Recruitment process broken? Here are 7 ways to fix it.

From exhausting applications to mismatched expectations, recruitment can often feel like a race to the bottom. It’s never been more important for employers to revisit their recruitment process and find ways to attract great talent. Step into the shoes of a jobseeker and you’ll have no shortage of ways to stand out.

You don’t need to scroll for long on LinkedIn, TikTok or Twitter at the moment to find stories of jobseekers exposing the state of recruitment. Applying for hundreds of jobs and not hearing a word. Uploading your CV and then being asked to enter all of your CV data into a form manually. Investing hours of unpaid time in interviews and activities and then being told nothing more detailed than ‘you’re not a fit’. Or getting to offer stage and being low-balled significantly on salary. 

The reality right now is that these stories are becoming the norm. Jobseekers are increasingly frustrated and tired at how they are being treated (rightly so), and companies are still seemingly struggling to hire and under pressure to do more with less. It’s a state of recruitment where no-one wins. 

In my conversations with recruiters and HR, the appetite to be better is certainly there. No one is proud of the state of recruitment. It’s just been reinforced for so many years under blankets of legacy technology, tactics that drive subservience, and workload that snows teams under and they struggle to find the bandwidth or support to improve things.

The good news is that with a few small tweaks to ways of working, it’s entirely possible to stand out positively and craft a more human, enjoyable and authentic recruitment process for your future team mates. Here are seven tips you can start doing today:

Share the salary banding on the advertisement

Straight for the jugular! This is the number one frustration of jobseekers. Salary bands are a critical part to any advertisement and help to create alignment early within the recruitment process. Try to aim for the band to be no more than 10% either side of your pay midpoint, and make it visible on the job post. If commission is part of the role, add the on-target earnings. If bonuses and equity are on offer, include these too. Transparency helps to build trust and you’re much more likely to have a productive conversation around salary expectations and at the offer stage by sharing details of the reward package up front.

Simplify the application process

Most online job applications are horrible. There is nothing more soul-destroying than uploading your CV and then completing 10 pages of personal, employment and education information directly into an application which was already on your CV. Your application is one of the earliest experiences your candidates have of you as an employer. If it’s a poor experience, they won’t be as excited as they could be about moving to the next stage. Strip it back to the shortest and most meaningful application process that you can. If you need to replace your ATS, do it. It’s seldom a bad decision!

Do you really need to ask that?

Bias has a way of creeping into recruitment processes really easily. We all have them. So if there are questions that require candidates to share details about their families, backgrounds and graduation dates, get rid of them. The only questions needed at application stage should either relate directly to whether someone meets the requirements of the role or for regulatory and compliance reasons.

You may also be tempted to build in job-specific application questions to test knowledge early. If you’re going to do this, keep it short and simple. I was once asked to complete 5 application questions with 200-word answers relating to how I would approach certain parts of this role. I never heard back from the company and they’ll never have me as a customer as a result. There are better ways to test knowledge and experience deeper in the recruitment process than by wasting people’s time during applications.

Respond to every application

In my experience there are usually two reasons why a company doesn’t respond to unsuccessful job applications. They don’t feel as though they have to. Or they don’t feel like they have the time or tools. Let’s break them down:

They don’t feel as though they have to. You don’t ‘have’ to, but you should. Jobseeking is a stressful and confronting process that can really sap your confidence. Don’t expect a jobseeker to invest 30 mins of time applying for your company if you can’t afford 1 minute of time to let them know the outcome. The only thing worse than hearing a ‘no’, is hearing nothing at all, and if your jobseekers could also be your customers you’ll want to represent your brand well.

They don’t feel like they have the time or tools. If you’re recruiting a large number of roles with nothing more than a careers email address, I feel for you. It’s time to invest in a basic ATS to house your applications and data and make responding to candidates easier. Even the most basic ATS platforms will allow you to bulk email candidates to let them know they haven’t been successful in getting through to the screening stage.

Make it snappy

For most roles, if you’re taking longer than 3 weeks from screening to offer, you’re taking too long. Aim for no more than 3 recruitment stages and articulate each and what’s involved in either the advertisement or as part of screening calls. At the end of each stage, prioritize debriefs and get back to candidates quickly. A clear and fast recruitment process will be very well received by jobseekers and you’ll see your offer conversion rates increase too!

Don’t underestimate the value of feedback

It can feel enticing, even easy, to disregard feedback for candidates if they’re not progressing after an interview. After all, attention quickly turns to nurturing successful candidates through final stages and landing that hire. But there are two important reasons why feedback for candidates is so important.

Firstly, for that candidate, feedback is a gift and can play a huge role in helping them land their next gig. It can be hard to get a read on how interviews go when you’re dealing with nerves and anxiety, so while it’s always disappointing to hear you’re not progressing, the best thing you can do for that candidate is to ask them if they’d like some feedback on their interview and to follow through on that for what lead to the decision and how they might stand out better in future interviews.

Secondly, when feedback is embedded clearly as part of a recruitment process, it forces interviewers and hiring managers to consider their decision criteria and articulate why one candidate better meets the requirements of the role over another. This process can really help debriefs and ensure high quality decisions are being made and no forms of bias or other influences slip in.

Best offer first

I might have left the most controversial one to ask, but I wouldn’t write this if I don’t stand behind the incredible impact it can have. Best offer first is the process of determining the absolute highest offer of pay and benefits you’re willing to provide a candidate before you would say no, and starting with that offer first to the candidate. 

The thinking is simple and effective, if a candidate could negotiate a higher offer you may as well just skip to that point and save everyone the time and effort. Plus, for those candidates who are less likely to try and negotiate or struggle to position their salary expectations, this supports a more equitable offer process and ensures one of their first experiences of you as an employer is a really positive one. Give it a go and watch your offer acceptance and time to acceptance rates increase dramatically! 

This list could go on further, but if you’re just starting or looking for efficient and meaningful ways to stand out in your recruitment process, these seven tips should go a long way!

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