The old adage is true: good people are hard to find. In many industries, and especially when it concerns IT talent, open roles drastically outnumber skilled professionals. Naturally, organizations respond to this skills shortage by ramping up recruiting efforts, but this often results in an increased response from unqualified applicants. While the overall quality of your recruiting strategy is important, the state of your candidate screening process can singlehandedly determine hiring success or failure.
Understanding That Less Is More
If it’s so hard to fill a single open role, it stands to reason that the more applicants you can consider the better chance you’ll have of finding the right fit. However, this is only true to an extent. The average number of applicants for a single job opening is 118. Does it make sense to go through the entire recruiting process, including holding interviews, checking references, and conducting necessary assessments for that many applicants? Of course not.
Allowing unqualified applicants to slip through the screening process and make it to the interview stage wastes precious time. The most efficient way to proceed is to identify the most qualified candidates quickly so that a hiring manager only has to interview and consider three or four exceptional candidates instead of twenty. But how can you narrow down the field effectively?
Considering Networking and Referrals First
It may not seem obvious but networking and internal referrals are a great form of screening. Before a job posting is disseminated across the internet, it’s a best practice to first consider if the perfect candidate is already known to your company. Perhaps it’s someone memorable a manager met at a conference or a LinkedIn contact of one of the VPs. In fact, 84% of organizations utilize social media in their recruiting strategy, and many find it effective for screening candidates. Likewise, the right person could be a current employee searching for a promotion or to move into a different department. Internal candidates have already been effectively screened for cultural fit, work habits, attitude, and other intangible qualities that are hard to spot by reading a resume or even in an interview.
Letting your internal staff know that you’re preparing to hire for a certain role can help bring in a coveted referral. Employee referrals have an outstanding 40% applicant conversion rate and provide a shorter recruiting process for 67% of companies. Your colleagues know what it takes to succeed at your company and they aren’t likely to waste your time or theirs bringing in candidates who don’t have a good chance of success. They’ll refer people who are truly interested in the job as well as having the requisite hard and soft skills to thrive. If you can land just two or three referrals for a role, then you can save yourself the trouble of screening a mountain of resumes and make hiring for your open position a breeze.
Scrutinizing Resumes Properly
When you don’t receive referrals for a role and end up flooded with resumes for a public posting, it can bog the recruiting process down instantly. Whoever is in charge of screening these resumes initially, usually HR, must be fully briefed by the managers who will ultimately be supervising the new hire. Communication is imperative at this early juncture so that HR is not left simply comparing resumes to the job description. At the start and as a team, setting out specific criteria of what makes an applicant worthy of an interview will help limit questionable candidates from making it too far.
Armed with the right criteria, using an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can help filter out unqualified candidates based on keywords found (or not found) in their resumes. In addition to checking essential basic requirements related to a role’s area of expertise, it’s important to gauge cultural fit during this time. Does the candidate seem well-rounded? Are there activities that they participate in outside of their work that indicate they will not just mesh with but thrive in your unique environment? An ATS and keywords can’t find the one best candidate or tell you who to hire instantly, but they can help you narrow the pile of resumes so that you can then further evaluate and select the best candidates to present to the hiring manager.
Limiting Interviews and Decision Makers Is Essential
Once initial screening is completed, the most successful businesses are able to go from the first interview to an offer very quickly. To avoid this stage becoming a pain point, ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary to hold multiple interviews with the same candidate over the span of several days or weeks. There’s no question that interviews are vital to making sure you’ve found the right person, but drawing things out is counterproductive.
Today’s candidates have in-demand skill sets. It may seem harmless to hold a second or third interview in order to get an extra opinion, but during that time, a candidate may receive and accept an offer from a competitor. After all, 57% of job seekers say the most frustrating part of a job search is the time spent waiting after an interview. To expedite the process, combine interviews however possible. If more than one decision maker must meet with a candidate, schedule a single interview that lasts longer or hold multiple interviews back to back on the same day. Build on the efficiency screening has provided. Continue to find ways to save time and make better decisions more quickly to land the talent you need.
Improving the Candidate Screening Process
Clearly, a lot goes into the candidate screening process. Depending on your industry and the exact role at hand, that might include background checks, technical assessments, and more. It isn’t easy to speed up the screening process while maintaining integrity and quality, but doing so is the way organizations have found hiring success despite today’s tough hiring climate.
If you’d rather have exceptional tech talent delivered right to you than overhaul your recruiting process, reach out to us today.
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