I get that everyone is really busy at the moment, and diaries are totally stacked; BUT everyone wants to recruit and we all know that recruitment is vitally important to get right. So why does recruitment end up being a side of the desk job – something to be looked at once the ‘day job’ is done?
Recruitment takes time and focus, it is not hard, but it is hard work – and I’ll die on this hill. I may not be able to change the way our industry sees recruitment, but I can impart some thoughts about how it can be improved.
Put your candidate first
The person applying for your job is currently working somewhere else and trying to fit interviews in with you around their full-time job, their family and their life. Their diary is going to be much harder to juggle that yours. I appreciate that recruitment is on top of your day job, but at least you are able to be open about it and you can block time out and say to your team ‘I’m interviewing that day’. Your candidate can’t do this, so if you insist that interviews have to held on a certain day, then they have to take the day off. Given the industry we are in, candidates can’t always dictate their working patterns and days off due to commitments to client events. Your candidate may only work from the office on a Wednesday (so this is the only day they can’t do); but you and your team only work from the office on a Wednesday (so this is the only day you can do). So that’s stale mate.
Give them some flexibility, bend around them and their needs because this sends a very powerful message to them about what your company is actually like.
Create a timeline
‘Time to hire’ – the time taken from the first application to when you issue the offer letter – should be no more than three or maybe five weeks for very senior hires. Taking longer than that sends a really bad signal to candidates and you may lose the best people because they will no doubt be applying for other roles too. Once you set things in motion by asking candidates to apply, you need to ensure that you deliver against your promises and stick to the plan.
Week one – your advert goes live and the applications come in. All of those applications should receive a message stating the time line and when each stage of the process will be. In that first week, if someone jumps out at you as a serious contender then you don’t have to wait; you can grab the bull by the horns and respond quickly and get them in for an interview asap.
Week two and three – you are conducting first and second stage interviews. At least one of which should be in real life. You may want to start with orientation calls to discuss the essentials such as expected working patterns and salary (particularly if you have committed the sin of not putting the salary bracket on the job advert!) Don’t waste people’s time – more candidates does not equal better recruitment; bigger is definitely not better (when it comes to the number of applicants anyway…)
Week four (hopefully sooner) – you are ready to make a decision and offer someone the role.
Have verses want
Who are the people that have to be involved in making the decision, rather than the people who want to be involved? Make this distinction and if the crucial people are not available, there has to be second person who is. You cannot wait just because you have a new client meeting and you are all out of the office. I know that people go on holiday, but what’s your plan B? If now is the right time to recruit then you have to get on with it, never put it off.
Once you start the recruitment process, your brands reputation is on the line. Job seekers will be looking at how well you respond, whether you stick to your promises, your flexibility and how well you communicate. Never ghost a job seeker if you have no news – no news is still news and you can communicate this. Progressive companies will be flexible and consider the candidates needs and feeling in the process. If a job seeker has a bad experience of your company’s interview process, they will tell everyone; people talk about their experiences and your reputation as an employer of choice will suffer.
Progressive companies will do out of office/hours interviews
If you are interviewing for a senior position, consider that people within you organisation may know the candidate, so to give them confidentiality and to protect their anonymity you should offer an off-site interview plus recognise that after hours is easier for them to fit in.
So, in summary: set expectations, manage expectations and be flexible with your own expectations. Have some urgency and have some respect. If it’s not important enough to do this, then don’t recruit.