HR lesson for 2016: Pay attention.
Interviewing and hiring is never simple. Just like loving someone for all the wrong reasons, you can hire — or not hire someone — and err in judgment. Some of it has to do with them, but a lot of it has to do with us. Bottom line: Even if you’ve got the perfect candidate, creating a positive takeaway in terms of interviewing and the hiring process is critical. The first real portal into an employer brand is the recruiting and hiring process. But there are more ways to do it wrong that right.
Here are five tips for getting it right the first time.
1. Consider the employer brand. Keep that as your north star, everything aligned in that direction, and you’re ahead of the talent game. According to a recent study, 69 percent of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation — even if they’re unemployed. Which means keeping not only a positive image, but also the reality of your employer brand well-scrubbed. It is critical for attracting the right talent. It also means taking a hard looking your candidate experience.
2. Sweat the small stuff, and search far and wide. Social media means everyone has access to everyone, which means there’s an incredible amount of information available for the taking and the giving. Note that 84 percent of hires would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation. This also confirms the old adage of leaving no stone unturned. Pay attention to the micro as well as the macro when it comes to searching for viable candidates — passive or active.
3. Calibrate your hiring to the season. If you’re a startup, get a jump on hiring with a healthy recruiting push in January — when small and hungry may be the message a potential hire looking for a better employer wants to hear. Career resolutions are big for the New Year, one reason the beginning of the year sees a spike in the traffic on LinkedIn’s Job Slots — up some 250 percent. Ditch the challenge of going up against a Goliath and trying to match them perk for perk. Instead, take advantage of the beginning of the year to show off the lean gleam of a new firm with loads of potential.
4. Max out the metrics. As was recently pointed out, we’re living in the midst of a recruitment paradox, in which what we recruit is not necessarily what we want to retain. What constitutes a perfect hire — and how you measure it — has long been the subject of debate. Now is the time to deepen the intelligence of your metrics, and see where the gaps are, such as: qualified applicants, turnover, vacancy rate, declined vs. accepted offers, and the performance of new hires based on the source that generated the lead (a great one to measure).
5. Make it easy to stay. There’s a reason why certain companies win CandE Awards for their candidate experience – and a reason to follow their lead. Bungled interviews, inappropriate questions, talent overlooked for all the wrong reasons; insufficient caretaking and lackluster onboarding is going to prompt that new hire to reconsider his or her options. Once we shift into, “I’m looking for a job” mode, it’s easy to return there; and certainly brief stints have become acceptable within the new work culture.
Make sure the roots set deep with your candidate experience. There are indeed best practices and good etiquette, and best to heed them. The Talent Board noted that only 85.3 percent of organizations sent a “thank you” correspondence to applications, down from 89.5 percent; recruiters who are required to respond dropped nearly ten percent, from 49.3 to 39.6 percent.
No matter how fancy your analytics or social media searching, there’s still one factor you can’t overlook. We are human. As writer, film-maker and perpetual job-seeker Heath Padgett found out when he quit his software sales job and traveled the country in an RV, working a different job in each state, we really are only as good as our hearts and minds. They are still what we need to improve hiring practices. And, yes, relationships are still critical.
A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 12/30/15