5 Ways to Improve Your Recruitment Process
I'm going to assume that if you're hiring staff right now, you're a very busy person, and replace the long introduction with this simple statement.
If you haven’t reviewed your recruitment process in the last twelve months, it’s time for a refresh.
Here are just FIVE things you can do to ensure your recruitment process works in 2022*, making life easier for you and getting the results you desire.
*I'd love to claim 2022 and beyond but the challenges will be different in 2023, that's how it works.
Sorry about that.
#1 The Application Process
Let’s start with the easiest fix: When was the last time you applied for one of your own jobs?
Do it now and see how easy it is. Would any part of that process make you decide to abandon your application altogether?
- How easy is it to navigate your jobs page?
- Could you upload your CV or were there objections? Maybe the format you wanted to upload was rejected.
- Are you being asked to do lots of form-filling? Applicants get very frustrated when asked to complete information that’s contained within their CV.
- Perhaps you’re collecting out-of-date or unnecessary information that’s neither used nor lawful.
- How long does it take for the application to be received internally and where does it go?
- How long would you expect that application to sit in that inbox before receiving attention and a suitable response?
- Is the application acknowledged?
Quite simply, you could be a great company with an interesting vacancy but if the start of the process is cumbersome, potential applicants will give up. And whilst you might harbour the thoughts that if someone is not prepared to jump through your hoops then they’re not worth your time, please consider that they will simply draw conclusions about your business based on that process.
What if that process is outdated, irrelevant, non-inclusive and/or illegal?
#2 Understanding What Employees Want
Not every business can offer working from home five days a week and many hiring managers are worried that this might be hindering the recruitment process, with the demand for workers meaning they (for now) are able to call the shots.
There are many legitimate reasons why WFH is not possible for every business and that’s fine. If you want all your people in the office because you don’t trust them, then your issue is not about the inability to WFH but a cultural one and that is what will hold you back.
I am talking to more and more individuals re-entering the jobs market who are telling me they want to work in the office. There’s a range of reasons but one that comes up time and time again is that many people are lonely at home and want the human interaction and team culture they have in the office.
What is key though is flexibility. If you can’t offer WFH, consider a flexible working week or the ability to work from home occasionally whether that be a hybrid working model or just allowing people to work the odd day at home when they have a need to do solitary work that requires concentration or to meet a deadline, perhaps to deal with a personal issue like care for a family member.
Can someone start at 7.30 am and finish at 4 pm, enabling them to do one of the school runs or head to the gym on the way home?
Many people got pets in the pandemic so maybe an extended day, allowing someone the time to take a 90-minute break at lunchtime to head home and take the dog out for a walk? Or, better still, if no one in the office objects, you could have a dog-friendly office environment where you can bring your dog to work.
You also need to consider whether you are able to give employees the ability to progress, whether that be a clear career path or the chance to learn something new. This might be a formal training course, to learn more about MS Excel, for example, to take on additional duties or to mentor a more junior team member. Personal growth of some kind is important to the vast majority of people we talk to.
Once you’ve understood what you CAN offer, ensure this is conveyed in your advertising and message through the recruitment process to ensure you get the sorts of people your business needs now and in the future.
#3 Knowing Your Numbers
Assuming you have a budget to advertise, do you know where your best applicants come from?
It’s likely that you’re hiring a wide range of people and one method and channel will be very different to another.
You’ll find your accounts and admin people in a different place to your IT and engineering applicants.
But how many job boards are you using for example, which are your go-to, without ever comprehending which ones are actually working? Perhaps there's one you've used for years and never challenged.
Getting 100 applications from a job board for a vacancy when another only delivers 15 applications means that unless you actually know your stats, you’ll be forgiven for thinking job board one is successful and you’ll keep throwing money at it.
The question to ask yourself is ‘what is the quality of the applicants we receive?’, defined ultimately by how many hires you make from that board. And at least how many people are worth taking along the application process, through to interview, i.e. how many of those applications were worth your time?
A job board that worked for you two or three years ago may not be delivering this year, but how would you know if you don’t keep track? Surely it’s much better to divert some of that budget into places that continue to work and try new places to explore and test.
#4 Attracting Under-represented Talent
Gen Z (people born roughly between 1995 and 2010), in particular, will include how culturally diverse and inclusive an organisation is in their decision-making process when looking for a new job.
Consider that fact, and that many people are not in the workforce because of challenges they face day to day, and you cannot deny the importance of being able to understand this subject and acting upon it to open up career opportunities to people you might not have attracted in the past.
Saying you’re an equal opportunities employer is not enough. Be prepared to evidence those claims.
Whilst attracting people who are under-represented is one thing, and encouraging them to stay is another, for the sake of this article, I’m going to give you a real example of how we have attracted people who you might be ignoring.
This Clarity client is a video games software tester and the jobs we have helped them fill for the past three summers are entrant-level testers. The jobs are short-term, minimum wage and on-site at the company premises which are out of town. Oh, and the shift pattern we assist with is 5 pm to 1 am Monday to Friday.
So not without its challenges.
This is what we did to ensure we attracted a diverse workforce.
- Understanding that females are less likely than males to apply for a job if they cannot fulfil all the brief, the Clarity team always ensure that the advert does not have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves but rather a general outline of the key responsibilities of the job. Thus, ensuring we do not exclude anyone based on sex, we naturally applied this to our advert.
- Aware that neurodiverse individuals (those with autism, ADHD and dyslexia, for example) process information differently, we explained in the advertising where the job was based, why it was office-based and what the application process entailed. This transparency removes a lot of the uncertainty that normally exists in the recruitment process and manages expectations. When you do X, we will do Y and invite you to complete Z.
- I personally opened up my calendar, inviting suitable applicants to book slots in my day to talk to me during the process at a time that suited them. Just because I like to get stuff done in the mornings, why would I expect a suitable applicant to want to talk to me at 9 am when they’ve applied for a job that required them to be alert from 5 pm to 1 am? No surprise, the majority of calendar bookings have been from lunchtime onwards.
- The workplace is easily assessable to wheelchair users so accessibility to the building was also mentioned in the advert (a lift, parking right outside) to encourage people to apply, even if they would normally need additional help.
- The tone throughout was friendly and the language used was plain. Thus no ambiguity, clear understanding from anyone where English is not their first language and a style that evidenced how approachable we are. Because we explained the entire recruitment process, we showed that we had a well-thought-out process that had been planned, worked, and that we were completely transparent to the applicant. The evidence that this worked was in the fact that several people who were concerned that they might not be able to complete the whole process felt comfortable enough to share those concerns early on and we could address them rather than those people dropping out of the process. “I have a stammer” – we were able to reassure them that this was not an issue, that we’d allocate a time slot for our chat that far exceeded the time we’d normally need so that we could take our time. “I have dyslexia” – not a problem, the practical exercise you need to complete allows you to use a green screen to help you.
- Many young people were unable to get a driving test in the pandemic so where we had suitable people with transport issues, we encouraged them to get like-minded friends to apply so they could either share a car or the cost of a taxi to get home safely at 1 am. Apart from the obvious travel issues being solved, this also meant we attracted more people through referrals, many of them young, unskilled and inexperienced individuals keen to enter the world of work. In 2020 this was critical since these same people couldn’t work in the traditional summer jobs in retail and hospitality because they were closed. We also attracted people who were in those sectors but felt exposed to Covid and feared going back to work or losing their job at the end of the furlough period.
- We believe that there’s no need to box-tick but sending a very clear, inclusive message meant that anyone from an under-represented group would see that the company was EVIDENTLY thoughtful, ethical and probably a great place to work. Somewhere that offered help to work rather than putting barriers in place. Somewhere that would be tolerant, accepting and where an applicant could expect to meet people like them and feel part of a team.
If you want help navigating this area in your own advertising, let me know, you can use the link at the bottom of this page.
#5 Making the Process Less Tedious
No matter how efficient your online process and committed your recruitment team is, if the line manager sits on CVs, you're wasting your time.
It's essential that it's communicated internally what the recruitment process looks like to everyone in that process as well as getting buy-in from all parties.
Even if you choose to outsource your hard-to-fill vacancies to a recruitment agency, a good one will push back if your system is broken because ultimately if you can’t ensure a smooth process internally, the whole thing will collapse and good applicants will be lost, embarrassment caused, time wasted.
If the line manager is running first interviews and about to go on a three-week holiday, give that process another thought because applicants applying on day one probably won’t be around in three weeks' time.
Could there be a telephone screening process by a colleague, booking those most suitable into a face-to-face interview when the line manager returns?
Does this process work for us internally and how will we be perceived by applicants?
If you are responsible for the recruitment in your business and line managers work around you, I think #5 is a biggie and needs addressing urgently.
Hopefully, this article has been useful. If so, you might enjoy:
How to Interview Like the Best: https://www.clarityappointments.co.uk/view-details/36390/Jobseekers-How-to-Interview-Like-the-Best.htm
Why Kindness During the Recruitment Process Pays: https://www.clarityappointments.co.uk/view-details/36379/Why-Kindness-During-the-Recruitment-Process-Pays.htm
Clarity Appointments is an independent recruitment agency specialising in accountancy and office vacancies. Situated between St Neots and Cambridge, we work within Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, with some clients further-reaching due to work won through referrals.
Contact us now for a free, no-obligation chat. Contact Clare here.
Clare Wight is the founder and Managing Director of Clarity Appointments, an independent recruitment specialist. She served as a Regional Director for The Employment Agents Movement, supporting other independent recruiters.
She remains an active member of Recconnect (formerly Members Only), a recruitment leadership network promoting high ethical standards, collaboration, diversity, equity and inclusion.
She believes business owners are more fulfilled and higher-performing when they provide emotional and professional business support to other business owners, even those they deem to be competitors. She does this actively, whilst challenging and updating her skills and knowledge of the recruitment sector, enabling her to offer the best advice to firms looking to make their next hire.