5 Things Recruiters Should Stop Doing

Aug 17, 2010

First the good news: many companies are hiring again. Now the bad news: if your company is among them, you’re probably looking at too many requisitions and too few hands on deck to fill them. And, even if you’re not in that boat, you’re probably feeling the pressure to do more with less.

In either case, your team can benefit from persuading recruiters to eliminate the five time-wasters below. By streamlining their work, recruiters will have more time to focus on the most valuable aspects of the hiring process. The results will be:

  • Better hiring decisions
  • An improved candidate experience
  • A more cost-effective approach to talent acquisition

Working Outside the ATS

Applicant tracking systems offer a robust way to manage applicant flow, communicate effectively with candidates, ensure compliance, and report analytics. But only if you use the system.

We all get accustomed to doing things a certain way, and for some recruiters, it’s just too cumbersome to use the ATS instead of their own spreadsheets, email templates, or reporting methods. If this is happening in your organization, make some changes right away. The time it takes to get recruiters ramped up in how to use an ATS pales in comparison to the hours wasted by working outside the system.

Recruiters bypassing the ATS also diminishes the value of the reports the tool can generate automatically. These reports provide real-time information about how efficient and effective the hiring process is at any given time. But without timely (or accurate) inputs from recruiters, the data is bad, the team’s credibility can be damaged, and the quality of the hiring process usually suffers.

Practice using your ATS on a real-time basis. This will help you do three things:

  1. Learn the system better
  2. Prevent the duplication of work, such as re-entering information into the system
  3. Keep details like candidate correspondence from falling through the cracks.

Beginning a Search Without the Right Information

“Pay now or pay later” has never been more true than when dealing with the hiring process. When recruiters don’t get the right information upfront, it costs them time, energy, and even money, later. But it’s not usually the recruiters’ fault when the hiring manager doesn’t have time to answer questions or discuss the job in detail.

But it is the recruiter’s job to make the hiring manager understand the consequences of kicking off a search with nothing more than an old job description or the previous posting. What are the consequences?

  • Days or weeks of back and forth questions, answers, and follow-up questions
  • Sourcing candidates who aren’t a good match
  • Frustrating candidates who are interviewed, but later considered “not right” for the job
  • Costing the company by extending the time that positions (sometimes critical, revenue-generating positions) remain open

What should a recruiter do? When a job opens, the recruiter and hiring manager should meet live — either by phone, Webex, or in person — to discuss the position in depth. Key questions might include:

  • What are the key responsibilities of this job?
  • What kinds of decisions will this person make?
  • What key accomplishments must be achieved in the first year?
  • What’s the best thing about this job?
  • What’s the most difficult part of this job?
  • What experience and education is a must-have for candidates?
  • What qualifications are nice-to-have?
  • What companies do you feel hire well for this role?
  • Who are direct reports to this role? Dotted-line reports? Supervisors? Key stakeholders?
  • Who will interview the candidates?

If your company doesn’t already have a template for guiding the discussion during intake meetings, create one — and adapt it over time — so recruiters can drive consistent conversations with hiring managers.

Not Using Questionnaire Functionality in the Applicant Tracking System

Recruiters often spend hours doing something the applicant tracking system is equipped to do in a matter of seconds.

Recruiters can be much more efficient — and improve their results — by taking the time up front to create job-specific questionnaires in the ATS prior to beginning a search. With good questionnaires in place, the ATS is able to automatically screen and sort candidates as they complete the online application process.

When job-specific questionnaires aren’t used, recruiters have no choice but to review each candidate’s background, one by one. And if there are more than a few candidates on a req, it simply might not be possible to review each one — so recruiters might review only those who most recently applied.

Again, you can invoke the “pay now or pay later” mantra. Taking the time to create a job-specific questionnaire based on the outcome of the intake meeting will result in the most qualified candidates showing at the top of the list — in real time.

Taking a Passive Approach to Scheduling Interviews

Identifying who will be on the interviewing team — and when interviews will likely take place — should be agreed upon during the intake meeting between the recruiter and hiring manager.

When recruiters know the days and time slots the interviewing team has available, candidates can be scheduled on the spot. This type of proactive planning improves the candidate experience, speeds the hiring decision, and helps ensure that the best candidates stay in the process.

Producing Manual or Customized Reports

We all know people who are energized by running reports and reviewing data. And by its nature, talent acquisition is a target-rich environment for data-hungry people. But if we objectively assess the standard reports that most applicant tracking systems offer, we’ll find that — more often than not — 80% of what we need to assess the effectiveness of talent acquisition is there.

Would more reports — or different reports —  be interesting to see? Undoubtedly. Would they help us drive better results? Arguably no.

Talent acquisition leaders should strive to build a set of standardized reports that meet the most critical reporting needs of the function. This will also allow everyone, but particularly recruiters, to focus more time and energy on sourcing and selecting candidates, instead of tracking numbers.

When managing requests for additional data from senior leaders or other stakeholders, talent acquisition leaders should ask: “What will be done with the information once we get it?” and “How will this new data help us achieve our goals of faster, better, and more cost-effective talent acquisition?”

Taking steps to address these five areas can drive significant improvements, quickly, for your talent acquisition team.

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