When someone leaves, it can take a long time to find a replacement. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 60% of employers across industries reported it took longer to fill positions thanks to a difficult hiring environment. When you’re a burgeoning company or a startup experiencing rapid-fire growth, having open slots could not only slow you down, but cause you to miss goals that were within reach. The same can even be true for companies that have been around the block a few times, as they struggle to reach younger generations through digital media.
Due to disorganization, lengthy stretches between interviews and plenty of other factors, employers may be missing out on top talent. In fact, the same study found 31% of applicants expect a personalized response, while 82% need a clear timeline to remain interested. For many who lead from the helm, streamlining the hiring process can make it a smoother process from posting a gig to taking someone out to lunch on their first day in the office.
As you head into the new year, consider these creative and effective strategies for hiring.
1. Consider an applicant tracking system
One no-brainer way to manage your resume pool is to allow the latest in technology do the hard work for you. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have levels to fit into budget constraints and fulfill your needs. An ATS can manage much of the behind-the-scenes for you–from distributing job leads to common career websites to contacting potential candidates from databases and more, according to career advancement coach, Lauren Milligan. Depending on what package you can afford, some might even fill the role of a contract recruiter, thanks to bells, whistles, and perhaps the whole quartet. Milligan explains some programs can sift through respondents for specific keywords or qualifications, eliminate nonqualified candidates based on your personal filters, and even keep track of role-specific interview questions, to name a few.
2. Cut back on hoops
Perhaps when your current company only had a handful of employees, going through various rounds, tests, and social interactions made sense to protect your brand’s growth. As you expand, it isn’t that hoops are not important, but that there are better–and hopefully swifter–ways to screen candidates that require less time and energy. For example, Sharon Richner, the HR director for FLIK Hospitality Group recommends implementing panel interviews instead of one-on-one interviews to help reduce redundant questions and answers, save time in the overall interview process, and can provide deeper insight into company culture for your prospective hires.
3. Define the skills, not the candidate
In an ideal situation, every applicant would fulfill every last hope and dream you have for the position. They would be self-guided with laser-sharp skills–not to mention a motivating method of mentoring. But all too often, employers have a rose-colored view of what an employee will be like, instead of homing in on the specific, tangible hard and soft skills required to make the position a success, according to career expert and CEO of Business Talent Group Jody Greenstone Miller. “Most job specs are too general and not realistic, listing a whole host of requirements that no human would be able to satisfy so you have to make tradeoffs,” she continues. “Creating a more prioritized list of qualities or skills candidates must possess early on in the process will help you hone in on the right candidates a lot faster.”
4. Omit any bottlenecks
Your chief marketing officer is the best in his or her field, and an expertise on everything digital and social–but when it comes to reviewing resumes? They tend to let it fall off their laundry list of to-dos. Richner explains even the highest performing employees (and executives) can become bottlenecks to bringing in new talent, ultimately preventing progress. One way to ensure it doesn’t get overlooked is to make it a measure of performance. Richner recommends revising your management team’s goals to prioritize recruitment and hiring. “Your senior leaders and managers really understand your company culture and who will be a quality candidate to fill the open roles within your organization,” she adds.
5. Make your application short and mobile-friendly
Quickly consider how applications are currently being accepted and fielded at your work: likely online–but what about mobile optimization? In an effort to weed out those who aren’t serious, do you make the process time-consuming or arduous? These could be mistakes that are causing you to lose intelligent and worthy of your attention. The CEO of CareerBuilder Irina Novoselsky shared they recently found that 1 in 5 employees give less than 10 minutes to a job inquiry, or two to three pages on a mobile device, before dropping off. “This means that employers with long applications may lose great talent very early on,” she explains.
6. Stay in touch
Ever have one of those too-good-to-be-true first dates, enticing your hopes to skyrocket–only to never hear from them again? This can cause dating burnout, and it is similar to how an applicant might feel after a stellar interview with little to no follow-up.
It’s important to remember your diligence doesn’t stop once you have received interest from a could-be-perfect professional either. “Even after the application is submitted, it is important for companies to maintain regular contact with job prospects during the screening and hiring process, which may sometimes take several weeks or months,” Novoselsky notes. “Companies should consider sending weekly or bi-weekly emails to candidates during the process to maintain their interest in the company.”
7. Don’t oversell the job
Miller says in her many years of hiring senior talent, she’s found that if someone doesn’t work out in a position, it wasn’t because they weren’t right for the gig or lacked the skills necessary, but rather, the cultural fit was off. While plenty of executives will attempt to convince someone to take a role–offering plenty of work/life balance and monetary incentives–Miller urges hiring committees to first and foremost, seek someone who wants the opportunity. “Instead of overselling the job, try to be very honest upfront in describing what the job is really like and what downsides are,” she explains. “Once you understand what makes people thrive and what gets under their skin, you can do a far better job of assessing whether or not they’ll work in your culture.”