How to Build a Recruitment Process to Hire Top Talent
How to Build a Recruitment Process to Hire Top Talent
- Understand your needs
Know your must-haves from your nice-to-haves
- Write a job description
Know what success will look like in the role
- Build your talent pipeline
Attract active and passive talent
- Conduct interviews
Make the right decisions
- Manage talent relationships
Nurture candidates until the timing is right
- Measure your success
Eliminate the bottlenecks
- Provide a positive candidate experience
Don’t underestimate the power of a positive experience
Writing a job description? Stop right there!
Before you even think about putting metaphorical pen to paper, the first step in any recruitment process is to figure out what exactly you need… Which candidate skills and qualities are a must? Nice-to-haves?
Do you know the role like the back of your hand?
Don’t give us that look; this step isn’t exhilarating, but it will make you a more effective recruiter during every other part of the process. It will help you:
- Write a differentiated job description that gets the right talent engaged and excited
- Proactively source qualified candidates
- Set realistic expectations with your hiring manager (because no candidate is perfect)
- Sell candidates at every touchpoint
- Pass appropriate candidates to onsites and save your entire team valuable time
- And all in all, reduce your time to hire while increasing your quality of hire (yes, you CAN have your cake and eat it, too).
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Job descriptions, or impact descriptions as we call them at Lever, shouldn’t just collect resumes. They should be tools that get candidates excited about a role, and that recruiters can use as sales ammunition throughout the rest of the recruitment process.
The average job description is an undifferentiated bucket list of skills. Effective impact descriptions, on the other hand, should be unique to your company and highlight results and impact, rather than requirements, so you get the right talent excited to jump in to the challenges of the role. Paint a picture of what the role entails and what success will look like, remove arbitrary requirements (like pedigree, years of experience, and skills that can be learned on the job), and don’t be afraid to strike a casual tone so your candidates perceive you as friendly and human.
Percentage of hiring managers vs. candidates who say job descriptions are clear
Why Most Job Descriptions Are Useless, And What to Do About It.
To learn how to write an impact description and view examples, check out our jobs page or listen to our webinar, "Why Most Job Descriptions Are Useless, And What to Do About It."Watch webinar
There are many ways to build your talent pipeline. Traditionally, recruiters attract applicants via their company careers page or through job boards. As the market for talent has intensified, companies have dedicated more and more resources to employee referral programs and proactive candidate sourcing.In fact, our recent recruiting benchmarks research showed that almost half of all hires are either proactively sourced (31 percent of hires) or referred (16 percent).
Hires by Origin
Is your careers page dressed to impress? Every interaction with a candidate – even the ones before a recruiter is in touch – is a chance to convince them that your company is the place they want to work.
- Make it mobile optimized. 9 in 10 job seekers report that they are likely to search for jobs via mobile.
- Make it easy to apply. Does your applicant tracking system make candidates jump through a million hoops before hitting submit? Candidates, especially the best ones, might lose patience and abandon your process.
- Showcase your culture. Candidates want to know what it would be like to work at your company. Help them see with photos, videos, information about your mission and values, fun employee facts, etc. This is where you get creative! Some careers pages we like: Cloudlock, Eventbrite, Lyft.
Companies use job boards to post their openings and increase visibility to candidates. Two of the most well known are Monster and Indeed, but there are dozens more, including specialized ones, like Dice for tech talent or eFinancialCareers for jobs in finance, banking, accounting, and insurance.
And there are hundreds more. The Muse is a modern job board geared toward younger talent that works with employers to showcase each company's employer brand. Hired works like a reverse job board, and lets companies approach candidates who have profiles on the website about offers, and AngelList, a job board for tech talent, facilitates introductions for companies and candidates who express mutual interest.
It’s worth doing some research and experimentation to find out which job boards are the best for your company. Don’t assume more is better: if you choose job boards that don’t yield quality candidates, you’ll simply have more noise to deal with.
Employee referral program
Employee referrals are widely recognized as the top source of hire, for their faster time to hire, lower cost per hire, and higher retention compared to other sources. If you invest in building a strong employee referral program, it’s reasonable to expect your offer and offer acceptance rate to go up, and your attrition rate go down.
Lever’s recruiting benchmarks research highlights the relative efficiency of employee referrals. With 1 in 16 referred candidates being hired, that makes them almost ten times as efficient as applicants.
Source: Lever Recruiting Benchmarks Report 2016
Candidates Per Hire by Origin
Candidate sourcing means proactively finding and reaching out to qualified people for a role. Today’s top talent is less commonly “actively” on the job market and applying to jobs, but quite likely to be open to a conversation if approached – which makes sourcing an essential component of any successful recruiting strategy.
If you’re not sourcing candidates, you’re missing out on huge swaths of potential employees. While only 36 percent of the workforce identifies as “active,” an entire 90 percent of global professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities.There are two main ways to source candidates: online and offline.
Online sourcing means finding candidates through information on the web. You can search for talent through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, for example, along with a myriad of other websites. Offline sourcing means taking your efforts into the real world and meeting potential candidates in person – at a conference or meetup, for example, or another professional networking event.
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The interview process will vary from company to company and role to role. in a standard interview process, candidates go through a phone screen, onsite interview, reference checks, and the offer stage. Here’s how to navigate each.
The initial phone interview is typically conducted by the recruiter for the role. For high priority candidates, however, it can help to have the hiring manager take the call. The purpose of a phone interview is to make sure that you advance appropriate and qualified people to the next stage. Are there any glaring red flags? Do they have the right motivations fit? Do they they meet the baseline “must haves” that you and your hiring manager decided upon at the beginning of the process? Are compensation expectations in the ballpark?
The onsite interview is perhaps the most make-or-break moment of the entire recruitment process. This is when you get the information you need to say goodbye to a candidate or extend them an offer to become part of your team. It’s critical, therefore, to structure your interview process. Here are some pointers:
- Establish what you are looking for in a candidate before they come in.
The benefit: If you are deciding between two candidates, you can reduce the effects of unconscious bias with an objective framework for evaluation.
- Ask interviewers to evaluate for different areas (culture fit, behavioral fit, skills fit, etc.).
The benefit: You’ll get the information you need in order to make an informed decision, and give the candidate a positive, professional experience.
- Standardize your questions.
The benefit: Asking every candidate you interview the same or similar questions lets you more objectively compare them. Of course, allow fluidity here. Running down a checklist of questions instead of letting a conversation flow naturally can inhibit you from discovering valuable information and forming a meaningful connection. Use your best judgment.
- Use an applicant tracking system.
The benefit: A tool like Lever saves you time and helps you create scalable, repeatable processes. Schedule interviews on an interviewer’s calendar right from within Lever, and schedule automatic reminders so an interview doesn’t go forgotten again. Use our interview kits to set up forms for different jobs, provide guidance to interviewers on what they should look for, and even give them the right questions to ask.
It’s important to collect interview feedback quickly. Right after an interview is when information is freshest in everybody’s mind, and the ability to make a quick decision and get an offer out is a competitive advantage. Ask interviewers to take notes during their interviews and submit feedback via your chosen tool.
When one person is in charge, you can be a lot more confident that great care goes into each and every hiring decision. The responsible stakeholder can’t shrug off a poor hire as “just a group call.” What’s more, hiring managers are more likely to act as advocates and make sure new hires are successful when they feel direct responsibility for the final say.
Ready to make an offer? Resist the urge until you've done thorough reference checks. The cost of hiring a mediocre performer into your organization is great, and it’s ultimately in your team’s best interest to take reference checks seriously. But to make reference checks worth your while, make sure you're asking the right questions. It's hard to get the full picture from references unless you do some digging, so for questions that help you discover a candidate's true caliber, read our post on example reference check questions.Offer
Once you’ve made a decision to extend an offer to a candidate, you want to move fast. You don’t want to risk another company coming in with a competing offer, and moving quickly makes it clear to the candidate that you are excited to welcome them to the team.
When you extend the offer, make sure not to rush through the information. Take pauses and gauge their reaction. If you know the candidate will need a hard sell, try opening the conversation with questions to find out what reservations they might still have instead of jumping straight to the offer. Use the motivations information you gathered throughout the interview process – like why they’re excited about your company and what they’re looking for in their next job – to remind them why your offer is a good fit. It can also be helpful to have the candidate chat with the hiring manager and ask interviewers to send follow up emails for an extra touch.
A modern recruiting process has to be agile and flexible enough to adapt to non-linear events. For example, you may source a candidate who won’t be ready to think about new opportunities for another year, or turn a candidate down but find a new role they’re a better fit for a few months down the line. How are you keeping tabs on those candidates?
Top talent isn’t knocking on doors, so recruiters today have to be smart and strategic, taking advantage of, and nurturing, the relationships they already have. Here are a few tips for building strong relationships with candidates who need the long sell:
- Set up a Google Alert for the candidate’s name so you can reach out at meaningful times. Keep close tabs on why you archive a candidate (compensation, timing, seniority, etc.) With a system like Lever, you can track and customize archive reasons easily.
- Set reminders to follow up with candidates at a later date, when their circumstances may have changed. You can also achieve this easily in Lever with the “snooze” function. Snooze a candidate to receive an email reminder to follow up, along with any note you left yourself.
What are you doing to make sure your process is continually improving? Increasingly, recruiters are turning to data and analytics to find out where and how they can do better. Important recruiting metrics to track include:
Source of hire
When you know which sources lead to quality candidates, you can double down your efforts in the right places. If you can see that one source accounts for a small portion of your total pipeline, for example, but a large portion of total hires and offers, it makes sense to invest more of your efforts in that source.
Candidate to hire ratio
By understanding past data, you’ll get a sense for how many candidates you need in your pipeline to fill the position at hand.
Understanding conversion rates at each stage of the process helps you ask the right questions to spot opportunities for improvement. For example, why aren’t candidates accepting your offers, and how can you improve? Alternately, if there’s no dropoff between two stages, are you asking the appropriate questions to effectively screen candidates?
Time to hire
What matters most in recruiting is ultimately how quickly you can make a hire (without lowering your hiring bar). Track your time to hire – from the time a candidate is engaged to the time they sign an offer letter – to measure the overall efficiency of your recruitment process.
The need for a great candidate experience is present throughout every inch of the recruitment process, and can make or break whether a candidate decides to join your team.
In fact, 83 percent of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked, while 87 percent of talent say a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.
Source: LinkedIn 2015 Talent Trends Report
Candidate experience starts before candidates are even candidates. The “pre-candidate experience” includes anything that can shape and inform their opinion of you as a company – like mentions in the press, Glassdoor reviews, your careers page, word of mouth, and application process (do you make them jump through dozens of hoops just to apply?).
Once a candidate is in your system, how long does it take you to get in touch? Does the candidate feel welcome when they come onsite? Are your interviews professional and organized?
Top candidates are evaluating you as much as you’re evaluating them, so it’s important to make candidate experience a priority. To ensure that you’re continually improving your process, consider asking candidates informally, or more formally via a survey, for their feedback.
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Recruiting is much more than process tracking. It’s about strategically attracting, finding, evaluating, and selling top talent. We hope you’ll use this article as a starting point for developing a strong recruitment process at your company, continue to find new learnings, and adopt and develop your own unique approaches.