In recent years, we’ve seen a fundamental shift in the hiring process and the way companies run through their recruitment cycle. The drastic increase of useful digital technology has made it easier for applicants and hiring managers to connect more than ever. However, the transition to this new digital era of hiring hasn’t happened over night. Like other societal changes, a learning curve has introduced itself, and hiring managers that haven’t been actively recruiting or job seekers thinking of making a move after a long tenure are likely to make mistakes as they try to put their best foot forward. 

Of course, hiring practices are constantly evolving. Companies and applicants need to allow some leeway in their methodologies to ensure they do not miss out on a great partnership due to confusion surrounding an outdated hiring method. However, with that in mind, we’re going to tackle some of the most outdated and obsolete hiring and recruitment strategies that we still see in the market today.

Using Generic HR Job descriptions

In today’s technologically advanced world, most employers are searching for very particular skill sets. Not to mention applicants are continually upgrading and adding to their abilities. All of this makes it hard to believe that so many companies are still using template job descriptions in their hiring practices. Some companies rely on these stock descriptions because they think doing so will help them cast a wider net. However, as talent becomes more specialized, the generic approach is more likely to turn qualified candidates away. 

When crafting a job description, take a team approach. Human Resources professionals should always work with the hiring manager to fully understand the needs of the position. The agreed-upon requirements can then be matched to a base skillset and include a list of additional nice-to-have qualifications. Spending time crafting a real-world description with legitimate skill fundamentals will help your posting speak directly to the sort of professionals you’re looking to attract. 

Overdoing the Credentials

Generally, this issue should be addressed by the HR team who works directly with the hiring manager to create a unique job description as discussed in the point above. When you’re determining what skills are needed to include in a job description, be specific. Only add those qualifications required for doing the job well, and resist the urge to add criteria with over-and-above extras that have the potential to turn away qualified candidates.

With today’s applicant screening software, countless suitable candidates are being eliminated by algorithms with unnecessarily narrow criteria. Of course, that’s assuming they even bothered to apply. Many would-be applicants will self-select out of even submitting a CV when the qualification list gets too long. The simple rule is to stick to the must-have qualifications. If you want to include a couple of nice-to-have bullets, that’s fine, but add too many qualifications and you’ll be communicating to job seekers that they are unqualified for the position. 

Not Reviewing your Postings for Gender and Ethnic Bias

Most employers are unaware of how their job postings can actively discourage female applicants or people of colour from applying for a role. It’s not that the content itself is actively using discriminatory language, but rather the choice of words and how they are strung together can create a feeling that subtly suggests the company’s culture and who should apply. More importantly, it implies who shouldn’t bother. 

The Augmented Writing company, Textio, has been monitoring and reporting on what sorts of sentence configurations will work to encourage the most talented and diverse group of applicants for any given job. Their findings concluded that by subtly modifying the language of a job description, companies can attract a much wider range of skilled applicants. Their research touched on three metrics that were directly affected by companies adjusting their descriptions to remove unconscious bias:

  1. Companies could attract stronger candidates with 25% more people applying who have the right qualifications to merit an interview.
  2. Organizations were also able to increase diversity, with 23% more women applying and other underrepresented groups seeing similar increases.
  3. They were able to hire faster, taking 17% less time on average to fill a given role.

Limiting the Search to Passive Posting

If you genuinely want to attract the best possible candidates, it’s simply not enough to post the position and hope the right people find their way to it. To get your position in front of as many people as possible, you need to turn it into a conversation. This means actively encouraging staff to share it among their networks. Not to mention engaging with the communications team and social media managers to ensure your company is talking about employment opportunities throughout all of your comms channels. While passive job boards are great for people actively looking for a new gig, dynamic employment conversations allow you to reach into the world of employed professionals. Your job may be just the role they didn’t realize they were looking for, and they might be your perfect fit. 

Keeping your recruiting local

Many companies, big and small, have gotten into the habit of restricting their recruitment efforts to their local area. Often, it’s sold as a means to save money in relocation costs, and it allows you to get the employee onboarded sooner.. However, the best person for the job doesn’t necessarily live a short distance from the office. When you factor in the costs involved in hiring the wrong person for the job, especially if you do it more than once, relocation costs will seem minor. 

Depending on the role, telecommuting may allow you to keep the person where they are, or at the very least get them working right away while the relocation process unfolds. We can assure you that getting the right person will be worth the extra cost when it comes to highly skilled professionals, no matter where they are. 

One way interviews

Sometimes referred to as “Hot Seat” interviews, these oneway interrogations belong to a bygone era. The issue we have found in some instances is that quality candidates do not perform well under this style of interview. Concurrently, many slick under-skilled applicants have been known to skate through with a charming performance. The better approach is to create an environment for a back-and-forth, free-flowing conversation. You want to get to know these potential employees and truly learn about what inspires them on a professional level 

Also, be mindful that you aren’t filling the room with a phalanx of company executives. Limit interviews to only the people who need to be in the room. If the CEO, or another senior executive, has to sign off on the hire, it’s better to set up a separate meeting for them to connect one-on-one after your conversation.

Treating Candidates as if they need your job

Very few people today remain with one company for the entirety of their career, which means the job market is continually in flux. People are changing companies somewhat regularly. And yet, some employers still treat applicants more like fraternity pledges, desperate to get an invitation than skilled equals who could take their expertise wherever they choose. However, even in a tight job market where applicants might be more willing to deal with unprofessional or even rude behaviour, word of mouth is a powerful tool that can make or in this case break your business’s reputation. 

Remember, every meeting or interaction is an opportunity to build your brand and communicate your corporate values. Companies that earn a reputation for condescending behaviour to applicants will quickly realize that no one will apply for their positions even during a booming economy. 

Overlooking internal staff members

Historically, new grads would land their first job upon graduation, work their way up the corporate ladder and remain with the same company throughout their entire professional lives.  However, with the change in attitudes towards lifetime employment, there has been a drastic undervaluing and consideration of internal resources. Instead of looking to company-trained professionals to move into higher positions, most employers place extra value on candidates they can acquire from other organizations. Not only does this demotivate your existing staff, but it communicates the message that in order to advance their career, they need to look elsewhere.

While hiring a professional trained by another company may seem like a great fit, don’t lose sight of what it’s costing you to train employees to staff other companies. At the very least, ensure you have programs in place that encourage existing staff to apply for open positions and ensure they feel their application will be treated fairly. 

Deferring to Referrals

There is a pattern within many companies that it’s better to hire a candidate you recognize than to try your luck with an unknown applicant. For this reason, many companies have rolled out incentive programs for staff members to refer people for positions. However, research by Emilio Castilla and colleagues found the benefits may be overstated. They noted that referrals tend to work out better than other new staff because their referrers look after them and essentially onboard them to the company. Their research also found that if the referrer leaves before the new hire begins, their performance is actually no better than that of non-referrals. 

Of course, the other problem with referrals is that they tend to lead to a more homogeneous workforce because people we know tend to be like us. This makes it difficult for organizations trying to encourage diversity to ever really move the needle. All of this is to say, use referrals sparingly. Don’t rely on them as your main applicant pipeline and don’t over incentivize staff to recommend their friends. 

Not sticking to a hiring schedule

At times, it can feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to complete your task list. For this reason, it can seem difficult to fit in extra duties like those required to interview and hire new staff. However, it’s important to remain diligent in your hiring schedule as you don’t want to miss out on critical hires and potentially damage your company’s reputation in the marketplace. Especially when it comes to highly skilled professionals, who no doubt have other options to consider. By keeping them waiting too long between interviews or not making an offer in a timely fashion, you will risk losing them to another company. Not to mention they will discuss the hiring process and how they were treated to their peers. As a professional staffing agency, one of our key roles is helping our clients structure their hiring processes and ensure they have the talent they need to develop their business in a timely fashion.

Ghosting Candidates 

When companies post a position online, they will often receive more applications than they could adequately respond to and most applicants have become accustomed to only hearing from a potential employer if they are actively being considered for a role. However, once the interview process has begun and you have a select list of candidates, you need to communicate with this group throughout the entire process. Even if you remove one or more candidates from the running, send them an email and possibly arrange a phone call to provide them with feedback. 

When you fail to update applicants that have been through the first round of interviews, this demonstrates a lack of professionalism, poor communication, and very quickly becomes part of your corporate reputation. 

Excluding Salary Range

Including a salary range in a job posting has been a topic debated among HR professionals for quite some time. However, in today’s more transparent job market, it has become the gold standard for demonstrating your corporate commitment to equal pay standards and fair compensation packages. When a company elects not to disclose the salary range for a given position, it’s hard for applicants to know if the company will meet their financial requirements before going through a lengthy application and interview process. 

Sharing the range allows would-be applicants to decide if the job is at their level or self-select out if the role is too high or too low for their current status. Of course, it should be implied that the final compensation package agreed upon is a private matter and that your scale should allow for a given applicant’s professional experience to factor into the equation. 

As recruitment professionals, we’ve observed as employment standards have evolved over the years. We’ve helped our clients stay on top of the latest trends in the market and our expertise have ensured we find the right fit for the skilled professionals and corporations we work with. If you or your company could benefit from our years in the employment industry, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Natasha O'Cal

Author Natasha O'Cal

Prior to joining LRO Staffing, Natasha gained 8 years of recruitment experience at National Staffing firms specializing in Administrative Support and Human Resources. Natasha is committed to supporting job seekers in their professional job search and takes pride in aligning individuals with excellent employers in the National Capital Region.

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