How to Elevate
Anyone looking for IT staffing can put out a call and get résumés through the door. Most tech jobs have several hundred applicants. Turning those résumés into great employees is where the real challenge lies.
The expectations of recruits – particularly the elite tech talent – are continuing to evolve. Meeting the expectations of these candidates is an essential part of convincing them to join your organization. Failing to meet their needs as a candidate can be a big red flag to potential employees. After all, a broken hiring process can be a sign of broken processes all over the organization.
The IT staffing process is your first chance to make a good impression. While the candidates are selling themselves to you, you also have to sell the position and the overall experience to them. Make your IT staffing process into an expression of how you do business and you will find better results.
Look for specific skills and experience
Your job postings and your search criteria need to focus on the specific skills and experience that are needed to do the job. While you might want to include “nice-to-have” knowledge or experience, studies have shown that some candidates immediately exclude themselves if they don’t match 100% of the criteria listed in the job listing. So, it’s best to focus on the baseline skills that are needed Day 1 on the job and can’t be taught to a newcomer.
By the same token, if nontechnical “soft skills” are important, be sure to screen for them. If the new position will be part of a team, look for candidates who mention teamwork and collaboration or have experience with specific team-based methodologies such as Agile Scrum.
Streamline the application process
Cover letters, nice résumé paper and large submission packets are a thing of the past. The environment thanks us for that.
But in many companies, they have been replaced with cumbersome web forms. These exercises in data entry force a candidate to rehash their entire résumé in a new format in order to be ingested into your specific screening application.
When faced with a dozen pages asking for entry of personal data and experience that are literally a duplicate of the Word file they already prepared, some candidates simply give up.
Even if it’s harder for your process, you need to develop a way accept an email and a Word or PDF file from interested applicants. A simple way to apply via existing job boards is also a popular method.
Be responsive to candidates
Communication is an important part of the hiring process. Keeping the candidates in the loop and updated is an essential function of a recruiter and the hiring managers who take over the process later on.
That means providing updates and status reports – even when the update is that “there is no update.” On average, job seekers report that only 14% of companies are responsive to them during the hiring process. But a good interview and hiring experience makes them more likely to accept an offer.
Make yourself available to the internal hiring team
Responding to the candidate is not your only responsibility. You also need to be available to the internal stakeholders throughout the process.
From a hiring perspective, the team leader or supervisor for the position is the subject matter expert. This means making yourself available for questions, inquiries and meetings with the recruiter. The recruiting and hiring staff are your representative to the candidates throughout the early screening process. It’s essential that they know everything they need to fully qualify the candidates, including technical details. They will also be the channel to you for specific questions of clarifications that the candidates might need answered. Supporting them internally will lead to a more productive relationship with potential candidates from the very start.
Craft your employer brand to give a good impression
Your corporate culture is an expression of your approach to work and the way you treat your employees. But your employer brand – while related – exists in the minds of people who aren’t yet part of your culture. The employer brand – or how potential employees think of your company – can reach out beyond the people you’ve spoken with through the influence of their social and professional networks.
Every interaction with the candidate pool forms a small element of this brand. This means that every contact with an individual job seeker can enhance or damage the overall impression that future candidates will have. Issues with communication, the interview process or any other factor in hiring can cascade forward to future candidates. Increasingly, the reputation of your employer brand can actually affect whether or not a top candidate will take your calls.
Ask for (and pay for) referrals from current employees
Happy employees are your best advocates. Creating and fostering an environment that encourages employee referrals can generate better candidate leads. It also can improve teamwork and help you understand the soft skills of a potential candidate.
Employee referral programs generally include an incentive cash reward, but that is more than made up for with lower overall hiring costs.
One downside of employee referral programs is potentially reducing the diversity of your staffing and candidate pool. Referred candidates might also expect preferential treatment in the hiring process even though the intention of the program is simply to add more candidates that you wouldn’t find normally.
Beef up your social presence
Getting your company message out there through social media can support your company culture as well as your employer brand. Making full use of scheduled postings and other carefully crafted messaging will help you build an audience and engage fully with your potential field of candidates.
This is especially important in the IT field, where thought leaders and innovators greatly impact the direction of the industry. As with any approach to social media, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. Be sure to employ experienced professionals in the field to ensure you get the full effect of a good social campaign.
Examine benefits, perks, etc.
You must be aware that your IT staffing efforts are actually competing with other potential employers. Your benefits package and additional perks can be a difference maker for any candidate with multiple offers.
Many tech companies are offering innovative benefits such as self-directed or unlimited time off. A full examination of your benefits package could lead to not only greater employee satisfaction, but also make your company more attractive to new candidates.
Technology is already used in staffing. But the user experience can have a negative impact on the overall impression of your company. We’ve already mentioned that the résumé ingestion process can be cumbersome. But even once you streamline the application, a more dynamic approach to processing can help you understand applicant date better.
Take your hiring tech a step forward beyond keyword searches. Tracking applicants with a full-featured tracking application will improve your insight and allow you to make more strategic decisions.
Video interviews are also a new trend, allowing you to offer more personal contact with early stage candidates.