How to Fix Your Outdated Hiring Process Before It's Too Late

11/13/2016 06:54 pm ET

As a business, large or small, do you have a plan in place to handle the projected exodus of baby boomers over the next two decades?

Or a strategy that addresses the fact that the remaining talent pool will be smaller?

Does your plan include taking a good, hard, look at how you recruit, screen, and interview candidates?

If it doesn’t, then you had better start planning now if you want to attract top talent.

In an article written by Julie Tappero, …”the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018, 25% of the workforce will be 55 and older…”. Tappero also notes that, “…a poll by [the] AARP revealed that 48% of companies have not, and will not, do any strategic planning to analyze the impact on their businesses of retirement by their Boomer employees.”

For a lot of businesses, forecasting and planning for this change in the workforce seems daunting, or even pre-mature.

However, we are already in the thick of the transition, and every day that passes, the number of individuals hitting retirement age continues to increase.

In an article for The Globe and Mail, it is also pointed out that, “…the biggest challenge for the Canadian economy – as well as those of most major Western countries whose populations are similarly maturing – is that the looming retirement of the boomer generation amounts to a giant brake on the labor force”.

How does this affect your recruitment and hiring practices? Well, it impacts it in two ways:

1. Less candidates will mean that you will have to step up your recruitment game

2. To prevent the exit of experienced employees, you will have to step up your recruitment and retention game

Notice a trend here?

Organizations have turned the process of recruiting and retaining good talent, into a game that candidates are made to feel ‘lucky’ to be taking part in.

But the odds are about to flip to the employee.

So organizations who do not recognize the value of the individual, are going to find themselves on the losing side if they do not make changes to their hiring processes.

Let’s take a look at why the hiring process is so important, especially for the upcoming changes to the workforce.

Present-Day Hiring Practices

Over the last few decades, the process of applying for a new position has become impersonal, stripped of human contact, and prioritized around algorithms.

Add to this mix that fact that candidates have been trained to expect radio silence after applying for a position, and the connection between a potential candidate and your organization is widened even further.

If your organization promotes inclusivity, employee engagement, open communication, and a close partnership between all members of the business, then this needs to be reflected in your recruiting practices.

If you are trying to attract talent to your organization, from a dwindling pool of candidates, you will no longer be able to hide behind an application form portal.

Let alone expect that you will convince a soon-to-be retiree to stall that particular milestone and come to work with you.

Reality Check

If you are not treating candidates with respect during the interview and screening process, it says a lot about how you will treat them when inside.

Like anything else in the world of business, relationship building is crucial to the success of a business.

Your relationship building starts the moment you put out a call to action for an open position.

Long-form web applications, auto-generated thank you messages, and cliff-hanger responses will no longer be tolerated in the upcoming years.

The excuse that your business receives too many applications to justify a human response will be seen as just that – an excuse.

Remember, Candidates are People Too

The first thing that you can do to remedy an outdated hiring process is to start by responding to every single applicant that submits their information.

Of course, there will be an expected number of applications that are not a good match no matter which way you look at it. These you can red-flag and short-list to start responding back to right away.

However, there is usually a larger pile of candidates that fall into the maybe, probably, and call immediately, piles.

The tendency here is for recruiters, hiring managers, or human resource professionals to start at the top and work their way down the list.

When you see a candidate application that just screams “perfect!!”, you want to get to them quickly.

But this does not mean that you ignore the rest of the applicants while you are trying to sort out communication with the front-runners.

Send a communication to every single applicant that does not fit the red-flag pile, and be thoughtful. No auto-responders here – it might be easier for you, but it’s not professional.

This is the crucial point in the beginning of the relationship where you, the business, get to make your first impression.

If a candidate’s first impression of you is a poor one, but your competitor treated them with respect for their time and as the busy professional they are, which invitation for an interview do you think they would be more inclined to accept?

Remember, Candidates Have Busy Schedules Too

Once the decision for who will be interviewed is made, don’t drag this out.

Everyone has a full schedule, so expecting good candidates to drop their current responsibilities to meet your priorities is unrealistic.

When you are looking to set up times to interview individuals, be mindful that they are trying to rearrange their entire calendar to accommodate you.

Which you should be grateful for, as the one asking for help.

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

It is well understood that there are often many people involved in the process of hiring a candidate. As such, it can take a bit of time to get consensus from all stakeholders that need to be involved.

However, during this time, your candidate is waiting.

Interviewing with your competitor.

Possibly being wooed by their current employer to stay.

If they are left with the impression that you will get back to them ‘eventually’, you may miss your window of opportunity to hire them at all.

This means providing updates on the process, even if it is simply to say that no news has come back yet, so that they do not feel completely in the dark.

If you are expecting qualified, skilled, and capable candidates to consider your company as the place that they will contribute their expertise and their time, then you will have to show that you are willing to put in as much dedication towards them as you will ask them to give to you.

As we watch the Baby Boomers move slowly out of the workforce and into retirement, and the remaining generations step forward to fill their places, your business would be wise to introduce some human interaction into the hiring process.

If not, you can bet that your competitors will.

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