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Hiring: Your Best and Worst PR
Photo of a desk by Freddie Marriage via Unsplash

You identify the need, create a budget, write a job description, and align the position with your business objectives and goals; you are ready to make a new hire. You post, and then you wait…

And then you get busy and completely forget about this post that now lives in the black hole of online job postings. Some people apply, but you’re busy— developing products, running sprints, meeting with potential customers, managing your existing team, after all, you are short staffed! Your applicants wait patiently in an email inbox that you rarely check. They wait… a week? Two? Three? In what feels like moments to you, weeks have flown by and your applicants are creating decisive opinions about you and how you run your business.

Prioritizing your hiring process can make or break your organization’s external reputation. Our world is always a bit smaller than we recognize, and qualified professionals, talk… to other qualified professionals. “I applied to this position on Linkedin, and never heard back.” “I sent an email to the hiring manager directly, and I never heard back.” I followed up with HR, and I never heard back.” My personal favorite, “I had a great interview, and I never… heard… back…”

Regardless of the reality of the situation, this applicant will project negativity towards you and your company due to lack of response. It is absolutely fair that the person applied to your role without really reading your job description or while being ridiculously unqualified. But, their best friend, brother, stepsister, past colleague, third cousin twice removed, very well might be exactly who you are looking for. Expressing courtesy to all that reach out, is one of the easiest ways to generate good will, strengthen your professional network and build brand reputation.

I chalk up our lack of response to poor email management and that all-consuming, yet elusive: “I. Am. So. Busy.” I have to call bullshit in this age of (literally thousands) of tools to help organize our day, and our communications (written or otherwise). A non-response is simply unacceptable.

A timely response, even when that response is “nope,” can generate goodwill and an overall positive attitude about your company’s perceived culture. Honestly can sometimes be hard to hear and shows integrity. Being ignored is simply cruel.  

What does a positive hiring process look like? It looks exactly as you think it should, we just need to hold each other accountable and enforce the process.

Prioritize Hiring as if it were a Client or Customer

We often get caught up in “client work” or product sales that are revenue generating RIGHT NOW. Gaining the right employee on your team? Also highly revenue generating. Prioritizing the hiring process ensures your current staff is not spread too thin as well as increases MORALE, PRODUCTIVITY, EFFICIENCY, PROFITABILITY. Losing an employee to burn-out, is really, really expensive and perpetuates the notion that your company is unorganized, unsupportive, not invested in its people, a sweat shop and lacks stability.

Have a clear hiring process, and enforce that process

Start by creating a timeline based on a realistic start date. I hear, “yesterday!!!!!” as the preferred start date, pretty darn often. This is anything but realistic. Let’s work backward. Today is June 1, you would like to see your new employee start on July 1. Thirty days should be doable… right? Think again. In today’s candidate-tight economy, the best candidate is likely already working. Your position should entice, woo and be a move up for someone already qualified for the role. So, we need to factor in a minimum of 2 weeks for their notice, which means we need to extend our offer on June 15… But wait! Those pesky candidates may need a day or two (or more) to review your offer, compare/contrast your benefits, discuss with a spouse or trusted mentor. Now we need to extend our offer on June 10. This gives us exactly 7 business days to interview multiple candidates, more than once; gain buy-in from all stakeholder’s, create an offer, deliver that offer voice to voice and in writing. Doable? Well… I’ve seen it done, but it is really rare, and really hard. Hiring can happen as fast as 48 hours, but on average you need a solid 75 days from posting to start date.

Outline for an Effective Hiring Process

1. Start with clear goals, a researched budget and a well-defined written job description no more than one page. (I could dedicate an entire article to job descriptions and resumes, the necessary evils of the hiring process).

2. Identify the stakeholders. Your interview process should contain the following (no matter your size): Hiring Manager(s) = Ultimate Decision Maker, Influencers = Those that can and should provide input and opinion but do not have a final say, Culture Fit = Often can be peers, or select employees at your company that have tenure and can speak to their own experience working at your organization.

3. Review candidates daily. Spend 30 minutes every day on Linkedin to find your humans and reach out. (If I could change the world, I would start with Linkedin’s search functionality, and then tackle world peace.)

4. Once you’ve identified your candidates, make sure they fall into your budget for the role, (For more information about confirming compensation expectations, go to clicktalent.net). Let’s not waste your time or theirs if we aren’t in the salary ball park together.

5. Schedule First Round Interviews. Round One should be with a hiring manager only. 45 – 60 minutes. Preferably in person. Don’t waste time with phone screens. 90% of all phone screens garner an in-person interview, therefore skip that step. When you meet someone in person, you will likely know inside of 10 minutes if you DO NOT want to hire that person. It takes a bit more digging to know that you for sure DO want to hire them. Hence, the Influencers and Culture Fit interviews.

6. Provide feedback and next steps to your candidate within 48 hours of their interview. This time frame seems to be the single most difficult objective to meet in our professional world today. If you can do this, you can conquer the world!

7. If the candidate is moving forward, schedule Round 2/Final interviews. This should be 30 minutes for the Influencer interview, and 30 minutes for Culture Culture Fit. Someone on the team should ferry them around the office for a quick tour.

8. Gain consensus and generate an offer. Because you have a template for your offer letters, they should only take 5 minutes to create. Email/VM your candidate, let them know you’d like to extend an offer and provide them with times you can hop on the phone.

9. Voila! New Employee starts in 2.5 weeks from date of their acceptance.

Your timeframe may spread out over the course of days or weeks. Scheduling hiring managers and candidates can be as complex as neuroscience. If you simply commit to a 48 hour response time from the inception of all communication you will build your and your company’s reputation for being respectful, stable, courteous and overall having your shit pulled together.

This process will ultimately attract more talented professionals to your organization and create positive chatter externally. Next up, keeping that train on the tracks. Onboarding and Retention!

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