30 Minute Read

Hiring Process Tips and Tricks: Speeding up your hiring process

I decided to do this presentation for a couple of reasons. The first is that working with a lot of recruiting and talent acquisition companies right now, RPOs,  executive recruiting firms, on-demand sourcing, and recruiting companies, and of course companies that are trying to hire for themselves, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s really hard for everybody.

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Reason #1: It’s really hard for everybody

Hiring right now is darn near impossible and getting someone to show up once you’ve extended an offer and getting them to stick around once they’ve figured finished up the process well let’s just say no one promised you a rose garden. Different companies are trying to solve these issues in different ways. 

Reason #2: We’re not changing a damn thing

The second reason I decided to have this conversation is that despite the difficulties people are having and getting candidates into their open jobs:

  • Despite the reduced budgets
  • Despite the massive amounts of questioning around University degrees 
  • and educational requirements 
  • and experience and skills…

It still seems like we’re not augmenting or altering our hiring processes to accommodate for the completely pardon my French “unprecedented” times that we’re in right now.

And that’s frustrating to me.

And I bet if it’s frustrating to me, someone who’s been the CEO of her own company for nearly 15 years now and has no need to get a new job nor has she really ever,  it must be really frustrating for the candidates out there trying to figure out what their next move should be. 

@marenhogan, CEO of @RedBranch, breaks down some tips and tricks for building out a #streamlined, more accurate, and more pleasant #HiringProcess on the latest Red Branch blog: Click To Tweet

The Issues We’re Dealing With 

Some of the underlying issues that we’re dealing with are:

  • A brand new sense of freedom
  • The ability to live wherever one wants
  • The re-prioritization of life goals
  • The general taking stock during a time of tremendous chaos
  • The inability for parents and caregivers to stay IN the workforce as is
  • Burnout
  • The decreasing confidence in higher education and social safety nets
  • Physical safety concerns
  • And just the feeling that life is too short to work for jerks or in a role, job, company you aren’t happy with.

I know that’s not what you want to hear. In fact, I’m sure that many of you listening to this are hoping that I’m going to give you a bunch of tips and tricks that will help despite the fact that nobody will: 

  • Raise compensation levels in your company 
  • Consider altering the skills and experience levels
  • Invest in internal learning and training
  • Create benefits packages needed
  • Backfill empty roles from the pandemic
  • Invest in employer brand 
  • Shorten your interview process which is 15 weeks long and leaves much to be desired 
  • Assess your interview process which forces candidates to jump through multiple hoops to get a role with your company 

…and then they wonder your company wonders why more people aren’t applying or staying with the application process once it’s begun.

So unfortunately I don’t think I have any silver bullet for you today but what I do have are some smaller tweaks that you can make to make your hiring process overall more streamlined, more accurate, and frankly more pleasant for the candidate so that even in a crazy market like right now where everyone searching…

  • from restaurants to retail 
  • from industrial to manufacturing 
  • from semiconductors to engineering 
  • From hospitality to health

There’s not a single vertical I’ve encountered that isn’t struggling to find great people right now. But even in this crazy market I’m hoping to be able to share some things that make it a little bit easier on you the recruiter drawn from the good old-fashioned bucket of common sense. 

What instead? 

  • Instead of EB Overhauls; Accelerated Recruitment Marketing Campaigns
  • Instead of Career Site Redevelopment; Landing Pages and Lead Magnets
  • Instead of Lengthy Audits; Instant Impact Tweaks
  • Instead of the Same Old Interviewing Process; Low-Risk, High-Reward Tweaks
  • Instead of Traditional Adherence; Process Improvements 
  • Instead of Costly Benefit RFPs; Motivational Benefits
  • Instead of Focusing on the Entire Process; Improve ONE Key Area
  • Instead of Increasing TOFU Leads; MicroExperiences
  • Instead of Must-Haves; Consider Must-Knows

Instead of EB Overhauls; Accelerated Recruitment Marketing Campaigns

Employer brand, recruitment marketing, sentiment, whatever. The fact of the matter is it’s after a few months of it being really tight and everyone getting laid off and everyone being really upset and frustrated now we’re seeing oh how the turns have tabled. So what you’re putting out there is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret. I’ve had a lot of people approach me about building out their employer brand recently and while I do believe it’s incredibly important I think that we’re running into micro experiences being even more important. 

What do I mean by that? 

I mean that it doesn’t matter how big and flashy your employer branding initiatives are going to be truly the experience that each person receives as they walk through the application process. 

  1. Hiring managers, recruiters, Talent acquisition Pros, marketing people, interviewers assessment providers, etc all have to be 100% bought into the employer branding initiatives that you’re building out in order for them to be even minutely effective. 
  2. The other thing this means is that employer branding is not the move right now. Frankly,  any great employer branding campaign that you build is going to have to center around who your company is. But who your company is, is changing on The Daily. 
    • People are coming in and out
    • Values are being recalibrated (you know, ‘cause they didn’t mean jack in 2020)
    • Different products and services are being thrown against the wall to see what sticks
    • People are changing their tools and their platforms and their processes like woah
    • Leadership has shuffled
    • Employees (former and current) are reeling from either unexpected strain or unexpected loss

While EB is important and always will be, it’s not the thing for results now, which is what the majority of folks coming to me are asking for. Now if you have enough money in enough resources to begin building your employer branding laying the foundation for when things get back to ‘normal’ then great — while still working on the issues you have right now, by all means. 

An accelerated recruitment marketing campaign takes your most crucial openings (preferably more than one) and tackles them using different methods. You might hire an on-demand sourcer for your evergreen roles, while creating an internal recruiting group for your two open executive roles and tapping an outside agency to support, meanwhile you can create an incredible swag box and onboarding class for the call center roles that keep ghosting after a week and set up an ad campaign for the unicorn engineer you’ve been trying to hire for ages. 

A scalpel approach to multiple issues. Instead of trying an overarching strategy and using trial and error to see how it works across the board, you can use a dedicated approach for each specific issue and discover the weak points of each, while making at least some of the important hires you need right NOW. You’ll also have data to support using such a strategy again in the future and building out your 2022 recruitment plan. 

Instead of Career Site Redevelopment; Landing Pages and Lead Magnets

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…building a new career site. I’ve seen it a hundred times. While I do and have and likely forever WILL recommend ALWAYS auditing your career site to see if it has the big three (easy, low-lift application – FAQs or chatbot – ‘you’ in the life) that doesn’t mean every time is time to create a new site. 

When you’re in a pinch, do as marketers do and get the approval for landing pages and lead magnets. Can you write a great ebook about how your customer service team recently scored over 20 perfect scores? Can you build a video around what it takes to be a graphic designer in your company? Do you have an idea for a calculator of how much someone can make after 1, 5, 10 years in your company? Is there a quiz to see if you have what it takes to work in ACME corp? Which Hogwarts’ house is the best fit for your engineering team?

And if you don’t have the big 3 listed above, get working making them. If you can’t get approval for an FAQs page, ask if you can write a blog post about the hiring process. If you can’t get IT to say yes to a fun Typeform, incorporate some fun, personal verbiage into the job advertisement or even your outreach. 

When facing a big #hiring problem, focus on 1 key area to improve on for better results. @marenhogan, CEO of @RedBranch discusses tips for speeding up your #HiringProcess on their latest blog: Click To Tweet

Instead of Lengthy Audits; Instant Impact Tweaks

Auditing your processes takes ages, especially if you aren’t constantly doing it. And let’s face it, no one is constantly doing it for the past 18 months, we’ve all been too busy keeping our heads above water. However, most disciplines, from working out to chess, benefit from incremental, consistent practice and tweaking, and hiring is no different.

So what does an instant impact task look like? Well, for me it’s looking for bottlenecks and that is anywhere anyone falls out of love with your company.

(Sidenote: It’s okay if you  don’t want them to be in love with your company if they aren’t qualified, so don’t accidentally turn on the fire hose of unqualified candidates and  make your life harder, that’s now what I am talking about here.)

Are people coming to the career site but dipping out before they look at the job (you can see the time on page, bounce rate, etc.) Your JD probably has a load of requirements and doesn’t do a great job of selling. Many, if not MOST job descriptions and advertisements alike are the equivalent of that high school teacher who spends the whole time droning on about who HE is and what made HIM interested in geography and how HE likes to spend his free time and what HE expects from you and how HE’LL feel if you do A,B, C, or D. Now Mr Dorn might have been able to get away with it, because he had a captive class of folks who had to be there, but you can’t, so change that ASAP. 

There are LOTS of cheap and/or free AI writing tools to help your job ads sing, at the very least change out the order to be WHO the candidate is, WHAT the candidate will get from the role/company and HOW you will treat the person who fills that role. THEN you can talk about the history of the company and the job and what boring skills they need to do it. (Although can I just say that if the person is qualified to do the job you probably don’t have to explain how much time they’ll spend typing…)

Other instant impact tweaks:

  • Remove the word “mandatory” unless it relates to a certification
  • Remove the word “preferred” and consider changing it to BONUS
  • Redirect some spend to streaming radio, it’s dirt cheap and highly targeted
  • Check velocity metrics to determine which HMs or interviewers are bottlenecks, give them a rubric or interview guide.
  • Same, but offer to help them record interview questions and build out something more automated.
  • Respond to Glassdoor crankies BONUS, respond to several on your blog
  • Rewrite a portion of your JD with a question-answer format.
  • Ask to see the interview process or notes of your interview team, compare, streamline.
  • Install a chatbot with FAQ answers, particularly about comp and benefits.
  • At least put a BAND of compensation on your ads.
  • List out intangible benefits as well. It might not mean diddly to Matt if Andrea from admin can leave 30 minutes early and make it up later to grab her kiddo but there is a prospect out there that is looking for that seemingly ‘silly’ perk, guaranteed. 

Instead of the Same Old Interviewing Process; Low-Risk, High-Reward Tweaks

Recently, I had a company ask me to revamp their EVP, Brand, Onboarding Process and Package (swag, materials) create2-3  campaigns they could swap out over the next year, in order to hire the top 5% of computer engineers in LATAM, APAC, and their NY HQ (within a v specific vertical no less), within 6 weeks, the KPI being their hiring numbers would jump at least 50% within a year. 


Their comp and benefits were great but not outstanding in this very competitive and highly sought-after candidate pool. And finally, their industry was very regulated and has a perception of being staid.

Ummmmmmm. All right.

Now look, I try to be respectful and steer people toward reasonable goals, so I did my level best to look for ways (before we engaged) to maybe find some low-risk, high-reward tweaks. One of them was in their hiring process. 

It took 6-8 weeks. Before the pandemic, they would fly people in for an 8-hour day of interviews with various stakeholders at the company. Then they had a bevy of assessments, and finally, another visit to the company HQ for another 8-hour day of interviews. 

You can probably see where this is going. With the necessity of Zoom, these 8 hour days had been chopped into 2 4-hour sessions over Zoom. Depending on schedules, the entire 16 hours (not the assessments part btw) could extend out over 3-4 weeks alone before finally getting to the assessments, only to turn around and do the entire exhausting thing again!

When I suggested the VERY obvious, they said no, it was their only assurance they were getting quality candidates. Okay man!

Instead of Traditional Adherence; Process Improvements 

I know we’re not always in control of how our job descriptions go out, or what kinds of requirements are added to each role. However, there is a strong reason to be an advocate in your company for shifting requirements. 

Everything has changed Y’ALL!

Even the fuddy-duddy universities are deciding to forego ACT/SAT scores. At least 3 of the Big 4 are saying degrees don’t count so much any more. The fact is many educational requirements, years of experience and even requirements for the role are often “added to”  rather than reassessed periodically. 

It could start with removing say a Master’s Preferred statement, or by reaching out to code schools to determine what their matriculation looks like and if it would work in your organization. Bottom line is remove the damn barriers or stop complaining no one is showing up. 

Instead of Costly Benefit RFPs; Motivational Benefits

Earlier we discussed intangibles, but there are also motivational benefits as well. You don’t have to overhaul your health plan or constantly look for ways to increase your 401k match in order to attract and retain people. You DO need to examine what motivates them though. You could make the case that this is one of the most important things you can do to stand out in a noisy climate.

James Ellis maps this out beautifully in this simple chart:

“What are the facts about your brand? Are you big or small? Are you fast or steady? Are you risk averse or looking to break stuff? What’s your stock price look like? What do they say about you in the news? What do employees say about you? What do you offer that others don’t (or do, but not the same way you do)? What do you reward and what do you punish?” 

“If you’re a company that is risk averse (fact), you can set the frame that your customers and clients come first, so you never make a move without making sure it’s the right move. You can frame it within the idea that highly-regulated industries have to be risk averse in order to meet regulatory obligations. In fact, with that frame, you can be the least risk averse in your industry, but look as solid and steady as a mountain to others. What looks boring from the tech space might look fast and loose inside the banking sector.

Are you small (fact)? What does being small allow you to do? Develop more customer-centric solutions? Give more time to customers? Give employees the chance to grow and stretch themselves because they’ll end up wearing many hats? Does that mean employees get a bigger share of equity? Will people feel like they have more agency and ownership within the role? Or will it feel fly-by-night, a company this close to falling apart, or just so small that it can’t service many customers. The frame determines if the fact is positive or negative (and to whom that fact is positive or negative).

The goal is to figure out what facts a candidate will naturally learn about you and accept as facts, and build from there. Are you known for being big or small? Fast or slow? Inventive or steady? Are you public or private? Market leader or upstart? Growing fast or re-organizing? Is your stock up or down? Are you opening offices or expanding territory? These things are facts that you can build a frame around.”

–James Ellis, Talent Chooses You

Instead of Focusing on the Entire Process; Improve ONE Key Area

Recently a small company came to me with a BIG problem. The same exact problem everyone else is having right now. Trying to hire and hire fast to accommodate the increased needs of a society put on hold for a year and clamoring for, well, everything. 

Anyway, instead of trying to fix the entire hiring process, we decided to hone in ONLY on the interview process. We distilled down that this family restaurant had a great history of customer service but also not putting up with any guff from customers and being amazing advocates for their servers. It was noted on Yelp a few times. 

We built those reviews into the job ads, and decided to put them on streaming radio to get more ears on the benefit of working for this particular restaurant. They didn’t pay any more than their competitors, but they did offer to always have your back and never put a server (or back of house staff) in a situation where they were oversat or being abused by clients. This tiny tweak (cost less than $500 in total) filled their vacancies in just two weeks! They then had breathing room to focus more on training, retention, bulk interviewing prep and so on.

Instead of Increasing TOFU Leads; MicroExperiences

I know I just sorta talked about TOFU leads but anyways…

In marketing we basically call this ABM, and there is no reason you can’t use the same thing in recruiting, but not JUST in executive recruiting. What is a microexperience?

  • A fun little quiz in your signature
  • A catch up call with a candidate that’s NOT an interview
  • A note that states how excited you are they made it!
  • A list of roles they might like for your B-candidates
  • A personalized in-email video
  • A microsite for a specific job family
  • An e-gift after a long interview or assessment
  • A postcard inviting the candidate’s feedback

Every microexperience is defined by the fact that it 1) delights someone else and 2) is a small lift for you. Customize them by consdiering your own company culture and the candidates or jobs themselves.

Instead of Must-Haves; Consider Must-Knows

So many companies have grown out of necessity or grown new roles due to an unexpected situation. Companies, like people, tend to evolve over time and as they grow. Why then, do we use the same old must-haves? Half of the time, training a new employee takes the same amount of time when it comes to proprietary processes. And nearly every company has them!

Instead of “MUST-HAVE” skills, consider retooling your thought process to MUST-KNOW.

In order to write a strategic roadmap, someone: 

MUST KNOW how to pull research, create multiple plans, compare tactics to one another and select the correct one, and be able to communicate the order and structure of the plan. They must work well with people, be able to manage deadlines, and show success metrics.

But that’s really hard to articulate, so we just say:

MUST HAVE at least ten years of experience in strategic project management experience.

It’s faster and easier but what this approach does is weed out a HUGE chunk of candidates. And to those who would insist you NEED 10 years of experience, I would ask, which part of your job today is the same as it was 10 years ago? Did you have the same title? The same KPIs? 

Exactly. This applies to so much. Why weed out swaths of qualified people only to have to spend the same amount of time to train them to how YOU do strategic project management at ACME Corp.

So that’s it folks! I’m sorry if you came here looking for a way to X-Ray an ATS or how to automate your resume screening (although both can totally help speed up your hiring process) but I hope these tips will help you look at what you’re doing with a more critical lens and focus on pressing one lever just a bit. Because as I’ve seen, as many of my clients have seen, and as many of the brilliant people here today can attest, it is possible for us to ride this wave, instead of drown in it.