Accessing - let alone hiring - the right candidate is a constant struggle for many companies. The main reason for this is often the shortage of skilled candidates, but many may also struggle from an inefficient hiring process.
Recruitment doesn't have to be a constant battle
Having a clear strategy and using a tested method is the key to success in recruitment. In fact, one of the biggest issues we see again and again within unsuccessful recruitment is the departure from strategy and reliance on gut feeling. Recruitment is not a process done on the side or that can be made up as one goes. Human potential and its prospective fit with a company should be planned and can be measured. Recruitment (done right) is science. There are many areas in your process that could be at fault for you not being able to attract and hire the right candidates. Below we reviewed some of the areas that you should consider improving when building a solid recruitment strategy as well as listed recommendations on how to ensure you are reaching and choosing the right candidates to hire.
Establish Your Personas
First of all, you need to build a candidate persona. You might have heard professionals talk about knowing your ideal candidate, but building your candidate persona is a more in-depth version of that. With building a persona, you are not only writing a checklist of what you want to get out of the equation, you are first and foremost putting yourself into the shoes of your potential hire. This will help you write a compelling job ad, use the right platform to promote it and enable you to sell the position convincingly to the right candidate. But how does one define a candidate persona? We created an index of the most important characteristics you need to identify:
1. Biography. Who is your candidate? This includes age, current position and title, location, education, experience and potentially also social background.
2. Goals. What does your candidate want, what would convince them to take a job? This includes life goals and aspirations.
3. Frustrations. What are their pain points? This includes their potential motivation to change jobs or their barriers to do so.
4. Job Search Behaviour. How do they do their job search? This includes identifying if they are an active or passive job seeker and if they use their network or a digital platform to find job opportunities.
5. Channels. Where do they do their job search? This includes which Social Media or other digital platforms they use as well as if they go on job boards, career sites or similar.
6. Personality. What are their main personality traits? This includes traits that would show up in a psychometric analysis.
7. Skills. What are their primary skills and attributes? This includes defining the area they are most proficient in, hard skills and soft skills and relevant experience.
8. Motivation. What motivates them to apply for a job and generally in their work life? This includes the company's brand and reputation, its mission and vision, values and norms, the company culture and work environment, the salary and benefits, projects and innovation value, their development as a professional and of course their colleagues and managers.
9. Influencers. Who influences their decisions? This might be their personal circle of friends, family and partner, their professional circle of colleagues and current employer or the HR Manager, the recruiter or CEO of the job opportunity. It might additionally also be their prospective new colleagues.
10. Content and Resources. Which and who's information will they trust? This might include Social Media, the company's career site, a job board or the current employees of a company.
If you are in need of further information on candidate personas, you can also view this checklist and template to help you create your own.
Master Job Descriptions
As soon as you have defined the ideal candidate and identified what makes them tick, you can get started on writing a clear and convincing job ad. We have created an in-depth guide to help you navigate this process. As a rule of thumb, try to keep it somewhat short, understandable and to the point. However, the most important rule is to write from the candidate's perspective. It is of course important that the candidate learns more about your company and its history, but try to prioritise the factors that apply to their goals and motivations that you just defined in their candidate persona. This means prioritising what the candidate wants, not what you want them to know. Additionally you should revisit your requirements; they should strike a balance between being according to the ideal profile you want to hire and realistic expectations. Try to be flexible and give a bit of play room; you might find a candidate that has a bachelor's degree instead of a master's, but is still a perfect match due to their experience, skills and personality.
Select the Right Applicant Tracking System
Before we get into the importance of your employer brand, we need to quickly address the implementation of the right ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Having a good ATS that fits your needs is crucial for a smooth and organised hiring process. It keeps all resumes in one place and helps recruiters and hiring managers to stay organised as well as EEOC compliant, making it a crucial part of any sound Talent Acquisition process. First Engineers has a long- standing and happy partnership with Workable, but other AT Systems enjoy a good reputation as well. Check out this great article to find the ideal fit for your company's needs.
A major part of your recruitment strategy is the implementation of your brand as an employer. Even if you are not aware of it, your company has its own unique employer brand. Every company does. It tells candidates not only what you are like as an employer, but also what value they would get as employees working for you (which is usually represented in your employee value proposition). A concise and authentic employer brand will go a long way in attracting and hiring the right candidates for you, as shown through some of the most impactful and well-known employer brands in the world, such as Google, PwC or L’Oreal. Organisations with great reputations as employers are those that invest in employees and continuously improve their employee value proposition - both internally and externally. This allows them to attract the most talented people and retain their top performers. A great employer brand offers a clear message about your company and what you stand for and communicates consistently with stakeholders, raising awareness of what the company offers. This brand can (or should) be broadcasted on all channels, including your career page, Social Media and by word-of-mouth.
If you have never dealt with or focused on employer branding, you need to change that. Building and maintaining your employer brand - although a quite complex (and potentially long) process - is worth it. Really take your time and resources to nail it. It might seem a bit intimidating - but don't worry. You can reach out to one of our consultants to learn more on how we can help you!
It is crucial to monitor your employer brand on an ongoing basis from the in- and outside. Find out what employees and ex-employees think about working at your company and you as an employer. Their feedback is essential in making informed decisions about what needs to change or adapt inside your company as well as in your external communication.
Utilize Referral Programs
Last but not least in regards to your strategy - build and utilise your network. Going by statistics, the best results for a great hire come from either working with a recruitment company or through referrals. Implementing a referral program or simply requiring that all openings be posted internally, grants you an entry into your employees' network. It is very likely to find a good fit for your company through the people that are already working there. Not only do you reach more people, your existing employees will also act as ambassadors for your employer brand. This is particularly powerful, since potential candidates will be introduced to your brand by people they trust. If you have been using an ATS in the past, you can also reach out to past candidates or consider people from your candidate pool. And if you have not so far, you should start using one to build and structure your candidate network. If you need some inspiration what your referral program could look like and how other companies are doing it, check out this article.
What we additionally found to be a quite economical source of skilled and innovative candidates are relationships and connections with relevant universities. Establishing rapport with their representatives as well as showing an active presence at their career events will be one of the best decisions you will ever make. It gives you access to untapped and promising potential, that is (usually) on active job search. Similar results can be seen in attending or representing your company at industry-related events. Even if you do not receive a ton of applications right away, it will help spread the word about your employer brand and the fact that you are hiring and eventually reach potential candidates that will apply.
You Have a Great Candidate Pool - Now What?
We largely covered strategic areas of recruitment so far; accessing the right candidates and laying the groundwork for a great hire. But how do you proceed after the sourcing period in actually assessing and hiring the best candidate for a position? A mistake to avoid is having no method in properly assessing your sourced candidates. Unfortunately a lot of companies (recruitment companies included) still rely on the same method of assessing candidates that they have relied on for decades: gut feeling. Relying on gut feeling might feel right, but research shows that too often, decisions based on feeling alone lead to the wrong hire. Since decisions made without a method are mainly based on first impressions, confirmation- and similarity bias (or even discriminatory prejudice), they are quite unreliable. It does not mean that one cannot be satisfied with previous hires. You might get lucky when relying on gut feeling, but do you really want to rely on luck when it comes to business decisions?
Ideally you should implement a proven method when assessing candidates. We believe that data-driven recruitment is the surest way to quite literally calculate the perfect fit. The methodology of First Engineers boils down to numbers, which removes subjectivity and bias. By using ability and personality tests, we are able to gather reliable data that ensures a perfect fit between candidate, position and company. The language of data is arguably 100% objective and does not leave much open to interpretation. It provides us with the right vocabulary for effective decision making. Since our recruitment process and the science behind it is quite multiplex, we created an e-book explaining our methodology. It will give you better insight into data-driven recruitment and potentially even help you articulate your own assessment method. If you are wanting to dive even deeper into the topic of assessment, check out our e-book Talent Assessment 101.
As a brief conclusion, here are a few more final remarks. First, measure your results on all stages of the recruitment process (check out our recruitment blueprint for more insight into the various recruitment stages). This will help you assess your shortcomings and in turn enable you to significantly improve the way you hire. Second, treat candidates the same way you would treat your customers or clients. There are only a few things that are worse for your employer brand or general reputation than treating candidates in an unprofessional manner. It is simply rude to leave un- or disqualified applicants hanging without so much as a quick rejection mail or even to ghost candidates after their first interview, just because you decided not to proceed with them. They are investing time and effort into the application process. You should return the favour. Extra brownie points if you also give them feedback and an explanation for your decision when rejecting them. Leaving a good impression will make it more likely for them to either enter a recruitment process with you in the future or recommend you to their network.
Successful recruitment is work, but putting that work into recruitment will reward you with great hires and an increase in your retention rate. If you need further help with your recruitment efforts or would like to outsource them, you can always start a conversation with us or alternatively download our free Ultimate Guide.