Want to attract top talent into your organization? Here are five things recruiters and HR managers can do to improve the application experience.

Hiring managers and recruiters often have something to say about the behavior and lack of professionalism of candidates.

But maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Have you ever considered that your recruiting practices might be wasting people’s time, confusing applicants and driving away top candidates?

Leading organizations focus on all the touch-points with their customers, suppliers and, yes, candidates. You need to start caring more about your candidate’s overall experience and exceeding their expectations. Here’s how:

Offer clear and specific job descriptions

Deliberately vague-sounding job descriptions irritate candidates. They make it seems like you don’t know what you’re looking for, haven’t spent enough time to profile the job, or that you’ve hastily cut and paste from another job you filled. Poorly written job descriptions give a bad impression.

Great recruiters don’t take shortcuts. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Instead, use specific language. Sit down and write a list of tasks included in the job. Remember to explain what’s in it for them, as well; it’s not all about you. Applicants will self-screen if they don’t like what they see, which will save you time later.

One of worst things you can do is to go through the motions of advertising a job when an internal person has been chosen or the deal is already complete. Job seekers have enough stress without being exposed to ghost openings.

That doesn’t mean there’s never a time and place for an open-ended job posting, but tread carefully.

Make it easy for qualified candidates to apply

The trend is to require prospective candidates to apply online, usually through a Web portal. That’s great if it works. If this is how you receive applications, however, you should try it yourself, noting exactly how long it takes to upload a resume (and hope it doesn’t crash or hang). Any frustrations you feel will be felt even more by the applicant, and if it takes too long, he will walk away. Ask yourself: Is my application process too tedious?

Also make sure to confirm receipt of applications, as that’s not only polite but also necessary to show you have it on file. The candidate needs to know the application didn’t just fall into a black hole. This is the single most voiced complaint by candidates, so take it seriously.

Speed up the end-to-end process

Some hiring cycles take months on end. Look for bottlenecks where you can take time out of the process. Candidates have other opportunities, too, and you don’t want to get to selection time only to find the person you want has a better offer.

Be honest and upfront, letting candidates know about how long it will take from start to finish and how many interviews they’ll likely will have to endure. One way to limit the inconvenience, cut costs and speed up interviews is to use video or Skype, especially for out-of-towners.

Communicate… and then communicate some more

Keep your candidates in the loop every step of the way. You can even call them when you have no real news, as applicants always appreciate knowing where they stand.

Where possible, use the candidate’s preferred method of communication. Don’t call them at work; instead, leave a message or text and ask them to call you back, not forgetting to add your contact details. (It happens.)

After an interview, give some feedback, even if to simply say goodbye. Email is fine, just keep it short and professional and address the candidate by name. No one wants a “Dear Sir or Madam” letter.

What candidates hate most is the dreaded silence. Tell them the next step and make sure you follow through as promised. Do what you say you will do.

Treat the hiring process as a marketing opportunity

Candidates can be customers and customers can be candidates. Give them open access to you, as it lets them feel like they are in control of the process. The goal is to leave your applicants with a warm feeling of your organization, even if they were ultimately not successful in their application.

Social media provides an open platform and is the first stop for disgruntled or poorly managed candidates. The last thing you want to see is your company being trashed on Twitter or Facebook for failing to meet expectations.

Do your best to give every person who wanders across your job advertisement an easy road. A good test is to ask a colleague — or, even better, your manager — to apply and see how long it takes.

Your hiring process should be simple enough to attract people who are not even looking. That’s when you’ll find the best candidates, which will make both them and you happy.

Elaine Porteous is a freelance business writer with a specific interest in HR strategy and talent management. She writes for niche trade journals and creates content for corporate websites.


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    If you have a hiring process that takes months upon months then either the position is very high end or someone is not taking it seriously. In today’s market, job’s can fill fast with qualified candidates that leaves you with the less qualified candidates if you act slow.


  3. 5 Ways To Simplify Your Hiring Process

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