Interviewing: Recent Grad Edition

Interviews are the worst. Maybe not worse than going to the dentist, but they’re up there. How many times have you just known you were perfect for a job then completely blew the interview?

Different companies have different interviewing criteria, but as the interviewee, one thing should be standard, always, and I really mean always be prepared. Whether it is over the phone, in person, or via web call (i.e. Skype or FaceTime), you’ve gotta fake it ‘til you make it. When preparing for any interview, there are typically four key steps – the resume, phone call/interview, the in-person interview, and the follow-up.

Let’s start with the resume – because first impressions, even on paper, are everything. When preparing, obviously practice all of the typical questions, all of which are covered by Huffington Post’s article Top 10 Interview Tips for New College Graduates, but be sure to add your own flair! Typically, the first thing a potential employer sees is your resume. Therefore, in order to make a lasting impression, you’ve got to make sure you have a solid resume.

The Resume

I love updating and improving resumes. I don’t care if it’s my own or one of my friends; the idea of being able to organize all of my professional experiences into one area is exciting (sounds lame, I know). Not everyone has this same thought process so here are some pointers when looking at your own resume:

  • Elaborate – employers want someone who can get the job done. Be sure to use action verbs (i.e. performed, utilized, completed, assisted, etc.)
  • Be Concise – though you want to show that you can do what is asked, it’s also important to remember that the potential employer is probably going to only skim your resume. Find simple ways to state accomplishments and use numbers to quantify your achievements where possible (numbers and data are typically easier to skim and are more impressive).
  • Be Honest – it may be tempting to “leave out” some of your work history, but if there is an awkward gap in employment or something doesn’t add up – you’ll probably get called out.

For more tips on making a successful resume, check out another one of our blogs, here.

The Phone Call

This is where I struggle the most. Many blogs about phone interviews say to dress as if you are interviewing in person, but I’ve always done the exact opposite. However you dress, just make sure you have your computer in front of you so that you can have the company’s site and your resume pulled up in front of you. By having these two pages on your computer, it will be easier to recall your research. During the actual phone call make sure to consider the following:

  • Answer your phone! It may not seem like a big deal if you step away from your phone for a few minutes, but if you miss that call, you might miss the opportunity.
  • Be professional. Please do not answer your phone with “what’s up?”. You’re speaking to a professional, so answer the call as if you are one too.
  • Make sure you’re in a location with good reception. Though it may not be your fault entirely, having terrible cell reception can cause a lot of miscommunication and annoyance for the interviewer. Same with doing an interview while driving.

The Interview

Some of the advice that I’ll be sharing has come from professors, parents, employers, and the all encompassing Internet. During the interview process, it isn’t uncommon to freeze up and completely lose your train of thought. My favorite method to handling this, especially as someone who is typically quiet, is that I like to pretend that I’ve known the interviewer(s) for years. This allows you to “pretend” that you’re in control and that what you say isn’t the end of the world. By becoming personable (because if you’ve hypothetically known these people for years, you’d probably be friends) you seem more relatable and approachable. Actions and behaviors that may not seem like a big deal could also be the same factor that separates you from a successful candidate, such as:

  • Chewing gum during the interview
  • Not having any questions for the interviewer – this makes it appear as if you did little to no research before coming in for the interview.
  • Dressing too casual – even if the office environment is casual, you should always dress professionally. For help, check out this tip sheet.

The Follow-Up

Congratulations! You made it past the first interview, but you’re not out of the woods yet. After any interview – in person or over the phone, there are a few key elements that are crucial to a successful, lasting impression.

  • Always leave or send a thank you card. I cannot stress this enough; whether you get the position or not, the employer took time out of their day to interview, consider, and give you feedback – that alone requires appreciation (and they’re human, give them some recognition that you value their time).
  • Ask questions that will help you in the future. This will allow you to improve your interviewing technique, even if you don’t get that particular job. Some examples of these types of questions are:
    o “Is there anything about my resume or interview that concerns you?”
    o “What do you typically look for in an ideal candidate?”
  • Don’t be too aggressive, it’s always good to follow the social media sites of the company you hope to work for, but if you’re constantly messaging or posting on their pages, they may get the wrong idea about your intentions.

Obviously these tips aren’t foolproof or guaranteed to get you a job, but as someone who just graduated, it would have been nice to have some tips when interviewing for jobs. ExactHire has a ton of blogs that can provide more insight as to what an interview should (and could) entail, as well as many more helpful topics by professionals. If you have any tips that you think the world needs to know, comment them below!

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Vermont “Ban the Box” Legislation

As the movement to eliminate potential employment barriers for individuals with a criminal record continues, Vermont is the newest state to pass legislation to “Ban the Box” in the early stages of the application process for public and private sector employment. “Ban the Box” AKA “Fair Chance Policy” aims to reduce recidivism rates and future incarcerations of prior offenders. The policy will help individuals with criminal records “have a fair chance” to be actively considered for employment opportunities despite having blemished records when they are applying for jobs in their attempt to attain employment.
Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, signed the legislation on May 3, 2016; however, this legislation does not become effective until July 1, 2017. The time delay will be implemented so that employers will have adequate time to adjust employment processes to comply with this law. The bill, H.261, prohibits employers from asking criminal conviction related questions initially on a job application. Employers are still allowed to ask questions about convictions later in the hiring process. Certain exemptions exist on this law, please consult your company’s legal team for more information on the exemptions and criteria to qualify.

Upcoming “Ban the Box” Legislation

Vermont “Ban the Box” legislation is only the latest to be adopted a state. Currently, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon all have statewide Ban the Box legislation for public and private employment. Other states, cities and municipalities have enacted localized or public employment related legislation related to the Ban the Box concept. To keep abreast of states and cities who enact “Ban the Box” legislation, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has an interactive map that provides an overview of the current legislative status. For the actual legislation, you will need to go directly to the state or city government website to access the passed law(s) in its comprehensive language.
Employers need to be aware of the legislation that exists and what legislation is pending to be prepared for the potential impact on their organizations. If your organization currently has hiring practices in multiple states and cities, or posts job listings nationally, it is important to be cognizant of the locales’ legal expectations and determine if you need to alter verbiage on your employment application(s) and/or change specific steps in your hiring practices to be compliant with “Ban the Box” legislation.
Please note: The ExactHire team is not legal counsel, and we do not offer legal advice so any questions regarding your company’s eligibility for exemption with the “Ban the Box” legislation and/or proper verbiage for your company’s employment application(s) should be discussed with your company’s legal counsel. To learn specifically how Vermont’s H.261 affects your organization’s hiring practices, please contact your company’s legal team.

ExactHire Clients

At ExactHire, we take pride in doing our best to ensure our clients’ satisfaction is the highest possible. We do whatever we can to resolve clients’ current needs and identify potential needs. 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) to comply with legislation, the ExactHire team can work with you to create a new application with the verbiage you specify for compliance. Also, please know that 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. 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.

Learn More About ExactHire Solutions

If you are not yet an ExactHire client, for more information about HireCentric ATS, please visit our resources page or contact us today.

Quickly Snaring Talent For Open Positions

A snare is a rudimentary tool that was once popularly used to catch small game. To be successful, it requires two conditions to be met:

  1. It’s well built for the intended target.
  2. It has the ideal placement for the intended target.

If either of the above conditions is not met, the chances of catching anything are dramatically decreased. OK, that’s the extent of my snare knowledge as it relates to small game hunting. Oh, and snaring is now widely regarded as inhumane in many parts of the world.

Now that we have a common understanding of the snare and the conditions necessary for its success, let’s look at how small- to medium-sized businesses can take that simple concept and apply it to “snaring” talent.

Build First? Or Place First?

Ahhh a question as old as time! Do we build a set of recruiting tactics first, and then go find the best place to implement it? Or, do we find the best place to recruit talent and then build a set of tactics to attract and hire the best? Which comes first?

For most organizations, I believe the answer is…neither one. Because while considering the set of tactics and where to deploy them are vital parts of developing a recruiting strategy, neither of these can be considered until the target audience is first identified. In other words, you can have the best snare placed in the best location, but by failing to consider your “intended target,” you might end up with a lot of rabbits when what you really wanted were squirrels.

Here are five questions to help identify your target audience–your ideal candidates:

  1. What is the position type? (exempt or nonexempt, executive or associate, internal or customer-facing)
  2. What hard skills/experience/education are required?
  3. What soft skills should be required, preferred, or ideal?
  4. Can the position be full or part-time remote?
  5. What candidate qualities will lead to a work culture fit?

These questions will help you develop ideal “candidate personas” that can drastically narrow down your target audience for specific positions and guide you in developing an overall recruiting strategy. With these candidate personas created, you can now consider placement and tactics.

Placing and Building The Talent Snare

Successfully executing your talent strategy is important.  However, if you are attempting to execute your strategy using a set of tactics or a placement that doesn’t align with your target audience, then you may catch talent, but it won’t always be the talent you want. Here are two key questions to ask when considering placement and tactics.

Optimal placement maximizes the chances that your ideal candidates will see your job posting. This is in contrast to “posting and praying”, where you spend more effort and resources get a few great candidates  in with dozens of mediocre or sub-par applicants.  A helpful guiding question to ask is:

Where are my ideal candidates geographically, demographically, and in real-time as they find and consider my job posting?

In considering recruiting tactics, the behavior of your target audience will inform you of the best approach. This information may be difficult to uncover, but cross-referencing your candidate personas with existing behavioral data of job seekers can help you answer the question:

How are my ideal candidates searching, considering, and applying as they engage with prospective employers?

Snaring Talent For Your Open Positions

The preceding questions may seem simplistic and obvious, but they are often overlooked by today’s hiring organizations. Often times, the vast array of recruiting tools and communication channels available can lead us to believe that our job posts are visible to everyone, everywhere, all the time. However, the truth is that without targeting our strategy to a specific audience, our job posts are at risk of being lost in the noise.

The placement and build of recruiting tactics are important considerations, but they must  be informed by the target audience. A well-crafted “rabbit snare” located on my urban sidewalk may never catch a rabbit; but nor will the best “rabbit snare” laid in a rural stand of trees stands succeed in catching squirrels. Ensure optimal placement and build by first identifying your target audience, and then develop a recruiting strategy that maximizes your success. Happy hunting!

ExactHire offers hiring and employee onboarding software to growing small- to medium-sized businesses that are looking to efficiently attract, hire, and retain exceptional talent for continued growth. To learn more about ExactHire’s HR solutions, please submit a brief contact form.

Feature Image Credit: White Bunny Up Close and Personal by George Bannister (contact)

Rewrite Your Talent Onboarding Story In 7 Game-Changing Steps

Once upon a time there was a talented, optimistic marketing professional named Simon. An exciting, fast-growth technology firm was fortunate enough to woo Simon during a flashy interviewing process and he was pleased to accept its offer of employment shortly thereafter. His new position would offer him more responsibility, more pay and a chance to learn some new technologies. Sounds like a storybook ending for Simon, right?

That’s what he thought, too, until he began to experience the firm’s employee onboarding process. While the tech firm had many things going for it, it had a few things to learn when it came to giving its new hires the best opportunity to be successful and productive in their working environment. Let’s see how Simon’s story unfolded and consider what the tech firm might have done differently to make a positive impression on him in the critical early days and months of his employment.

1 – Wait, What’s Pre-Boarding?

Once Simon accepted his offer, he still had to give his current employer a few weeks’ notice before finishing his job there. While his new employer was hiring frequently, and at such a pace that it often had employees start just days after accepting an offer, Simon was an anomaly in that he had some time to kill before his start date. Unfortunately, his new tech firm was radio silent during this period. Simon actually had to proactively reach out to confirm details like start date and arrival time. He wondered if his new company had forgotten about him.

Rewrite the Story: Simon’s new hiring manager could have called or emailed him to welcome him to the fold and prep him with some housekeeping details prior to his first day. This “pre-boarding” scenario (aka the period before official employee onboarding) is also a golden opportunity for an organization to send a welcome kit to a new hire with goodies like a prepared training schedule, visual organizational chart, fun facts about the company and some branded company swag.

A best practice during pre-boarding is to make sure that your company’s existing employees know about the forthcoming start date of your new employee so they can be ready to make him feel at home. This also gives the onboarding process stakeholders a chance to update recurring meeting requests and email distribution lists to include the new employee. Otherwise, Simon might feel silly if he was the only one that didn’t know to show up to the monthly corporate meeting.

2 – Learning the Unwritten Rules

Simon was an organized guy and liked to be prepared. During his interview, they told him that they had a relaxed dress code, but he still hadn’t seen any evidence of that and didn’t want to be the only guy in jeans on his first day. So, he showed up in business casual to be safe meanwhile contemplating the extent of the company’s flexibility when it came to the “flexible work schedule.” In addition, he was still in limbo with how daycare arrangements would work for his daughter, too. He would continue to feel a little stressed about that until he could adjust her drop-off and pick-up times to accommodate his new schedule. Of course his nerves weren’t helped when a bunch of his new co-workers asked him why he was so dressed up for his first day.

Rewrite the Story: Starting a new job is stressful enough; don’t make it worse by keeping your new hires guessing. At a minimum send new hires a Q&A sheet of commonly asked company culture-related questions before their first day.

  • Go the extra mile by pairing a new employee with a mentor buddy who can give him the real dish, and
  • assembling an attractive book or website full of pictures of your employees enjoying the unique aspects of your culture (for example, hitting the gong to celebrate a goal achievement or modeling work-appropriate attire).

Better yet, create a video office tour in which you interview employees that answer these burning company culture questions. Give employees like Simon the confidence to know when it’s actually okay to play ping-pong during work hours.

3 – You Mean I Don’t Even Get a Red Stapler?

Once Simon was shown to his working space, it was remarkably bare. While thankfully his laptop was awaiting him, there wasn’t much else other than tedious employment paperwork. His cube neighbor said that the supplies he needed were around, and that he could show him the office cabinet. So, Simon grabbed some sticky notes, a pen and a notepad since he wasn’t sure how much was appropriate to take. Back at his desk, he passed the time waiting for further direction (his boss was in a meeting on the morning of his first day) by investigating a new “twiddle your thumbs” finger workout on his smartphone…or at least he felt like that was what he was doing.

Rewrite the Story: Not having supplies ready on a new hire’s first day is frustrating and makes a poor first impression on a new employee. Stock a new hire’s space with all the essentials…have email setup, browsers downloaded and include a handy guide to applications that will be used on a regular basis. Complete the staging with a thoughtful welcome sign with the employee’s name. To make this setup easy on existing employees, too, have a basic onboarding checklist or template in place that can be quickly customized based on departmental needs. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every new hire.

Identify additional employee onboarding best practices like implementing software to automate both the workflow-related checklists for existing employees, as well as the actual paperwork completed by new employees. Instead of taking up two hours of a new hire’s first few days on the job with boring, redundant paperwork, give him a web-based portal to enter that data in about fifteen minutes. Make sure your onboarding process brand matches the sleek corporate brand that people have come to expect from a fast-growth tech firm.

4 – Be More Innovative Than Lunch

Simon was pleased to learn that he wouldn’t have to figure out lunch on his first day. His manager, as well as some other members of his department, did take him out to a nice restaurant to get to know him better. There’s nothing wrong with lunch as long as that’s not all you do to learn about new hires.

Rewrite the Story: Use your organization’s industry, resources and/or culture to create a unique experience for your new employees. For example, a technology firm might have a space for all employees to share their favorite mobile app along with comments about why each app was selected. A design firm with graphic artists on staff might choose to commemorate the arrival of newer employees by adding their caricature to a wall of fame after 90 days. An organization of travel buffs could have a giant world map and invite new employees to mark the exotic places to which they have traveled with pushpins. Be imaginative and discover each employee’s passion.

5 – My Brain is Only So Spongy

Once his first few days had passed, Simon had to admit that his training schedule did become quite rigorous…full of people to meet all day everyday. He was hustled from one office to another, desperately trying to absorb all the information he heard like the latest chamois cloth mop from QVC. Alas, cramming isn’t generally effective; however, sometimes employers still feel compelled to fill all the gaps in the first few week’s of an employee’s training schedule. While the firm did gain some points for doing its best to expose Simon to a number of areas in the hopes that he’d be more productive sooner, they should have allowed some time for his early foundational knowledge to soak in and then solidify.

Rewrite the Story: Consider a shortened training schedule for the early days of a new hire’s employment. By empowering an individual to train and shadow with others for just part of the day, you enable him to take the rest of the day to reflect and absorb the information gleaned. He can form questions, review the most recent lessons and be better prepared to be a true participant in the rest of his training activities. Incorporate gamification elements into the training and orientation phase by creating company- and/or department-specific quizzes to assess the employee’s learning while also providing entertaining education.

6 – That’s the End?

A month into his employment experience, Simon was starting to feel like a member of the team. Especially when he was thrown into the training mix for three newer hires that were starting the coming week. That’s right, Simon’s fifteen minutes of new hire fame were already up. And while it’s not a bad idea to help new hires hit the ground running by involving them in improving the onboarding process for future hires, you also don’t want to let your hair down too early with your newer employees. The firm was riding on its own cultural coat tails too aggressively. Keeping employees for the long-term requires a learning and development culture that doesn’t end after a new employee’s first three weeks on the job.

Rewrite the Story: Chart an onboarding course for the long haul and remember that the good stuff happens at milestones you intentionally plan for new hires along their entire employment journey…whether it is three weeks or one year into employment. Beyond new hire paperwork and software login credentials, build in triggers for activities like

  • more advanced learning “courses” once initial onboarding prerequisites are met,
  • exposure to other departments to better learn how one’s own job impacts others,
  • individual assessment in order to uncover opportunities for synergy between the newer employee, his hiring manager and/or other department members,
  • succession planning conversations, and
  • personal achievement recognition at notable anniversary dates.

7 – Get What You Expect

Being organized and self-motivated, Simon already had his own ideas about what he wanted to accomplish in his career with the tech firm. He certainly knew his own job responsibilities and had a vague idea of the potential career path available; however, he was foggy on his firm’s expectations when it came to targeting dates for specific skills mastery and project completions. He was looking forward to really producing now that he had a few months behind him, but he would have appreciated more detail about what success had meant for other top performers in the past.

Rewrite the Story: Having a culture of performance management doesn’t mean forcing a performance review every 90 days, or perhaps ever. But, it does mean having candid, personalized conversations with employees about their passions, developmental goals and the organization’s expectations for achievement. Create a job success factors document for all positions so that new and existing employees alike have a benchmark for comparing their own performance to the model for success for their role. Include details about initial job priorities, expected time frames for project completion and resources available from the organization to support the employee. Then, work with employees to align their strengths and passions with opportunities for increasing responsibility and rewards. Providing a map to success will set employees up to have a true sense of accomplishment once they’ve reached important job milestones.

Where Will Simon’s Story Take Him?

Is your organization guilty of any of the onboarding oversights that befell Simon in his new position? If so, take action now so that when your newer employees get a recruiter InMail message after seven months on the job they politely decline the chance to learn more about the next exciting, fast-growth tech firm.

This blog originally appeared on

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5 Steps to Better Job Description Click-Through Rates

In most organizations, marketers don’t own the task of writing job descriptions for new opportunities available within their organization. This responsibility generally belongs to people in human resources or recruiting.

And even if those folks have marketers review a draft before it posts (at least for marketing positions, that is), many times the urgency of the request prevents anyone from worrying about fine-tuning the job listing’s content. However, skipping this crucial step can make it even harder for you to fill that position quickly because the job description isn’t converting as many applicants as it could.

Fortunately, taking a little time up front to create a job description editorial checklist can make refining just-in-time job requests a piece of cake in the future. Here are five ways to garner better job description click through rates for your company’s opportunities.

1. Make Landing Pages Mobile Responsive & Job Board Friendly

Surprise, surprise, right? This goes without saying these days. However, while many organizations have corporate websites that have long been coded with mobile responsive design, the same doesn’t always hold true for the third party job portals they use to manage the job posting and application submission process. In many cases, the landing pages to which your paid and organic search listings point are actually the job description pages of an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Not only does Google reward mobile-friendly applicant tracking solutions, but major job board aggregators like will reward these sites with higher mobile SERP rankings as well. In fact, even if an employer sponsors an ad on Indeed, the ad won’t be placed as high in mobile search results as other sponsored ads that do point to mobile responsive job portals.

In addition, the best job portals have integrations with sites like Indeed and LinkedIn that allow job seekers to auto-populate their employment application with data from their existing profile. It’s clear that application submission CTRs have a greater chance of improving when your job listings are more readily visible and you make it easy for applicants to start the application process.

2. Don’t Write Vanilla Job Titles

Unless of course it’s some kind of French Vanilla premium custard, I suppose. But seriously, if you are looking for a Web Developer, be specific with your job title wording so that you can be found by the candidates that are truly qualified to do your Front End Javascript Developer job, even if you really just call it Web Developer II internally.

For hints, study your competitors’ opportunities for job title variation ideas that might accurately represent your employment need. Just remember that your job title can’t be so long that it will be cut off in SERPs or wrap to too many additional lines when applicants view your position listings page on their smartphone screens.

3. Model Your Snippets Based On Job Seeker Preferences

Depending on whether you host job descriptions on your corporate website or you use a recruiting software application, you may or may not have easy access to write a customized meta description for each job listing page.

In the event that you don’t have that functionality, you must carefully craft the first couple of sentences of your job description body text to include the keywords that will resonate with job seekers.

Above all, consider your labor market as a means to hone in on the type of unique selling proposition you should highlight in the first section. Here are some potential approaches:

  • Skills / Duties – This is the approach I recommend most of the time. Think about the occupation-specific keywords that job seekers are most likely to use to search for your job listing and include them in the first sentence so they show up in the snippet candidates see in SERPs. This will make it more likely that your organic listing will appear higher in results, too. Specifically, restate the job title in the first sentence.
  • Pay – Know that when you include numerical details about compensation in your job listing (even if they are at the bottom of the description) the search snippet may include the dollar amount. Some employers choose to include this information to attract and convert potential applicants who are especially compensation focused (e.g., sales professionals) or because they are paying a higher wage for certain positions relative to other competitors in the market.
  • Availability – If it’s difficult to source applicants for shift work in your area, then your leading keywords should include commentary on the working hours and days of the week required for the right job candidate.
  • Company Brand – If you are an extremely large organization, then you may be able to get away with leading with information about your company in the first paragraph. This would only be a viable approach if your potential job applicants are likely to search the internet based on your organization’s name. This approach is more suitable for sponsored job board ads that you know will have premium real estate, despite a shortage of position-specific keywords in the snippet.

4. Write for Readability First, Then Add Keywords

Instead of forcing a job description to use potentially awkward-sounding long tail keyword phrases, wordsmith a description that is both compelling and informative to applicant personas. Once the initial draft is done, go back and sprinkle in the most important keywords, as well as relevant co-occurring terms. Finally, be mindful of the keyword density for your job description so that the finished product isn’t keyword-stuffed.

5. Use Images & Video

Even though most job board search results point to landing pages that include familiar text elements such as job title, position preview, essential responsibilities and qualifications, that doesn’t mean you can’t break the mold and utilize images and embedded video. Many hiring software platforms will offer job description WYSIWYG editors that support the inclusion of images and video. Just make sure to include keyword-rich alt tags and video transcripts with your visual assets.

By giving potential job candidates a feast for the eyes, as well as more finely-tuned job information, you are more likely to engage them to click through to your landing page and start the application process. Use these five ideas to do exactly that and start converting more job applicants today.


This post originally appeared on Relevance.

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Improve Applicant Sourcing With Owned And Shared Media

With so many options for attracting job seekers, it can be daunting to determine which recruitment marketing tactics to employ to find top talent. However, if we put on our content marketing hats and think about how the customer buying cycle parallels the applicant sourcing process, our task at hand becomes much simpler.
Applicant Sourcing Mirrors Customer Journey
Like many other modern models, it’s helpful to think of this journey as a continuum rather than a linear process. Factors such as the proliferation of digital media and applicant scarcity in the market have created avenues for job seekers to jump in at what used to be “later stages” in the traditional hiring process.

In a previous post, I discussed ideas for creating awareness and interest among potential job candidates by defining personas and customizing an approach across different media types. Now it’s time to move job seekers on to the Consideration and Intent stages of the applicant sourcing cycle.

“Assisting” Job Seekers Through the Hiring Cycle

If we think about recruitment marketing from an attribution model perspective, Google research will tell us that marketing channels in the Consideration and Intent phases of the customer buyer journey will more often act as an “assist interaction” in the conversion process rather than a “last interaction.”

Job seekers in these adjacent phases of the cycle are warming up now that they are aware of your opportunity, but are perhaps not yet ready to commit to applying to your organization. Here are some ideas on how to use owned and shared media (which lead in assists) to further persuade individuals to focus on your specific job openings and initiate the employment application process.

Owned Media


In addition to mining analytics site search reports to come up with keyword phrases to convert into blog titles, you should also track the types of questions you receive from applicants during the hiring process. By posting blogs that answer the very questions that job candidates tend to ask, you’re already a step ahead when it comes to creating application intent earlier in the recruiting process.

Take it a step further and ask candidates for their comments and suggestions about your recruiting process during interviews and use that feedback as a source for potential blog content. The added bonus of this approach is the ability to weed out candidates that didn’t do their research during interview preparation and fail to give you a quality answer!

Your blog content should also include candid commentary (warts and all) on what it’s like to work at your company. Job seekers at this stage are comparing your corporate culture to other potential employers and your employee testimonials and embedded short videos can help entice them to take the time to apply (or not to) and that can be a good thing.

For example, ExactHire is a small organization. Small companies aren’t for everyone, so we publicly embrace our size frequently in blog content, job descriptions and social media posts. We can’t afford to spend time wooing job candidates that are looking for a big corporation environment when that’s not how we roll.


With email, you’re more limited because you won’t necessarily have the email address of those first-time candidates in the Consideration and Intent stages yet. Make sure your job openings portal includes the ability for candidates to subscribe to future job posting updates via email.

Better yet, give them the ability to customize the types of alerts they receive and the chance to opt in to SMS/text messaging updates, too. This personalized approach will cater to their preferences and increase their chances of future conversion as you have positions available that more closely match their interests.

Depending on the size of your organization, it’s very likely that you will have individuals that apply to many positions with your company at once, or that at least return to apply to future positions on subsequent visits. Email is a significant factor in those passive applicants returning to your site to “repurchase” in the future, especially after they weren’t selected by you in the past.

Here are some ideas on using email to encourage previous applicants to reapply:

  • Send an applicant-focused newsletter to feature popular career-related blogs and tell candidates what to expect from the hiring process (i.e. interviewing steps, timeline for hiring, what not to do, etc.).
  • Ask them to participate in a survey designed to collect feedback for improving the recruiting process. Many applicants will be impressed that you actually take action to improve your recruitment brand, and are bold enough to ask individuals who weren’t selected for honest criticism. Your brand will improve and those individuals may be quicker to reapply, or to convince a friend to give your company a look.
  • Share information about changes that have been made as the result of applicant feedback. This action solidifies your organization’s dedication to improvement and earns points when compared to job opportunities with your competitor.

Jobs Page

Job seekers that move beyond the basic job openings page of your dedicated careers portal or corporate website want to consume content about what it’s really like at your organization. If they are going to invest the time to apply, then they want to make sure they could see themselves in your culture. Paint a “day in the life of” picture for them through content.

Include information on your site about frequently asked questions, benefits and employee testimonials. If you’re proud of your working space, post a virtual video tour of your office. If you’re ecstatic about your liberal paid volunteer hours policy, showcase a collage of photos showing employees working for charitable causes.

Shared Media

Subject Matter Experts

Take the idea of an employee testimonial a step further and amplify its reach using social media. Find your best employment brand ambassadors and give them the mouthpiece to demonstrate how they are subject matter experts in all things related to your company culture.

Host a regularly scheduled tweet-up on Twitter that gives job seekers a chance to ask your employees questions about the hiring process, employment experience and opportunities for advancement. Publicize the tweet-up schedule on your jobs page and organize the best post comments into a summary blog afterwards that gets featured in your next applicant newsletter.

If resources don’t allow for a frequent tweet-up, invite ambassador employees to join LinkedIn groups relevant to job seekers and/or your industry. Mine discussion strings for opportunities to have your subject matter experts contribute and send them the link with an invitation to comment.

Preparation Advice

The internet is overcrowded with content related to popular interview questions and how to prepare for an interview. Your potential job candidates will be more likely to hop on your job wagon if you give them advice about preparing for the hiring process at your company in particular.

Even if they haven’t yet committed to applying, help them see themselves succeeding in an interview later on so they are more likely to take the first step of applying now. Make plans to spotlight candidates who (smartly) mention your preparation-related content during the application process.

Create a presentation highlighting the most valuable characteristics of your top employees and/or how to make a great impression during your interview process. Upload the deck to Slideshare and then invite your employees to share it with their social networks and embed it in their personal LinkedIn blog posts.

Isolate the most digestible tips/facts from your Slideshare and then post a steady diet of them to social media over time using a consistent hashtag. If applicable (hopefully), include quantifiable, flattering statistics about new hire success, productivity and low turnover.

Automated Employee Referrals

You may be lucky enough to have willing employee brand ambassadors beating a path to your door, particularly if you have an amazing company culture with teammates that brag about your challenging and rewarding opportunities to their friends.

If you’re not there yet, or are slightly worried about employees failing to respond to your applicant sourcing battle cry, then there’s no shame in incentivizing referral behavior. In fact, even if you count yourself among the corporate culture elite, you’d be silly not to have an incentive. It’s staggeringly cheaper than always having to budget money for external job boards, headhunters and the opportunity cost of your staff members’ time in interviewing too many “just okay” candidates.

In addition to an enticing referral incentive, make sure your applicant tracking system makes it easy for applicants to name the referring employee during the application process. As your employees’ contacts begin to apply for jobs, the reporting dashboard will make it easy to note which employees have the greatest referral track record. As a result, tracking incentive payouts becomes simple for you.

By creating relevant owned and shared media to target job seekers in the Consideration and Intent/Preference stages of the candidate journey, you’re increasing the likelihood that you will get more chances to convert job seekers into actual applicants. Stay tuned for the next article in this series which will focus on optimizing content marketing efforts for the final two stages of the applicant sourcing journey.


This post originally appeared on Relevance.

Image credit: Times Square by Travis Wise (contact)

Onboarding SWAG Never Gets Old!

Swag is everywhere these days… who doesn’t love getting free stuff?!  Whether its free lip balm at the dentist office, pens at the bank or coolies at a sporting event, everyone has some type of swag in their possession. But did you know this is also a great item to give to your staff??

Part of the Team

When hiring a new employee, making sure they feel like part of the organization is key.  This will help them stay excited about their job and be an overall positive experience for everyone. One of the best ways to be part of the team, is to look the part! Each of your employees should have apparel or gear with your company logo on it. This could be simply a polo or a fleece jacket.  At ExactHire, we are fortunate enough to be able to pick a new item each year. (or sometimes 2 items!) We all look forward to picking new items; some dressy, some casual depending on the employee’s choice.  This simple thing can unite your staff and create branding outside the office walls.

Creative and Fun

This is so IMPORTANT!! Not everyone wants to have 1000’s of pens in their desk drawer that have come from all different companies. Being creative and fun with your swag choice will keep your employees and clients happy. Picking something new and different will let them know you are a great organization to work for (or work with!) Our new EXACTHIRE earbuds sure made the staff happy when we handed them out last week and will also be a big hit at the next SHRM conference.

Useful Items for Everyday

Another good thing to keep in mind with picking out items, is how useful they will be. The more useful the item, the longer it will be kept in the forefront of your employees’ or clients’ minds. This gives you more ROI for the item. For us, we have used reusable totes and keychain flashlights as items for both our staff and as handouts at events. These items will not be used one time and then thrown out, they were purchased to be used repeatedly to keep our message in front of people longer. You should think about this same idea when making important onboarding swag decisions for your organization as well.

Using swag is great way to catch the eye of potential clients, but it’s also a great way to make the onboarding and retaining of staff easier and more enjoyable. For more tips on onboarding or to find out more about ExactHire’s products,  contact us today.

Image credit: Stuff We All Get by ChasingVictory (contact)

How to Engage Hiring Managers During Hiring Process – Whiteboard [VIDEO]

In this video, pick up some tips on how to better engage hiring managers to effectively participate in your small- to medium-sized business hiring process. Learn how technology can help automate the hiring process and facilitate manager participation, especially when an organization is decentralized.

Video Transcript:

Hi, welcome to another edition of ExactHire Whiteboard Video Chat. I’m Jeff Hallam and today we’re going to talk about how can I engage hiring managers in my recruiting and hiring process.

This comes up a lot, and as you can imagine it’s something that most everyone is trying to get to, but it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to get buy-in from folks who don’t hire for a living. When they have positions open they want them filled, they want good people in them, and a lot of times they’re trying to get through that as quickly as they can as opposed to maybe following your process that you’ve laid out as an HR professional or as a recruiter.

So these four steps are really designed, or these tips I should say, are really designed just to give you some ideas on how you can better engage these folks and hopefully get both what you want, and they want, out of this cycle.

So the first piece is, maybe trying to look at it through their eyes. And anytime you can walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes I think it can certainly benefit the experience. And so you have to think of it from their standpoint, this can often times be seen as a bother. Why do I want to do this? What’s in it for me? I don’t want to take the time. I don’t want to learn another system. And all those things are valid when they are busy…as we all are. So one of the things you can do is as you see it from that perspective, really think hard about what is in it for them. Think about how their needs and what they’re trying to get done can align with what you’re trying to get done. And when you can do that, that’s definitely a great first step. And that kind of transitions over here to point two in terms of making it easy.

By making it easy, what we mean is, if you can really see it through their eyes, it will help you understand what would in fact make this easier for them. So things like not requiring them to quote/unquote learn another system. Not requiring them to put in pages and pages of notes. So the more structure and input and things of that nature you can give them the better. And likewise, if you can create an environment from their perspective, where they can actually very quickly give you their feedback, and it’s always in a consistent format, all the better. And that kind of bleeds over into point three here.

If you can create a template, a form, a document…whatever it might be that can collect this feedback, that’s almost always going to universally go over a little bit better than just the free-form notes. Again, it will take a little getting used to up front for folks, but once they get that, they’re going to understand that from their perspective, it’s quick…they’re putting in their feedback, they can see other peoples’ feedback. It’s easy, they can access it from anywhere, it’s easy to get to, it’s constant. And, then as that starts becoming a little bit more baked in, a little more consistent, then you get to a point very quickly where you can start making sure that there is follow through.

You can hold these folks accountable and let them know that you are going to be checking into this. And when they’re not doing it, this is a good opportunity for you to go back and hold them accountable, and help them understand and reinforce these other points of why it is important, why it’s just as good for them as it is for the organization. And, as you start doing these things, particularly if they’re in the right technological platform, you should really be able to bring a lot of automation to this, get that feedback very consistently, have it always in a consistent format…and as you go through that process, if you’re like a lot of other folks we work with on a regular basis, you should actually see your hiring results not only speed up, but just as importantly the results should improve.

Template for a Consistent, Effective Hiring Process – Whiteboard [VIDEO]

A consistent, effective hiring process is a critical factor when selecting and onboarding employees for your organization. In this whiteboard video, Jeff Hallam of ExactHire discusses how to create a template for a successful process, including the use of tools such as background checking and reference checking.

SMB Pre-Employment Screening Guide Ebook

Video Transcript:

Hi there, and welcome to another edition of ExactHire Whiteboard Video Chat. I’m Jeff Hallam and today we’re going to talk about how to create a template for a consistent and effective hiring process. And this predominantly applies to small- to mid-sized organizations, and that’s who we work with for the most part. And this is something that when you’re working for a Fortune 500 organization, a lot of these things are already set in stone and you don’t really have much of an opportunity to change those nor debate them. But for many of these organizations that aren’t at that level, the issue of how do we hire, what does it look like and how do we make sure it’s consistent time after time…can be a little elusive because there may not be a person who spearheads that, and/or that person may not have communicated things very effectively up to that point. And so following a handful of very simple things and making sure that there are a few items in place can really help you in your endeavors to make things much better from a hiring perspective.

So the first one is, as you understand what it is that you want to do, make sure that everybody internally who is going to be involved in that process understands what it is, what the steps are, who is going to be involved and what that is going to look like over time. And once everybody understands that, it really sets a groundwork for everything that is going to happen from there. And I know that seems simple, but that miscommunication or lack of communication is usually the number one culprit for why things don’t work the way folks might like in today’s world.

Likewise, once that’s been set, it becomes very easy for people who are involved in the cycle…and I’ve been guilty of this myself in prior worlds…to want to shortcut the process. This is a really hot candidate, this is a really important job…we have to fill it very quickly. We don’t have time to do these things that we have normally done…and as tempting as that is, and understand you have to have some flexibility, understand there will be exceptions. But as much as you can, try to take this process that’s been communicated and defined and avoid that temptation. Try to keep it in place as much as you can…it can really avoid the notion of everybody thinking their job is the exception.

So once you have that platform, and you understand this is kind of what we want it to look like, there are some elements that most everybody agrees should be part of any best practice that you would consider for hiring. And we’ve just listed those here, and very briefly, they start in order of beginning of the process on forward at the front of the train with relevant job descriptions. Unfortunately, a lot of people still use job descriptions the way they did twenty-five, thirty, forty years ago. Very long, very detailed, very lengthy lists of things that somebody has to have, must do, etc. And frankly those are things that candidates just aren’t paying much attention to. What they want is a quick, little bulleted list of: what is this job; what do I need to have to be qualified for it; so that they can make a good quick decision as to whether they are even interested in learning more.

Once you’ve gotten them past that, the next step becomes how can you make it simple for them to let you know they’re interested in the job? When we were in the throes of the recession, employers could ask for a full online application, multiple sets of references, everything except somebody’s first born child it seemed and they would get plenty of applicants. And that’s because people were desperate for work. But now that that’s reversed and is nearly 180 degrees the other way, applicants are very much the ones setting that tone. And they’re not going to, in most cases, be willing to give you a full online application, let alone a full written application, just for the privilege of being considered for your opening. So really give some thought to what you can do to automate that number one, and number two, to only get what you need initially and then perhaps get the rest later. That’s very much a trend we’re seeing and there are a lot of ways that you can do that. So it’s definitely something worth considering.

One of the biggest issues that we see for most organizations is this inability to keep candidates apprised of where they are in the process. Having them know where they are, what the next step is, are they moving forward, if not, make them aware of it, if so, what does that next step look like and what is the timing for it… I cannot stress how important that is. It’s the number one complaint from most candidates and that the easiest way to protect your employment brand is to not let them feel like their resume or application fell into a black hole. Let them know where they are, keep them posted as they go through your cycle.

Something that’s been around for a long time and people sometimes will almost just treat this as a, “yes, I’m done” type of endeavor is checking references. This is another item that’s even become automated now. There are lots of ways that you can make this much more quick, simple, much less laborious. The key to that is making sure that there is consistency there. Much like everything else we are talking about here…make sure the same questions are asked, make sure the feedback is recorded in the same format. Not just for ease of access, but also to give you a point to go back to over time to find out where things might have been missed. Understanding what somebody has done in prior environments can be an invaluable way to get a better feel for how well they are likely to do in your environment.

And finally, performing background checks. As funny is this might be, initially, this is the thought for a lot of people…”I hope they don’t see this,” “I hope they don’t find out I did that,” etc. People have a lot of skeletons in their closet for better or worse, and certainly not everyone, but a much higher percentage of the population than you might think. So dependent upon your organization and what your needs are, making sure that you understand how they’ve done before, and is there anything that could potentially create exposure for your organization if you hire this person, again, are very necessary pieces that have to be in there.

So when think about this notion of, how do I create this template, how do I make my process consistent and more effective, following these three steps…get everybody on board, make sure there is something that keeps everybody from short-cutting what you’ve put in place, and then making sure that some of these key best practices are there as part of that cycle will definitely help you and your organization, not only make the process more consistent, but overall help you hire better.