The Neverending To-Do List: How to Prioritize Hiring Process Improvements

What’s the old saying? You eat an elephant one bite at a time? Well, when you’re staring down improving your hiring process, it might feel more like you’re trying to eat a brontosaurus. (And before you get all, “but the brontosaurus never really existed and the correct term is brachiosaurus,” maybe you should go read an archeology column and let me make my point in peace. Thank you.)

Anyway, back to feeling overwhelmed about the hiring process. The turbulent business landscape has thrown a lot of recruiting teams into survival mode. Where recruiters once were asked to hire 1,000 people in six weeks, they are now part of the layoffs hitting many industries.

I’ve written previously about the whiplash effect for recruiters, and it would seem that back and forth will continue for some time. In the meantime, some sectors were minimally impacted by this round of layoffs, while other sectors, such as service and hospitality, are struggling to fill open positions. As recruiting teams seek to keep hiring with fewer people (or at the very least with smaller budgets), it’s natural to turn toward process optimization as a solution.

But where to start?

It’s tempting to take a page from this year’s best picture Oscar winner and try to fix everything, everywhere, all at once, but unless you have a rare talent for existing in the multiverse, this is just a recipe for disaster. The reality is that every aspect of the hiring process is ripe for improvement. Job postings, the application process, the interview process, the decision-making process…everything is up for grabs.

So, how do you eat that brontosaurus?

Know yourself. In my work with organizations, it’s surprising how many recruiting teams lack access to good data to understand their current state. They may or may not have identified key metrics to track. And even if they have them, they can’t trust them because the data is so messy. It’s important for organizations to understand where they are before they can plan for where they’re going.

Have a point of view. There is no shortage of experts telling you what you “should” do in your recruiting process. And yes, recommendations and benchmarks are an important starting point. But only you know what will work for your business. Make sure you acknowledge the idiosyncrasies in your industry and your organization, then build the process to fit your needs.

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Be realistic about resources. If your team is anything like the ones I’ve worked with in the past, you probably have a go-to person who everyone wants working on their special projects. And there is probably only one person who really understands your legacy system enough to coax better performance from it. When you’re planning your optimization, be aware of who those limited resources are and schedule accordingly.

Find some early wins. Low-hanging fruit is called that because it’s easier to get. Because you’re trying to fix things as you go, don’t dismiss the quick wins just because they’re “easy.” Results are results. Take them where you can get them.

Ultimately, wherever you are in your path to a better hiring process, the key to success is using your time and resources wisely.

Want more insights from Mary Faulkner? Join her for her panel, “Combating Irrelevance: Maintaining the Value of Recruiting in Today’s Turbulent Times,” at the ERE Recruiting Conference, which is taking place in San Diego (and online) May 22-24.

Mary is a principal with IA, a boutique consulting firm focused on HR transformation. She is also a talent strategist and business leader with almost 15 years experience in helping organizations achieve their goals. After working on the operations side of start-ups and small companies, Mary landed in HR by way of learning and development, with extensive experience in leadership and organizational development, coaching, key talent planning, talent acquisition, performance management, business partnering, HRIS, process and policy creation, and instructional design.

In addition to her work within companies, Mary authors a leadership development blog called Surviving Leadership to continue the dialogue around the challenges of leadership – both being a leader and being led.