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Employer tips - 10 easy-to-fix mistakes employers make when recruiting

I wrote the original version of this back in 2016 and thought it would be interesting to re-visit the topic and see what’s changed....

1. No pre-planning

Many times, when someone leaves it’s a simple matter of “we need another Bill or whomever”, but I think it’s always worth a quick analysis of the position to make sure that nothing has changed to alter the skill set of the “perfect applicant”. For example, Bill may have done a great job in his role for many years but due to technology changes, his replacement needs a higher level of expertise in certain areas. Pre-planning is especially important when a new role is being created!

Update: still relevant, maybe even more so

2. No position description (PD)

Recruiters and candidates LOVE position descriptions for many reasons. As a recruiter, the big thing a PD demonstrates is that the employer has given appropriate thought and consideration to the role and is not making it up as they go. For candidates, PDs at least give them a reasonable understanding of the expectations and how their performance will be judged.

Update: Still a struggle to get PDs out of smaller employers and the quality of PDs supplied varies dramatically.

3. Crappy job listing

Note to employers - PDs are not job listings! A job listing needs to paint a picture and tell a story engaging enough to make the good job seeker get excited and apply! You wouldn’t advertise a house or a car by just listing specifications, a job is no different!

Update: Many employers have improved drastically in this area but a lot a still doing what they’ve always done. The job listing needs to be about what you will do for the candidate and why they will love working for you.

4. Applicant unfriendly application process

It is always tempting for time poor employers to create an application process that makes it as easy as possible to them (the employer). I believe it is better to make it easy for candidates to apply for the job and would be applicants to get more information prior to applying. You do need to be somewhat careful in how you go about this, and not all roles require the same application process...

Update: the apply with one click online process makes it incredibly easy for anyone to apply. This means many applications are totally unsuitable. I still believe in making it easy for would be candidates to call before applying but very few people actually do this.

5. Messy application review process

Inexperienced or busy managers can be overwhelmed by job applications and this sometimes leads to no action being taken. If you know what you’re looking for and have a well written job listing, the next step shouldn’t be too scary. A quick review of the candidate’s application should establish that they are a NO or a MAYBE. Once an application gets a NO they can be appropriately acknowledged and require no further action. The MAYBEs can also be appropriately acknowledged and flagged or filed for further action.

Update: the only real change here is that you are more likely to receive fewer (or zero) applications which makes it even more important that every candidate is reviewed promptly and action taken to engage with anything resembling a “maybe”

6. No acknowledgement of applications

For me, the key to acknowledging applications is to do it once. Irrespective of whether the candidate is a NO or a MAYBE, they can be acknowledged once with an “expiry date” that clearly indicates that is they do not hear from you again within that time, they have been unsuccessful.

Update: many employers use the catchall of “Only selected applicants will be contacted” within the job listing. (Better than nothing)

7. Excess time taken to identify and engage with best applicants

The hiring process is a moving target. The candidate you marked MAYBE today may evolve into a NO as “better” prospects apply. Having said that, I recommend establishing some dialogue with the MAYBEs sooner than later. A good option for this is a quick phone screen to clarify the basic “must haves” and other realities of the job so that both parties can become better informed. At the end of the phone screen you can again establish an “expiry date” to eliminate the need to make more calls.

Update: Still a problem, especially in the current candidate short market. Good applicants will receive offers so if you snooze, you will lose!

8. Delay in scheduling face-to-face interviews

Sometimes it is difficult getting everyone’s stars and planets aligned to conduct face-to-face interviews. Sooner is always better than later as the best applicants will have options. If there needs to be a delay for whatever reason, make sure this is conveyed to the candidate. I think it’s better to schedule an interview for a later date rather than promise to call later to schedule an interview...

Update: Still a problem for many employers, plus it can be difficult to accomodate the needs of candidates who are currently employed.

9. Lengthy decision making process

Choosing the right person is very important and I don’t advocate making rushed or hasty choices when hiring. However, I think that once a candidate has been interviewed, there should be a timeframe for the next step. If that timeframe needs to be extended or changed, this needs to be relayed to the candidate so they know what’s happening.

Update: I believe most employers have made progress in this area given the shortage of good candidates in many areas.

10. Sloppy job offer and on-boarding processes

The timing and quality of the job offer is the first interaction the candidate has with their new employer and it sets a standard or expectation. If the offer is timely, well presented and in accordance with previous discussions then that establishes a positive interaction to start the relationship. However, if it takes forever, is messy and differs significantly from what the new employee expected, things tend to sour and the candidate may have second thoughts… The same sentiments apply to the whole onboarding process. It is important that the new hire is made to feel welcome and valued so they can make a positive contribution as soon as possible!

Update: I believe most employers are better with this part of the process.

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