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October 1, 2019

How to Build a Recruitment Process that Brings You Quality Candidates

build a recruitment process

So, you're ready to hire.

First off, congrats! 🎉

Growth is a beautiful thing. And getting the right people to help bring you even more growth? 

Well, that's downright awesome.

But, be warned. Scaling is one of the biggest challenges for any company—and that's even more true if you're a small-to-midsize business.

Here's the step-by-step for building a recruitment process that brings you all the high-quality candidates you need to keep your business on the up-and-up.

Get clear on the role and requirements

Alright, we know you're itching to hit 'go' on and get that fresh new open role up on all the top job boards.

But hold on juuust a minute! Are you sure you're ready for what happens after the applicants start rolling in?

Before you do anything, you need to get super clear on the exact combo of skills, character and interpersonal skills that make up your perfect hire.

Skip this step, and you run the risk of wasting precious time on internal quibbles or even losing your dream candidate simply because you weren't clear on what was (or wasn't) absolutely necessary for the role.

So get clear on what you want. And we mean 💎.

Here's what you need to know before you write up your drool-worthy job ad:

  • What specific tasks and activities will your new hire be responsible for?
  • What superpowers would they have? (Think about both hard and soft skills)
  • Why are those important to the company’s bigger picture?
  • Would you turn a candidate away for not having a specific skill or qualification?
  • What are the deal-breakers?

A big mistake most employers make is they confuse the "bonus" skills with mandatory skills.

You need to make sure you—and your entire hiring team—know which is which.

If a particular skill is absolutely, 100%, without-a-doubt crucial to a role, include it as a must-have.

If it's something that can be learned or left out, consider it a nice-to-have. 

Say you're looking for a savvy new software engineer for your product dev team. Do you really need the perfect Java developer with ace interpersonal skills? Or could you go for an introvert who really knows their stuff?

The answer will depend on your unique organizational goals and resources. 

For example, if you have an internal team of developers who are happy to train people, going  with the less-experienced candidate might be a perfect growth opportunity for both your current employees and your new hire.

On the other hand, if you need to power swiftly ahead and you're willing to pay a little more for the perfect candidate, you'll want to make sure your mandatory requirements reflect that.


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Write a killer job description

Now that you and the hiring team are on the same page about who you need for the role, it's time to pen your job description!

Get ready to conjure your inner Don Draper because a job ad that brings in all the right candidates is just as emotion-driven as an epic Coke commercial.

When in doubt, go back to the basics—starting with Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

The need to belong

Talking about your amazing team is a great way to leverage one of the most fundamental needs every human has: the need to belong.

  • Use social proof such as an employee Instagram feed or testimonial.
  • Include photos from group outings, annual meetups or other activities.
  • Call out your company’s internal kudos system so your candidates know their contribution will be recognized.

The desire for esteem

Esteem is an excellent motivator.

After all, who doesn't want to move from into something bigger, better and with way sweeter street cred? Bottom line: If it's brag-worthy, get it in there.

  • Outline just how critical they'll be to the success of the org.
  • If the position reports to the C-suite, has a direct impact on the success of the business or its customers, state it loud and clear.
  • Scrap the stale old 'Responsibilities' section and try 'YOUR IMPACT' instead.
  • State compensation clearly and if it's over or on par with the industry average, why not let them know that, too?
  • Think about what a candidate could do to stand out—then tell them how to do it!

For example: “Show us you’re the marketing genius we need by pitching three content ideas for us, or by including an example case from a previous position in your application. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!”

The desire to grow as a person

Quality candidates aren't afraid of the hustle. 

In fact, Gallup found that 87% of millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job.

Will they be in a position to hit unprecedented goals? Join a hiring team for another role? Onboard others? Tell them!

  • Include opportunities for on-the-job learning.
  • Tell the candidate what they can expect to accomplish in their first six months and after their first year. 
  • Ask for candidates who want to grow in an 'About You' section.

To get your perfect-fit candidates, make sure you write in a tone of voice that reflects the company's culture—whether that's formal or completely chill. 😎


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Optimize your offline recruitment channels

If you're like most talent pros, your first urge is to hit Facebook and LinkedIn and start spreading the word about your new role. And that's great!

But sometimes, the old-fashioned way is best.

In fact, 88% of employers say their best hires come from employee referrals.

And not only that, 47% of hires made via employee referral had greater job satisfaction and loyalty, staying for over three years in their role.

Employee referrals are without a doubt, one of the best ways to get top-notch candidates. But you need to be intentional about it, otherwise you could end up with a workforce where everyone looks eerily similar.

Here are a few tips to make sure you get quality candidates from employee referrals:

  • Be transparent about your diversity journey and objectives.
  • Get specific about what you want in a new hire.
  • Prioritize referrals from employees from underrepresented communities.

Go above and beyond by asking friends, relatives and existing employees if they know someone good for the role. And if you have a smart ATS, you can easily track referrals by setting up a custom referral portal with a shareable link for your team.

Employee referrals are widely accepted as the best offline recruitment channel, but they're far from the only one.

Other offline recruitment channels could include:

  • Job fairs
  • Industry events
  • University, community college or trade school partnerships
  • Apprenticeship programs
  • External recruiters and headhunters

Depending on your industry and the role in question, any of these options might be the recruitment magic bullet you're looking for. Just make sure to track the number of quality hires from each so you can focus your efforts on the right external channels moving forward.


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Optimize your online recruitment channels

If you want top-quality employees, you need to get your open role in front of the right candidate leads.

But what about converting those leads?

According to HBR, “Ultimately, millennials are consumers of the workplace. They shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals."

Today's job seekers are checking out your Careers Site, reading your Glassdoor reviews and stalking your social media. 

You need to make it easy for them to choose you over the competition.

Here are some ways to optimize your online recruitment channels:

  • Improve your Careers Site.
  • Take advantage of niche social channels and job sites.
  • Track and measure your best online sources.
  • Create targeted online recruitment marketing campaigns.

Again, where you choose to focus your efforts online will have everything to do with your company's goals and the role in question.

If you're hiring for a developer, you may want to focus on engaging candidates on GitHub versus if you're hiring a marketing director, you may want to focus on improving your Careers Site with employee videos and testimonials.

Remember, you don't need to do all the things all the time. Smart recruitment is about knowing what works, when.


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Interview like a pro

Ah, the almighty interview.

This is the make-or-break of any great hiring process. Because let's face it, anyone can look great on paper, but face-to-face is a whole other game.

Here are your options for interviewing:

Video interviews

If you're using an ATS that has video interviewing built-in, you can include a video assessment as part of your initial application or at a later stage. 

It's a great way to pre-screen candidates, especially for roles that require ace communication skills.

Phone screens

A quick phone interview is a great way to dig a little deeper on a person's background and experience, clarify their resume deets, and get a feel for their verbal communication skills.

Sarah Corboliou is the head of Employee Success at Montreal-based tech startup, Unito.

Here's how she runs her candidate phone screens:

  • Ask the candidate to share a bit of their life story
  • Go over past experiences in more detail
  • Ask specific questions to screen for red flags and make sure they meet the job criteria
  • Ask the candidate if they have any questions

She also asks questions like "Tell me about that job. What went well? What went bad?" and the classic, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" to help get to know the candidate better while arming her hiring managers with important insights to help steer the rest of the interview.

Face-to-face interviews

The way you'll handle your onsite interviews will depend entirely on your business ethos.

For example, Brie Davis, Chief of Staff for Transformation Church, structures her 3-part hiring process based on her organization's core values. In her first face-to-face interview with candidates, she asks questions related to culture, core behaviors, leadership and self-awareness.

A leadership question might be 'Describe your leadership style.' And a self-awareness question might be 'What lessons have you learned in your life?'

No one can tell you what insights to go after or which questions to ask. The best (and really only) way to do it is to think about what success looks like at your company and build your questions around that.


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Rinse and repeat

If steady, intentional growth is the goal, you need a repeatable recruitment process.

And the only way to get that without wasting your time and energy, is to simply keep doing what works. Measure your sources of quality candidate leads and commit to optimizing your employer brand on those avenues.

Because hiring is a moving target, but with the right mindset and approach, you can definitely hit the mark.