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A Complete Guide to the Recruiting Process

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Today, candidates expect a lot more out of their workplace. They want to contribute to an outstanding culture that’s diverse and inclusive even when they’re working remotely. They want to feel like they belong and work on meaningful and inspiring projects. But it’s tough to convey that your company can provide all that and more in a job description or phone screening.

So how do you wow the right people with the right skills at the right time? The answer lies in a thorough and welcoming recruitment process. This piece will define the recruitment process, explain why it’s vital to a healthy culture, and outline each of the major steps you need to get right.

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process refers to the steps organizations take to attract and interview candidates to fill an open position. Recruiters, sourcers, hiring managers, and candidates all play a role in the process. HR oversees the recruitment process end-to-end at most companies, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and hiring managers are happy with new additions to their team.

The beginning of the recruitment process is about identifying potential applicants with the skills, expertise, and culture add hiring managers are looking for. This means building a company brand candidates recognize, writing clear and concise job descriptions, and encouraging qualified applicants to apply through advertising on job boards, reaching out to qualified candidates, and requesting referrals. Once folks have applied, HR rounds out the recruitment process by collecting and reviewing applications, coordinating interviews, helping hiring managers make final decisions, and eventually extending an offer to a selected candidate. Your recruitment process is part of a modern talent acquisition ecosystem.

Why is the recruitment process important?

There are several ways a well-defined recruitment process can benefit your organization, namely:

  • Clear expectations: A clear recruitment process gets everyone一candidates, hiring managers, sourcers, and recruiters一on the same page. Internal teams know what candidates they are going after, where to find those people, how to conduct thoughtful interviews, and what to consider when making tough decisions. Meanwhile, candidates are made aware of what will happen at every step of the hiring cycle.
  • Reduced hiring costs: An efficient recruitment process cuts out any unnecessary, costly steps and helps identify candidates who will have a positive influence on company culture and bottom line. Overall, an effective recruitment process helps teams identify the right talent faster, increasing time to value. Cutting costs starts with a complete calculation of recruitment cost per hire.
  • Higher quality hires: Being deliberate and proactive about recruiting brings in more qualified candidates who are likely to stay long term, which many companies now track with a Quality of Hire metric. And with a more efficient recruiting process, you can fast-track high-quality candidates before they have a chance to accept an offer elsewhere.
  • More diverse workforce: Your ability to attract and retain people who are different from each other一different backgrounds and experiences一can have a meaningful impact on your bottom line.
  • Reflects company values: The recruitment process is an ideal place to inject your company values, as it's the first set of interactions candidates have with your company. It’s also a great way to weed out candidates who don’t subscribe to the mission and bring those who do to the surface.
  • Better employee retention: When your recruitment process is humming along well, HR has more time to spend crafting learning and development plans for your current employees, increasing the chances of employees getting the resources they need to excel. A well-run process also decreases the stress HR feels day-to-day, increasing the chances you’ll retain your HR talent.

What goes into a good recruitment process?

Reaping all the benefits of a sound recruitment process doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful planning, modern technology, and commitment from each person involved in the process. Let’s dive into each of those best practices in detail.

Data-driven recruiting

Recruiting can feel like trying to find a needle in the haystack一especially if you’re trying to find and sift through candidates manually. Data-driven and AI-led recruiting removes the inefficiencies of manual recruitment, enabling you to uncover candidates with very specific skills, experience, and attributes quickly and accurately. And once those candidates start moving through your hiring process, a data-driven recruiting process helps you to track valuable metrics like where the best candidates come from, how long it usually takes to hire them, and how new hires perform over time.

Careful planning throughout candidate experience

Making your recruitment process seamless takes forethought, practice, and dedication, but the planning pays off. An organized, polished recruitment process sends a message to candidates that your company cares about their experience and wants them to succeed. Feeling supported and informed throughout the process gives candidates the confidence that your organization will continue to provide an exceptional experience if they become an employee.

Company-specific recruitment plans

Every company has its own values, mission, vision, and culture. Creating a company-specific recruiting plan ensures that the candidates you source, interview, and ultimately hire contribute to your company in a positive way. Remember to tie in your company’s stance on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging so that candidates know you are serious and committed to DEIB upfront.

Utilizing technology effectively for recruitment

Technology has the power to elevate and scale your recruiting process. From job posting sites to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to interview tooling, there are a wealth of solutions ready to help. Platforms like Findem are on the cutting edge of recruiting technology, combining thousands of publicly available datasets, using AI to narrow searches based on attributes, and automatically matching external and internal talent to open roles. Leveraging AI-based tools enables teams to search more data sources, faster, with more precision than is humanly possible.

Putting people first

When you think about it, recruiting is about changing lives. Switching companies is often an emotional experience, and should be treated as such. The best recruiters take this to heart, and design their process with that in mind, leaving extra time to answer candidates’ questions and finding ways to serve as a comforting guide in what can be a nerve-wracking process.

Steps in the recruitment process

Now that you have an idea of what a recruiting process is and the thought that goes into establishing one, it’s time to walk through a typical process, step-by-step.

1. Determining hiring needs

The first step in your recruitment process is to work with upper management to understand where the company is headed in the next year. Nail down which departments will be hiring, and for what roles. Having a rough idea of what is coming gives HR teams time to prepare for busy recruiting cycles and build a talent pipeline of likely candidates.

Once you know which teams want to hire talent and when, you need to determine what qualities hiring managers in each function are looking for in applicants. This may be slightly easier when you’re helping them find replacements (in those cases, you can reuse the employee’s old job description), but it’s more challenging if you’re starting from scratch. Jot down a list of past experience, technical skills, soft skills, and other characteristics an ideal candidate would have, and use other job descriptions for similar roles as inspiration.

Findem allows organizations to go even further with what attributes they want in a candidate. Think beyond job experience and skills to also consider attributes such as inspires loyalty, proven success at a similar stage company, experience with a company through IPO, and more.

2. Creating a recruitment plan

After you’ve identified your company’s hiring needs, it’s time to devise a plan to get there. Your hiring plan should be aligned to your company’s overall goals, and include a timeline. It  lays out sourcing and outreach targets, how the company’s ATS will be used throughout the cycle, when job descriptions will be posted and where, and who will scan profiles, perform phone screens, conduct interviews, and weigh in on final decisions. Your plan should also provide more detail regarding your marketing strategy, must haves vs nice to haves, screening criteria, interview questions, and interview training. Having a comprehensive plan helps internal teams feel prepared and ensures your company delivers an organized and polished candidate experience.

3. Writing a job description

Next comes the job description. At a minimum, your job descriptions should contain:

  • Your company’s name
  • The job location
  • The job title
  • Job duties and responsibilities
  • Minimum qualifications
  • Preferred qualifications
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Equal opportunity statement

That said, listing all of these elements can get boring fast, and a job description is akin to an ad for your company. So think of ways to make your job descriptions stand out. Introduce the job description with a blurb about your company’s mission and vision, highlight unique company traditions, and infuse your company’s style and tone throughout.

To make absolutely sure your job description is attracting the kind of talent you want, recruiters can put a job description into Findem to see what the talent pool looks like: Is it large enough? Is it finding the right people? Is it diverse enough? Using a real time view, recruiters can work with hiring managers to adjust requirements to broaden or narrow the talent pool to make sure that they are getting a strong applicant pool of highly qualified talent.

4. Advertising job openings

Unless your company has a huge following, don’t expect applications to be flying in as soon as your job description is published. You’ll need to do some strategic research about where to advertise your job openings. Some outlets could be traditional job sites like LinkedIn or Indeed, industry-specific job websites, or social media. Publicizing your jobs in niche communities or underrepresented groups are fantastic ways to attract a diverse set of candidates.

5. Recruiting candidates

Recruiting candidates is a complex process. There are 3 distinct ways to recruit: people who apply to job postings, referrals and internal candidates, and sourcing passive candidates一finding people who would be a good fit and reaching out to them.

Candidates can enter the recruitment process via internal or external sources. Internal sources like an employee transfer or promotion lead to a much more accelerated application and hiring cycle. Employees are already a part of your company’s culture and have a firm understanding of the role they are transitioning to. Instituting employee referral programs and contacting previous applicants are other internal sources that can speed up your recruitment process.

But you won’t always have these internal options waiting in the wings. So much of your recruitment will rely on going out and finding candidates from external sources. Traditionally, recruiters have used job fairs, professional institutes, advertisements, job portals, career sites, and on-campus recruiting, but this often results in lots of candidates with very poor fit.

Increasingly, recruiters are working with sourcers who find people with the qualities they seek and reach out to invite them to apply. These are called “outbound” or “passive” candidates. The good news is that technology can make it easier. Tools like Findem can search for candidates across multiple data sets, automatically match them with your job descriptions, and automate multi-touch outreach to gauge their interest.

6. Screening candidates

Recruiting isn’t just about getting candidates in the door; it’s also about vetting them for job fit and culture add. Below, we’ll outline several methods companies can use to narrow down their applicant pool.

Look beyond resumes

Resumes submitted through an ATS or a LinkedIn profile is only one view of a candidate’s qualifications. Modern recruiting systems like Findem consolidate and validate information across many publicly available datasets into a consolidated profile view. Looking for experience with Python? Prioritize candidates who don’t just have Python listed on their profile, but have verified code in Github.

Reviewing application materials

Before your application is live, it’s important to delineate what materials you want to gather from applicants, who will be reviewing those materials, and what evaluation criteria they will use. Application materials might consist of resumes, cover letters, work samples, or portfolios. Typically, HR staff members or recruiters are responsible for examining applicant materials and use pre-established criteria (often bullet points in the job description) to decide which applicants move on in the recruiting process.

Interviewing candidates

Interviews are some of the most influential parts of the screening process because they allow hiring managers and other team members to speak with candidates and ask them questions instead of just reading about their work. As such, interviews take place over the phone, on an online video platform, or in person.

Many companies use the concept of structured interviews, in which questions are decided upon ahead of time and correspond to competencies required to excel in the role (whether they be fuzzy or technical). By focusing on the factors that directly impact future performance and scoring candidates on the same standardized scale, companies can minimize the amount of bias in their interview process.

But interviews aren’t one-sided一candidates use them to gain information as well. Potential employees will want more context and color around how the team operates, the company’s primary goals, and what they can expect in terms of their career trajectory. At the end of each interview, the recruitment team and interviewer(s) decide which candidates will move to the next step.

Applicant assessments

While they may not be necessary for all positions, case interviews, take-home cases, or other live assessments can be critical for more technical or advanced positions. Assessments can be done in person or online to verify a candidate’s technical aptitude, test their ability to think on their feet, and confirm their critical thinking skills. Assessments can be conducted at any time in the process that the recruitment team deems appropriate.

Reference and background checks

Some positions may require more research into a candidate’s background than others. Peer or manager references and background checks are common ways of doing that due diligence. Often checks are completed towards the end of the hiring process when the hiring pool is down to one or two candidates.

7. Selecting a candidate and making a job offer

Picking a final candidate can be an agonizing decision, but don’t take too long. HR teams should be ready to weigh in on candidates’ performance throughout recruitment and assist hiring managers in timely decision-making. Once you’ve made a selection, it’s time to make an offer一but not just any offer. In this job market, your offer has to be attractive in terms of total compensation: salary, stock options (if applicable), benefits, and time off. Don’t be afraid to talk to the candidate to ensure your offer is in line with their expectations.

After you send the offer, candidates may want to negotiate, so HR teams and hiring managers should set salary and equity caps ahead of time. And because not all offers are accepted, companies usually do not tell other candidates of their final decision until the chosen candidate has signed the offer.

8. Onboarding the candidate

Onboarding should begin as soon as a candidate has accepted their offer. Sending them any training materials, helpful links, and instructions for setting up their benefits will help new hires feel welcomed and excited to start. Consider pairing new hires up with a buddy who can answer questions and arrange for them to meet with their managers consistently for the first few months. These may seem like little things, but making a terrific first impression is key to getting candidates up and running quickly and keeping them happy long-term.

Next steps for your recruitment process

Evolving candidate expectations, remote work, and the constantly growing demands of every company have made attracting and retaining employees harder and harder. But implementing an effective recruitment process saves your internal teams time, enhances the candidate experience, and takes the guesswork out of making the right hires. Of course, that’s easier said than done, particularly if your team isn’t using technology to their advantage.

Findem, a cloud-based people intelligence platform, helps professionals innovate and automate their recruitment strategies. With built-in talent benchmarking, AI-powered sourcing and outreach, and robust analytics, Findem supercharges your recruitment process from search to hire, setting the stage for higher engagement, satisfaction, and retention scores in the future.

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