Why Your Hiring Is Broken and How to Fix It

Couple with laptop in the living roomWithout knowing anything about you or your business, I can tell you one thing: your hiring process probably needs some work. Even (and sometimes especially) at small businesses, the process of recruiting and hiring people contains a lot of weirdness: fractured communications, illogical steps in the workflow, and a reliance on bad data.

Being a small business owner myself, I know how complex these things really are—our hiring process still leaves a lot to be desired. Here are three tips on where to look for common hiring problems and how to fix them.

1. How You Develop Job Descriptions

Too often, job descriptions contain very little real information about the actual day-to-day function of the job. The text of job descriptions is often copied and pasted from the Internet or taken from stock HR templates. These job descriptions are not doing your company any favors. Besides alienated and confusing potential applicants, poor job descriptions do nothing to improve your actual internal talent management processes.

Instead, really push yourself and the hiring managers to discuss the real functions of the job. For example, don’t just use high-level language like “Develop marketing communications.” Break it down into specific responsibilities like “Design marketing postcards for mass mailings” and “Help design and develop internal company paperwork, such as letterhead and purchase orders.” The key here is that not only will a specific, well honed job description inform your prospective applicants, spending time on detailed job descriptions now will help with performance management and productivity after the employee starts.

2. Where You Recruit Talent

Professional recruiters do everything they can to leverage sources of candidates, including sourcing talent through referrals, job search engines, social media sites, job boards, free classifieds, other recruiters and past employees. Many employers, however, overlook key sources of potential hires and instead rely on one source, such as a large job board or their internal career site. The result is that smaller employers are stuck without enough applicants to make good hiring decisions or to scale fast enough to meet business demand.

Make sure your company knows about these extremely important sources of applicants:

  • Employee referrals: According to CareerXroads, employee referrals have proven themselves to be the most influential form of hire with 28% of jobs being filled by this channel versus just 20% being filled by job boards. You can turn your own workforce into a recruiting team using specialized referral software systems like Zao, BullHorn Reach, Meshhire and Jobvite. If you don’t have a formal employee referral software system, simply having a good payout for a successful employee referral and keeping track on a Google spreadsheet can be a good option.
  • Social media sites: As an employer or small business owner, you probably don’t have the time to develop the proactive social network search strategies of professional recruiters. However, you can ensure that your job openings are being shared through social media and ask other employees to pitch in. It’s as simple as using a recruiting system or career site that includes Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter buttons. Encourage sharing and re-sharing.
  • Niche and broad candidate sites: There are very few large sources of candidate-based web traffic; these include sites like Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Craigslist. Using these sites in combination with niche sources can be a very effective sourcing strategy. Successful sourcing is about knowing your need, and then spreading wide and deep at the same time. Get your position viewed on major sites with big traffic while also posting your job to niche local sites and communities of interest.

3. How You Follow Up and Make Offers

When not entirely absent, the communication process with candidates tends to be very poor. In fact, the “candidate experience” is such a big problem that The Candidate Experience Awards program was developed for employers that put effort into this area. The main things to look for in your hiring process are the touch points that you have with candidates. Look for times when you drop communication entirely or leave the process up to individuals without following up. Improving on these areas of communication will improve your hiring process and retain more people throughout the hiring process. In particular, look at:

  • Initial job application
  • Thank you for applying notices
  • Interview notification and follow-ups
  • Interview thank yous
  • Job offers
  • Applicant rejections
  • Past applicant follow-ups and keep-in-touch notes

Once a decision has been reached, many employers also fail to make an effective job offer. In a Forbes article with Kathy Caprino, I recently commented on some of the actions that a prospective employee should view as “red flags.” Job offer letters often describe these areas very differently than previously held discussions with the candidate:

  • Compensation structure
  • Benefits package
  • Job function
  • Job title
  • Reporting manager

Poor alignment of the job offer with previously held discussions sends all the wrong signals to a prospective employee. Additionally, your job offers should convey a positive message about your company’s prospects, values, and team. Make the job sound engaging, positive and important to the company’s growth.

Your ability to hire and retain great employees will determine the success of your company. Although improving the quality of your hiring and recruiting process should be a priority, it’s often too easy to sweep it under the rug in favor of daily issues. Make sure that you give recruiting and hiring the attention it deserves—your future depends on it!

Miles Jennings is CEO and Co-Founder of Recruiter.com. Recruiter.com offers the easiest way for job seekers, recruiters, and employers to reach each other. Started in 2010, Recruiter.com is now one of the most popular career resources on the web.

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

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