6 Tips for Avoiding Hiring Bias

6 Tips for Avoiding Hiring Bias

When it comes to hiring top talent, we want to believe we give everyone a fair chance and choose the most qualified candidates. But what if our judgments aren’t as fair as we think they are?

We all carry unconscious biases, both positive and negative, that influence our opinions of others. When we see a piece of ourselves in someone else, we’re more likely to have a favorable impression of them. However, when we see others as different from ourselves, we may be quick to judge.

This prejudice can be particularly harmful in the hiring process and prevent diverse candidates from moving up the pipeline. If managers subconsciously hire employees similar to themselves, teams quickly become homogeneous. Luckily, there’s a way to break the cycle. Here are a few steps to help you reduce unconscious bias in your own hiring process.

1. Create Gender-Neutral Job Descriptions

Could your job descriptions be chasing away qualified candidates? Certain words and phrases can skew feminine or masculine and actually discourage applicants from applying. Scan job descriptions and swap out skewed terms with more gender-neutral phrases. Words like “disciplined” and “tackle” may discourage women from applying, while phrases like “our family” and “empathetic” may see an uptick in female applicants. Being mindful of your word choice will help you attract a more diverse talent pool from the get-go.

2. Review Resumes Blind

Studies show that resumes with white-sounding names receive more callbacks or interviews than those that seem non-white, causing many candidates to “whiten” their names and backgrounds. But why should a candidate’s name dictate whether he or she is a fit for an open role? You may be able to use applicant tracking software to remove names and hide demographic information during the resume review process to help avoid unconscious bias.

3. Train Employees on Hiring Bias

You can’t solve a problem you aren’t aware of. We’re more biased than we think we are, but many of us don’t know how we’re biased towards others. The Harvard Business School’s Implicit Project is an eye-opening exercise that can help people recognize and measure their biases. Before you start training, have participants take a few surveys to learn what social stereotypes they may be harboring.

Then, within your training program, encourage your employees to challenge their assumptions. You can create your own internal training program, hire a consultant, or use online resources like Google’s unconscious bias training.

4. Diversify Recruitment Panels

Creating an interview panel is one of the easiest ways to introduce diverse perspectives into your hiring process. When hiring managers have the only say in hiring decisions, they may overlook a qualified candidate in favor of someone more similar to themselves. A recruitment panel lets more people share feedback on applicants and helps avoid unconscious bias when selecting the right candidate for the job.

5. Standardize Interview Questions

Standardizing interview questions enables a consistent and fair experience for all candidates. Regardless of whether applicants apply through a job posting site or are personally referred by the CEO, they should be asked the same questions and given the same opportunity to show their qualifications.

Lastly, urge employees to avoid asking questions that could lead to a candidate sharing his or her age, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. This information doesn’t relate to a candidate’s ability to perform in the role and could bias hiring decisions. If the candidate volunteers the information, instruct your interviewers to steer the conversation elsewhere and discourage them from sharing the information with the rest of the panel, so as to not influence others’ feedback.

6. Incorporate Employee Resource Groups

Make diverse candidates feel more comfortable by incorporating employee resource groups (ERGs) into on-site interviews. When you invite candidates on site, explain what ERGs you have and ask if they’d like to meet with a representative from any of the groups. Having an ERG representative meet them at the front door is a great opportunity for candidates. They can ask questions, learn more about ERGs, and meet an employee with a common interest or similar background.

Many organizations are devoting more time and effort into hiring diverse teams, but there’s still a long way to go. According to Namely’s Workplace Diversity Report 2018, the “similar-to-me” bias has led to a tremendously high likelihood that employees report to managers of the same ethnicity and/or gender.

ATS Systems: Do This First

ATS Systems: Do This First

The hiring process is critical to the overall reputation of the company, and most of all to your employment brand. Companies with better reputations attract better people, are seen to offer more value, and can even charge a premium for their products and services. One great way to improve your brand reputation? Improve your hiring process.

A good process is the result of strategic planning and efficiency, which can be achieved with the help of ATS systems. If you’ve recently purchased or are thinking about investing in applicant tracking software, there are three things you can do right off the bat to improve your hiring process.

Customize screening questions by department.

ATS systems should allow you to tailor your online screening questions. Save time using department-based screening questions. One size does not fit all in the hiring world. The qualifications you need for a finance expert aren’t going to be the same as those for a customer service representative. Take a few minutes to talk with the hiring managers in each department. What kinds of people are they looking for? What are the core competencies critical to the overall success of a person taking on a position in that department? Knowing the right questions to ask can save you time by winnowing down the number of unqualified candidates who apply. Why waste everyone’s time? Customize the screening questions according to discussions with your hiring managers and you’re more likely to hit the mark sooner.

Get the team on board.

Effective collaboration with stakeholders is essential to streamlining your hiring process. ATS systems can be powerful tools, but only if your people are taking advantage. You’ve got to make it easy for everyone to understand and implement your applicant tracking system. Encourage team members to use the ATS systems’ most basic features. Over time, they’ll become more adept and can leverage advanced tools. Hint: try out the software before you buy it. If it isn’t intuitively obvious, your team is not going to want to use it.

The interview process is essential when deciding on a candidate’s eligibility. Your candidate will come into contact with several members of your organization, both formally and informally. ATS systems give you a centralized location to enter feedback, notes, and reviews. It’s the easiest way to consolidate everyone’s thoughts as you work together to reach a decision.

Use the email response function.

This is an important habit to get into. Communication is critical to your applicants; always respond in a timely and professional manner. Candidates are typically applying for several jobs at once. You need to remain in frequent contact, especially with your most desirable candidates. ATS systems allow you to schedule and send emails automatically based on triggers. Build customized templates ahead of time so you don’t come across as impersonal. The email response function is common courtesy for your applicants, and it’s easy to implement.

There are many ATS systems out there. Do your research before you buy. After you’ve made a purchase, set up prescreening questionnaires and email response functions. Get your team excited and on board. They (and you) might be surprised by the many ways an applicant tracking software can augment your current hiring process. If you’ve never used an applicant tracking system, check out this two-minute demonstration of ApplicantStack. Ready to try it out? Click here for your free trial!

Digital Onboarding for Remote Employees

Digital Onboarding for Remote Employees

Remote work is rapidly becoming an accepted and even desired part of the American lifestyle. Take a look at these statistics. Some might surprise you!

Remote work isn’t just a fad or trend. A recent survey found that 80% to 90% of the workforce says they would like to telecommute at least part of the time. It’s an option that more companies are considering – especially as the job market heats up.

If you’re hiring remote workers, how can you make sure they’re a part of the team? How do you integrate them with your corporate culture and teach them the responsibilities of a new job from a distance? The answer: digital onboarding.

Why Use Digital Onboarding?

Remote employees are accustomed to working from home. Ideally, your new hire is self-motivated, excited to get to work, and independent. Digital onboarding offers several advantages that traditional onboarding doesn’t. And it’s not just good for remote employees. In-office workers will appreciate these benefits, too.

It’s Easy

Instead of dampening first-day enthusiasm with a litany of paperwork to fill out and mindless videos to watch, digital onboarding gets that stuff out of the way ahead of time. Your new employee will be able to spend Day One – whether that’s in the office or out of it – learning the ropes of his or her new role rather than whiling away the hours in a conference room.

It’s Standardized

Every employee goes through a similar onboarding process. When you set up digital onboarding with software like ApplicantStack Onboard, you ensure that every box is checked, every time. Collect all necessary paperwork using a library of state and federal forms. Distribute company policies, benefits information, and other notable documents so they can be reviewed at any time in one place. If your onboarding process is less than successful, you can examine what works and what doesn’t and make changes so that everyone has the same positive experience.

It’s Efficient

Printing and passing out entire reams of legal documents and forms is tedious (and expensive!). Digital onboarding allows you to download documents once, and distribute them to new hires without making multiple trips to the printer. You don’t need to take up an employee’s valuable time to walk a new hire through the onboarding process. Digital onboarding guides your new hire step by step, at his or her own pace.

It’s Engaging

The most engaged employees are actually those who telecommute three or four days a week. Surprised? This kind of schedule offers a good balance between on-site collaboration and off-site autonomy. In-person onboarding isn’t always necessary. Let your new hire do what he or she can do from home. Then, maximize time at the office by building in-person relationships with teammates and colleagues. Digital onboarding gets the mundane tasks out of the way, so you can focus on what really matters when you’re face to face.

It’s Thorough

Use your onboarding software to create a checklist for your new hires and your hiring managers. Authorized users can log in to make sure that tasks are completed, and follow up with anything that’s still missing. Upload safety or training videos to YouTube and link them to your checklist. Your new hire will be able to view them instantly at his or her convenience. Assigning tasks ensures that every box is checked so nothing is overlooked.

Whether you’re hiring someone who will be working remotely full time, occasionally telecommuting, or working from the office every day, digital onboarding makes the onboarding process less painful for all involved. No one wants to spend his or her first day on the job filling out forms.

Want to learn more? Watch this brief demo. Ready to try it out for 15-day? Click here for a free no-obligation trial.

How to Fix Your Social Media Recruitment Strategy

How to Fix Your Social Media Recruitment Strategy

Social media is a powerful tool for attracting applicants and expanding the reach of your job postings. In fact, 92% of companies use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to augment traditional recruiting methods.  But if you’re just dipping your toe into the social media waters, you may be discouraged by a lack of response. Why isn’t your social media recruitment strategy working for you? You have to know the basics of how to recruit using this tool.

You’re not reaching beyond your followers.

Unless you have a very large following, simply posting your job to your page isn’t going to provide you with fresh new applicants. Don’t just promote the job to your current network. Expand your reach using paid social advertisements to get the job in front of qualified candidates who are looking for an opportunity like yours. LinkedIn is a great place to start. Don’t feel like learning the intricacies of each platform? An applicant tracking software like ApplicantStack can automatically post your job listings to the relevant social media sites.

People can’t find your job postings.

Ask a friend to use the various social media sites to find your company’s job postings. How long does it take that person? If your job postings are too difficult to locate, no one is going to bother accessing them. On Twitter, many applicants search for job postings using hashtags. If you haven’t added hashtags to your job listing, it won’t come up during the search. Consider using hashtags like #JobOpening, #JobListing, #MarketingJobs, or other relevant terms. Advertising a new post on your Twitter page will help applicants find and apply to your postings. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you want your job postings displayed clearly and in their own sections, so they aren’t lost amid frequent updates.

You’re not being social.

Just because a person is employed doesn’t mean he or she isn’t open to new career opportunities. There are passive and active candidates out there. Use your social networks to build personal relationships with followers who seem like they could contribute to your company. When a job opening that fits their skills comes up, you can reach out to them directly. Cultivate candidates and build your talent pool even when you aren’t actively recruiting.

You assume social media is for the youngsters.

Younger people aren’t the only group on social media. Don’t assume that you won’t be able to find a candidate with the years of experience you’re looking for. With the exception of Tumblr and Instagram, social media sites are popular with people of all ages. Older users are flocking to Facebook; 78% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 have a Facebook account. If you neglect social media recruitment, you’re missing out on an entire network of qualified prospects.

It’s hard for applicants to apply online.

When you’re recruiting via social media sites, people need a simple way to apply. Once a candidate has found your posting, how easy is it to submit an application? Do you have a dedicated career page that you’re driving traffic to? Is there an email address that he or she can send a resume to? Can candidates apply via LinkedIn or using another social media profile? Take out the unnecessary steps and make it easy and obvious for people to apply.

When crafting your job description on social networks, include some requirements to weed out unqualified applicants. And remember, your current employees can multiply your social media recruitment efforts. Make your jobs postings fun, and encourage current employees to share the listings on their own social networks. For every person that shares your posting, you’ll get dozens – if not hundreds – of additional eyeballs on it. You can even offer referral bonuses to employees who recruit applicants who become new hires. Everybody wins!

Three Ways to Make Seasonal Hiring Easier

Three Ways to Make Seasonal Hiring Easier

Hiring season can be painful for everyone: the applicants, the hiring team, your finance department, and your current employees. What can you do to make seasonal hiring easier on everyone involved? These three strategies for seasonal hiring and onboarding will make a difficult transition smoother – and help you get your business back to ‘business as usual’ this holiday season.

Talk to Current Employees

Before you enlist dozens of new employees to help you round out your holiday season, have a chat with your current workers. Does anyone want to take on more hours? If your current employees want to work a bit more, there’s no need to hire quite so much additional help. They already know the ropes, so you don’t need to worry about training. And they’ll appreciate the extra hours. Even if you’re paying overtime, you’re likely to save money in the long run. The cost of advertising for, interviewing, hiring, and training a new seasonal employee likely outweighs the additional expense of overtime pay.

If your current employees aren’t interested in taking on more hours, make seasonal hiring easier by asking them for recommendations. They may know of friends or acquaintances looking for seasonal work. More than 70% of people get a job through networking. Leverage the social network of current employees to find seasonal employees who will be excited to join the team. It’s a win for everyone – your new hire gets a job, your current employee gets to help out a connection, and you have another position filled.

Know the Labor Laws

The last thing you want is to run afoul of local or federal labor laws regarding seasonal employees. Talk with your hiring team to make sure they are representing the seasonal jobs correctly. Are workers full time, part time, or independent contractors? Detail the duration of employment in writing to avoid confusion when the season ends. Do you need to offer health benefits? Under the Affordable Care Act, you may need to provide health insurance for employees who work over 30 hours a week for more than 120 days. The rules for health insurance are complex; familiarize yourself with them before you start hiring, so you don’t have to pay a penalty later on.

You can make seasonal hiring easier by following the same procedures you’d use for a full-time employee. Collect the appropriate forms, including W4s or W9s. Track hours and attendance for each employee, so you have documentation if there’s ever a question about whether or not laws were followed.  Remember, anti-harassment, retaliation, and discrimination laws are just as applicable for seasonal employees. Go through your employee handbook and look at each benefit. Will your seasonal employees be entitled to these benefits? Make the qualifications for each benefit clear, so employees don’t claim that they are entitled to them later on. Lastly, a thorough onboarding process is essential.

Train Continuously

Onboarding is just as important for seasonal employees as it is for traditional ones – if not more so. In addition to the conventional onboarding process, develop opportunities for your seasonal employees to train on the job as well. Have each seasonal employee spend at least a day or two shadowing a more experienced colleague. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss each employee’s progress, and to answer any questions he or she might have. Consider expanding your onboarding program to add occasional training sessions before or after closing, when seasonal employees can role play different scenarios and practice their skills.

Don’t neglect your seasonal employees just because they’re only going to be around for a few short months. They have a strong influence on your bottom line during this busy season. The holiday season may only last a few months, but it can account for as much as 30% of annual sales in some industries, according to the National Retail Federation. Follow seasonal hiring best practices, educate yourself on the labor laws, and make sure you’re coaching and training your new hires throughout their tenure. These strategies will make the holidays a bit cheerier for everyone.

9 Tips to Choose the Best ATS Solution in 2019

9 Tips to Choose the Best ATS Solution in 2019

According to current research, the global applicant tracking software (ATS) market size is projected to grow from $1.21 billion this year to $1.81 billion by 2023. That’s a healthy Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.3%.

And why not? The economy is running full-speed ahead. Unemployment has finally rebounded from the Great Recession and is the lowest in half a century. Besides a robust GDP, the upshot of low unemployment is the premium it places on finding qualified candidates for job vacancies.

So, it’s no wonder that demand for ATS surges. After all, if a company can grease the gears of its recruitment efforts, finding and acquiring the most qualified talent becomes faster and easier. And a good Applicant Tracking System does just that, streamlining sourcing, social engagement and the entire hiring workflow through a solitary integrated platform.

For 2019, ATS solutions will be even more “fortified” with artificial intelligence (AI) advances. Notwithstanding AI-induced automation that will minimize friction in the hiring workflow (anyone for machine-generated reminders based on deadlines and company objectives and workflow-assessing analytics?), choosing the best ATS for your company requires more than just picking the most “automated” solution.

Here are nine tips to help guide you to the best possible ATS for your company.

When investigating an ATS solution, you want to determine:

  1. The value an ATS system will deliver to your company. Before considering any solution, you must decide just what your company’s recruitment and acquisition needs are and will be. Once determined, you look for those ATS features that should bring to fruition those objectives. Then, determine if those features fit your budget.
  2. How easy is the application to use for all parties? Explore the intuitiveness of the application. Can you and your team – and the recruit – easily navigate the screens? Sometimes, an abundance of features and layers of screens can do more harm than good in terms of working with the software. The simpler the operation, the sooner the team accepts it and the faster its onboarding – another paramount concern.
    Also consider what kind of candidate experience does an ATS offer? You will lose valuable prospects if the job application process is clunky, frustrating and, ultimately, dismissed.
  3. Level of sophistication. Does the ATS integrate with your other apps and salient third-party software? How does the vendor handle upgrades? Is the ATS scalable, so it can grow with your company?
    Does the ATS allow you to post to multiple job sites (issue No. 1 for SMBs!). Can users manage resumes, collaborate with recruiters and integrate with job boards? These handy features contribute to a speedier hiring workflow.
    Perhaps even more critical, does the ATS support employee referrals? Because referrals remain the best method to find candidates, you want an ATS that demonstrates a clear means to attract and reward referrals from your team.
    Is data migration from legacy systems – and to future systems – available? With input from many sources and different candidates, make sure any considered ATS can integrate with various databases and specific file types. Can the ATS bulk import data?
  4. If workflow management is diffuse or – better – centralized. It’s recommended that the easier it is for the team to access the right information at the right time by the right people, the better prepared they will be for an interview – and the smoother the interview will go.
  5. If a vendor offers a no-hassle, no-cost trial of the ATS. You want to kick the tires, try it on for size. If for any reason you’re not feeling comfortable or confident with a particular ATS, you can avoid long-term commitment and back away after a free trial.
  6. How extensive reporting needs to be. Are reports templated? Can you customize ad-hoc reports to identify the source of a hire, the number of candidates in queue, and respective qualifications? Will report creation by arduous or straight-forward?
  7. The extent of the ATS search ability. You want a fast, accurate search with results organized in a logical and intuitive way.
  8. The breadth and scope of customer support. When an issue arises, is customer support available? Do you have to pay for it? To what extent can CS help? Because CS is critical to the success of any software company, this question must be answered.
  9. If the ATS is mobile. In 2019, a distributed workforce will be even more routine. For global companies of any size, any member of a hiring team should be able to review candidates, schedule interviews, leave feedback and check the workflow from anywhere, at any time and on any device.

A good applicant tracking system not only makes it easier for all stakeholders to store, organize, and access critical information at any time, but also offers insights into those candidate qualities that your company is seeking. It should let users manage multiple recruitment initiatives from a single platform at the same time.

Pick the wrong ATS and you could have a recruitment and acquisition debacle on your hands that leads to lost talent, unhappy management, discouraged team members and wasted time and money.

Pick the right ATS and you’ll find an improved quality to new hires, as well as a reduction in cost-per-hire. Your team remains motivated. Your hires get happy. And you get better, faster and more cost-effective recruitment that’s repeatable.