Employers can take steps to improve their recruitment process
I keep hearing complaints from employers about the lack of qualified applicants, yet we keep getting letters and e-mails from frustrated candidates who see the other side: a sluggish interview process, a cavalier attitude about those applicants who do apply, and confusing information about the position and the company.
I asked Barbara Moberg, Vice President of Human Resources Consulting with Joan Lloyd & Associates, to share her ideas about what employers could do that wouldn’t take any additional time or money but would improve the selection process.
"In this tight market, employers are desperate for good workers and yet many don’t move quickly enough," she said. "Another problem I see is that they keep using the same recruiting tactics they’ve used for years, except that the market and the candidates require more creative approaches."
She explained that the best approach is to treat your applicants like customers who are interested in buying your product or service. "Employers tend to think that there’s another person out there who might be better. You shouldn’t settle for just anyone, or lower your standards, and a few changes to your selection process may be all you need."
If you like the applicant, other companies do too. Don’t lose a good candidate because you took too long to make an offer.
Here are some tips:
· Provide your fax number in your ad, so candidates can fax their resumes instead of mailing them in. If the candidate is good, you want to see his or her resumes before anyone else does.
· Review resumes as they come in. Follow up on qualified candidates as you come across their resumes. Don’t wait for a stack to build up, it may be too late.
· Conduct a mini-interview over the phone to determine the applicant’s interest, qualifications and salary requirements. Immediately schedule an interview, if the applicant looks like a good candidate.
· If other interviewers will be conducting separate interviews, schedule them back to back on the same day. Candidates get frustrated when they must keep taking time off the job to schedule second and third interviews with a company. A long, drawn-out interview process also increases the chances that they will get another offer. Back to back interviews are also more efficient from the company’s standpoint because a consensus decision can be reached, rather than dragging the process out over a period of days or weeks.
· Return phone calls and inform candidates about where you are in the selection process.
· During the interview, ask qualified candidates who have other offers pending, if they will call you before accepting any offer.
· Obtain references over the phone, instead of through the mail.
· Consider outsourcing parts of the recruiting and interviewing process, especially if managers are busy and may not be able to make and return phone calls and find time for interviews.
· Make the employment offer over the phone. Limit the time in which the applicant gives their answer.
Here are some tips that will help you think of potential applicants as you would potential customers:
· Define what your company has to offer and what characteristics are needed by employees in order to be successful there. Bill Nicholson, President of Western Building Products, agrees. "Our ideal employee appreciates a family atmosphere. Western is an ESOP, so we also want candidates who understand that they will benefit financially if they are a team player. We’ve had the best results when we target those candidates."
· Decide what the target market is for applicants and then advertise where they are likely to live and work. Moberg explains, "In other words, if you are looking for IT professionals, use the Internet, technical schools, alumni listings, computer stores and technical career fairs. If you’re looking for an experienced manager, why not list your job with outplacement firms?"
· Have your advertising reflect your company’s style. If the culture is casual, don’t use the standard, formal language you see in all the other ads. Speak to the candidate in the language the will attract applicants who would be comfortable in your environment.
· Sell what your company has to offer a potential applicant. Don’t forget the non-monetary perks such as a casual atmosphere, a fun and creative environment, or cross-training and lateral career opportunities.
· Don’t sell what you can’t deliver. Moberg explains, "Often, during exit interviews, a short-tenured employee will tell me that the job wasn’t what they thought it would be."
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