This blog post has been born out of pure frustration of some of the recent observations and conversations I have had regarding recruiting distributed talent. The frustration is with both sides – the employer and the applicant – as I still see some fundamentally bad practices and hear absolute horror stories about messy LinkedIn adverts, shopping-list job descriptions (JD), hidden benefits and much more.
After having been on all sides of the recruitment stick – agency, in-house talent team, a hiring manager and, naturally, an applicant – here is some fundamental, simple yet timeless advice to you – the employer – and you – the applicant.
RECRUITING SIDE: STOP MISSING OUT ON GREAT TALENT!
1. Improve the quality of your job descriptions and adverts!
Over the past seven months, every business has had the opportunity to rethink their organisation: who is necessary currently and who will be necessary in the future. We have seen mass redundancies happening on one side and new roles being born on the other. This (I hope) means that leaders have not simply played around with the org. chart titles, but actually rethought the accountabilities of each role key and mapped it to the success of their business. However, seeing some of the job descriptions and adverts, I doubt it… (or the resourcing team needs to step up their game).
Hiring great talent starts with attracting it, and here an effective, engaging and inclusive JD is key. By not investing in this upfront, you risk turning talent off before they even apply… Over the past few weeks I have spoken to a number of talented individuals who have passed on roles simply based on the quality of the first impression on the company, which is usually the advert, role description or representation from an external supplier. Therefore, ask yourself, are the templates I am using still valid and telling the right story? Are they written so that they do not alienate women, people of colour, the differently able and the LGBTQ+ community?
This is a good time to revise this, as biased language has been shown to deter highly qualified talent from applying because it unconsciously lowers their expected sense of fitting in. Kieran Snyder, CEO and co-founder of Textio, a machine learning platform that analyses language patterns, has analysed over 50 million job postings and have found that removing gendered language fills vacancy, on average, two weeks faster.
All in all, a poor quality JD and advert, are simply unacceptable and, if you ask me, even disrespectful! As an applicant, it would make me ask myself: Is this the level of quality/standard this organisation accepts? Are people so overworked and burnt out, that the quality of the output is overlooked or not a priority? Is my application, therefore, going to be overlooked or screened in just as careless manner? Just as hiring managers judge a candidate’s CV, candidates are judging your company on the tiniest details. Therefore, make sure you spell-check, grammar check and proofread your job description. Then, go back and do it again.
2. Stop living in a denial and add ‘Flexible Working’ statement!
How is talking about flexible working on an ongoing basis still a taboo? I have had feedback from talented professionals, who have been declined for a job because they are not located in the same city, by saying “well, you know, when this pandemic is over and we all return back to the office…” Who still lives in the illusion that there is such day as ‘one day’, when this will all be suddenly over as a bad nightmare and we will simply return to BAU as we knew it?! You are missing out on TONS of talent by simply not adding the words ‘flexible’ or ‘remote working’! This should be available as a standard (where possible)! There are a lot of talented people beyond the walls of your region, and there is much less competition for great people, when you consider the whole world! As Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, says “People don’t have to be chained to a city!”
3. Have you stepped up your Diversity and Inclusion game?
The hiring process is like a shopping window or front door of your company: if it isn’t inclusive, it is probably safe to say that neither is your culture. According to Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers and employees today report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. During the time of so much noise and active movements among diverse groups, what have you done to listen to those and stepped up your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) game? What engagement and hiring channels are you using? Do you understand where these different demographics live? Do you understand the different requirements and needs they have? Do you understand their application habits and strategies? Who is representing and more importantly educating and advising you in this space?
Also, it is worth noting that Glassdoor now allows people to rate their company based on their DEI practices. If you are receiving awards for your DEI initiatives, yet your employees say that your DEI practices are trash, needless to say that actions speak louder than words. There has never been a better (and crucial) time to reflect on your culture, hiring processes and practices.
APPLICANT SIDE: STOP MISSING OUT ON GREAT OPPORTUNITIES!
1. Get your house in order!
During the time of mass redundancies, there is a huge pool of talent competing for the same job as you. According to research carried out in 2012, the average time spent reading a CV is 6.25 (!!) seconds. So, what are you doing to pass the 10-second test?
A poorly written blanket CV now might cost you more than ever. It is important to invest time to tailor your CV and/or cover letter to the job you are applying for. This might require more time and effort upfront, however it might just land you that dream job. Clearly articulate your professional priorities and why you want THIS job, not every job! You cannot be complaining about tens of rejections, when you haven’t invested in the process enough. There is so much material and professional advice out there to help you with upgrading your CV and telling a story with it. Ask for help!
2. Do your homework!
This is basics. Research the company you are applying for and the industry they operate within. They are most likely hiring for your position to help them deal with either the increased demand or quite the opposite, the damages the pandemic has caused. How will you help them thrive? Understand the unique problem they might be facing. This is the time to not only prove that you can do the job, but that you are versatile enough to do the job in THIS environment.
3. Get video-comfortable!
Be prepared for a 100% virtual interview process, so make sure you test your network, camera, lighting, remove distractions, have Q-cards around the screen and bring a solid level of energy to the interview. As Kathryn Dill at Wall Street Journal has put it “Just a few months ago, candidates who were interviewed and brought into new jobs virtually were considered pioneers. Now, it is normal to start a new job without meeting anyone from your new employer in person. Job seekers need to be prepared to stand out, even when they’re sitting alone at home.”
There is so much guidance out there, free videos on what to and what not to. And goes without saying – be on time!
Talent journey and DEI practices have always been close to my heart, so during this time of mass movements and activities in this space, it is not only sad, but also frustrating to see both companies and candidates still operating using same old outdates templates and methods. Naturally, it is difficult to change overnight, however it is impossible to without an intention and consistency. Be intentional, proactive, prepared for high expectations from both sides!
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