Your employees are your greatest asset – it’s not a groundbreaking observation, but it is one that deserves repeating. After all, your employees interact with your customers. They build your systems. They solve your problems. Simply put, your employees keep the whole enterprise moving forward.
That’s why hiring employees – and doing it well – is among the most important functions for any organization. A poor or haphazard hiring process can result in high turnover, which causes all kinds of problems, including undone work, lost opportunities and resources squandered on recruiting, onboarding and training.
But a good hiring process can mitigate these challenges. And that’s what this guide is all about. From posting a job ad to onboarding a new employee (yay!), this guide is a comprehensive, step-by-step roadmap for developing and running a successful hiring campaign.
1. Developing a Hiring Strategy
A good hiring campaign requires much more than simply posting a job ad and hoping for the best. To attract the talent your organization needs, it must be a strategic process.
The first step is to outline your hiring goals. This entails nailing down the basic details of what you’re trying to accomplish through the hiring campaign by asking questions like:
- How many people do you need to hire?
- How many applicants do you want before moving onto the screening stage?
- How many candidates do you want to present for formal interviews?
- What type of candidates are you looking for (in terms of education, skills, etc.)?
The Society for Human Resource Management also recommends that, at this stage, you also consider post-hire outcomes, such as the kind of initial performance you will expect from the ideal candidate once you bring them on board.
With your hiring goals established, create a hiring action plan. This plan will outline things like how best to reach your ideal candidate (such as niche job boards, social media, employee referrals or a combination of methods). You’ll also set up a recruitment schedule, setting time frames for application collection, applicant screening, candidate interviews and making a hiring decision.
Throughout this whole process, having a strong employer brand also is important. Your organization’s reputation, values, culture and so on can be a powerful recruiting tool, assuming that they are genuine and positive, and integrated into your hiring strategy at all levels. On the other hand, a less-than-desirable employer brand can hinder your recruitment efforts, at least when it comes to attracting the best candidates.
How an Agency Can Help
A key decision to make when creating your hiring action plan is who will do the actual recruiting work. When it comes to in-house vs. agency recruiting, there are many considerations. A primary one is the significant amount of time and work it takes to run a successful hiring process that ends in you getting the top talent you’re after. Agencies also have existing curated talent pools, which can greatly reduce the time it takes to find a candidate. And retention programs and guarantees can insulate companies against the cost of bad hires.
Backed by 40 years of expertise, TPD provides flexible, scalable workforce solutions for companies across all industries. Contact us today for a free consultation to discover how TPD can get your organization the talent it needs for success.
2. Advertising the Job
On the surface, writing a job ad is a seemingly simple task. It’s just a job description accompanied by a rundown of duties and a list of desired skills for the role, right? Sure, you should certainly include that nuts-and-bolts information in your ad. But if that’s all you’re including, you may be stifling your recruiting efforts.
A job ad is a marketing tool. In addition to being informational, it needs to be compelling. It needs to speak to the candidates you’re looking to attract and make them want to join your team. It needs to tell a story – and it needs to do it quickly.
Here are some job ad quick tips. For more, see our full article on writing a job ad.
Have a deep understanding of the role: Before drafting the job ad, talk to someone who has knowledge about the position for which you’re hiring, such as the person who previously held the role (if they’re available) or the person who will oversee the role. Their input will help you accurately describe the position and its associated tasks, and the skills most crucial to success.
Create excitement around your company: Tell candidates who you are, what you do and why you do it. Tell them what makes the company a great place to work. Touch on your mission, culture and values. Talk about the problems you solve and the people you help. Get the candidate excited about the prospect of working for your organization.
Speak to the candidate: Use the second person point of view – “you” – in your job description to speak directly to candidates. This fosters a connection between the job opportunity and candidates and helps them visualize themselves in the role.
Limit your qualifications list: A lengthy list of qualifications and “nice-to-haves” can deter potentially great candidates from applying. Boil down your qualifications to a handful of key competencies required to succeed in the job.
Use keywords: Identify what keywords will your ideal candidate use while searching for job opportunities and use them in your ad. (That means that if candidates are likely to search for Content Marketer positions, you shouldn’t title your role Awesome Word Ninja, as fun as that might be.)
Make the ad scannable: Use paragraph breaks, strategic bolding of keywords, subheadings and bulleted lists that will allow candidates to give the ad a quick once-over. It’s much like how an employer looks at resumes. If the right information stands out during a scan, you’re much more likely to dig in and give it a thorough read.
Finally, if you’re concerned about diversity in hiring, be mindful about how the language on your job ad can turn off some candidates. Research shows that words like “aggressive” and “decisive” that are associated with masculine stereotypes reduce the number of female applicants. Also, jargon-laden ads can discourage young people from applying to entry-level jobs.
3. Screening Candidates
You posted your expertly written job ad, received a ton of applications and narrowed down your applicant pool. Now it’s time to reduce the number of candidates even further through phone screening.
Phone screens are quick calls (15 to 30 minutes) that help employers get more context about a candidate’s background, skills and potential fit for the role and the company. The goal of the call is to determine whether a candidate should move on in the hiring process. In the end, phone screening saves time because you’re able to weed out candidates – who look good on paper but aren’t a good fit – before they get to a full-fledged job interview.
Here are some quick tips for phone screens. For more, read our full article on phone screening.
Be flexible and professional: This will likely be your first real contact with a candidate, so you want to make a good impression. After all, this might be the person you can do great things for your company. Be flexible Within reason) when scheduling the phone screen. During the call, be courteous and professional, letting the candidate know why there is a possible fit and how the call will be structured.
Have a process: Each phone screen you conduct should follow the same structured flow and include the same or very similar questions for each candidate. Having a standardized process and evaluation criteria will make it easier to compare candidates.
Ask the right kind of questions: Remember, the phone screen is all about seeing whether a candidate should move forward in the process. Save the probing behavioral questions for a true job interview. Screening questions should focus on verifying resume details, gauging the candidate’s temperament and getting a feel for their level of interest in the job for which you’re hiring.
4. Interviewing Candidates
Job interviews are the most crucial step in the hiring process. A poorly run interview process can prompt your favored candidate to say thanks, but no thanks upon getting a job offer. Worse yet, it can result in a bad hire, which carries all kinds of costly consequences. A successful interview process is the antidote to both of those ills.
Here are some job interview quick tips. For more, read our full article on how to conduct an interview.
Make it a structured conversation: You’ve taken a strategic approach to hiring thus far. The job interview is not the time to start flying by the seat of your pants. Research shows that organizations that don’t use a standardized interview process are five times more likely to make a bad hire. Every interview will not be identical, of course, but the structure, flow, questions and post-interview evaluation rubric should be the same (or, at least, very similar) for each candidate.
Come to the interview prepared: Before the interview, review the candidate’s resume so you can ask informed questions. Likewise, make sure you have a strong grasp on what the role is – its duties, goals, impact on the organization, etc. Also, be ready to talk about your company, it’s culture and why it’s a great place to work. The best candidates weigh these things along with salary and benefits when deciding to take an offer.
Use a variety of questions: Some of the questions you ask during the job interview will be similar to your phone screen questions: Tell me about yourself. How are you a fit for this role? What attracted you to this opportunity? But the interview also is a time to bring out the behavioral and culture fit interview questions. With these questions, you’re looking for real-world examples about how a candidate has handled different work challenges and tasks – and whether their approach jibes with your organization’s culture and values. Also, you can use hypothetical scenarios to shed light on a candidate’s thought process and problem solving skills. It’s important to bear in mind that there are plenty of illegal interview questions – such as those about nationality, religion, marital status and many more – so be sure to stay focused on topics relevant to the job.
5. Checking References
From writing the job ad to completing the interview, all of your efforts have led to making a job offer to your top candidate. But before you do, there’s one more important step: checking references.
Anywhere from 30 percent to more than 80 percent of job applications contain misinformation (sometimes outright lies), depending on which research you look at. Even with these sobering stats, many employers choose to skip checking references before making a job offer, reasoning that many companies no longer provide references for past employees or that candidates only provide references that they are sure will only say good things.
In reality, though, the reference checking is that last line of defense against making a bad hiring decision. If done well, checking references can help verify that a candidate is accurately representing their skills, experience and credentials.
Like other steps in the hiring process, successful reference checking requires a structured approach – namely an introduction, body and closing. The introduction and closing are pretty straightforward. At the outset, you’ll want to verify the facts of the candidate’s employment (standard reference check questions like, When did they work there? What was their title? Why did their employment end?) And you’ll end the call asking whether the reference would hire the candidate again. Most of the call will revolve around the answers to behavioral questions that you asked the candidate during the job interview.
6. Making an Offer
Making a job offer doesn’t seem very daunting. At this point, your ideal candidate has had plenty of time to consider the position and your organization – and if they've kept themselves in the running throughout the whole hiring process, it’s easy to assume that they are ready to accept an offer. And that may be true – but your favored candidate may be going through the hiring process with other organizations, as well. Or, they may already be employed and relatively happy with their current situation.
Whatever the scenario, the way you make a job offer is important. Here are some best practices.
Put together a competitive package: Whether they are already employed or being courted by other companies, exceptional candidates understand their value. The compensation and benefits package that you pitch when you make an offer needs to reflect that value. Even candidates who are motivated by mission, culture and values care about what’s in it for them. Starting a new job with a new organization is a huge disruption, and they likely don’t want to endure that disruption for a lateral move when it comes to salary.
Don’t delay: Once you’ve selected your top candidate, make the offer as soon as possible. To the candidate, an offer soon after the interview shows enthusiasm on your part. On the company side, any undue delay could result in you losing the candidate to a competitor.
Call The candidate: Make the initial job offer via a phone call. Tell the candidate that you have good news and that you’re excited to be able to offer them the job. Tell them why they shined brightest among a crowded field of applicants. Be prepared to provide details about title and duties, compensation, a potential start date, etc. Ask if they have any questions for you.
Give them time to think: The candidate may request a bit of time to think about the offer. That’s OK. Still, provide them with a hiring timeline (We’re hoping to fill the role within the next three days). Ask questions to gauge the candidate’s level of interest in the position. And, at the least, try to get a tentative commitment. Jeff Haden of inc.com suggests asking the “killer question” when you’re unable to get a sense of the candidate’s level of interest: “I interviewed two other good candidates for this job. Can i tell them the job has been filled.”
Follow up in writing: Soon after the job offer call, put all of the details into an email and send it to the candidate. This follow up will reiterate your enthusiasm for the candidate, and give them a chance to review the offer.
Keep in touch: The space between accepting a job offer and actually starting the job can be a strange time for candidates – maybe they turned down other offers to accept yours, or they’ve given notice at their current job. As the first day approaches, be sure to stay in contact with the candidate (within moderation, of course). They have made a commitment to your organization. Continue to validate that commitment their first day.
7. Onboarding Employees
Retention starts on Day One. And a strong employee onboarding program (which most employees think their company lacks) is crucial to setting the stage for success. That entails more than just having a new employee fill out paperwork and review the company handbook. A good onboarding program brings a new employee into the fold. It communicates the company culture and values. It lays the groundwork for professional and social connections between the new employee and the existing team. And it sets short-term and longer-term goals for the employee. Don’t let all the work you did finding, recruiting and hiring an employee go to waste because of a poor onboarding experience.