TThe candidate just wasn’t interested in the role. The responsibilities seemed marginal, the raise nominal, and moving to a new city felt daunting. Then the recruiter mentioned that the manager would probably be looking for a replacement soon.
Suddenly interest grew.
I’ve seen this happen dozens of times in our company’s recruitment department, which conducts job placements with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. People want to know what role they will get after those for which they are being considered. And yet the interview process focuses on the person’s suitability for the job posting rather than providing them with a career path.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week that the job market was “out of balance” and there were only “modest signs” of a slowdown. The economy appears to be softening overall, but employers are holding on to workers and are still struggling to find talent.
So, getting the hiring process right is more important than ever – which in turn means helping candidates see themselves not just in the role, but as part of an organization that cares about their future. Here are five tweaks you can make to your process to become or remain an Employer of Choice:
Know that the path is everything.
It’s crucial to focus on where a job can lead, in addition to what it is. Fabienne Lauture Gordon, Recruiting Leader at Zillow, explains: “Candidates want to be seen for their talent and skills, but also to see where they still have room for growth.”
She suggests that hiring managers flesh out their track record of helping people develop: “Talk about where they still have room to learn and your ability to coach,” says Gordon. “Share more of your past experiences to encourage others. How many of your direct reports have been promoted or expanded because of your coaching skills?”
Examine your process and remove redundant steps.
Aware that they want to be more inclusive when hiring, many companies are tearing up old playbooks. To eliminate prejudice from the process, they put together interview panels, ask for memos or mission statements, and conduct personality tests.
But consider how the last guy (usually a guy) who had the job got in there. He didn’t have to jump through that many hoops. Why is it different for different talents?
Evaluate all steps and touchpoints, from making contact and applying to the interview and offer. What feels foreign? Are there really six stakeholders or can you narrow it down to three? Is your memo clear what is being asked, or is it a guessing game?
Once an offer is received, do you have a designated contact (hiring manager or recruiter or HR) to answer questions and quickly approve additional requests? In our recruitment business, we’ve seen too many instances of talent being lost in the email shuffle, with one manager reviewing egg freezing policy and another trying to get approval to attend a conference.
Speaking of perks and benefits, don’t leave the question of work-life balance to the candidate. “Employers need to look at talent not just by what they can do, but by who they are. You need to make it clear that your well-being in this role is just as important as your performance,” says April Rinne, author of FLUX: 8 superpowers to thrive in constant change.
Employers should start the relationship with an atmosphere of trust, even before hiring. “This means things like revising HR policies so talent can decide how much time off they need and giving talent a chance to update their own job description,” says Rinne. “Accepting a job offer from a company that does this becomes a lot easier because you get more visibility and you can use your own agency.”
Similarly, Gordon von Zillow suggests a concrete way to demonstrate whole-person support: “Learn what the candidate is passionate about and make space in their area for 5% of their time.” (That’s about three weeks a year.) She recommends tailoring job postings and tweaking roles and job descriptions to suit the final candidate’s motivations, whether it’s compensation or a desire to learn a new skill like design or management.
Harness the power of affinity and community—and make that extra call.
More than two years into the pandemic, candidates are still looking for meaning and community in their workplace. According to a study by Salesforce.org and the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals last year, three-quarters of companies say employee resource groups help them with employee retention. About 55% say ERGs help employers recruit and hire.
Anisha Nandi is CEO and co-founder of Verbate, a platform that helps companies manage and grow their workforce communities, from single parents to black engineers to veterans. “Particularly in a hybrid or distributed work environment, companies say these communities are incredibly effective at showing new hires that they will experience authentic connection and belonging in their workplace,” she says. “We’re getting closer to the point where there is an ERG that reflects the experience of every employee in your organization.”
If the candidate has revealed information about their identity or identities during the recruitment process, Gordon says it’s a great idea to have a resource group leader make a call and answer any questions about creating a community or belonging.
She also encourages hiring managers to call candidates after receiving an offer to repeat their enthusiasm and development opportunities. In some cases, a call from the CEO or a well-known employee can go a long way. Gordon calls this “a trust call.”
Establish the 30-60-90 schedule.
It’s not too early to expose candidates to your company’s onboarding process. A 30-60-90 document that provides a roadmap for the first three months on the job allows them to get a picture of themselves and get comfortable with the potential change. “Painting a picture of what onboarding will be like suppresses the fear of the unknown,” says Gordon.
Most companies have given little thought to these all-important changes. As an employer, showing more of your thoughtful and organized nature can really help make a decision in your favor — and set the stage for a long and mutually fruitful relationship.