Steps Leading Nowhere

I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about how Applicant Tracking Systems are archaic, outdated, or simply not functional for the recruiters who are supposed to use them.  A lot of these articles have come from the end users who are struggling with a system that doesn’t work.

I’ve been implementing recruiting systems for a lot of years now, but I’ve also worn the recruiter’s hat and had to use a system that someone else implemented.  When I meet with a new customer and start talking about their needs in an implementation, I can almost without fail tell them which of their requirements are going to give them heartache a year or two down the road.

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to get on my soapbox and save you from making these mistakes!  Invariably, the bad decisions I would like to steer my customers away from are related to process steps.  Leadership wants more steps, users need fewer steps, and steps that aren’t meaningful get skipped anyway.

Requisition Approval Steps

The thorn in the side of everyone involved in recruiting is the requisition approval process.  This is where requisitions get hung up with managers doing their “real” jobs and your time to fill gets extended by weeks.

Think about which approvals really matter.  If your organization approves a budgetary headcount plan on an annual basis, does the finance department really need to approve every requisition?  If you hire within set compensation guidelines, does the compensation department have to approve each requisition?  If managers are empowered to manage their own headcount and budget, does each hiring request have to go up through each level of management to the VP of the division?  Keep your approval process short and simple.  Enforce discipline for people who don’t comply with expectations, like hiring outside of the approved headcount plan, but don’t punish everyone else who is following the rules.

Application Process Steps

Multi-step applications can make the process for a candidate much nicer, and make you more likely to have a better candidate pool.  However, too much of a good thing is possible.

A good multi-step configuration collects basic information at the initial application.  This is what you need to determine if you are going to proceed with consideration of the candidate.  A second step later in the process might collect more detailed information like address or work history needed for a background check, but you don’t need to bother every candidate with these questions.

A bad multi-step configuration will make candidates crazy with constant requests to log back into your system.  If the candidate has to complete an initial application, provide more information prior to an interview, accept an online offer, update background check data and authorizations, and complete pre-hire paperwork, they are now being asked to log in five or six times in the hiring process.  These are the candidates who will move on to find another company with a simpler process.

Candidate Pipeline Steps

Think about how a step will actually be used.  For example, I often have customers suggest the following steps for the beginning of their applicant pipeline:

  • New application
  • Recruiter review
  • Hiring manager review
  • Interview scheduled
  • Interview successful
  • Interview failed

In abstract, these sound good.  In practice, these steps don’t make sense.  When a recruiter looks at a new application, they either send the application to the hiring manager as a short-listed candidate, or they disqualify the candidate right off the bat.  Who would move the candidate into the recruiter review step?  This shouldn’t be a step in the process.  Recruiters review candidates in the new application step.

The same is true for the post-interview steps.  If an interview is failed, the candidate should be moved to a disqualified status.  If the interview is successful, the candidate should be moved to the next process step, like offer or background check.

Instead of thinking about what you want to report on, think about the actions taken in the process.  Every extra step makes it less likely that recruiters will actually document activities or use the system.

If you design your system with as few steps as possible in as many places as possible, users are more likely to complete the documentation you want.  Your reports will be more robust, your process will meet compliance, and candidates won’t drop off.  Remember that simpler is better!

What other tips do you have?  Tweet your ideas to @LeanneAtAasonn!

Written By: Leanne Zabriskie, Product Center of Excellence Manager, Recruiting

See more at Aasonn

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