February 18, 2019

Hiring good employees is on every company’s mind, but have you been turning them away unknowingly with a lousy recruiting system?

It starts with the job ad, one of the most important elements of the hiring process because it’s the first thing candidates see. Yet, it is often neglected. The job ad sets the tone for not just the kind of employees you’re looking for, but also the type of company you’re building. Most of the time, though, they don’t really say much. There’s nothing about the company culture or what it’s like to work there—for example, does it follow a top-down approach, or adopt a flat structure?

What’s more, job ads tend to make the company sound presumptuous. Case in point, “Company A requires a top-notch HR manager who meets the following requirements. If you’re not good enough for us, don’t bother applying.” Instead, the company should be convincing the candidate of its worth like a reverse job application.

A job ad is like a marketing tool. Not everyone is dying to work for you, and blindly willing to go through hell and high water just to be employee number 243. When you’re attracting potential customers, you don’t alienate them by calling them “the selected customer”. Likewise, the term, “the selected candidate”, tells job-seekers that the company isn’t interested in them—i.e. this is a Harvard graduates-only zone.

Job postings also tend to leave these three crucial areas of information out: why there’s an opening (to replace an incompetent staff member? to expand the marketing department?), what you’re expected to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, and most importantly, the salary.

You may think displaying the salary range will attract people who are just working for a pay cheque, but then again, we’re all technically working for money. What you’re really accomplishing by omitting that detail is wasting time, on your end and theirs.

Talents who recognise their value won’t settle immediately, as they know that businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs. The lack of salary information tells them it’s probably not an impressive amount, thus turning them away. Why spend hours on a cover letter and endure ceaseless rounds of tests and interviews for a job that’s ultimately underpaid?

Another major bugbear for job applicants is lengthy online forms on outdated software. The application process should be as simple as writing a cover letter and attaching a resume. The longer the procedure, the more likely the candidate is going to abandon the pursuit entirely, which is the devastating equivalent of shopping cart abandonment.

Then, there’s also the post-interview radio silence—no follow-up or updates on when a decision will be made. This can go on for weeks when it should be capped at five days. Even when you’re still interviewing other candidates, being honest and communicative is far better than leaving applicants completely out of the loop.

If you’re KIV-ing someone who is an excellent fit to wait for a better person to come along, you might as well kiss them goodbye. Your competitors are likely eyeing them too and making speedier offers.

During the interview, employers are also expected to know who they’re interviewing. At the very least, they should have read through the applicant’s resume. Asking them to regurgitate their educational and professional background on the actual day just sends an insulting message: I didn’t prepare for today because I don’t care about you.

Scripted interview questions also reiterate the recruiter’s lack of interest (and even lack of knowledge about the job itself), with “Why should we hire you?” as the worst question of all. Again, it reveals a selfish mindset that focuses on how employees can benefit the company, instead of the other way round.

Businesses forget that candidates are also consumers, and that Glassdoor exists. Word will spread about a negative job application experience, driving not just future candidates but customers away. A survey by CareerArc confirms this, showing that of all the candidates who’ve had a bad experience, 72% have talked about it online or in-person with someone. What seems like a talent shortage may actually turn out to be an internal issue that stems from a flawed recruitment process. Perhaps, it is time companies rethink the way they hire.