Navigating the Minefield of Promoting from Within

In business, there will be occasions when you are required to create a job vacancy that holds significant responsibility. You could be expanding and need someone to run a new team, branch, or facility for your company.

Whether you promote from within or hire a new candidate can be a tough decision to make, as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The Benefits of Hiring from Within

Matthew Bidwell looked extensively at the advantages of promoting existing staff compared to hiring in. In his study, he found that not only did promotion from within provide better results for the employer, but it also saved money in both the short and long-term.

One of the biggest finds from his study was that new hires are paid 18% more than those promoted from within a company for equivalent jobs, and were 61% more likely to be fired.

Performance review results were unexpectedly lower for new hires, and the main reason cited for this is that new hires often don’t have the support basis they require to do the job effectively from day one.

30% of hiring managers believe it can take over one year for their new hires to become effective. Other recruiters state it can take up to two years for new hires to become a valuable resource for their organization, while the Harvard Business Review believes it could take at least eight months.

The loss of a new hire can be expensive. The cost of hiring a new employee is on average between $40,165 and $56,770 per worker. When 46% of new hires fail within 18 months, the costs for your business can be extensive.

You would need to rehire for that position and the damage done to your organization might be unseen, but it is present and high.

An existing employee who is promoted knows how the organization works, how it’s run and who does what task. This can have a significant impact on the performance of a new leader. Good promotion practices might save you money in both failed new hires, lost productivity, and wages.

Yet this doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges when it comes to hiring from within.

The Issues With Hiring From Within

When promoting from within an organization, candidates are often not asked to update their resumes and their interview skills are often poor. This can mean that their suitability for the position might not be apparent to hiring managers.

Candidates who are promoted can also change behaviors. They could try to make life difficult for rivals, which could lead to a sudden loss of key players within your team. Likewise, those not promoted might sabotage the work of the promoted employee to make his/her position difficult. This is not always so with seniority promotion, where those with the longest service are promoted, but just because they’ve served your organization for years doesn’t mean they are a great candidate.

Finally, promotion can sometimes be based on emotional preferences rather than data which supports a candidate’s suitability. You might like an employee better than another, but that doesn’t mean they will be better at the work. Emotional detachment is necessary for any potential recruitment process.

Navigating the Minefield

The above negatives about internal hires shouldn’t imply that they can’t be recruited successfully. There are many ways you can create a good internal recruitment process that can help you identify and promote the right candidates.

1. Use Goals to Prepare Staff for the Potential of Promotion

It is likely that at some point you will want to promote a member of staff. Therefore, you should look at your staff development early on. Giving good performance reviews, and setting and monitoring goals for your employees before a position is available, will help you:

  • Determine who is performing as expected within your organization.
  • Identify who has the drive to be successful within your organization.
  • Develop your employees so they are ready for the next stage of their career.
  • Give clear expectations to your staff of what is expected from them currently and in the future.

Staff who are given clear goals, will also be more focused on their work and more efficient.

2. Treat Any Internal Recruitment Process Like an External Recruitment Process

While you might think you can be more relaxed with your internal recruitment process, it is best to keep it professional and like an external recruitment process. Start with an official job opening announcement, place it on your intranet or another place that anyone in the company can view.

Then have a process that can provide reassurance to your candidates that it will be a fair process, by submitting CVs and attending formal interviews. Candidates should then be assessed as any new hire would be, and then a formal job offer can be made.

This helps your hiring team to prevent bad decisions based on emotional attachment or for potentially successful candidates being left aside because they don’t have the social connections within the office.

It is highly advisable to use applicant tracking software within the process to ensure every candidate is treated the same. Therefore, no-one can complain about bias during the recruitment process. ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system offers an employment application option for internal employee transfers for just this type of scenario.

3. Be Transparent With Decisions

One of the key areas of concern when promoting from within is how others will react. Generally, people in the office are supportive, but at times there can be conflict. This can be from jealous colleagues who feel they should have been promoted instead.

To minimize the risk, you should contact each applicant and talk about the decision. Why were they not chosen, why the successful candidate was promoted, and what is expected from them in the short and long-term.


Higher positions often hold more responsibility and greater influence on the success of the business. Therefore, you want the best people for the role from the start. While new hires might be suitable for your business, don’t discount the talent already working for you. They are already acclimated to your corporate culture, know your processes, and they can better adjust to new tasks than a new hire. They can also be more cost effective.

That doesn’t mean an internal recruitment process doesn’t have its issues and these need to be addressed with the correct short and long-term processes. With the right frame of mind, the best processes in place, and good technology you can promote from within and hire new talent at lower levels.

Need an Easy Employee Job Transfer Application?

Give HireCentric applicant tracking software a spin! We can customize multiple employment application options to suit your organization’s needs. Schedule a live demo today.


How Important is Hiring for Company Culture Fit…Really? [VIDEO]

In this ExactHire vlog, listen to ExactHire Co-Founder, Jeff Hallam, explain what we can learn from a high profile sports team employee termination, and offer tips on how to better assess a job candidate’s potential ability to fit in with your corporate culture.


Video Transcript:

Hi, today’s topic is to talk a little bit about culture, and when I talk about culture not so much in terms of what you can do to make your culture better…it’s not really my realm of expertise at all. But more so, to talk about how important keeping your culture in mind is when hiring. This came to light a while back with the GM of the Colts here in Indianapolis being let go despite having a pretty good run over the last four or five years.

Hiring for Culture Lesson Learned from the Colts

And, as much as there have been issues and there have been rumors that have swirled around that, and just because it’s such a high-profile role, what came to light after the fact I think surprised a lot of people, myself included. In essence, despite the success that was had, it became clear that the way this person behaved internally…how they interacted with others…certain things that they did or didn’t do didn’t really line up with the culture that the owner of the Colts had in mind in terms of how they should be functioning day to day. It made me think, a lot of times especially with what’s happened in the candidate space over the last couple of years with the job market really tightening, the candidate pool continuing to seem from an employer perspective like it’s shrinking…there’s a lot of talk about trying to engage candidates better.

All of that’s perfectly valid—that is absolutely critical to try to get people involved and interested in your roles. At the same time, I think once people show that interest there are a couple of things that you can do just as final steps to make sure you’re not skipping through that process too quickly and find yourself in the same situation the Colts did.

Assess Job Candidates’ Potential Company Culture Fit

Getting a good performer, especially in a prominent role, is critical and we all know that–but sometimes in the interest of trying to move past that it’s easy to skip a couple of core things that can maybe help prevent that. So one of those things is the notion of taking the time to do reasonable reference checks. Again, understand you’re not going to do that probably for roles that are paying a little bit less or aren’t going to interact with others as much. But for these roles where people are going to touch others within the organization with their actions, with their words; or, for those who are going to interact frequently with your clients…that reference piece can be pretty significant in terms of making sure you’re getting what you thought you were getting.

So making sure that you have a handful of people who have interacted with that person before, and having a very clear notion of what you’re looking for–what you need to know about that person–can absolutely help raise any potential red flags that otherwise you might not see until later in the process.

Use Social Media to Better Understand Candidate Professionalism

The other thing you can do is…and there are various channels and tools out there to do this…one that I just became aware of recently is called Really powerful and neat little tool, but whether you do that or just visit them on LinkedIn, or look at their Twitter profile…or whether you use this third-party plug in…the notion is look and see how this person conducts themselves via social media. Doesn’t matter what their views on certain things are, etc. But if they’re offering up any kind of inflammatory comments, or they’re sharing views or things that are inappropriate…lots of things that might otherwise again not fly in the face of how you like things to operate within your culture.

Better to know those things upfront…be aware of them, and at that point then you can determine whether it’s based on feedback from the references or what you see on the social media gamut, you can better determine whether those are items that help reinforce your hiring decision or whether those are things to be aware of and perhaps modify with that person once you bring them on board.

Download ExactHire Company Culture E-book

Should I Ask This on the Employment Application?

Useful Employment Application Guidelines

Whether the positions an organization is seeking to fill are temporary or permanent, it is important for Human Resources representatives to reflect on the content included in their organization’s employment application(s) to determine if the content is within the scope of fair hiring practices. In this blog, I’ll identify a few employment application audit ideas to help you determine whether you need to eliminate or rephrase any questions that could lead to discriminatory hiring practices.  Please note: ExactHire does not provide legal counsel. If you are in doubt about the compliance of your employment application, please speak with your organization’s legal team.

Download our hiring process questions guide

Background Check Guidance

Many companies complete background checks on the individuals who have been offered employment. For a background check to be completed accurately, the social security number and date of birth are necessary to properly identify the individual. However, an individual’s social security number and date of birth should NOT be included in the application in any format; this highly sensitive information can be collected from the individual at the time of background check consent. If a minimum age is necessary for employment in a particular position, an organization may ask if the applicant is 16, 18, 21 or older (or whatever the legal requirement may be for that position type). No questions regarding the years of attendance should be asked on an application or in an interview.

Avoid Questions Related to Religion

Religious affiliation is one element that should not be asked or discussed in the hiring process. Even though many religious organizations have events and practices which occur regularly throughout the year, for certain religions, there are increased numbers of worship activities in the winter season. An employer can specify the hours/days/shifts for the vacant position but also include that the employer provides reasonable accommodations for religious practices that do not pose an undue hardship towards the employer.

Language Fluency and Employment Applications

Another component that needs careful phrasing within an employment application involves any questions related to language(s) spoken. If relevant to the position for which the applicant is applying, an employer can ask about language(s) spoken, read or written. If speaking, reading or writing another language(s) are irrelevant skills for the position, there is no need to ask for that information so it is best to omit that question. One of the many features of ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system is that you may create groups of job specific screening questions where an organization can ask applicants questions focused and relevant to the particular position.

Asking About Prior Military Experience

Military veterans offer a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill that can provide long-term benefits to your organization. These brave men and women are seeking to use their skills to enhance an organization’s growth, and if you are looking to start a veteran-focused hiring initiative within your organization, the Department of Labor is ready to help. Organizations can benefit directly in the social and interpersonal capacity, along with the financial capacity, when veterans are on the organization’s payroll. On an employment application, an employer can ask if an individual was in the military but dates and type of discharge should not be asked. An applicant should include the training and skills acquired through the military as professional experience.

Restrictions on Applicant Criminal History Information

With the Ban the Box movement, many cities and states have enacted some form of legislation that affects how and when an employer can ask an applicant any questions related to convictions. The following states listed below have enacted both public and private sector Ban the Box legislation which means an applicant typically cannot be asked about convictions on an employment application or prior to the interview stage of the hiring process.

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Rhode Island
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut (Effective January 2017)
  • Vermont (Effective July 2017)

There are exceptions within the legislation that may allow an employer to ask an applicant about convictions early in the hiring process so please consult your organization’s legal team to see if you qualify. To keep abreast of the Ban the Box movement, visit the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Professional Organization Membership

Many employers view membership in professional organizations as beneficial to the growth of an individual. It is important to encourage individuals to pursue lifelong learning opportunities; however, these opportunities should not negatively impact an applicant’s pursuit of employment. On an employment application and during the interview process, it is important for an employer to seek only job-related memberships and service and avoid asking anything about memberships that could reflect ethnicity, gender, religion and other protected information.

Test Your Own Employment Application

Organizations periodically need to take a moment to reflect on the content of their current employment application(s) and peruse it from a potential applicant’s eyes. We encourage our clients to periodically test their employment applications so they can determine if any changes need to be made. Changes to the content of your HireCentric ATS employment application(s) must be made by a member of the ExactHire Support Team.

ExactHire: At Your Service

At ExactHire, we take pride in doing our best to ensure our clients’ satisfaction.  After you speak with your legal counsel, and if you and your legal team decide changes need to be made to your employment application(s) for compliance, the ExactHire team will work with you to create a new application with the verbiage you specify. Also, one of the benefits of using ExactHire’s HireCentric software as your applicant tracking system is that you can create multiple employment applications, each specific to your needs or hiring practices within a particular state. If you are an existing client looking for more information about updating your current employment application(s) and/or creating additional employment applications, please email, and let us know your needs.

Hiring Right – 10 Tips to Finding and Hiring the Right Employee

There is no magic approach to finding and hiring the right employee. However, there are some best practices you can implement that will increase your odds at success. Here are 10 tips to finding and hiring the right employee.

Make a Plan

The first step in any successful endeavor is to first get organized. Hiring is no different. If you fail to plan in the hiring process you plan to fail. Your plan needs to encompass a number of things. First and foremost, for which skills and experience are you hiring? Taking the approach of, “I’ll know it when I see it,” won’t work.

Start with a clearly defined and reviewed role description. This is what you are expecting the person to be able to do, so make sure your interviewing plan will identify his competency to do so. A formal plan will also help you avoid bias in the process, thus leading to a more successful hire and better results.

Identify Essentials

A big part of your plan is identifying the essential needs and distinguishing them from the nice to haves. The essentials are priority and as such need to remain the focus of the hiring process. You can identify the essentials if you stick to your plan and use the role description accordingly. These would be the core things the individual must do and be able to do to be successful. Don’t get lost in the illusion of the nice to haves.

To help identify whether applicants possess core essentials, set up job-specific screening questions in your applicant tracking system so that you may score and/or flag candidates based on their answers.

Sometimes you’ll identify the nice to haves and get fixated on them as you brainstorm how you can apply them. If they do not have all the essentials they won’t be successful and no amount of successful application of the nice to haves will make up for it.

Provide the Right Environment

The success of a hire goes well beyond the actual hiring process. You want that person to stay with your company as long as possible and perform the best he can, right? This means the right things have to continue to happen in order for that hire to be an ultimate success. Making sure the individual is aligned properly within the organization and environment will help ensure this success.

Start out by finding early wins for the new employee. This will help to build confidence and establish a supportive and rewarding environment. Be intentional about training hiring managers on this trait, and include it as a part of your strategic employee onboarding process. The more wins a new hire can rack up early on the more successful he will be in the long run within the organization.

Interview for Success

Interview success is bolstered by making a plan. But it goes beyond that. You must actually make sure you are hiring for the right things and interviewing accordingly. If your interview isn’t focused on identifying the correct competencies, abilities and fit, even the seemingly best candidates won’t succeed long term.

You have to approach the interviewing process as a due diligence process. You have to approach it as objectively as possible and assess based on facts.

Pay Attention to Red Flags

Red flags will come up in the hiring process–they may come up multiple times during the hiring process. Every time a red flag appears, take care to note it on the applicant’s record in your applicant tracking software. One red flag may not create pause, but multiple red flags can pretty clearly indicate a future problem.

How to spot red flags. Red flags can be pretty subtle, but most likely you will recognize them and you just have to make sure you record them. For example, if the position will require night and weekend work, don’t ignore a candidate that states she prefers not to work every weekend. “Every weekend” may really mean she doesn’t want to work any weekends. It will eventually become an issue.

Study Top Performers

If this is a new position, it’s a bit of a gamble as you don’t really have a precedent. If this is a frequently hired position or you are replacing someone who was good at it, use that information to your advantage. Study what made that person successful, and identify the traits and skills of the top performers currently in the position. If possible, involve some incumbent top performers in the selection process, and consider assessing the cognitive and behavioral traits of your top performers using an employee assessment tool in order to create a benchmark profile against which candidate assessment results will be compared.

Avoid comparing candidates to a past or current low performer. If you think you will have success by hiring the opposite of a low performer, you are not necessarily hiring for success. What you may end up doing is just hiring the opposite behavioral traits and not necessarily someone who can excel in the position.

Focused Networking

Building a network must involve–you guessed it–networking. Forget about recruiter networking groups. After all, you aren’t hiring recruiters. Identify networking groups that are associated with your target market. As you attend events, you will get to know who the leaders are in your particular industry and with whom you need to associate.

When networking with these individuals they will definitely know who the top performers are. As you build these relationships, they will be more willing to identify these individuals for you and even direct them your way. This is one of the best ways to narrow down a candidate pool to only top performers.

Have a Value Proposition

Awareness of your competition and what they are doing to attract and retain employees is critical. You must be prepared to either match what they are doing or figure out a way to differentiate your organization from an employment brand standpoint. What is your value proposition? Why would employees want to come work with you?

Know Your Market

To be a good recruiter, you need to have your thumb on the pulse of the labor market. Doing so will ensure you target the right individuals and conduct searches in the right places. This will also help you decide where best to post job ads that will attract the candidates you are seeking. To streamline this process, search for external job boards by category in your hiring software. ExactHire’s HireCentric platform offers this feature, including the ability to easily post to these job boards from within the applicant tracking system (ATS). Focusing in the wrong areas will only attract the wrong candidates.

Lean on Referrals

The best for last. A heavy focus on referrals should be the goal of any great hiring strategy. There are two main reasons referrals need to be front and center in your focus. First, good employees will refer good people because they want to work with the best. Second, referrals typically have an instant fit and they already have a relationship with the person who is referring them. Top notch job seekers will be more willing to make a change for a friend than slug through the traditional hiring process without the benefit of any insider insight.

Want more ideas on how to attract and retain the best employees? Visit ExactHire’s resource page for more tips and techniques.


Photo Credit:  William Iven

Think Before You Hire! 10 Common Mistakes Made in Rushing the Recruitment Process

Hiring is one of the most critical tasks and challenges an organization faces. Yet, unfortunately, too many approach it as transactional or don’t allocate the proper attention, priority and resources towards it. Even with a gainfully employed talent acquisition staff, the struggle to keep up with today’s hiring needs promotes a rushed approach to the recruitment process.

When you rush through the hiring process, you make mistakes and miss critical steps. You may be in such a hurry, you hire “good enough.” This will ultimately become a problem. If you want a top performing team you can’t settle for good enough. Fortunately there are some common mistakes you can avoid if you are aware of them and slow down enough to address them.

1 – Failure to Clearly Define the Role

Rushing a hiring decision and overlooking a few critical steps can lead to a host of problems. One of the most critical steps is ensuring a clearly defined role description that contains essential functions, skills required to do the job, competencies required to be successful, and in some cases the environmental factors. Namely, the hiring decision is not based on the use of objective data such as a clearly defined role description. In the absence of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, candidate selection is left up to opinion and extremely subjective decision making.

2 – No Interviewing Plan

Failing to plan for making any business decision is not good. Failing to plan your interviews and questions will almost guarantee an ultimately adverse outcome to your hiring decisions. When you fail to plan your interview, you end up just having a conversation. Then your decision is based on whether or not you enjoyed the conversation.

3 – Asking “Yes” and “No” Questions

Typically this is a result of not having an interviewing plan as well as an untrained interviewer. Avoid, at all costs, asking questions that elicit a yes or no answer. It doesn’t tell you anything about the candidate and he/she will almost always give you the answer you want to hear. This is where a planned process will call for behavioral based interview questions.

4 – Asking Leading Questions

In an interview, you will naturally draw a 50% conclusion by the time your first handshake is over. Right, wrong or indifferent, it happens. If that initial conclusion is positive, you will want to see one succeed in the interview. Without knowing it you will actually help the candidate answer the questions correctly. In doing so, your subconscious will take over and you’ll begin to lead him/her to the answer you’re seeking. A savvy candidate will pick up on it and give you the answer you want. Thus, you completely missed an opportunity to objectively assess the candidate.

5 – Not Involving Others

Hiring is a team sport. As such, you’re bound to make mistakes if you go at it alone. You will miss things others will see. Not engaging a candidate’s potential peers in the interview could be costly. Not only do you want to verify the candidate has the right skill set, but also will fit with the rest of the team.

6 – Falling Victim to Interview Fatigue

Interview fatigue can easily take its toll if you cram too many interview sessions into a short span of time. This can cause you to only vividly remember the first and last candidates you interview. In fact, when coaching job seekers, most are told to seek the first or last interviews of the day.

7 – Ignoring Red Flags

This is one of the most common hiring errors out there. You’ll hear and see little things during the process of interviews that will make you take pause. They will stick in your head and you’ll try to push them to the back. They concern you, but you rationalize it and figure it won’t be a problem. Then the day comes and you say, “Well…I knew that when I hired him.” These are the red flags you noticed in the process.

Always remember this. A candidate is on his BEST behavior during the hiring process. If you notice red flags then, multiply it by 10 and that’s what you’ll eventually get. Don’t rationalize red flags. They will inevitably become a problem.

8 – Avoiding an Analysis of Facts

Similar to ignoring red flags, this hiring foul will cause you a headache later. Remember, interviewees are (should) be on their best behavior in an interview. They should be prepared and ready for what you may ask them. They will seem like a rock star during that hour conversation. However, don’t forget the facts. Does their past performance align with your needs? After all, it is the best predictor of future behavior.

9 – “I Can Teach Them That”

Although this may be true, you must understand what you are signing yourself up for. Do you really have time to teach them the basic skills they need to qualify for the job? If your company does not have a great training and development program to support this, odds are it won’t happen. You can probably get away with teaching them the nice-to-have skills, but don’t think you’ll be able to teach them the core critical skills. Note, this is different than teaching them the job or teaching them how to use the resources and tools to do the job. You’ll have to teach anyone you hire how the job is performed at your company. You just want to avoid having to teach them the core skills needed to perform the job.

10 – “Maybe They Will Change”

In a rushed hiring situation, you will tend to overlook potential issues that you’ve identified in the hiring process. Due to time constraints, desperation, or whatever else the scenario may be, you may be tempted to assume they will change a behavior or environmental clash. If you’re concerned about it, and think they will change it, think again.


Staying disciplined to a sound recruitment process, avoiding too much subjectivity and focusing on a candidate’s verifiable qualifications will help you avoid these common mistakes and attain better ratios of hiring success.


For some advanced tools to help you avoid hiring mistakes during the recruitment process, check out ExactHire’s employee assessments.

Hello, My Name is Intern

Interns are like Play-Doh. We’re easy to find, easy to train, but if you leave us out to dry by ourselves we might stiffen up and become molded in a way that can’t be changed. As an intern for ExactHire, I’ve been offered the ability to work on different projects and writing assignments, and have been included in various company culture activities all the while being treated as an equal (that still has much to learn). With this internship, and my previous ones, I’ve been very lucky to find individuals and mentors that have helped mold me into a Play-Doh sculpture that is confident in its ability to adapt and change. The tricky part is that not all internships are that great, so in order to really get the full potential out of your employee, there are a few key elements to follow.

They Have No Idea What They are Doing


We talk a big game through the interview, truly believing that we can handle anything that you throw at us, but once you sit us down at our desk for the first time, we have a monumental freak out. We can’t remember the first thing about our marketing vocab words or how to code in a simple HTML Heading 2.

The key is to comfort your intern, pretend they are approaching a work experience like this for the very first time – because they probably are. Comforting is not the same thing as hand holding. Many employers start the internship or interview with, “we’re not here to hold your hand or coddle you through this, we need you to hit the ground running,” and trust me, we want to do just that. But, we can only help as much as you allow us.

  • Be clear and set expectations with us. Do you want an intern that is only there for the coffee runs or do you want someone that could actually improve your department?
  • Don’t get frustrated if we ask the same question two or three times. If your intern is asking more than five times, then maybe get a little angry, but most of the time we just want to make sure we’re giving you the exact results you wanted.
  • Set an example. Reminisce with us on your own internship days. We have no idea what to expect from the new people, business, or material so we really appreciate when you’re there to make us feel like we’re not the plague, speaking of which…

Interns are Not the Plague


I know that some employers dislike the idea of interns. It makes sense, we’re only there for a short period and you spend most of your time teaching us valuable skills that may not be used within your own four walls. Teaching and employing interns is a selfless (but not a thankless) act. To ensure that no suspicious or lasting symptoms of a potential intern plague linger (decreased work activity, too many hours on facebook, etc.) there are a few ways to keep you and your intern engaged.

  • Though we are not the plague, we do like to integrate into each department at least once (if possible) whether it’s through sitting in on meetings or encouraging us to ask questions that may not pertain to our own assignments. Interns want to learn and we want to help you as best as we can; therefore, by getting a view of the bigger picture, we are able to really focus on how to best approach what you need from us.
  • We are responsible. Interns often don’t get recognized for the fact that they are taking the initiative to gain experience before leaving formal schooling. The fact that you have found someone that wants to learn from you while helping better your company is something to be appreciative of, especially when your intern is most likely eternally grateful for the opportunity you are giving them.
  • We can help you learn too! Internships are a great way to bring in a new set of eyes and energy. Additionally, if your organization is not yet sure it is ready for a full-time position in a certain area, an internship experience allows the employer to essentially “try before you buy.” The best part is, if you really like the work your intern does, they are always looking for a full time job after graduation!

Interns can be exciting, creative, and tech-savvy–but most of all they are grateful. As an intern, I can’t thank my current and previous employers enough for the opportunity to intern within their companies. If you’re interested in finding an intern or setting up an internship program, use ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system to find the perfect candidate!

Image credit: Play-Doh by Dennis Brekke (contact)

Baby, You’re a Firework (or at Least Your New Employee Is)

Fourth of July is just around the corner and just like fireworks, onboarding employees can be exciting, stressful, and downright treacherous at times. In the spirit of the patriotic festivities, let’s look through the top ten most popular fireworks in comparison to common candidates and employees that could be experienced in the onboarding process. The process of Onboarding a new employee can be time-consuming, but with ExactHire’s resources and Onboarding Software, you could spend more time getting to know your employee!

If you’re interested in finding out what type of employee you are, take this light-hearted quiz, and then check out the descriptions of each firework below!

1. Party Poppersfirework-party-popper

Party poppers are generally listed as a novelty item or trick noise maker and are sold year-round in shops which sell party supplies. It emits a loud popping noise by means of a small friction-actuated explosive charge that is emitted by pulling a string. Finding a candidate similar to a party popper may come in many forms; one may be the applicant that initially seems exciting and opinionated but can also fizzle out fairly quickly, or it could be the employee that brings excitement all year-round.

2. TNT Poppers


These are a hit with younger kids, mainly because they can’t set themselves on fire but can still annoy the ever-living daylights out of adults by throwing them at their feet. TNT Poppers are inexpensive and can keep people entertained for a total of maybe 20 minutes. In terms of potential employees, this is probably the applicant that may seem like a good fit initially, but after further investigation or an interview, he or she would probably only last a few months in the company.

3. Snakes


At first glance, snakes may seem like mere child’s play, but if you really think about it, how does a small tube of practically nothing turn into an endless black “snake”? We may never know, but this is the new employee that you may not have had high hopes for but it turns out that he can do literally anything – all day. This candidate can make something out of nothing, and can truly be one of the best assets to your company. (Or maybe you’d rather just consider them the metaphorical snake, we’re not here to judge.)

4. Sparklers


An age-old favorite, sparklers light up the front yard for a few minutes and as any new employee does, lights up the eyes of those around it (or him). Though sparklers only last for a few moments, a new employee or candidate may qualify as a Sparkler if he or she comes into the business with flare and favoritism, and sticks around as a consistent favorite.

5. Firecrackers


Iconic? Sure. Noisy? Definitely. It’s easy to imagine what a potential employee with the personality (or voice) of a firecracker would be – loud and potentially explosive. As a candidate, this person or “firecracker” could be full of ideas and popping with enthusiasm! Definitely someone worth holding on to.

6. Bottle Rockets


Just as its name suggests, a Bottle Rocket is a small rocket lodged in a bottle with a stabilizing stick attached to it. A big oversight when thinking about Bottle Rockets (in terms of people) is that they come in a ton of different sizes and models; sure they stick to the basic model, but also bring different ideas (big or small), projects, and goals to the workplace.

7. Roman Candles


As the site, Thrillist, describes Roman Candles “Lovely but dangerous” and they couldn’t be more accurate – for the actual firework. In terms of Roman Candle-esque people though – it’s more in terms of lovely and dangerous. Roman Candle employees come in everyday ready to conquer the workplace and any task that may come their way.

8. Smoke Balls


Smoke Balls are little bombs that when lit give off a few minutes of colored smoke and usually stain anything they touch (I love them). As far as excitement goes, they probably wouldn’t make anyone’s top ten, but they are fun and reliable – never changing what they do. To find someone in the workplace comparable to a smoke ball, you’d probably consider them to be trustworthy, dependable, and mostly predicable.

9. Fountains


A family favorite, Fountains are the fireworks that everyone gets because it’s probably illegal to buy artillery shells in your town. Either way, Fountains are fun and last a long time with many different effects throughout their show. As a potential employee, the fountain may be underestimated at first but with time will prove that she has a ton of new ideas, one just as different as the one before it. Fountain employees are stellar assets to a company and should be held onto at all costs.

10. Artillery Shells


Artillery Shells are the massive fireworks that Fourth of July is truly known for – and also illegal in many states – but that’s not important. What’s important is how big and beautiful they are, each different and special in their own way. As these should be left to be set on fire by the professionals, it is likely that the Artillery Shells in the office are probably the CEO’s or someone who set the whole business in motion. If not, watch out because the shell in your office is heading for big things.


No matter what kind of employee you or anyone in the office is, everyone should be celebrated this Fourth of July, just like our nation’s Independence.

Have a great holiday from everyone at ExactHire!

Image credit: FREE CLIP: Sparklers by Cinema White (contact)

4 Guidelines for Optimal Job Application Conversion Rates

We live in an age of distraction and it’s wreaking havoc on your talent applicant sourcing process. Despite your efforts to write engaging job descriptions, post them far and wide and publicize your amazing corporate culture, your click-to-apply ratio is dismal. So what gives?

While the aforementioned items are undoubtedly important factors in the talent acquisition game, another critical component is the length of your job application. The likelihood that you’ll make your very next priority about researching your ideal application length will depend on the supply and demand for job categories in your local market. However, know that the very best candidates always have options, so even in a seller’s…ahem…employer’s market, top talent still won’t fill out your 50-question job application.

The proof is in the numbers, and it’s pretty staggering on both desktop and mobile devices. Check out this statistic from a study referenced in an ERE post:

“For every 100 candidates who click through from a job advertisement to a recruitment portal on a desktop device, an average of 8 will complete a job application. For mobile click-throughs, the completion figure is just 1.5 percent.”

I was curious about how the same numbers would stack up across all of our own HireCentric applicant tracking software client job portals. During the last six months, our own click-to-apply ratios for site visitors who make up the referral traffic category* are listed below.

  • desktop – 9.23%
  • mobile – 4.96%
  • tablet – 3.34%

*Referral traffic category visitor = visitor referred to a client’s HireCentric ATS portal from a link on another site like a client’s corporate website or an external job board.

While our ratios come out slightly more favorable than those referenced in the study, it’s still pretty disheartening to think about the fact that out of 100 job seekers referred to your careers portal, only three to nine of them will actually finish the application process, depending on their device. So how can you improve your own job site’s click-through numbers?

Ditch Traditional Job Application Length Thinking

Start to ask yourself the tough questions about what you really need to know from applicants at the onset of the hiring process. Then, dump traditional thoughts like these:

Employer thinks: “I want my application to be long enough that I won’t get overwhelmed with unqualified applicants.”

High potential job seeker thinks: “This is taking too long…I won’t be applying here now…or ever.”

While there is some logic to making your process long enough to be a speed bump to candidates that are just looking to claim their next unemployment check, if it’s too lengthy you run the risk of disengaging the best potential applicants from finishing your application now…or anytime in the future.

Employer thinks: If someone wants to work here badly enough, they’ll jump through whatever question “hoops” we present.

High potential job seeker thinks: If the employer cared enough about its employment brand, they’d only ask the deal-breaker questions early, and save the other stuff until later.

Evaluate your own application process to determine what works best for your organization and job market. And, remember to consider how the applicant might feel while completing your employment application. Use the following sections as a checklist to help make adjustments…and know that what works for one job category may not be ideal for another.



Make it easy to apply from a mobile device

The statistics don’t lie–the conversion rate for job seekers viewing your site from a mobile device are even worse than from a desktop. Smaller screens make lengthier applications appear even more intimidating and stop potential applicants in their tracks. Implement these enhancements to improve your odds for success.

  • Mobile-friendly jobs site – make sure your careers portal is developed with responsive web design so that your employment application automatically adjusts to the size of the screen on which it is viewed.
  • Mobile apply integrations – Look for an applicant tracking system that integrates with well-established sites from which candidates may pull application information.
    • Apply with LinkedIn – can your candidates authorize their own LinkedIn profile to populate some of the fields of your application?
    • Indeed Apply – Is your application set up in such a way (including responsive web design) that Indeed can empower job seekers to use their Indeed profile to push application info to your ATS? The key to making this setup work is collecting only basic information in the first step of the application process (e.g. applicant source, resume and job screening questions, for example).
  • Dropbox/Google Drive – Candidates can’t necessarily upload a resume file to your jobs site from their phone/tablet. Mobile job seekers will count on your system to allow them to pull their resume files from a cloud-based file storage site like Dropbox or Google Drive.



Do not put the cart before the horse

Do you really need to have a candidate’s references in the first step of the hiring process? After all, only a tiny percentage of all of your candidates will have those come into play at the end of the selection process. And, you don’t really need the full employment and/or education histories right away if you get a resume up front.

Look for an ATS provider that offers employment application options such as the two-step application. This feature allows you to ask only the absolute need-to-know-now questions of applicants in the very beginning of the recruiting process. Then, once applicants are pre-screened and a few top candidates are identified, you can always ask those top candidates (who are now more motivated to respond having been identified) for more robust applicant information in the second step of the application.

Additionally, limit the number of essay questions in your application, and instead opt for multiple choice questions to facilitate informative, quick answers that don’t lengthen the time it takes to complete an application, but at the same time, do allow your staff to use answers to automatically score and/or disqualify applicants. In fact, the aforementioned study found that the length of time it takes one to complete an application is an even bigger driver of applicant drop-off than the number of questions asked.



Identify the information you need in each job category

Help job candidates help you. That is, customize their application experience to be hyper-specific to the information you need early on to assess their potential qualifications for a position. For example, if you are sourcing applicants for an exempt position, then don’t make them answer an application question that asks whether they are willing to work overtime…as that would only be applicable to non-exempt job candidates. This can be accommodated either through job screening question groups customized for each of your job categories; or, via multiple application layouts for different hiring needs (e.g. executive-level, different geographic locations, etc.) that are set up by a trusted applicant tracking software provider.

Think about other potential considerations to ease the candidate experience. Do your graphic designer job applicants have a designated place on the application to reference their online portfolio? Does the application associated with the recent college graduates’ hiring track allow candidates to link to a copy of their student transcript?



Paint a clear picture of the path to employment

Many effective writing styles preview a piece of content’s focus before getting into meaty topics. In a sense, you’ve got to tell readers what you’re going to tell them before you tell it. Redundant or not, a lot of people like to know what they are getting themselves into to determine if it’s worth their time in the first place. Job seekers are no different.

Create content that illustrates not just your employer’s application process, but the entire hiring process including interviews, background/reference checks, the offer letter and employee onboarding activities. Here are some communication strategies:

  • Job description length – If you want more qualified candidates to apply, then you generally need to describe the position in more words than found in one short paragraph. However, your job listing should not be a novel either. Look to recruiting metrics available in an in-app ATS dashboard to help you start to diagnose which of your job listings are performing best when it comes to organic search results…this could be a partial clue into which of these descriptions have a more optimal, keyword-savvy, length.
  • Career-focused content – Include pages within your jobs site that share Q&A narratives about what candidates can expect from the hiring process. Incorporate video and images as often as possible as it makes it easier and more entertaining for job seekers to process the information presented.
  • Clear application instructions – Take another look at the actual directions listed at the start and end of your application process. Do they set expectations that additional information may be collected later, if applicable? Could they be lengthened (or shortened) to be more effective?

By heeding these guidelines for converting more job applications, your organization can make strides toward improving your hiring efficiency.

6 Skills to Master in Your First Year Out of College

1. How to Write a Resume


Resumes are like the windows into your job seeking souls, or a window into what you did before this job. Either way, they’re important. Whether or not you think you are a resume “expert,” every position requires a little tweaking of the resume. So, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you think your resume is, there are hundreds of ways to create or improve one that looks totally professional. Here are some previous blogs about how to do just that:

2. How to Budget


I’m still working on this one myself, but learning how to budget your money is crucial in the year after you graduate. Through college, you were generally guaranteed a place to live and could beg your friends into giving you their leftovers, but now you might be out on your own. If you are (or if you’re trying to be) it could be time to actually log your spending/savings so that you’re not left out in the cold. If you don’t want to take my word on it, maybe read the Forbes take on it.

3. Taking Care of Yourself


And that means getting in and out of bed at a reasonable hour. This is probably the easiest and hardest part of graduating college. Sure, you had to learn how to “cook” and maintain decently healthy living habits, but now it’s the time where you actually have to pretend to know how to be an adult. This means exercising, knowing where the produce section of the grocery store is, and hopefully having more than just alcohol and ketchup packets in your fridge at any given time.

4. Creating and Maintaining Professional Relationships


It’s easy to fall into the routine of seeing the same people everyday, and if you’ve just graduated, it’s even easier to forget the difference in experience levels. Creating professional relationships are simple; just show and give respect where deserved, but maintaining the professionalism is a little more difficult. If you already have a job or want to study how you can become a functioning member of work culture, you can check out these blogs:

5. Interviewing Well


Lucky for you, ExactHire has multiple blogs on how to do just that! Here are a few that you should definitely check out in order to find success at every turn, or interview.

6. Having an Opinion


This may seem like an obvious skill to have mastered, especially after you ruled the classroom with your deep and probing thoughts; but what happens when your opinion on Jane Eyre’s choice to return to blind Mr. Rochester is no longer relevant? Answer: you form new opinions. Just as you had to do your research for that research project your senior year, you have to research your new job. The more you know and understand about the company, the easier it will be to give your own input. Though it may seem scary at first to have different thoughts than those around you, stick to what you know, show that you care, but always be open to new and other opinions.

Image credit: PUSH FOR HELP by Jonahthan Nightingale (contact)

Portfolio Items