The hiring process is a lot like dating. You put yourself out there, meet a bunch of people, learn more about them, then connect with one in the hopes that you build a long-lasting and meaningful relationship.
But just like dating has changed (swiping right, for example), so too has the hiring process. And if you’re not keeping up to date with what’s in and what’s out, you may miss out on some phenomenal candidates for your open roles.
Here are nine outdated hiring practices to avoid and what you can do instead.
9 Outdated Hiring Practices to Avoid
1. Reusing the Same Old Job Description
As you’re getting ready to post the opening, you may dust off the old job description, update some dates, and figure it’s ready to go. However, that may not be the wisest choice.
As Carol Cochran, Vice President of People & Culture at FlexJobs, notes, “When someone leaves, do an audit of what their role was and whether or not it has the same impact or value to your organization.” A lot can change between the time you last hired for the position and now. The old job description may not work anymore.
And when you do post the opening, Cochran advises posting more than a basic, generic job description. “Just as we expect candidates to customize their cover letters and resumes, companies should customize job postings to fit the work and type of candidate they’re looking for.”
2. Using Outdated Language
Just as duties and responsibilities change, so do expectations. As Cochran points out, “The job post is creating the first employee experience, and you should be intentional in how it’s written.”
To help convey to potential candidates what your company culture is like, consider all the ways you describe it, directly and indirectly. For example, adding gender-neutral language to the job description can encourage people who normally wouldn’t consider your company to apply for the role.
3. Omitting Salary
It’s frustrating to get to the end of the hiring process only to discover that the candidate wants a salary that’s very different from the one you’re offering. To help prevent this, include a salary range in the job posting to help candidates self-select out of the process.
And keep in mind that some states require you to include this information in your job posting. This applies not only to companies based in that state but also to remote companies that hire staff in that state.
4. Relying Too Much on Degrees and Experience
Another outdated hiring practice is relying too much on degrees or a minimum amount of years of experience to be considered for the job. For example, requiring three to five years of experience might seem like a good way to weed out candidates that lack the skills you’re looking for. But you may overlook candidates who have the potential to grow into the role and stay with your company for a long time.
While experience is an important factor to consider during the hiring process, don’t overlook transferable skills—the skills an employee can use across multiple roles in multiple fields. And don’t rely on college degrees as a measure of ability. There are many ways people can gain the skills and experience you’re looking for. As the pandemic demonstrated, you can learn a lot online and in your basement!
5. Not Being Upfront About Expectations
Once you’ve settled on a group of candidates, discuss the crucial aspects of the role during a screening or first round of interviews. Be honest about the salary range, the expected schedule (remote, hybrid, or in-person), how flexible it is, and anything else that could make or break a candidate’s decision.
Much like putting salary in the job posting, being upfront and honest about the position early on will help candidates self-select themselves out, making your hiring process more efficient.
6. Ignoring Culture Fit
While having the right skills and experience is part of the hiring process, it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. The reality is that if a candidate lacks some skills, on-the-job training will likely help fill that gap.
The gap that’s harder to fill is culture fit. Someone who isn’t happy with the job or feels out of place is less likely to do a good job no matter how much training you give them. So don’t overlook this crucial component of the hiring process.
But keep in mind that you’re not the only one considering culture fit. The candidate is evaluating you just as much as you are evaluating them. Cochran advises employers to “always leave time for candidate questions and decide what your story is. What do you want to share about the company, the team, and the role that will help them make their decision?”
7. Asking for Free Work
Hiring is, in many ways, risky. Sure, you’ve got a resume that demonstrates the candidate has the skills and experience you need. And when the time comes, you’ll check their references and pass if you find red flags. But do you know everything you really need to know about a candidate’s ability?
That’s where a project often comes into play. Projects can help you see if the candidate can truly do the job.
The problem, though, is that applicants may feel they’re being taken advantage of—that the employer is getting free work out of them while they may end up without a job. Before you ask for a project, consider the candidate’s view and how you can address their concerns.
“People are investing more time than ever in their job searches,” says Cochran, “and asking them to do work through the hiring process can be tricky. Are you asking for something that is considered intellectual property? Try to design exercises that give you the information you need but don’t require very much time from a candidate. If it’s a heavier ask, you may offer to send a gift card in exchange for their submission.”
8. Ghosting Candidates
Ghosting candidates is another outdated hiring practice to avoid. It speaks volumes to candidates about how you feel about them. And given the transparency in the hiring process these days (think: anonymous review sites), damaging your brand is probably not worth the risk.
While you don’t have to be specific, a simple “we’re moving on” note will do wonders for helping you attract quality candidates in the future.
9. Ending the Hiring Process After the Offer
Finally, the interview process is not the end of the hiring process. While you should feel confident in your ultimate hiring decision, to help reassure yourself and your new hire, keep interviewing them after they start.
Talk to your new employee and see how they feel about the job. Ask if the job posting matches the role. And ask how they felt about the hiring process too. All of this can help you improve your hiring process the next time around.
Keep Up With Change
Staying on top of what’s in and what’s out in hiring practices will help you attract and retain top talent, helping you build a team that sticks together in the long run.
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