees in the same position or department would be well received. ExactHire applicant tracking system even has a designated field allowing video embed code to be pasted in when adding a new job description.

R+L Truckload & Global Logistics in Fort Myers, Florida, is a big believer in incorporating video into the organization’s job listings. Many different employees have roles in the videos it has produced. Here’s how one of its videos appears within the ATS on a recent job description:
 Use Video in Job Descriptions | ExactHire
And, check out their video:

4 – Insert Safety Videos Into Employment Application & Survey Applicants

Embed Safety Video on ApplicationsIf certain positions available in your organization require heeding important safety procedures or following certain protocols, then consider the benefits associated with embedding a video for applicants to watch during their employment application submission. This can be a powerful way of better qualifying your applicants for a position that normally attracts a high volume of application submissions – especially if many of the submissions have traditionally been from people who aren’t qualified or truly engaged in the role.

A short video might discuss certain steps that are followed as a regular part of the job. In the application, ask applicants to watch the video and then answer a series of short questions about the video. Serious applicants who want to work for your organization will watch the video and then answer the questions correctly. Candidates who are just applying for anything and everything will hit the video speed bump and think twice about taking the time to finish. For those candidates who do answer the questions, utilize scoring and/or disqualification filters in your ATS to rank applicants based on the number of questions they answered correctly.

5 – Video Resources for Long Distance Interviewing

There are times when it isn’t practical or cost-effective to interview candidates in person. Luckily, a number of affordable (and in some cases free) tools are available to enable organizations to video conference with applicants. Companies that conduct nationwide searches for specific positions can especially benefit from the modern convenience of interviewing applicants on-screen. Applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and GoToMeeting are just a few that can meet this need.

Take it a step further and record the video interview to make it available to other managers who are unable to participate in the interviewing process. Or, reference the recorded session to remind yourself of interviewee answers when you are comparing final candidates and near making an offer.

Image Credit: Indianapolis at Night by Rob Annis

 

Improve Your Hiring Process: Protect Employment Brand

The importance of branding is often overlooked when talking about efficiency and technology in the hiring process. There’s definitely a parallel here with my last blog about comparing apples to apples in the hiring process, where I covered the importance of data in both day-to-day business and in recruiting. The same concept applies to branding. Organizations (both large and small) are very conscious of branding themselves to customers and partners. This same focus should be spent on branding to potential employees, i.e. applicants, as well.

As a quick aside, taking this philosophy to heart is especially critical to organizations whose applicants are (or may be) clients. Retail providers, hospitality, restaurants, financial institutions, etc. are just some of the industries where this applies.

Easy Peasy Employment Branding

There are some very simple steps to take in terms of employment branding. Below are the key ones I stress to our clients:

  • Make your career site welcoming and informative (maybe go for a different look than this blog’s photo!) — use the same look and feel as the rest of your overall website. Be sure to share information that will help applicants see the benefits of working in your organization. Make it clear how they can find your openings and apply for those positions.
  • Make it easy for applicants to apply for multiple jobs — either at the same time or over a period of time. Avoid forcing them to start from scratch for each job.
  • Leverage social media so that applicants can “follow” you and be kept abreast of new jobs as you post them. Statistics overwhelmingly confirm that hoping applicants will return to your site on their own to seek new openings isn’t a great answer.
  • Take advantage of social media relationships that exist within your current employee ranks. While it’s important to allow applicants to stay connected with you, engaging your current employees’ social contacts can drive more “passive” applicants to your site. In turn, these folks may choose to follow you or share your jobs with others. Either way, you’re improving brand recognition and expanding reach — all at no hard dollar cost to you.
  • Confirm with applicants that you’ve received their application submission and let them know what to expect from there. If an applicant tracking software tool is in place, this should be very easy to do. If not, develop an email template that may be used for this purpose.
  • Be timely with feedback to applicants about where they are in your process. Again, if you use an applicant tracking system, this should be pretty easy. In our solution, for instance, you can actually do this for groups of applicants at a time vs. each one individually. If you’re managing candidates in your email folders or in spreadsheets, this may still be done with email templates.
  • When a position is filled, take the time to reach out personally to those finalists not selected. Ideally, do this by phone. First off, it’s the right thing to do. Just as importantly, leaving these finalists with a positive impression keeps the door open if other opportunities arise down the road.

Be sure to tune in for my next blog in this series about managing your candidate pipeline effectively.

Previous blogs in Improve Your Hiring Process series include:
Improve Your Hiring Process: Thin the Herd
Improve Your Hiring Process: Compare Apples to Apples

Image credit: Welcome by alborzshawn (contact)

Some Applicants Just Aren’t That Into You

Finding the perfect person for your organization can be easily compared to dating. The wrong choice could cost you a fortune and/or waste your time, and the right choice could make your organization far better. So how do those charged with talent acquisition responsibilities go about courting some applicants for their organization so that they can realize optimal job fit?

I know what that job entails… I think.

If you are in a recruiting role, do you know what every position in your organization does? If you do not, consider asking the hiring manager of that position to help write the job description. You may also spend time shadowing people in your organization. This might be time consuming, but if you have a hard-to-fill position, understanding what the positives and negatives are for that position will help you find someone who can handle those situations – it is all about setting expectations correctly. If the facilities person is responsible for cutting the grass, you do not want to court someone who is extremely allergic to grass…to the extent that he/she would not be able to handle meeting the essential requirement of operating the lawn mower. Little questions upfront will help in the long run with finding the perfect match.

We have the best company culture… Don’t we?

I think my cooking is great and my jokes are funny, but I know everyone has different taste buds and a sense of humor. Culture is the same way. In some organizations, each department has a different culture and then the company as a whole has a culture. Other organizations have one fluid culture. You, being in the recruiting position, may be able to promote the company culture to applicants, but what do your other current employees think about your company culture?

If you do a periodic company-wide assessment or evaluation that addresses organizational culture, it might be worthwhile to share an excerpt of those results with your potential new hire — that is, if you have positive things to share…and if you don’t, well then you probably will be making some changes internally to better engage employees. Then, you might want to work on your employment brand, as well.

You can also have employees in each department summarize their own opinion of department culture and the larger company’s culture. Share this information with the potential new hire as it will give the individual a chance to peer inside the organization to see how things really work. Don’t stop there, though. Find out that person’s thoughts on how he/she would fit in to the departmental culture associated with the position for which he/she applied. This is a mutually beneficial exercise. You can teach people how to do things, but you cannot as easily change behavioral traits and motivations. Don’t make a square peg fit into a round hole. A cultural fit is a crucial part of finding your perfect employee. And aside from simply asking the applicant about his behavioral tendencies (because who is going to admit “I’m a control freak” or “I have trouble playing well with others”), consider utilizing an assessment during the interviewing process.

Is this good for the applicants?

You may currently be in the infatuation stage with a few potential new employees. You find yourself seeing them through rose-colored glasses, promoting the many benefits of your organization, and why you can’t live without them. However, don’t let your eagerness to bring a well-qualified individual (on paper) on board at the expense of making sure the employment relationship is a great fit from the applicant’s perspective. After all, anyone can be good at interviewing and expressing interest while wooing other organizations, too. He or she may just not be that into you and your company in the long run.

If an applicant has no reservations or intuitive questions before coming on board, I always wonder about his/her backstory or level of interest. I want someone to have enough self-awareness to ask questions that let me know they are really considering whether accepting an offer with my organization is the right decision. Just like any relationship, it must be a two-way street.

Hiring the right employee takes self-reflection and honest communication. It is a chance for you to improve upon your skills and gain more knowledge about your organization. Do not let yourself get stale; keep it fresh, stay in the know. Then, be clear and straightforward with your potential new hires so they too can reciprocate.

Considering an assessment for the interviewing process or for existing employees? Contact ExactHire to discuss options.

Make Your Hiring Process Friendly for Applicants

I’ve read a number of articles over the past few months about how impersonal and cumbersome the hiring process is for most employers. Given the space we operate in, we pay particular attention to those comments, as those same comments may apply to our clients and their applicants.
The underlying issues for these opinions appear to stem from two things:

  1. Applicants not hearing back from employers after they’ve submitted an application or resume
  2. Employers making the application submittal process more difficult than it needs to be

Keep in mind — these are viewpoints shared by applicants…not by me.

Keep Applicants in the Loop

Because we specialize in paperless HR solutions (especially applicant tracking software for the purposes of this discussion), addressing the first issue is pretty easy to do. Most any reputable online application software tool will allow you to automate the process of keeping applicants in the loop regarding current job openings. While there are many ways to do this, the end result should typically be the same. That is, applicants know where they stand and what to expect next in the process as it evolves. This protects your employment brand and will more readily ensure that good applicants, while perhaps not hired initially, will continue to follow your job opportunities and apply again for relevant openings.

Simplify Application Process Without Sacrificing Candidate Data

As you look at addressing the second issue, the answer may not be quite so apparent. This is true, even if you’ve used an applicant tracking software tool before. Until recently, there were two polar opposite paths that solutions like ours used to remedy this:

  1. Allow applicants to “parse” information from their resume directly into their online application.
    • Advantage: Time savings for applicants and the potential for a quicker, simpler user experience from their perspective
    • Disadvantage: Frequency of error in terms of information from the resume being pasted into the wrong section of the online application
  1. Require applicants to complete a full online application to be considered for a given position.
    • Advantage: Applicants have the opportunity to try to differentiate themselves with answers to questions on the application unique to that opening
    • Disadvantage: It can take more time than applicants are willing to spend

Then our team came up with a third option — one that more closely resembles the sequence of events in most hiring processes. This unique, two-step application process seems to resonate well with both applicants and employers. Here’s how it works:

  • Once applicants select the position for which they’d like to be considered, they are prompted for some very basic information. While this is customizable by client, the information typically consists of name, address, phone, email, resume upload, and some basic job-specific screening questions. For most applicants, they are able to complete this sequence in less than five minutes.
  • The employer may then use the results of the screening questions to determine which candidates meet the basic requirements of the position.
  • For those who do, the employer may generate an email, with only one click, to invite those qualified applicants back for the next step in the hiring process.
  • Since the applicants who receive this email know they are being considered more seriously for the position, the request is seen as a natural progression in the hiring process.

As you can see, this follows how most organizations hire today. Instead of forcing them (or their applicants) to change anything dramatically, we’re simply using our technology to move them toward a paperless HR environment…without worrying about losing passive applicants who will not take the time to complete a lengthy application at the onset of the selection process.
If you’d like to learn more about our applicant tracking software’s two-step employment application feature, please contact us.

 

Eleven Small Steps to Improve Your Recruitment Brand and Engage Applicants

Let me start off by saying that this blog is not about high-level recruitment strategy or your master plan for world recruiting domination. This piece is about sweating the small stuff in talent acquisition – specifically, raising the bar on employer recruiting etiquette…dotting all of your i’s and crossing your t’s. Especially, if your organization has been doing alright in getting decent candidates in a reasonable amount of time, but now wants to refocus, shape up and really win the applicants over in order to consistently pick from the cream of the candidate crop.

Try making these little adjustments throughout your selection and hiring processes and see how it impacts your candidates’ perception of your employer recruitment brand:

#11 – Make being responsive to candidates a priority

How often do you fall into the trap of telling a candidate that you will be in touch again no later than the end of the following week…and then it’s really three weeks before you get back to the candidate, or worse yet – never? It would not be acceptable for a candidate to get back to you far later than the date promised, so it should not be okay for you to dally on your end either. While being timely and responsive to candidates seems like it should be automatic; unfortunately, in my experiences this is not the case the majority of the time.

And while life happens and schedules do get pushed, it is completely fine to touch base with the candidate by the promised date just to let him/her know that the process has been delayed and that you will be back in touch by a certain future date – but that you are still interested in his/her candidacy. This is a good time to make sure the candidate is still available despite the new, pushed off deadline, as well.

#10 – Create an FAQ page on your applicant tracking software portal

While this one is certainly going to help support the idea that your employment brand conveys helpfulness and transparency, it is also selfish since it helps to cut down on the number of applicant questions you may receive during the hiring process – and that helps you save time and process employment applications more quickly. You’ve probably already thought of some frequently asked questions that you receive from candidates since you started reading this paragraph, but just in case, here are some ideas (some will be more relevant than others depending on your industry and position types sourced):

  • Do you have both part-time and full-time positions available?
  • Can I apply in person?
  • How long will my application remain in the database? How often should I update it?
  • Do I have to submit a new application each time I apply for a position?
  • How long will it take before I can expect a call to schedule an interview?
  • Do you have internships available?
  • Do you accept applications year-round for certain positions?
  • How many stages are typically involved in your interviewing process?
  • What is your policy on using social media to connect with applicants?
  • Will I receive a confirmation once I submit my application?

Add a page to your applicant tracking software (ATS) site for your own company’s frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the recruiting process.

#9 – Create a careers blog for your company

Kick number nine on the list up a notch by having a regular blog devoted to all things related to careers at your company. Invite your recruiters and hiring managers to periodically contribute content that would be helpful for your applicants and encourage applicants to subscribe to your careers blog RSS feed so they get the latest updates. You could accomplish this by inviting past applicants to subscribe to the blog by posting it in your status updates on various social media sites or embedding its URL into an email message sent out of your recruiting software portal. Here are some ideas for relevant topics:

  • As you create job success factor summaries (spoiler alert – see #2 on the list below), post them to the blog and encourage subscribers to ask questions about positions
  • Invite current employees to blog about what they like about their role and encourage them to be candid about what’s challenging in the job, as well
  • Blog about upcoming job fairs where your company will have a booth
  • Embed videos of company cultural events in the blog (corporate challenges, holiday pitch-ins, trade show exhibits, etc.)
  • Offer tips on how to best prepare to interview and/or where to find out the latest and greatest about your organization’s milestones

#8 – Be truly prepared to interview your candidates

Magnifying glass on applicantThe best potential hires will take time to research your organization before their first interview, and often, before they even apply to a position. As a recruiter, you can always tell who did their homework based on the answers to your questions or comments they make in the interview. Don’t disappoint your interviewees by failing to return the favor of preparing to interview them, as well. Your best applicants may quickly disengage from the process when recruiters have to fumble around during the phone interview and take time to read the candidate’s resume and application to get up to speed because the recruiter failed to do so before the interview began.

#7 – Get a little more personal with your rejections (breaking up is hard to do)

Given the volume of recruiting you may do for your organization, it is very possibly not in the cards for you to send a custom, individualized rejection letter or email to every single applicant who does not make the cut. However, hiring technology at least affords you the opportunity to send mass emails using custom email templates. Instead of having one generic “no thank you” email template that is sent to every applicant that is declined, you may at least have a few different rejection email templates. Here are some simple solutions to being a little less generic:

  • Have different templates for the different stages at which someone is removed from the process (i.e. decline after initial phone screen, decline after 1st in-house, decline after final round of candidates, etc.)
  • A template that lets them down easily and encourages them to apply again in the future vs. one that specifically omits mention of encouragement to apply for future positions
  • A template that discloses that the reason one was not selected is because the position was put on hold or filled internally (at least the candidate then knows that you didn’t reject due to qualifications or experience…but rather because the employer’s plans changed)

#6 – Impress your finalists and keep them close even if they aren’t selected

Help finalists network elsewhereChances are, if you are following the other recommendations in this list, you will start to see even better candidates – especially in the final stage of your selection process for various positions. This is a great situation, but it will make the final decision harder since you’ll be choosing from among “A players.” Make a lasting impression on the final interviewees who aren’t selected by offering to not only stay connected with them (i.e. via LinkedIn, Twitter, automated job alerts, etc.), but also to encourage them to use you as a networking resource to help them get their foot in the door at other organizations.

Obviously, this really only makes sense if these candidates aren’t a fit for any other positions you may have open in the near future – you wouldn’t want to willingly compete with other employers for these applicants. Candidates are bound to have a positive impression of your organization (despite being declined) if you are sincerely interested in helping them find the right job fit elsewhere. The best part about this plan is that they will likely tell their other contacts about your company going the extra mile…and those contacts might be your next dream applicants for tomorrow’s openings.

#5 – Don’t underestimate the power of pictures and video

This isn’t the most innovative item on the list, but despite that, it is often not played up as much as it could be on employers’ careers sites. While you may at least have a company LinkedIn and Facebook page by now, are you keeping it up to date with engaging pictures and video streams of employees loving their work? Here are some quick ideas:

  • Embed pictures within the actual job listings on your recruiting software site. If your Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application supports HTML when uploading job listings, then you may insert images.
  • Include pictures of current employees with testimonials about working for your organization. Better yet, embed videos on your careers site (possibly your Careers Blog a la item #8) with employees talking about what to expect when working at your company. Have your videos available on a company YouTube channel, as well.
  • Include a link to a picture map of your office location when using email templates to invite applicants to schedule in-house interviews.

#4 – Proactively follow-up with previous applicants in your current pool of candidates

There are many reasons why some people in your current candidate pool (i.e. people who have previously submitted an application to your site) may not be the best fit for your current job opportunities. However, they may be a fit a month, six months, or a year down the road. Don’t expect them to consistently reach out to you in the future, but put timing on your side by:

  • periodically reaching out to them by emailing newsletters or press releases about significant company developments;
  • making sure they are subscribed to your automated job alerts so that they receive notice any time you post a new job;
  • sending your top passive candidates a personal note every so many months to stay in touch

Consider running an applicant referral bonus program so that your previous applicants can earn rewards for referring their friends to other open positions. While the applicants probably wouldn’t refer friends to positions for which they are being considered, odds are there are plenty of other opportunities in other departments that might be a fit for a friend. If their referral is hired, then candidates could receive a small gift card. This program helps you save money and time on recruiting costs, but it also spreads good will among your passive candidates and helps you virally spread the word about your job opportunities to a wider audience.

#3 – Survey your applicants for input on how to improve your recruiting process

Survey your applicants for inputThis one isn’t for the faint of heart as you are opening the floodgates for potential negative comments – but this is all about improving, right? A baby step for this option would be surveying your newly hired employees to find out what they liked/disliked about their recruiting experience.

However, if you really want to find out how to polish your employment brand’s reputation, then you might consider soliciting feedback from applicants who were not selected for positions, as well. Many candidates will not choose to participate since you didn’t select them; however, you may be surprised at the reaction you get from those who wish to remain engaged with your company and are therefore willing to participate. On the other end of the spectrum, if anyone by chance has an awful experience with your recruiting process (i.e. poor expectations set, late interviewers, lack of follow-up, etc.), they may be all too willing to tell you about it. You want this feedback so that you are aware of problems and can enact change – as well as report back on improvements.

If you’d like to offer an incentive for individuals to respond, depending on your industry, you may be able to offer some benefit to those who participate in the survey. For example, a restaurant, convenience store chain or retailer might offer a link to a coupon to applicants who complete the survey.

#2 – REALLY set expectations for candidates with job success factors sheet

Link to Job Success FactorsIs it enough to just create a comprehensive job description for the position noting all of the essential job requirements (with percentage of time spent on each duty allocated), qualifications and even workplace hazards chart? Maybe not. While it is important to have this unabridged version of the job description, as well as the more concise job posting description in circulation, take the opportunity to illustrate to candidates what it looks like to be successful in the role…after six months or a year, for example. What happens during a typical day/week? What will the candidate have accomplished or be working on independently in order for your organization to call him/her an “A Player” or a top 10% hire?

Make this sheet available to all candidates at the point of application by simply linking to it within the body of the job description. That way, truly interested applicants may take the time to download the document and get a better sense for the position, company culture. Applicants with the best potential job fit will become even more engaged and others will simply self-select out of the process after understanding more of the demands of the position. Here’s an example of a success factors description I put together for a position we hired earlier this year.

And #1… Create an up-front-contract about hiring process milestones and then deliver!

You may not always know exactly how many steps each positions’ selection process will have at the onset of initial interviews, but you should at least have a general idea. Stand out from the rest of your employer competitors by being upfront with applicants and bringing a sense of transparency to your hiring process. The best part about this list item is that it’s super easy!

All you have to do is give candidates expectations about how many steps are involved in the hiring process, what they are and how long you expect it to take to proceed through each section of the hiring funnel. And if your process isn’t set in stone, that’s okay, just tell them that’s the case but promise to keep them apprised of any changes to the details of the interviewing process.

Outline this process to candidates during the first interview (often, a phone screen) or even earlier by including it in any emails sent to the candidate to request that an initial interview be scheduled. The good part about speaking to candidates about your interviewing process details is that you can receive their immediate response as to whether or not they anticipate being able to participate in a process that takes the length of time that yours may require. If they can’t, no worries – you haven’t wasted your time or their time by conducting an initial interview. Candidates are more likely to be candid with you if you are candid with them.

Do you have other suggestions on how employers can improve their etiquette during the hiring selection process? Please comment and share your ideas! For more information about how our organization can help you leverage technology to improve your recruitment brand, please contact ExactHire.

Build a Recruitment Brand, And They Will Come…(Part 2)

You may recall from “Part 1” of this story the emphasis I placed on creating and nurturing a recruitment brand for your organization. Because whether or not you address it, you have a brand…so make sure it is a recruitment brand you are proud to support!

In this post, we’ll take a quick look at how you may use applicant tracking software to help maintain the recruitment brand you worked so diligently to create. Specifically, we’ll look at an ATS as a launch pad to social networking platforms; as well as, a means by which you can easily use status codes to move candidates through the selection process–while keeping those candidates informed.

But first, after my last post I invited ExactHire client, Right On Interactive, to share how they create and maintain the Right On Interactive recruitment brand.

Here are Right On Interactive’s President Troy Burk’s thoughts on the subject:

  1. “We educate as much as we evaluate. We realize that throughout the entire recruiting process we must continue to show the value of the opportunity, the potential for personal growth, and future direction of our company. The candidates are interviewing us as much as we are interviewing them.
  2. Be honest with the candidates. We talk about the specifics of the position, the requirements, and what our expectations are for performance. False expectations on either end will end in disappointment (on either side).
  3. If a candidate is not a good fit for the position, we will try to help them network with others that might be a better fit. We have done this with several individuals and helped them find the right position (with another company).”

It is clear that Troy’s organization understands the importance of mutual respect in the selection process, as well as how to leverage networking to help candidates.

So how can you use an ATS to exponentially increase the size of the audience that has access to your job postings? With ExactHire’s applicant tracking software, you have the ability to allow candidates to “share” your job listing with friends and colleagues via the biggie’s like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but also over 285 other Internet sites! And, if you have been paying special attention to your recruitment brand and how it dictates that you treat your applicants, you are much more likely to have site visitors that want to share your openings with others. Your recruitment brand is creating fans for your organization.

Social Networking Links | ExactHire ATS

When you have the social networking under control, then it is time to keep applicants engaged by managing them through your selection process within the ATS. The administrative side of the ExactHire ATS allows you to use both applicant status codes and job status codes to assign a progress label to every applicant for each position to which he/she may have applied. Then, you may run a quick report that allows you to use status codes as search criteria to drill down to specific lists of applicants that deserve a follow-up email from your organization. Use the ATS to send emails to multiple candidates at once, and create a recruitment brand that embodies consistency in candid communication. Your applicants will note your efforts, trust me.

Image credit: Road Herd by Ed Thomes Photography (contact)

Build a Recruitment Brand, And They Will Come…(Part 1)

Over the span of each of your careers, I’m sure you can pinpoint at least one time in which you had a very unfortunate, if not comical, recruitment experience with an organization. That is, the company made some major blunder while recruiting you…for example, during an interview or a follow-up communication. If so, I invite you to comment and share your experiences, though please keep the organization anonymous to protect the innocent.

I’ll go first. During my first full-time job search right out of college, I was engaged by an insurance brokerage during a job fair. I went through a series of interviews and also took an employee assessment before being invited in for a final interview with the principal of the brokerage.

Everything was going just fine, and then he started to ask me things like, “what do your parents do a for a living?” and “are you married?” Wow. Those are some major interview no-no’s! While there is more to share to that story, you get my point. Needless to say, I decided not to pursue opportunities with that organization because of the implicit message their recruiting methods sent to me.

Now hopefully you have all had wonderful recruitment experiences, as well. You know, the organizations that really had their act together and left you feeling informed and valued as a candidate–whether or not you landed the position in the long run. What do these companies do differently to leave such a positive impression with you?

Odds are, these organizations have spent some time developing their recruitment brand. They have clearly identified the types of candidates that they seek, and have taken measures to consistently be up front with candidates about what should be expected from the recruitment process–sometimes down to the number of steps involved and the timing between each step. They appreciate the time applicants have invested in applying to their company, and while sometimes they are not able to personally address most applicants, they do use applicant tracking software in order to automate the process of sending responses to all candidates to explain next steps, or to thank them for their interest.

And because there are so few organizations who really live and breathe a true recruitment brand, you can imagine that the organizations who do spend the time reap the reward of a high volume of applicants. Build a recruitment brand and they will come…and the top talent will be included in those numbers, too.

So, with applicant flow covered, what can you do to manage the volume of applicants and really mine your database of individuals? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog to learn how you may use applicant tracking software as: 1) a launch pad for social networking; and, 2) a means by which to assign status codes to quickly categorize quality applicants for future consideration as job openings become available.

Image credit: tea candle in the dark by Markus Grossalber (contact)