Talent is the lifeblood of a business. As finding and attracting the best candidates becomes increasingly competitive, a smart communication strategy throughout the hiring process — from the job description to the offer letter — is more vital than ever.
The consequences of poor communication extend beyond any individual candidate. Candidates spread the word about your organization. The message they carry, whether good or bad, will have huge ramifications for your future hiring efforts.
The quality of your hiring process can even influence how your customers view your business. Job seekers who aren’t notified of their application process or who interview endlessly without a decision are more likely to purchase products or services elsewhere.
So, what can you do to uphold your reputation during the hiring process? Here are four things to keep in mind as you seek new talent.
1. The Job Description Is Your Company’s First Impression
Unless your brand is widely recognized, chances are your job description is a candidate’s first exposure to your organization. That makes it your best shot at a great first impression.
Keep it simple. The role description should clearly identify responsibilities and scope of authority, as well as your organization’s benefits, values and culture. Misrepresenting these items might increase applications, but doing so can also inadvertently attract candidates who are a poor fit. That wastes their time and hampers your hiring process.
Aim to highlight benefits that appeal to a cross-generational pool of candidates. For instance, the average Generation Z college grad might prioritize repaying student loans over making hefty 401(k) contributions right now.
You can also streamline the descriptions by avoiding long lists of qualifications, many of which are “nice-to-haves” instead of real requirements. Long lists often discourage conscientious or appropriately self-aware candidates who will rule themselves out simply because they are missing certifications or other qualifications that really aren’t essential to the role. Harvard Business Review finds that women in particular will often only apply for a job if they believe they meet 100% of listed qualifications.
Inclusive language has been proven to greatly improve the candidate pool for given roles. A ZipRecruiter study found that using gender-neutral language in job descriptions can increase applicants by 42%. The effect can be even stronger in traditionally male-dominated roles.
2. Phone Screening Etiquette Matters
The next major hiring milestone is phone screening selected candidates. Every applicant deserves a courteous and prompt notification of their status, whether you’re moving forward with the candidate or not.
Long periods of silence can frustrate even the candidates you’re most excited about. Top talent wants to work for managers who are influential and confident decision-makers. That impression begins with this first major decision point in the hiring process.
Furthermore, if you start developing a reputation for slow hiring practices, applications may decrease. Job descriptions grow stale on job sites and slip to the back of the queue or the bottom of the scroll. Top candidates will wonder why certain roles stay open on the job boards, or why they keep reappearing.
3. A Hassle-Free Interview Is an Effective One
Often, the interview is the first opportunity for the hiring manager and key stakeholders to directly engage the candidate. Effectively managing the logistics of interview best practices tells potential hires that your business is well-run.
In particular, avoid rescheduling or making other changes that may suggest to candidates that they are low on the company’s priority list. Regardless of the interview format that you use, be as specific as possible about when you will respond to the candidate with next steps — and then stick to that commitment. If for some reason the next steps are delayed, update the candidate that you are continuing to review their candidacy.
Throughout, remember that quality candidates will likely have interviews with multiple employers. Taking too much time can erode your candidate pool and give you a reputation for stringing candidates along.
4. ‘Ghosting’ Isn’t Worth It
In such a competitive labor market, hiring challenges can continue even after the letter of intent is signed. “Ghosting,” when employees suddenly drop all contact and just stop coming to work, is increasing in frequency. It refers to new hires who simply skip orientation and never come to their first day of work. Ghosting can be devastating to organizations that have invested resources into evaluating candidates, only to have to start over. This is all the more reason to be responsive, professional and polite with all candidates.
Companies have a history of ghosting employees during the hiring process, so to reverse the trend, employers should set a good example — even with applicants you reject. There is no reason to detail the reasons for your decision to not hire someone; it is enough to say that you have decided to move forward with other applicants and to encourage them to pursue future opportunities at your organization.
Across all phases of hiring, communication is essential. It will help you attract the best candidates to your organization. If you have not recently audited your hiring practices and associated communications, delay no further. It is costing you time and talent.
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