After hiring, onboarding is one of the most important HR functions. Whether large or small, every organization should bring new employees on in a structured and efficient manner.
Do onboarding well and you dramatically increase the odds that you retain top talent in your organization. You may be surprised to learn that:
The details may vary but the fundamentals of onboarding are the same. Certainly, the goals are the same: streamline and accelerate the process that transitions new hires to fully productive employees making a positive contribution to the team.
Onboarding is for Everyone
Your onboarding strategy may differ by the type of employee you hire. For example, onboarding an executive may be quite different from onboarding a junior accountant. Similarly, Gartner suggests that hiring and onboarding virtual, gig economy workers takes a heavier emphasis on inclusion and engagement.
Regardless of the employee type or the duration of employment, onboarding is essential. After all, anyone who works for you—even seasonally, part time, or as an intern—represents your company. They affect morale, efficiency, and brand.
In fact, the shorter the likely duration of employment, the more important it is to onboard efficiently and effectively. Onboarding seasonal workers, part-time employees, remote employees and interns is as important as onboarding full-time staff. You can see the value for yourself by watching a short Harvard Business School video featuring three students who talk about their internship onboarding experiences.
The Goldilocks Approach to Onboarding
The best onboarding program finds the right balance between focus on the new hire and productivity of the organization. By organizing and standardizing common tasks, you can make onboarding more efficient for everyone.
Onboarding that is ‘just right’ quickly connects new hires to payroll, gives them the tools they need for the job, and engages them with their workplace and co-workers. Efficient onboarding pays off with higher morale, quicker productivity and a more stable workforce.
Go Beyond Onboarding Checklists
So, what does it mean to onboard well? There are hundreds of articles about onboarding but most focus on the mechanics, providing a laundry list of tasks in a series of checklists that give the illusion that onboarding is a cookie cutter, repeatable process driven by tasks.
Instead, onboarding is a critical process that can affect your corporate culture, productivity and morale. It is about more than just the new hire. You need to do it right. Checklists can help make the process more disciplined and onboarding systems can improve efficiency.
This guide breaks down the onboarding process into several key focus areas to guide your onboarding activities. It also includes some checklists, and strongly recommends you develop your own checklists to increase your odds of success with each candidate.
Focus 1: Make a Good Hire
Onboarding is only as good as the hire itself. Make sure you follow a strong process for hiring. This includes everything from creating a detailed job description to strategic prescreening, job posting, and making a selection.
A good hire will meet the job requirements and fit your culture. Make sure your team evaluates candidate and provides feedback in a way that allows you to have confidence in your selection.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can help organize and amplify your hiring efforts. These systems provide templates, workflows, and shortcuts for creating and posting jobs, gathering candidate applications and evaluating interview feedback. They eliminate paper and speed the hiring process while reducing the time and effort for all involved in the hiring process.
Focus 2: Validate Candidate Background and Ability to Work
Once your selection is made, it’s time to verify eligibility to work. Now is the time to release the candidate if there are any surprises. Do a thorough background check.
- Call references. If you haven’t done so yet, check the references provided by your candidate. Use a standardized questionnaire to ensure that you conform to rules and gather feedback in a consistent manner. Or better yet, use an applicant tracking system to automate this step by triggering an email to the references.
- Verify qualifications. If there are absolute requirements like holding a valid driver’s license, make sure you get independent confirmation. This can be part of a background check service.
- Run a background check. The easiest and fastest way to do this is to use a professional service. Make this part of your standard onboarding process to be thorough.
- Check social media. Review top social media platforms to see if there are any red flags to indicate you need further discussion with the candidate.
- Drug test. Many organizations require drug testing prior to employment because of potential workplace liability. Use a professional service to conduct this independent testing.
Applicant tracking and onboarding systems can streamline this essential process through checklists and automation.
Focus 3: Leverage Federal, State, Local Incentives and Programs
Once the candidate makes it past background checks and drug testing, it is time to make an offer. You have done everything you can to ensure that the candidate is a good match for your need. Now is a good time to see if your company is eligible for a tax credit if you hire the candidate.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit
The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program is designed to give companies incentives for hiring certain target groups as a way to reduce unemployment. WOTC targeted groups include certain recipients of TANF, veterans, disabled veterans and felons.
To start the process, be sure to have the candidate fill out the relevant forms on or before the offer date. You will also have to file all paperwork within the first 28 days.
WOTC Forms include:
Your tax credit can be in the thousands per qualified employee, so filling out the paperwork is certainly worth the effort. Be sure to include it in your onboarding process. You will also need to track hours worked, as there is a minimum for eligibility and an escalation to a maximum.
Don’t leave money on the table. Ask all your candidates to fill out form 8850. If the forms handling process is too burdensome for you, look for an outsourcer like Efficient Hire. They can manage the entire filing, tracking and reporting process for you for a percentage of your credit. You only pay if you receive the credit.
Other Federal, State and Local Hiring Incentive Programs
There may also be other federal, state and local programs that provide incentives for hiring. Make sure you are well aware and include them in your onboarding efforts up front. Examples include state point of hire credits, federal Indian credit, and the Georgia job tax credit.
Focus 4: Payroll and Benefits Readiness (between Offer and Hire Dates)
The goal of payroll and benefits readiness is a smooth first day on the job without all the paperwork hassles. Make a list of everything you need from the new hire related to payroll and benefits. Use automation to gather as much of this data as you can.
It is in everyone’s interest to get payroll set up ahead of the start date. Be sure to consult legal counsel regarding any compliance issue created by onboarding activities performed off-the-clock prior to report date.
Common forms and details that new hires complete include:
- Federal W4 Form
- Federal I9 Form
- State withholding forms
- Direct deposit details and authorization
- Emergency contact
On the hiring side, payroll details include:
- Employee details including social security number
- Job assignment
- Employee ID
- Offer Date
- Hire Date
For example, applicant tracking software can help you make the transition to onboarding by collecting and storing important candidate information such as name and contact information. Fully-integrated applicant tracking can deliver this information to your onboarding system so that you don’t have to re-enter or track this information separately. It may seem trivial, but it is helpful, saves time, and provides a chain of custody (so to speak) of information on your candidate all the way back to the receipt of their resume.
Time tracking is a critical element of payroll readiness. Timekeeping systems make it easy to track employee work hours, design schedules, accrue time off and manage requests, approve time cards, job cost and more. With all the compliance issues related to workforce management, modern timekeeping makes sense for every organization.
Add your new hire to your timekeeping system, with a schedule beginning on the report date. Your new hire will then be able to clock in at the beginning of their first day on the job. The data from your timekeeping system can then feed into the payroll system for payment of wages earned in the first pay period.
Remote Data Gathering
Your goal should be to have new hires complete all payroll and benefits related forms prior to reporting for work on Day 1. Make this something that the new hire can complete remotely. Let them work from their own device and at their own pace. This makes it more convenient for everyone, and more likely that the new hire has access to the right documentation to fill out the various forms.
Your candidate should be able to log into an employee portal and see a list of documents that need to be completed prior to their first day. It helps to provide a checklist, so they can track their progress. Checklists also provide you with alerts and reporting that help you measure the onboarding process and see where follow-up needs to occur. Checklists can also save time when onboarding multiple new employees at once.
Mobile access can make this process much more efficient. Allow documents to be electronically signed and look for onboarding that tracks engagement. Allowing new employees to use their mobile device also comes in handy when you need them to take a photo of their driver’s license (for example) and upload for your records. Questionnaires can help you measure comprehension and helps establish a basis for performance reviews and even formal reprimand.
Some benefits are immediately available while others become available after time on the job. Share as much information as you can early on and consider having the new hire to fill out forms ahead of eligibility, if practical. This may accelerate the enrollment process once the new hire is eligible.
Benefit forms may include:
- Healthcare enrollment
- Life insurance
- Health savings account
- Retirement plans
- Disability insurance
Focus 5: Workspace Readiness, Space Allocation and Technology Provisioning (before Day 1)
If your new hire will have an assigned space, assign it now. Prep the space with the various technology and supplies needed on day one. These may include:
- Phone extension
- Email address
- Network connection
- Software and apps passwords
- Paper, pens, and other office supplies
If your new hire works in a shared space, you may need:
- Network connection
- Pen, paper, and other supplies
The goal here is to have the work environment ready day one so the employee can start contributing immediately, whatever their job.
Using an employee onboarding system can help streamline these activities by assigning each task to the individual responsible. Adding reminders will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Day One Planning to Ensure a Good Experience for All
Make a list of everything that should happen on day one. Think about day one from the perspective of the new hire, hiring manager, and co-workers. This is the beginning of a successful onboarding program.
- Supply room
- Door entry
- Fire alarms
- Fire extinguishers
- Workplace hazards
- Emergency exits
- Team introductions
- Email/collaboration tool introductions
Every workplace is different. Build the right list for your organization with the goal of smooth introduction to the workplace. Make it a knock-out day one!
Focus 6: Compliance and Alignment (between Offer and End of First Week, Ongoing)
Policies and procedures are really important. Be clear. This is about compliance, clarification, culture and connection—what SHRM calls the 4 Cs.
Every new hire should receive a copy of the employee handbook and any other policies and procedures not included in the handbook and relevant to their job.
- Employee handbook
- PTO policy
- Sick leave policy
- Expense reimbursement policy
- Bonus plan
- At-will employee contract
Make sure your new hire understands formal protocol for things like legal representation, press representation, authorizations, approvals, chain of command and other organizational authority.
Get them familiar with emergency protocol, too; fire escape plans, emergency plans, etc.
An employee onboarding system can automatically attach items listed above as a standard to all new employees, which can easily be accessed via the employee portal at any time.
Focus 7: Engagement and Fit
The most critical function of onboarding is equipping the new hire with the tools necessary to be a successful contributor to the organization. The peak of activity is at the front-end, when the employee is added to systems like payroll, offered benefits, allocated space, and informed of rules and operating practices.
Beyond the initial flurry of activity lie two related and very serious success factors—engagement and fit. New hires need to integrate into the organization—to become part of the whole and contribute their unique value without subordinating their individuality.
You can foster initial engagement by activities such as:
- Introducing the new hire to immediate co-workers
- Notifying all employees and welcoming the new hire via email or portal
- Inviting the new hire to company social events like lunch-and-learn and birthday celebrations
- Give new hires an option to provide some personal tidbits like hobbies, associations, and favorite cartoon character to stimulate conversation
- Assign the new hire a clear, short-term project to focus energy and demonstrate competence
Mentoring and Shadowing Programs
Another way to foster early engagement is through mentoring for new hires. Mentoring programs can be highly effective in connecting new hires to their jobs and co-workers. They can also provide a sense of long-term opportunity for growth. Similarly, shadowing programs can be helpful in learning jobs on-the-go, which can be very effective in retail, restaurant, repair, manufacturing and other environments.
Just be careful not to go overboard on mentoring. New hires need a sense of autonomy and contribution, and current employees need to feel that they are on track to achieve their own objectives. If you offer a mentoring program, be sure to establish boundaries, set goals, and evaluate effectiveness for both mentor and mentored.
Shadowing is a short-term program. Mentoring, however, can be continued over much longer time periods. If you choose to keep it going, make sure you establish goals for both mentor and mentored and revisit on a regular basis.
Performance reviews should be regular and two-directional across the course of the first year of employment. These reviews help the hiring manager, HR and the new hire measure the new hire’s achievements as well as identify areas of improvement for everyone involved. They can be as simple as a checklist for discussion or more formal.
Frequency for performance reviews varies by job and industry but commonly starts with day 1 and week 1, followed by monthly and eventually moves to annually. These reviews are an opportunity to build rapport and adjust the onboarding process to suit individual needs. Set an expectation that new hires are encouraged and even expected to gallop out of the gate.
Organizational Fit and Cultural Fit
Fit is a key factor in long-term success for both you and the new hire. This factor should be considered long before onboarding. One of the very first steps of the hiring process has to be a clear understanding of organizational need that is translated into a job description.
Most employers have budgeting and requisitioning processes that help ensure that there is a true organizational need for the new hire. Well written job descriptions and a good screening and interview process help ensure that the new hire is an organizational fit. Put that work in during the hiring process and you have a much better chance that the new hire fits in. Take the organizational fit into consideration during the onboarding process as well to help the new hire understand clearly their role in the overall success of the company.
Cultural fit can be more difficult and nuanced. Introduce the culture early and often, and don’t expect a new hire to be a change agent. This rarely works and usually ends badly.
Keep the Good. Lose the Bad.
Work hard to keep your good hires as part of the organization. The cost to replace and the loss of momentum is steep.
Bad hires, though, are best lost early. Identify mistakes early. If you make an error in hiring, correct it early. Keeping an employee who is not a fit causes bigger problems. Some companies incorporate a quit now bonus into the onboarding process as a check against bad hiring decisions. If all else fails, fire fast!
At some point in your role as a hiring manager you’re going to be faced with the question of how to hire the perfect employee. Hiring an employee is one of the most critical functions you can fulfill as a hiring manager.
Hiring an employee is a lot like getting married; you’re going to spend a lot of time with this person. Employees who work in the same office spend over 2,000 hours together each year. You need to find the perfect person who has the skills, work ethic, and fit for your culture.
How do you find the perfect employee? It’s a matter of knowing the steps and sticking to them.
This hiring guide will teach you all the essentials and some extras that will help ensure that the next time you hire a new employee it’s a perfect match. Everyone wants great employees. You have a much better chance of hiring them if you have an efficient process in place.
Let’s get started
Step Zero: Know Your Organizational Needs
Before you rush headlong into hiring, take a moment to review your company’s needs. It’s a good idea to write a few things down as you get started. This will help you stay on track and address the needs that initiated hiring a new employee in the first place.
Here are some points to consider:
- Is there really a need for a full-time employee?
- Can the job be temporary, part-time, seasonal, or outsourced?
- Does the new job affect your ACA status?
- Where is the job in the organization?
- How will the change affect the organization?
- Is there a deadline for hiring?
Test Your Assumptions
Even if you feel that you know what your company needs, take the time to test your assumptions. Run through some scenarios as a sanity check. Check with other managers and interview employees.
Ask questions about the role you are considering. You’ll use this information to refine your understanding for the job role in the next step. Be wary of bias. Employees and even managers will craft their answers to get the extra help.
To avoid biased answers, ask direct questions about the specific functions the new employee will fulfill. Ask about expected outcomes, and how those outcomes will move the business forward.
Collect your notes and refine your written understanding of the business case for hiring a new employee. Now run a few scenarios to determine if your expected outcomes are viable, what it will take for the employee to meet those expected outcomes, and whether the outcome solves the original problem.
Resources for Knowing Your Company Needs A New Employee
Here are a few resources that can help you gather your thoughts on why you might need a new employee. Look for ideas to focus your hiring effort on solving your original need with a better understanding of your objectives for the new hire:
Step 1: Create a Job Description
Hiring your perfect next employee begins with writing a great job description. The job description serves many important purposes:
- Defines the job responsibilities
- Reduces the candidate pool to those who qualify
- Introduces the applicant to the company and its culture
It’s important that your written job description includes all the right components to communicate all the right requirements. This will help you get to your most compatible hiring candidates faster than your competition.
The Components of a Great Job Description
Keep your job description simple and to the point. Be sure to include all the details that a candidate needs to know about the job. The job description is your first opportunity to attract qualified candidates and filter out the ones who aren’t a good fit.
The components of a good job description include:
- Job location
- Job title
- List of job responsibilities
- List of candidate requirements
- List of desired candidate credentials
- Statement about company and benefits
- EEOC statement
Effective job descriptions avoid acronyms and jargon. They are clear and concise. They convey the company’s personality and make it easy for candidates to judge whether they want the job and if they qualify.
Be sure to choose and stick with a standard format for all of your job descriptions. This will make it easier to create new job descriptions and will present your company in the best light.
You can find plenty of examples of job descriptions by searching Google or visiting popular job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, JuJu, and CareerBuilder. Use these examples to craft your own unique version. If you copy a template to get you started, be sure to rewrite the description so that it fits your company profile and prioritizes your key requirements.
Get Team Input on Job Descriptions
When you have your description drafted, get input from the team. This will help you refine priorities and get buy-in from your team on the kind of person you are seeking. This early input will assure you won’t have any surprises in later stages of the hiring process.
Share your job description with key team members and consider asking them the following questions for focused feedback:
- Is it complete?
- Is there a clear distinction between requirements and nice-to-have qualities?
- Is this an accurate description of what the company needs?
- Is the pay rate appropriate for the described position?
- How does this description compare to jobs listed by the competition?
The job description is important both during the hiring process and as a clear yardstick for measuring performance. If you cannot evaluate an employee against this description, you should revise it.
Resources for Writing the Perfect Job Description
In addition to the advice in this section, there are many resources on the web to help guide you. I’ve gathered some of the more helpful job description resources and listed them here for you. These additional resources will help you write the perfect description for your perfect next hire:
Step 2: Pre-Screen Preparation
With a great job description in hand you can expect to attract top talent. Before you post the job, take a few minutes to think about what criteria you will use to determine which applicants deserve your attention.
It’s important to have this list together before you post your job so you are ready to handle incoming applications in a timely manner. Screening applicants will take more time if you aren’t prepared. When applications start coming in, you’ll want to screen them as quickly as possible so you don’t lose a perfect candidate in the waiting.
Defining Your Screening Questions
Look at your list of requirements (…I told you they’d come in handy). For each one, think of a question that you can ask each applicant to determine if they are qualified. Sometimes this will be a yes/no question. For example, you might require that the applicant be authorized to work in the US. Or you might require that they be at least 21 years old. In these examples, the answer is clear cut. Ask a yes/no question.
Other qualifications are better posed as multiple-choice questions. For example, if you require a specific college degree or certification, you could ask their highest level of education and provide a list to choose from. Consider this example:
- High School Degree
- Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
Similarly, you could ask for years of work experience and provide ranges. Remember, if you have ranges be sure they don’t overlap!
Be sure to include answers that fall outside your requirement range. In this example, “High School Degree.” This will allow candidates who don’t match your criteria to self-select for the wrong options. In this case, “High School Degree” becomes a knockout answer in your screening if you are looking for an associate degree or higher.
Prioritizing Your Screening Questions
Once you build your list of questions, consider which ones are appropriate during the initial screening. You want to be able to identify those applicants who are truly disqualified, but you don’t want to eliminate anyone that might be a good candidate for an exceptional reason.
For example, you may find a candidate that doesn’t have the right education level, but that does have an unusual breadth of experience.
Prepare for Screening Early
Take the time to create the screening tools now, rather than waiting until the first applications roll in. There are three great reasons for this:
- You will have enough to do when your inbox fills up with applications.
- You can still make changes to your description if necessary because you haven’t already posted it!
- Once you begin the process, you are competing with other employers to find great candidates. Take the time up front so you don’t slow yourself down after the start.
Prepare to Watch For Keywords In Resume Reviews
Another element of pre-screening comes through the resume.
Think about the keywords you expect to see in a resume that matches the job description. For example, if you are hiring a waitress you might expect the words restaurant, waitress, or server. If you are hiring a controller, you might look for CPA and MBA.
Make a list of the keywords you think will indicate a match. Think about the relative weight each word carries. In the financial officer case, perhaps CPA is more important than MBA.
Using an Applicant Tracking System for Automation
If you use an applicant tracking system (ATS), you may be able to use both the questions and keywords to auto-assess your candidates. This can save a tremendous amount of time.
Applicant tracking systems allow you to automate much of this process. Look for an applicant tracking system that can help you screen candidates automatically.
Even if you don’t have an applicant tracking system, identifying and quantifying your review criteria before you post your job is a good investment. Your competition may be looking for similar job candidates, and you don’t want to slow down the hiring process at this stage.
Be ready and refine your list of questions so that this early phase can go as quickly as possible.
Alert the Team
While you’re at it, make sure that you alert the people on your team who will be involved in the evaluation and selection processes. They need to know what the evaluation criteria are, what their roles and responsibilities are, how the process will work, and how to keep the process moving.
Advanced preparation and transparency are key to success.
Resources That Will Help You Prepare for the Screening Process
In addition to the advice in this section, you can find additional resources to help you prepare for pre-screening your incoming job applicants.
Here is a list of additional resources that will help you prepare for the screening process.
Step 3: Post the Job
We’ve come a long way from the old days of placing job ads in print newspapers. In those days, if your best candidate didn’t read the employment section that day, you were out of luck.
You could turn to ‘head hunters’, but there is a hefty price to pay for that. If you have a storefront, you can post your ad in the window or on a bulletin board, but that only gets you as far as the foot traffic walking past your window.
These days, online posting is where it’s at. If you are serious about hiring a new job candidate, your options are online. The question is where to post, and how.
Here are your answers…
Where and How to Post a Job
When it comes to posting a job listing online, there are almost too many options. On the social network side there’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All are important, but there’s more…
There are free job boards like Google for Jobs. There are paid job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster. There are hybrids where you can post free or enhance with a paid version like Indeed and LinkedIn. You can post to your own website and push to search engines or post on specialty boards like Craigslist. Your employees can post to their social media, too.
With all these choices, it can seem daunting. And the thought of a deluge of unqualified applicants can be depressing. Who has the time to post to a dozen sites and manage all the incoming applications?
…Not many busy professionals, but if you want to find the perfect candidate in the shortest time, your best option is to post to as many job boards as possible.
Building Your Job Posting Strategy
You need to have a strategy for where you advertise your job and how you track the performance of each applicant source. To begin, keep it simple…
The first and most obvious source for candidates is your staff. Someone on your team may be qualified and want to apply for the job. Be sure to give them a way to apply. You may even want to give them a few days head start on the process. Hiring candidates from within the company is less expensive and provides an opportunity to hire experienced workers into more responsible positions. This strategy can be very effective and allows you to shift your hiring strategy to a more entry-level position if you are successful. Risk is lower, and you’ll save a lot of time and expense.
Your staff may also have people in their social network who can qualify for the job. Many companies provide incentives for referrals for just this reason. Social media has made it easy to reach friends of friends. Referrals can shorten your hiring timeline and increases your trust in the new employee. Make it easy for staff to alert their connections to the job opportunities at your company.
Another obvious place to put your job openings is on your own job board. If your company has a website, put it there. Make sure applicants can see the entire job description and have options to apply or refer a friend. The application process should include a way for the applicant to send their resume and provide contact information.
If you have an applicant tracking system, it may offer a custom job board for you. These can be handy because they have built-in search and display options that your own website may not support, and can be connected to your site through a “Jobs” link. They also typically provide a way to upload a resume and fill out an application. These handy options can reduce the time it takes to find a viable job candidate.
Commercial Job Boards
Free and paid job boards are essential for today’s job hiring environment for several reasons:
- People seeking jobs routinely visit these sites.
- Your posting is on equal footing with other postings, making small and mid-size companies more competitive for job applicants.
- Filters and search criteria may identify your company as the best match for a qualified applicant that otherwise may not have thought to consider your position.
Job boards provide an easy mechanism to connect you with more job seekers. The more job seekers you can get in front of, the higher the chance you will find that perfect next candidate. Job boards will also reduce the time it takes to find a candidate. This is critical in today’s competitive job environment. The faster you can find that perfect job candidate, the quicker you can fulfill those job requirements we talked about in Step 0.
Professional job boards are critical. Use them.
Which Job Boards to Choose
Now comes the complicated part: choosing the job boards that are right for you and the job at hand.
You may find that paid listings are worthwhile when there is a lot of competition for applicants. Paid listings get a higher profile on the site. You may also find that for some jobs, you have better success with niche job boards.
Free listings are a no-brainer. Post your job to as many free job boards as possible. This will take some time, but you can reduce that time if you have followed the advice in the first three sections of our process:
- You know your organizational needs.
- You have a solid job description ready to cut and paste.
- You have your pre-screening questions ready to go.
Paid job boards are essential if you are competing with other national companies, have specific skill requirements that are unique, or have highly specialized requirements. Paid job boards can be important, too, if you are hiring for a highly competitive job role or need a candidate fast.
Paid job boards will highlight your listing based on a higher level of criteria. They will also use featured tools to match your job description with candidate skills. You may find that paid listings offer more advanced tools that can help you solve your hiring needs faster, and with a more perfect candidate.
Tracking Your Job Applicants
Whichever you choose, or if you choose all the above, be sure to track the source of all applicants so you can tell which ones are delivering good candidates. Remember that results may vary based on the particulars of the job description, so track that too.
Variables that might affect the quantity and quality of responses from any given job board and posting include job location, job type, education level, years of experience, hours, and physical requirements.
Of course, time is the gating factor in doing this kind of analysis. If you are doing all this by hand, you may find that you are quickly overwhelmed. An ATS system can be very handy in reducing the amount of effort you have to apply to track applicants. Applicant tracking software will also help you generate important data that can make your next hire even more competitive, quick and easy.
Setting Up Your Job Boards
Each job board has its own setup requirements. Try to keep your company and contact information similar across the boards. This will help you minimize maintenance activities.
Keep your login information secure but easily accessible for when you do your posting. Schedule time to post each job to the boards you choose. Be ready on the receiving side to field the applications as they come in. If you are doing this by hand, you’ll need to plan time to watch for email notifications or login to view new applications. Respond to them as quickly as you can.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Remember that social media can be an effective channel for job posting as well. Create company accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to cover the major bases. Make posting to these channels part of your regular job posting routine.
It’s easy to forget your social networks. You’ll want to plan time each day to check each social network for new applications, comments, shares and likes. Don’t forget to check your inbox for questions or private messages; social networks offer a wide range of communication options. You need to keep an eye on each of them.
Applicant Tracking Software Can Help
Applicant tracking systems can be a big help in the job posting process. Doing all this by hand is possible, but applicant tracking software will reduce the time required by a significant amount. It can also help you find that perfect job candidate a lot quicker. You’ll beat the competition to the better candidate and fill your job needs faster.
Applicant tracking software can provide many efficiencies, letting you:
- Post to all job boards at one time.
- Manage your credentials for each job board so you don’t have to login separately.
- Automatically track application sources and job applicant details.
- Post to social media and track responses automatically.
- Generate unique links for posting to niche job boards or email.
- Create and maintain an internal job board.
- Automate screening of candidates based on your criteria.
- Automatically receive and store applications and resumes.
If you are serious about hiring or have a high turnover in your business, consider an applicant tracking system to help you optimize your hiring process.
Resources To Find The Right Job Boards For Your Next Job Opening
Here are some additional resources you can look to for advice on which job boards to post to. Many job boards provide niche opportunities or special features that may be specific to your industry. Do a little research before you decide, make a list, and post to as many as you can:
Niche job sites:
Step 4: Initial Screening
Now comes the fun part! Once you’ve defined and advertised your job, get ready to field applications.
The beginning of this step in the process should be an email from you to your applicant that acknowledges receipt of their application. You’ll want to communicate to your applicants as soon as possible to let them know they are in the running. This will keep their attention on your company and tune them into responding quickly.
Set this up as an automated task so that you:
- Save time otherwise spent sending individual responses.
- Appear interested and responsive.
- Avoid phone and email calls from applicants seeking status.
- Present a consistent and timely message to all applicants.
- Buy a little time for screening.
Focus Your Candidate Screening
The first level of screening should focus on 2 objectives:
- Knockout the clearly unqualified.
- Highlight the top candidates.
You can save your team a lot of time by removing candidates that do not make the grade for the job.
At the same time, though, be careful not to knockout a candidate that might be exceptionally qualified. For example, if you have a job that requires an undergraduate degree in computer science, anyone without it might be considered unqualified. However, you might have a candidate that has extraordinary experience that makes them worth hiring (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts).
Use the questions and keywords list you devised in step 2 to help you do a quick evaluation and sort the applications. You may want to do this in batches or at the end of the job opening window to save time. However, this may come at the cost of losing top talent to time.
Sorting Out Top Job Candidates
After the quick sort, go through each candidate in detail starting with the top candidate. Double check the knockouts. Then decide which ones deserve to go to the next level.
For those not moving on, consider whether they should be retained in the pool of potential future candidates. For example, if the applicant is a student who will graduate the following year, perhaps they could be a candidate for an internship in the summer or an entry-level position in the future.
Keep Communicating with Job Candidates
It’s a good idea at this point to send another email to all candidates. Give them a status update. For candidates moving on, let them know that they will be scheduled for a phone or in-person interview. For the rest, let them know that they were not chosen for the position.
Be sure to follow company guidelines and HR best practices for the content of these emails.
Watch for Bottlenecks in Your Screening Process
The initial screening can be a painful process for all involved. There can be a great deal of inefficiency, particularly if you have a high response rate. This step in the process can be fraught with danger.
You can miss great candidates because knockouts are too restrictive. You can lose other great candidates because they are snatched up by others before you finish your process. You can waste precious time wading through unqualified applications.
If you find the screening process to be a bottleneck for your organization, consider an applicant tracking system. An ATS can automate many of the tasks associated with this important first touch with applicants. For example, you can set up automated emails for each step in your process.
You can also typically have the applications go directly to the ATS (instead of your email) and scored against your criteria. This allows you to skip right to reviewing candidates in priority order. It is much easier to review candidates when you see them in context of each other and can go to details quickly and easily without jumping back and forth between files or pieces of paper.
Resources to Help You Screen Your Job Applicants
Here are additional resources to help you screen your job applicants. This is a critical stage of your hiring process, and it makes sense to have a good grasp of what you’ll be dealing with. Applicants will respond to your communications in a variety of ways, some positive and some with frustration.
Be prepared to handle the task by learning all you can in this area. Here are some great resources to help you build on this advice:
Rejection Letter Examples
Step 5: Schedule Interviews
Once you’ve eliminated the unqualified, it is time to go to the next level. Interviews.
Typically this is either a phone interview (as a second screening) or an in-person interview. Either way, the candidate and one or more of your staff need to agree on a date and time for the interview.
Scheduling seems like a simple task but rarely is. It can be particularly frustrating when calendars are constantly filling up. Another issue is how the substance of the interview is shared with others. As much as possible, try to move the process quickly and efficiently so that valuable time is not wasted.
On the scheduling side, use a scheduling tool that can access the calendars of all your staff involved in the interview. You can then set a date and time for the interview and communicate it to your candidate.
Even better, set a window for the candidate to select a date/time combination that also works for them. This is particularly important if you have multiple candidates and multiple interviewers.
For example, if you have 10 candidates that appear qualified based on their applications, you should conduct an initial phone interview with each prior to an in-person interview. This will give you a chance to reduce the number of people you have come into the office for team interviews.
You’ll save a lot of time if you can send an automatic email to each job candidate. Invite them to choose an interview date and time based on your calendar. Offer a selection of times, or use a tool such as Calendly to offer a range of times with automated scheduling. Even better, use your ATS system to manage everyone’s schedule.
As each of the 10 candidates in our example follow the link, they see the combinations still available to them. Once each chooses an interview slot, the pool of available times goes down by one.
Include Team Scheduling to Optimize Time
In another example, let’s say you are hiring 10 seasonal waitresses. You have 20 applicants that seem qualified so you want to schedule them for an in-person interview with you and several team members.
In this case, you’ll want to schedule time with your team and announce a speed-date interview session to each of your candidates. Scheduling specific times won’t be necessary if you block out a time and receive candidates as they come in. Candidates won’t mind waiting a few minutes to get started, and you can round-robin your team so that everyone is conducting an interview at the same time.
Send an automated email inviting the candidates to come at a specific date/time that fits your team’s schedule. Receive candidates as they come in.
You may even want to do a series of phone and in-person interviews in a similar round-robin format where you hand off to the next teammate after each 15-minute call. Whichever method you choose, scheduling is going to be a big part of the process.
Everyone Involved, from candidate to hiring manager, needs to be looped in as efficiently as possible. Fortunately, most people now use either Google or Outlook calendars, so coordination should be possible.
Resources for Scheduling Interviews and Managing Time
Here are some interviewing related resources that will help prepare you for interviewing new job candidates.
Here are some scheduling related resources that can help you optimize your time and reduce the impact on your team during the interview process.
Step 6: Collect Feedback
One of the hardest steps on the path to hiring can be quantifying feedback. If the process is working right, unqualified candidates were eliminated early, so there can be a risk of feedback becoming very subjective.
Start with Hiring Criteria
To help ensure that all of your staff evaluates candidates in a consistent manner, start with the hiring criteria.
Make sure everyone is on board with the qualification list and what constitutes a good match. Create a feedback form that everyone uses so that you can compare all perspectives. Make it as quantitative as possible, then give some room for opinion. Let everyone weigh in, and then combine the data for easy review.
Collecting Feedback from your Team
Make sure you include instructions for providing feedback. Instructions can include the interview criteria themselves. Also include the method for providing feedback, whether by email or printed form. Let your team know when the feedback is due, and be wary that this process can take a lot of time.
To shorten the time, ask for feedback immediately. This will keep the interview process as short as possible. You’ll also get fresh feedback that doesn’t rely on memory.
Share Feedback to Your Team
After the interviews are complete and all the evaluations are in, make them available to the team so they can do a final assessment on which candidates are top contenders. Make it as easy for them as possible, presenting all assessments for each candidate, and a roll-up for all candidates.
It’s a good idea to provide a summary survey that each team member can complete. This summary survey can ask them questions about their final analysis including which candidate they felt was the most perfect for the job.
Have each team member name their top three candidates in order of priority to make it easier to match the best job candidates.
Make it as easy as possible to narrow the field.
Resource on How to Assess Job Candidates
You can learn more about interviewing and assessing candidates from this resource.
Step 7: Make a Selection
At this point, you should be down to only a few candidates for the position.
It’s time to check references and do background checks.
Checking References of Job Candidates
You may have collected references at the very beginning of the process or may do it now. In any case, this is usually the point where you invest time talking to previous employers and looking for any issues that were not already uncovered.
Try to automate this process as much as you can. For example, send an automated email to the references asking them to fill out a linked questionnaire. To speed this step, call references and fill out the questionnaire yourself. Either way, try to gather information in a consistent manner from each reference for each final candidate.
To save time, you can begin checking references during the interview process. Create a checklist and ask a team member to conduct phone interviews while candidates are being interviewed.
Performing Background Checks on Job Candidates
There are many organizations that can conduct a background check and other specialized checks that you might require such as drug testing and driver history. Notify the candidates to let them know you are conducting the checks.
Background checks are best handled by a professional company that specializes in background checks. Note that there may be regulations to navigate. Be careful not to ask for information that may be protected either federally or by state law.
If you are conducting background checks, make sure your job candidates know up front. There is likely paperwork and agreements to sign before background checks can be initiated.
Let everyone know what the criteria are for the background checks, and provide candidates the opportunity to opt out if they have concerns.
Making a Selection
Once the checks are complete, it is time to make a selection. Give the selection team access to all candidate information (unless it is confidential) and make it easy to compare candidates if there are more than one still standing. There are tools available to speed this process and make it easier to review all candidate and reviewer information.
Resources to Help You Make a New Hire Selection
Here are some additional resources that can help you make a selection. This is the most nerve-wracking part of the hiring process, and it deserves some additional know-how. Learn as much as you can about selecting your next new hire and get comfortable with the stresses of selecting candidates.
Step 8: Offer the Job
Now that a decision has been made by you and your company, it is time for the applicant to weigh in. If everything has gone well, the candidate is excited about the job and wants to join your company. If everything has gone fast, the candidate is still available for hire.
Send an Offer Letter
Send an offer letter that states clearly the key information about the offer, including wage, location and start date. You might also want to include where and when to report and any other details that are specific to the offer.
Give the candidate a signature line and send it out.
Get to this process as quickly as you can. Remember you have competition out there. Now that you have identified this person as the perfect candidate, you can be certain that others have, too.
It helps to have a job offer ready to go before you start the process. Begin with a template…
Use a Job Offer Template
Use an offer letter template to make this a speedy and consistent process. Create the template in advance and have it ready to go for this and your next hire.
Include your company logo, standard text and merge fields where you can easily add the details for the specific offer. Keep this template on hand for future job offers so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It helps to save time, too.
The offer step is important to execute as quickly as possible, so it helps to have the tools standing by to get the job done fast.
Resources to Help You Formulate Your Job Offer
Here are some samples and resources that can be useful in defining your offer.
Step 9: Hire
Congratulations! You have crossed the goal line and have successfully filled the job.
But just as in football, there is still work to do after the touchdown. Time to go for the extra point—onboarding your new hire now, before they report to work.
Onboarding Your New Hire
Onboarding is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that there is a huge upside to tackling onboarding ahead of the first day. It makes day one more productive and less painful for everyone from the new hire to hiring manager and colleagues.
It also helps establish your new hire faster and more productively. Onboarding can save you months of ramp-up time and helps build company loyalty in your new employee. Statistics show that employees who experience a thorough onboarding process are more likely to spend more time at the company, and will be more productive, faster.
Onboarding typically includes a lot of paperwork. Instead of having new hires spend hours in the new workplace filling out forms, give them the power to do the work at their convenience before reporting to work. Employee self-serve portals, online documentation, digital employee handbooks and a personal digital file cabinet are all part of the onboarding process.
With onboarding, employees have the opportunity to complete tasks before they come to work. Then when they come to work, they are ready to work.
The Components of Onboarding
The onboarding process is specific to every company, so it’s hard to determine a standard. However, there are common onboarding processes that you will want to consider.
Here are some common components of onboarding:
- Tax forms
- WOTC forms
- ACA forms
- Benefits enrollment
- Direct deposit and payroll details
- Emergency contact information
- Employee handbook review
- Policies and procedures
- Safety instructions
- Timekeeping instructions
There is a great deal of efficiency to be had for all involved simply by moving these processes off paper and online. There are plenty of tools available to help you make that happen and make everyone involved jazzed about getting down to business on day one.
Resources for Onboarding Your Perfect Next Employee
Here are some resources that can be useful in understanding the scope of onboarding and ways you can streamline the process.
The Ultimate Guide To Hiring Your Perfect Next Employee
So there you go. If you’ve made it this far you have a pretty complete understanding of the hiring process. Use this guide to plan your next hire. You’ll find the steps in this guide to be invaluable to finding and hiring your perfect next employee.