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It’s easy to see that hiring isn’t the same as it used to be. The employer-candidate dynamic is changing. Job seekers have more power to dictate what they expect from an employer and employers must find ways to meet those demands in order to hire top talent. The hiring landscape itself is vastly different. You can find candidates (and they can find you) anywhere – on job boards, in your stores, in your Instagram feeds, and more.

The job market is a competitive place. Employers, recruiters and hiring managers cannot sit idle and expect people to line up outside. We listed some recruiting best practices to help you bring your A game to the recruiting field and find the employees you want.

Prioritize soft skills

Soft skills are in high demand, but in short supply. According to LinkedIn, these are the most in-demand soft skills: creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management. But are soft skills actually in short supply? Are employers not finding the soft skills they want or are they just not actively looking for and evaluating soft skills throughout the recruiting process?

With AI and job automation on the rise, soft skills are more important than ever. They are what separates average employees from the top-notch. Business owners need to be able to identify not only good soft skills, but also poor soft skills in candidates. All too often employers, recruiters or hiring managers prioritize hard skills over soft skills throughout the recruiting process and not the other way around.

How can business owners assess soft skills in the hiring process? LinkedIn recommends:

  • Taking time to identify and define soft skills needed for the role and determining which skills are most respected at your company
  • Asking problem-solving questions to see soft skills in action
  • Consider using online tools to prescreen candidates

Compliance is a must do

Compliance always has been and always will be integral to recruiting and hiring. There are a bevy of federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the hiring process based on:

  • Age
  • Citizenship
  • Race/color
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Family and medical leave use
  • Military service
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation

Those are bound by these federal employment laws:

Beyond the federal laws, there are state and local laws that oftentimes provide stricter standards for business owners to follow. It is imperative that business owners, recruiters and hiring managers (or anyone interacting with job candidates or potential job candidates) be trained on how to avoid discrimination throughout the hiring process.

Besides staying within the bounds of the law, employers that do not actively seek to identify and correct implicit bias in their own organizations are doing themselves a disservice. You could potentially be screening out great employees without realizing it. For example, perhaps you do not have an application that is accessible to people with vision disabilities. You are automatically ruling out candidates that could be a great fit for the position and your company. Those employers that regularly audit their recruiting processes and procedures give all candidates a fair chance at employment and themselves the opportunity to hire the best employees.

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Discover high quality candidate pools through employee referrals

One of the best kept secrets that’s not actually a secret is employee referrals. Every one of your employees is essentially a recruiter for your company. Are you looking at them and treating them that way? Your employees act as unofficial brand ambassadors for your company every day. If they are happy and like their jobs, they will tell their friends, families, and social media followers about how much they like you. If they aren’t happy, they’ll do the same thing. Your employees hold so much power, yet so much opportunity.

Employee referrals generate the best return on investment above other recruiting methods. They can reduce your time to hire, provide higher quality candidates, increase retention, and maintain your company culture and brand.

  • 82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generating the best return on investment
  • 88% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generated quality of new hires (LinkedIn)

When your company culture and management are in check, sharing positive experiences about work will become more natural for employees. Even when things are going well, employees still might need an incentive to motivate them to provide referrals. Building an employee referral program that awards candidates that provide high quality employee referrals is a standard practice in many organizations. Some offer cash, but you can provide incentives that motivate your unique employee population, like an extra PTO day, free lunches, bonuses and more.

Woo your job candidates

You should be courting your potential and current job applicants. If you’re interested, you need to let them know, otherwise they will find someone else who treats them better. That is where the candidate experience comes in. The candidate experience is everything from a candidate’s initial contact with a company and every interaction leading up to hiring and onboarding.

Do you have to worry about candidate experience if you don’t want to hire them? We say, you want to focus on this especially if you don’t hire them.

Of candidates who had a positive candidate experience:

  • 62% will increase their relationship with a brands products and networks
  • 78% would refer someone in the future
  • 62% would apply again (Monster)

In an age of increased transparency and excessive sharing, candidates that have positive or negative experiences are apt to share their experiences in online reviews or social media platforms that are accessible to anyone. It’s almost certain that potential candidates have already interacted with your brand several times, via social media, an advertisement, an email campaign, a customer service phone call, or a purchase in-store or online (and more!). All of those interactions are part of the candidate experience and could impact how candidates perceive you, which directly affects whether they will apply for a job or not.

You have to identify all the points of connection between your organization and potential job candidates, which makes managing the candidate experience a team effort because it’s not just a human resources function. You might need to coordinate with your hiring manager, social media and marketing teams, customer service, recruiting and HR teams in order to manage the entirety of the process.

Candidate experience doesn’t just impact your ability to hire new employees, your applicants have the potential to be your customers or they already are. How you treat candidates and potential candidates impacts your bottom line and their long-term relationship with your brand. That is a big deal and should be treated as such.

How can you make the candidate experience a priority?

  • Identify all of the touch points along the talent acquisition process – first interaction with the brand, job descriptions, application, interviews, job offer, training, and more.
  • Evaluate how your brand presents itself
  • How do you stack up against the competition

Pro tip: Don’t stop trying to win candidates after you’ve hired them. Keep the spark alive by treating your employees like you do your candidates. Learn more about improving retention and employee engagement >

Invest in an Applicant Tracking System

Using modern tools like an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can provide great relief from the burdens of managing certain aspects of the recruiting process, specifically related to finding and hiring candidates. ATS software helps make sure no candidates slip through the cracks. A good ATS software should be able to:

  • Help you assess and compare potential hires
  • Keep track of resumes and applications
  • Digitize all the paperwork of the offer process
  • Publish jobs on job boards and social media channels easily
  • Help guide interviewers
  • Generate recruiting reports on demand
  • Keep recruiters and hiring teams in sync

ATS software builds on your candidate experience. It offers timely and relevant communication at crucial points in the recruiting process and helps keep you and your team organized so you can put your best foot forward. Applicants are taking the time and effort to apply. Be considerate and thank them for applying and promptly letting them know where they are in the hiring process.

The benefits of using applicant tracking systems are many. They speed up the recruitment process, thereby lowering costs. They can help improve the quality of hire, improve cross-functional collaboration, which helps improve your relationship with candidates.

  • 86% of candidates report that not receiving a basic application confirmation email creates a bad candidate experience
  • 22% of candidates who received an email said the communication was weak and inconsistent
  • 73% reported never having received a communication at all (Monster)

With all that being said, technology as a tool is wonderful, and when used as a complement to what you are already doing sets you apart from the pack. So don’t forget to infuse a human touch; you don’t want your candidates to feel like they are talking to a robot.

Zero in on employer brand

By now, you should know this is something you should be thinking about. Your employer brand is an amalgamation of many of the things we’ve just discussed. It is more than what you do or a product or service you offer. A brand is the embodiment of your leadership, values, company culture, personality, and more. We are a hyper connected society which means people can interact with you whenever and wherever they are, long before they might be sitting across from you at an interview. Managing how you are perceived is more important than ever.

If you feel like you’ve got a clear and solid view of what your brand is and means, be authentic and sincere. Show off what you’ve got and what you can offer candidates.

If you aren’t sure of what you stand for or how you appear to people on the outside: Find out! Solicit feedback, and use that feedback to make improvements. Work with company leadership and your employers to build a healthy and strong brand.

How can XcelHR help?

XcelHR is a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO. We’ve spent the last 25 years helping small business owners manage the duties of running a business and managing employees. Not to brag, but we’re HR experts. We help our clients run payroll, hire and onboard new employees, offer employee benefits, manage risk, and more. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you think you might need and extra hand, give us a call at 800.776.0076 or contact us here. We’re happy to help!