No matter how elaborate your hiring process is (and I will describe some bizarre examples in future posts), for most companies hiring is worse than flipping a coin. Yes, you heard that right. Simply pick out two resumes out of the submission pile, then flip a coin to decide which one to hire. You won't be any worse off than going through the extensive phone and in-person interviews.
The first place to fix when it comes to hiring is the candidate application process. See if you can spot problems with examples at the top (answers provided at the very end).
Here 5 basic guidelines to follow when it comes to attracting candidates online:
1. Create an engaging and easy to navigate website.
Think of your company's website as the face of your company. Would you build a maze for an entrance to your office or force each employee to scan their retina, say the daily password, and donate blood to gain entry to the office? Note: if your office happens to be the NSA, please continue as is.
Do not cause the potential candidates pain. Your website may be the first exposure a candidate has to your organization, so make it a good one. Your current employees will thank you as well. They want to feel proud of their company, not embarrassed.
2. Make job searching easy.
Your career section should follow the same UX/UI principles you would use for your products, simple and intuitive. The job search should work in most browsers and mobile devices and allow candidates to customize their search and open posting links in multiple tabs. Applicants should be able to filter and sort by whichever attribute is available to them. Don't depend on simple job titles as many companies use different titles to describe similar responsibilities. A Project Manager in one company could be titled a Program Manager in another, or even a Product Manager in a startup. An engineer in one place could be called a developer in a second, or a hacker in a third.
3. Make applicants fill out as little information as possible.
Candidates should be able to apply with a resume or a LinkedIn profile and basic contact info (name, email, phone number). Your hiring manager/recruiter will be able to judge candidates' initial potential by their resume and have a way of contacting them if interested. What more do you need?
Think about it this way: what is the goal of your applicant tracking system? Is it to make things easier for your HR department or for the candidates? Yes, APS should work for your human resources, but HR's ultimate goal is to make your employees' experience awesome. If you don't have employees, you have no HR.
You may think that pulling in applicants' education and work experience details will allow you to mine your candidate database to find employees for future positions. Think again. Has anyone ever got a call about a different role in the company simply because of their candidate profile? The only reason companies would follow up with past candidates is when those candidates had made a great impression interviewing, but were either not deemed fit for exact role, or turned down the job. Candidates' experience and interests continue to change. Why would you want to follow up on an outdated profile?
Let me reiterate. Do NOT force an applicant to fill out a profile. You will only get the most desperate candidates that have time to spend filling out profiles or the ones who will do anything to work for your company, which does not mean they are qualified or would be a good fit. Why would a candidate go through the hassle on your site when your competitor needs only a resume?
4. Do not force candidates to use plain-text resumes.
Would you like them typed on a typewriter as well? Humans are visual creatures. If candidates go through the trouble of making their resumes/LinkedIn profiles easy to read, don't force them back to the Dark Ages. Your hiring managers and recruiters are human too. Let them have an easier time reading through and understanding candidates' resumes. Think about it this way. Allowing a candidate to represent themselves visually gives you an idea of the kind of person that candidate is.
What could be the reason to use a plain-text resume? To evaluate everyone on the same level? In that case, ask them to answer a long list of questions and watch them leave for your competitor. One possible reason could be a security concern. It is possible for hackers to embed malicious scripts in vulnerable versions of Adobe PDF files and Microsoft Office products. However, you can always use sandboxed machines to open up these documents first.
5. No cover letters.
Ever. Not even for a communications or government or non-profit position. All they do is waste candidates' time. Unless the candidates' job is to write cover letters every day, you will not be learning anything about their writing skills other that they can put together a cover letter. Ask for a writing sample or a short essay that relates to their specific job duties AFTER you found the candidates' resume adequate.
If you don't follow these steps you may end up with PopCopy employees:
I'd love to hear your stories of good and bad hiring practices,
Answers to puzzle:
- Accenture: candidates forced to fill out a profile to apply.
- Google: search limited to only 2 filters: Relevance and Date.
- LinkedIn: not allowed to sort by Job Title, Location, Distance, or Company Name.
- Symantec: search cannot be expanded to fill entire screen, limited to less than half of webpage.