Way, way, back on January 7, 2020, I wrote the following:

I know you’re probably sick of hearing about the “2020 vision for the future” by now, but the reality is that as we enter the New Year, it’s full steam ahead for both personal and professional planning, goal setting, and health and well-being inventory-taking. For human resources professionals, this is a busy, stressful, yet exciting time where new initiatives might be put into place and new teams formed to carry out those tasks.

That was more than 250 days ago, and wow things have certainly changed.

Time is a funny thing. It passes by quickly; it passes by slowly – it all depends on the circumstance. Maybe I was on to something with the “health and well-being inventory-taking” portion of my statement, but I digress.

The point is that before the pandemic, I started sharing a simple framework for HR professionals called PARTS. I wrote an introductory post, where the quote above comes from, identifying the things that make up the framework, with the intention of focusing on each letter in subsequent blogs with a regular cadence. Of course, the pandemic had other plans, and this blog (and my writing) pivoted to how we can deal with uncertain times we were – and still are – facing.

On March 17, 2020, right before this big shift happened, I posted part two of the PARTS series, focusing on the “personal” aspect of the framework, stating that it is important that HR professionals take care of their needs prior to taking care of others in order to ensure success. Of course, that still rings true today arguably more than ever. So with that in mind, I'd like to keep moving forward with the framework because even though it may not feel like it, now is a great time for HR to make meaningful change happen.

Albeit a bit later than I expected, here is the “A” piece of the PARTS puzzle: Acquiring employees.

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Take some quick steps to reach the right people

Acquiring employees continues HR's journey of putting the right PARTS together to make positive impacts on their business, because without employees there is no business! The recruiting process is complex, and organizations only have one chance to make a good first impression on talented and well-informed candidates. A clear job posting, smooth and efficient application process, and a quick time to hire are just a few vital aspects to ensuring that the acquisition of employees is the best it can be for your organization, your applicants, and your new hires.

Test your application process

Have you ever tried applying to an open job requisition at your organization? Yes, I know you’re already employed there, but have you considered going through the process in an experimental way to see what the current candidate experience is like? A useful exercise, this can give you insight into many things, such as why you may have a high rate of application abandonment, why information you're seeking might be misconstrued by applicants, and it how user friendly your process appears to the people you want to hire.

As the workplace becomes more mobile, technology evolves, and application processes evolve along with the times, employers need to be sure that their positive candidate experience transfers seamlessly to a mobile environment. During regular testing, be sure to assess the application process on cell phones and tablets. Odds are many candidates will be completing their applications for your open jobs using these devices, so making the experience as easy and seamless as possible becomes even more important.

One of my biggest regrets during my time as an HR practitioner was not focusing more on the application process and candidate experience. For many years I used paper applications. They were often lost by managers, and sometimes I’d receive them from applicants with coffee and food stains on them. Many times, they were not legible. When I first started at the company, the applications asked for social security numbers. Thinking back, the amount of social security numbers I had in my office was staggering! It's a scary prospect to think that information I collected could have fallen into the wrong hands.

The good news is that if you are still using outdated processes it's never too late to make a change, and there is technology available to assist you. While the process may seem daunting at first, the reward is an applicant experience that will improve for candidates and the employer alike.

Clear job descriptions

Job postings themselves can either be detrimental to or aid in the hiring process. Decisions surrounding where the job is posted, when it is posted, and how easily candidates can find the posting can all affect the candidate experience. But a successful job posting begins with clarity around what the job entails, and that starts with the employer themselves being clear on the job duties they need fulfilled.

A pillar of a successful talent acquisition process is ensuring that the candidates you're seeking truly understand the job for which they are applying. Solidifying this can help to save time and frustration for both the employer and the candidate. Furthermore, clear and accurate job descriptions propel the candidate towards success from day one by ensuring they know the details of what their work will entail. Providing clarity in the job description removes the chance for ambiguity and helps to align potential employees directly with company goals. Since job duties change often, it's important to review and update the job descriptions regularly.

One way to guarantee easy access to the most up-to-date job descriptions is to store them electronically in your HCM software system. Keeping the most recent versions safely in the cloud will be useful for managers and employees alike, especially when it comes to questions surrounding job duties and performance appraisals.

Unclear or ambiguous job descriptions also do nothing to provide the employees you already have with a roadmap towards their employment goals, thus affecting employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. They're just as important after someone is hired as they are during the recruiting process.

Time to hire and time to productivity measurement

Companies often use time to hire metrics to see how well organizational processes are functioning. Data surrounding time to hire helps companies know when and where they may have hangups that are reducing the resources they have available and costing money due to gaps in roles. Metrics like time to hire provide insights for companies to see where they can improve and optimize their recruitment process for better hiring outcomes.

With a metric like time to hire you can identify slow areas in your hiring process and determine how fast your recruitment team moves when they’ve identified a top talent candidate. Insight into time to hire metrics can also keep candidates from losing interest in the position while they wait for a company to make a hiring decision.

While time to hire is a metric that is often used in organizational forecasting and decision making, a less used but equally important metric is the time to productivity measurement. While methods used to measure time to productivity will vary among industries and organizations, certain staple areas you can ensure you have by measuring this include a solid onboarding program, a positive company culture, and a tight alignment with performance expectations.

Conclusion: Make sure your experiences align

Considering what's been outlined above, it's important to realize that the talent acquisition process must effortlessly flow into your company’s intended employee experience. Undoubtedly that experience has changed along with the world of work, but the intention of employers to provide candidates with quick, easy, and accurate application, preboarding, and onboarding processes must remain intact.

Getting your strategy right to acquire the right people is vital for PARTS success. Make sure you've got all the PARTS you need to succeed by grabbing a copy of our action plan worksheet. Next in the series, we will focus on the retention piece of the puzzle. Once great employees have been hired…how can you keep them? Stay tuned!

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Published: Tuesday, September 29, 2020