Mary Kay Ash, a wildly successful businesswoman and billionaire who employed over 800,000 people in over 30 countries, once said: “A company is only as good as the people it keeps”.
It’s probably safe to assume that she knew what she was talking about.
According to the latest small business statistics, recruiting and retention are the top challenges small business owners face. But, how do you get the right people to work for you? This is the hard part — which is why we’ll be discussing the recruitment process in this article.
So, let’s dive into the recruitment steps and techniques you can employ to maximize your chances of hiring that perfect candidate.
Table of Contents
What is the recruitment process in HR?
The recruitment of new employees is the primary role of Human Resource Management (HRM).
It is a delicate and costly process that involves finding and selecting the candidates whose skills, qualifications, experience, and character best fit the open position and the overall company culture.
While the human resources department leads the recruitment process, many other employees — such as team leads and managers — are vital in selecting the right candidates. As such, they are often actively included in the hiring process.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
Recruitment is just a small portion of what the HR department handles. If you want to learn more about how HR handles the management of their projects, check out the following blog post:
7 Steps to take for a successful recruitment process
As the phrase “recruitment process” suggests, this is not a one-time activity.
Successfully hiring new employees requires the smooth cooperation of many moving parts over a long period of time.
Recruitment involves the following 7 steps:
- Defining the position and the ideal candidate,
- Crafting the job advertisement,
- Searching for talent,
- Screening and shortlisting,
- Interviewing the selected candidates,
- Offering the job, and
- Signing the contract and welcoming the new employee.
Let’s expand upon those bullet points and offer tips on how to improve each step.
Step #1: Defining the position and the ideal candidate
You can’t find what you’re looking for if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
In other words, you will miss out on a host of qualified candidates in your talent search if you:
- Fail to accurately understand the position you’re trying to fill, and
- Don’t accurately represent the responsibilities and benefits you’re offering
As Michelle Hague, HR Manager at Solar Panels Network USA says:
“First and foremost, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the vacancy you’re looking to fill. This means having a detailed job description that outlines the required skills and qualifications. Once you have this, you can start reaching out to potential candidates.
This is essential to ensure that we’re attracting the right kind of candidates. It’s also important to pay attention to the way you advertise the role, as this can be a good indicator of the type of person you’re looking for.”
For example, you might be looking for a new lawyer to join your legal team — but what kind of lawyer do you need?
- Do they need to be specialized in a certain legal area?
- What are the daily activities you need them to perform?
- Are there any particular qualifications they need to have?
- Is it a new position, or will they be replacing someone who quit?
- Is it a full-time or a part-time contract?
These and many others are the questions you need to ask yourself when you’re looking to fill a vacancy.
The best way to be sure you’ve got everything right is to closely collaborate with the department where the vacancy is located.
This way, you can get a clear idea of your ideal candidate, and the new employee’s future manager will be sure that they’ll be getting exactly the kind of person they need.
Step #2: Crafting the job advertisement
Once you’ve profiled your ideal candidate and defined their responsibilities, putting together a job description should be fairly easy — but there are still two more things left to do:
- Determine the exact title for the position, and
- Define compensation and benefits.
First of all, let’s discuss the job title.
To most laymen, the terms “job title” and “job position” might appear synonymous — but there are some important differences between the two that need to be addressed:
- The job position is what defines a candidate’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities. In other words, it explains the employee’s function within the organization.
- The job title is the label attached to those responsibilities. Different companies may have different names for the person doing the exact same work. But, it’s also possible for multiple people with different responsibilities to have the same job title.
Here’s an easy example — a cook is a position within the restaurant ecosystem, but a head chef is a title that reflects a person’s salary and standing in the workplace hierarchy.
The reason we mention this is that job titles are typically allocated based on qualifications and often reflect the team hierarchy. This means that job titles also heavily impact an employee’s salary and benefits.
So, correctly labeling the job position is important because it will:
- Affect the compensation of your future employee, and
- Make it easier to shortlist candidates.
Now that you understand what you need to have in your job advertisement, all that’s left to do is put it all into writing.
To make it easier for you, we’ve created a quick checklist you can go through to make sure you don’t miss anything important:
- Job title,
- A short “about us” section,
- Required skills and qualifications,
- Location and work model, and
- Clear instructions on how to apply.
Step #3: Searching for talent
So, you’ve identified the duties and responsibilities of the vacant position and created the perfect job description.
The next step is to decide on the best way to fill it.
Here are a few tips on how you can find the best candidates for the job.
Tip #1: Look within your organization
It’s often a good idea to look at fresh talent when filling vacancies. However, sometimes, you’ll find that the best candidates were right there with you all along.
This may sound cheesy, but internal recruitment is especially useful when it comes to finding the right people for senior or managerial roles — they are familiar with the company and the people they’ll be working with, and the company is familiar with their virtues and abilities.
Tip #2: Search through your pool of previous applicants
Just because they didn’t make the cut the first time, doesn’t mean that some of the previous applicants you’ve had aren’t a good fit for your company.
Perhaps the competition was just that strong, or they weren’t the best match at that time — but they might do great this time around.
Comb through some of your previous applications, and you just might be surprised with what you find.
Tip #3: Use your employees to spread the word
One of the best ways to find suitable candidates is to accept recommendations from your existing employees.
Most of the time, people will recommend others they can vouch for. This way, you can get access to a pool of potential hires with recommendations from trustworthy people.
Alternatively, you can also ask your employees to spread the word about your company and the open job position via social media — to get better reach.
Tip #4: Use social media for recruitment
Speaking of social media, websites like LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect for finding qualified people for your company.
You can easily see and check:
- Their employment history,
- Skills and qualifications,
- Activity, and
- Whether they’re currently looking for a job.
You can even contact them directly if you’re willing to make them a good offer.
And not only this, but, according to Glassdoor HR and recruiting stats, 79% of job seekers use social media to find and familiarize themselves with their potential employer’s brand.
This means that the benefits of social media work both ways.
Not only can you use it to hunt for job candidates, but you can also create a favorable impression of your company and have the candidates come to you.
Tip #5: Make use of employment websites
The first rule of commerce is “be where your target audience is” — and the same applies to recruiting.
People no longer flip through the newspaper to find job ads. Instead, they look to the Internet — so that is where you need to be.
There are many employment websites out there that you can use to reach your candidates.
Since these websites usually charge a fee for posting a job description, you don’t have to be on all of them — but pick a few with the widest reach and watch the applications roll in.
Tip #6: Make use of professional bodies
Institutes, associations, and other professional bodies are places where people from similar professional fields congregate.
Some examples of these professional bodies are:
- Project Management Institute (PMI),
- Association for Project Management (APM),
- British Medical Association (BMA),
- The Law Society, etc.
Many of them offer internationally recognized certifications and training and nurture communities of highly qualified professionals that recruiters can tap into.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
To see examples of the training and certifications you can get as members of the abovementioned professional bodies, take a look at our guide to the best project management certifications to get if you’re looking to expand your knowledge and skills.
Tip #7: Host events and internships
These can be more expensive and time-consuming than recruiting people the traditional way. However, fun events, competitions, and internships can be fantastic sources of fresh talent for those with the will and time to invest in them.
For example, a hackathon — an event where programmers get together for collaborative IT-based problem-solving over the course of a day or 2. It’s a fun activity where IT companies can find amazing prospects for their teams and also spread the word about their brand.
Bear in mind that events and internships aren’t the best way to find new hires if you need them urgently.
But, they are an excellent part of a long-term recruitment strategy.
Tip #8: Make use of campuses and job fairs
Finally, doing panels and presentations on campus grounds and at job fairs is a great way to present a good image of your company to the public and attract potential employees.
Oftentimes, these events will gather a crowd of young and highly motivated individuals — and give you a chance to meet them in person in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Tip #9: Choose several recruitment methods
With all the tools and services at your disposal, it could be challenging to pinpoint the one that will yield the best results. This is why it’s always best to pick several instead of betting on only one to do the trick.
As Michelle suggests, combining several different methods will give you the widest reach.
But, you should keep in mind that some methods will work better than others depending on the role you’re trying to fill, so it’s best to tailor your methods to your specific situation.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all best way to fill a vacant position. This will vary depending on the role. However, I think it’s important to use a mix of methods to ensure that you reach as many potential candidates as possible.
For example, you could post the vacancy on job boards and social media, as well as reach out to relevant candidates directly. This ensures that you cast your net wide and don’t miss any great potential employees.”
Step #4: Screening and shortlisting
By using a combination of some, or all of the above-mentioned methods for collecting applicants, you can begin the process of narrowing down the list of candidates.
This is an incredibly important part of the recruitment process — and probably the most tedious one seeing as the vast majority of the applicants (75%, to be exact) are unqualified for the job, according to hiring statistics by Legaljobs.
Here are some ways you can make the screening and shortlisting process a little easier.
Tip #1: Use an automation tool
Since the majority of applicants are unfit for the job they apply for, knowing how to remove the lowest-quality candidates during the first pass is essential.
Luckily, this can be done by using a piece of software that will let you search for specific words or phrases and easily separate the spammer from potential candidates.
Of course, this is not a fool-proof process — but it is a huge time-saver, especially in large companies that receive hundreds of resumes at a time.
Tip #2: Set the minimum criteria
After eliminating the first batch of candidates, it’s time to further narrow down the list by keeping only the people who meet the minimum requirements.
Tip #3: Set shortlisting criteria
Setting shortlisting criteria should be done in advance — and it usually serves to help keep you from veering off the right track when narrowing down your list.
It’s also a good way to keep yourself focused when flipping through resumes instead of reading everything and getting lost in the sea of information.
Tip #4: Limit your shortlist
Sometimes, it’s difficult to choose between several good candidates.
But, it’s necessary.
So, limiting the number of people you’ll add to your shortlist is a good way to force yourself to objectively evaluate the top candidates and choose the better one.
Tip #5: Note down interview questions for shortlisted candidates
Finally, it’s good to jot down a few questions specific to each shortlisted candidate in preparation for the interview.
This way, you can confirm or eliminate any concerns you might have and further narrow down your search.
Step #5: Interviewing and selecting candidates
Once you have your shortlist ready, it’s time for interviews.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Phone interviews,
- Video interviews, and
- In-person interviews.
When performed, phone interviews are done as first or second-stage interviews that help the interviewers narrow down their candidate pool.
That said, these days, when webcams are so readily available, there’s no reason not to use them. Getting to see the person you’re talking to will always allow for a better overall assessment of their personality than simply talking over the phone.
They are probably the most popular type of interview nowadays. Video interviews provide a quick and easy way for interviewers to get to know their shortlisted candidates without forcing them to travel to the interview and wait for hours in the lobby.
Video interviews are especially great when interviewing for remote positions. They allow companies to meet and hire people from all over the world with the same confidence they’d have if they met the candidates in person.
These days, in-person interviews are mostly used as final or last-round interviews.
For the sake of respecting the time of your candidates and making good use of the technology available to you, it should stay this way.
However, for many, face-to-face interviews are still an irreplaceable part of the recruitment process — and the superior way to select the perfect candidate. So, according to Michelle Hague, it’s best to combine different methods to fit your interviewing style and the role the candidate has applied for.
“Choosing the right type of interview depends on the role you’re recruiting for and the type of candidate you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a more senior role, you might want to conduct a video or live interview so that you can get a better sense of the candidate’s communication skills. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more relaxed and informal chat, talking casually over the phone could be a better option.
I also think it’s important to conduct a variety of interviews, rather than just relying on one type. For example, you could hold a phone interview followed by a face-to-face meeting. This allows candidates to showcase their skills in different ways and shows that you’re serious about finding the right person for the job.”
Step #6: Offering the job
Finally, when all the interviews are done and the final selection has been made, it’s time to offer the job to the best candidate(s).
We say “offer” because job seekers normally send their applications to several organizations, and even if they’ve reached the final stage in your company, it’s possible that other employers judged them to be a good fit for theirs as well.
Therefore, it’s never guaranteed that the candidate will accept your job offer in the end.
This is why it’s important not to relax until the moment the contract is signed and refrain from keeping your candidates waiting for too long — otherwise, there’s a possibility they might accept another offer in the meantime.
According to Michelle, you should let your candidates know about your decision within 4 to 6 weeks from the beginning of the process.
“The recruitment process can vary in length depending on the role and the company. However, it’s important to try and make a decision within a reasonable timeframe. This way, candidates won’t be left waiting for weeks or even months to find out if they’ve got the job.
In my opinion, the ideal length of time for the recruitment process is around four to six weeks. This gives us enough time to screen candidates, conduct interviews, and make a decision without keeping anyone in limbo for too long.”
Here are some tips on how to offer the job to your top pick:
- Stay polite and respectful,
- Don’t drop any new, previously undisclosed information,
- Give clear instructions on how to proceed in case your offer gets accepted,
- Clearly lay out all the conditions of employment and clear up any misunderstandings, and
- Have one of the top executives make the final offer and welcome the new employee.
Step #7: Signing the contract and welcoming the new employee
The final step in the recruitment process is having the new employee sign the contract.
Unless the position is fully remote and the new employee is in a completely different country, the employee will normally come to the office to sign the contract.
This is an excellent opportunity to introduce them to all the people they’ll often be interacting with, such as the finance department, the IT technician, or the people they’ll directly be working under.
If the company gives out equipment to their new employees, this is also a good time to give them that equipment — so that the employee has everything they need on their first day.
It’s vital to make your new hire as comfortable as possible at the start of the process — after all, successful recruitment is the first step in creating a great employee experience.
After all this is done, the employee onboarding process can officially begin.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
To make your employee onboarding process easier, you can use this helpful template:
Additional tips for the recruitment process
Now that we’ve gone through the entire recruitment process, let’s take a look at some expert tips to look out for while going through it.
Tip #1: Be specific in the job description
An employee must be aware of their responsibilities even before starting work. We spoke to Yari Ising, Co-Founder at The Ising Agency, on how we can achieve this. She warned us of the mistakes people make when crafting a job ad:
“As a recruiter, you always see the terms ‘duties as assigned’ on job descriptions and managers/bosses tend to exploit that line. Those extra duties distract folks from doing good work, what they were hired for. I’ve been there. I’ve been in positions where I’ve worn many hats and I also understand how important having your ‘house in order’ is to maintain the efficiency in teams. Pulling folks in 10 different directions is not a good use of their time especially if they can only offer limited time. The additional work won’t get done, and it’ll almost always turn into a hot mess.”
Make sure you’re clear on the exact responsibilities of the job and put that in the job ad. Sort the responsibilities listed on the ad by importance and how frequently they’ll be expected of the employee.
Make sure the first responsibilities your candidate sees are the most relevant to their work and the ones they will be focusing on. You can even separate the list into day-to-day responsibilities and long-term responsibilities.
Tip #2: Maintain clear communication throughout the recruitment process
When recruiting, it’s likely that the candidate you’re considering is also being considered by other companies. It’s possible that your job opening is not the only one they’ve applied for.
So, clear communication is necessary if you want potential employees to keep you as their priority. As Talent Acquisition Manager at CAKE.com, Tamara Spasojevic, tells us:
“When you receive someone’s application, it’s important to send a reply stating that the application has been received, giving a rundown of the selection process, and a thank you within 24 hours.
Throughout the selection process, you need to be up-to-date and responsive in your communication with candidates. After each step, you should communicate how long it will take for them to receive feedback, and stick to that deadline. If the deadline needs to be prolonged, make sure to give notice by email that the selection process is still ongoing, and set a new deadline.”
By maintaining clear and consistent communication with candidates, you’re setting an example for what they can expect when they join your organization. It also helps them remain responsive, as there is a constant flow of feedback.
Tip #3: Remember that you represent the company and act accordingly
During the interview process, make sure to keep a friendly, pleasant, and professional tone.
Tamara helps us reflect on the appropriate way to conduct an interview:
“At every meeting with a candidate, you should be kind, bright, and smiling, as well as present the company in the best way possible. You need to always give the candidates space to breathe, and let them introduce themselves and ask any questions they may have. Based on our conduct during the interview, the candidate gets a feel for our organizational culture, and decides if that’s the place they want to work at.”
We also spoke about interview conduct with Lukas Vanterpool, Co-Founder and President at The Sterling Choice, who says:
“Remember, this goes both ways. Be on time, be respectful, be friendly. Just because a candidate is sat there for an interview, it does not mean they’re desperate to work for your company. They are interested but they will base their decision for progressing on how you conduct yourselves. Get to know them, ask about their personal life, and get a real feel for who they are because it’s important to know whether they’ll fit your business and team on a cultural level. Give them an opportunity to ask questions, be honest about this.”
Your demeanor will determine how a candidate feels about your company — you don’t want the perfect candidate to turn you down just because of a lousy interview.
What makes a good recruitment process in HR?
According to a recent SHRM talent access report, the average cost-per-hire in the US is $4,683.
But, as Edie Goldberg, SHRM Foundation chair-elect, claims, these are only the “hard costs” of hiring — i.e. the actual money spent.
What Goldberg calls “soft costs” make up the bulk of the overall hiring costs and can amount to 3 or 4 times the position’s salary.
These so-called “soft costs” indirectly affect the company’s return on investment (ROI) — and include the following:
- The time everyone involved in the recruitment process spent on it,
- Emotional impact and stress the recruiters go through,
- Impact on productivity, and
- Losing candidates to competition midway through the hiring process.
With this in mind, a good recruitment process is one that:
- Manages to fulfill the primary need of the company — to fill the vacant spot — by attracting a large number of competent candidates in a short amount of time and hiring the most qualified person for the position, and
- Minimizes the soft costs of hiring — by streamlining the recruitment process and automating the areas that don’t require a human touch, thereby reducing the time needed to hire a new employee and increasing the efficiency of the process.
One way recruiters can do this is by using a project management tool such as Plaky.
Project management software is often equipped with convenient templates, such as the free recruitment process template shown in the image above. With it, you can easily keep track of:
- All your applicants,
- Their status,
- Interview question checklists,
- Salary negotiation status, and more.
The status field is especially helpful here, as it can be customized to contain any information you deem necessary for this process.
Using the same type of field, we created the “department” status and the “interview process progress” status, and you can use this method to create more — anything your recruitment process requires.
With simple color coding and a pleasant design, this template will let you take in every bit of important information on a candidate with just a glance.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
Hiring employees is especially important when your business is just starting out. If you want to learn more about recruitment in a startup, check out the “hire employees” section in these state-specific business guides:
Conclusion: Technology makes your recruitment process a breeze
Whether it’s putting together the job description, searching for talent, screening, interviewing, or keeping your entire recruitment process organized, technology is the one thing that ties everything together and keeps it running smoothly.
There are so many organization and automation tools out there.
Pick a few that suit your natural workflow the best, and easily cut back on the time and stress of sifting through dozens or even hundreds of job applications to find your perfect employee.
✉️ What do you think are the most important steps in the recruitment process? What are some tips and tricks you swear by when it comes to hiring the right people? Feel free to share with us any interesting stories and suggestions about improving the process of finding and hiring new employees at email@example.com, and we might include some of them in one of the future updates. And, if you liked this post and found it useful, share it with someone you think would benefit from it.