Preparing for a hiring spree

by Joseph

Freshen up your website to ensure you make a good first impression to potential hires, streamline your application process so that you’re not wasting your time or your candidates’, and make sure your benefits are inclusive so that you can attract a diverse range of applicants.

Tidy your website

In the world of online dating, Googling a potential partner is de rigueur. The same is true for a potential employer. Candidates are going to look at your website and social media profiles and weigh up whether you seem like the kind of organisation they want to work for. If you haven’t posted on Twitter since 2018 or your website looks like it’s from the 1990s, you don’t exactly come across as an exciting and innovative place to work. At a minimum, make sure there are signs of life and anything too dated has been removed.

You also need to make sure that your website is fit for the modern web. That doesn’t mean it has to look swish, it just means it has to be easily usable. Make sure it works on a small screen (50% of web traffic is now on mobile 1) and meets accessibility standards for people with visual impairments.

Address your (lack of) diversity

Photos or videos of your offices and your team are a great way to help people gauge if they’d be a good fit and give them more confidence in applying. The image you present on your website can be particularly important when you’re trying to increase the diversity of your team. People are more likely to consider applying when they see themselves in your imagery 2, so if all the photos on your team page are of white men, then women and minorities are less likely to feel welcome.

If your team page reveals that you’ve got fewer women in total than you have men named David, then you should consider being upfront that you know this is a problem and it’s something you want to improve. Basecamp, a leading provider of project management software, included this in a recent job advert:

you’ll be working alongside our existing team of Blake, Eron, John, Matt, Matthew, Nathan, and Troy. As you might gather from the names, our operations team today is not nearly as diverse as we’d like it to be, or as the rest of the company. We therefore strongly encourage candidates of all different backgrounds to apply.

Basecamp job advert 3

Sort out your application process

Reducing friction in online shopping is a multi-billion dollar business. Amazon and PayPal have streamlined the process to the extent where you can buy something with just one click. They know that a poor checkout process causes people to abandon their online baskets 4.

Exactly the same thing is true for job applications. If you use a clunky applicant tracking system, then don’t be surprised when good candidates give up halfway through.

Your application system is a key part of your first impression. If it’s a pain to use, then your candidates may well decide that if this is a glimpse into the kinds of systems they’ll have to use day-to-day then they’d rather work somewhere else.

Pare your form down to the essentials. If one of your requirements is a degree, you probably don’t also need to know about every secondary school qualification. If you ask for employment history, don’t also ask for a CV, and vice-versa.

You might consider dumping traditional CVs and cover letters altogether. CVs come in a million different formats and take time for your candidates to create, and for you to parse. You want the candidate who’s the best fit for the job, not the one who’s the best at formatting their CV.

Instead, using just an application form can often speed things up for both of you. Ask the questions you care about – ‘What experience do you have of data analysis?’ – rather than trying to find the same evidence spread across their employment history. This allows you to be much more efficient and objective in your assessment. With a handful of yes/no questions you can quickly screen out unsuitable candidates and avoid unconscious bias in the process. A form makes it easier for you to decide if you’ve found the right candidate, and easier for your applicants to demonstrate they have the skills you need.

If you can, consider integrating with popular platforms like LinkedIn and Workable, as these have tools to save candidates repeating the same information on different applications, and as a bonus they help you get your advert in front of more people.

An application process that respects applicants’ time is also an issue of equity. Disabled people have to apply for 60% more jobs than their non-disabled peers 5, and women have less time to spend on applications than men do 6.

Nobody enjoys filling forms, so try to make the process as painless as possible.

Make sure your benefits are inclusive

The benefits you offer are likely to be pretty much the same for all your jobs, so it’s worth getting the list together before you start on the individual adverts.

Benefits vary a lot from company to company. Your standard ones are things like holiday, pension contributions, and health insurance, but you can stand out from the crowd and make your company appeal to a more diverse range of candidates with some simple additions.

Avoid the kind of crazy perks offered by Silicon Valley startups, and instead try to ensure you have benefits that appeal to the widest possible range of people. For example, free drinks after work on a Friday are not much of a perk for parents who have to leave early to do the school run, or for those who don’t drink. Inclusive benefits include:

  • Flexible hours and remote work, which are particularly attractive to women 7 and those with disabilities 8.
  • Generous parental leave (including for adoption), which sends a positive message to people thinking of starting a family.
  • Professional development opportunities and mentorship programmes, which are great for people at the start of a new career.
  • A quiet room, which is valued by Muslims who need to pray, autistic people who need a break from a noisy office 9, and many others.

None of these things are going to put anyone off applying, and they can make a big difference in who feels like your organisation is a place they want to work.


Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to nail down the details of each job.

References

  1. StatCounter (2020). Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet Market Share Worldwide. StatCounter.
  2. Zalis, S. (2019). Inclusive ads are affecting consumer behavior, according to new research. Google.
  3. Larowe, A. (2020). Basecamp’s Ops Team is Hiring. Signal v. Noise.
  4. The Paypers (2017). Klarna, Ovum findings show poor checkout process triggers online basket abandonments in UK. The Paypers.
  5. Tomkinson, H. (2017). If you’re disabled, finding a job can be a difficult and disappointing experience. Scope.
  6. Office for National Statistics (2018). Men enjoy five hours more leisure time per week than women. Office for National Statistics.
  7. Government Equalities Office (2019). Employment Pathways and Occupation Change After Childbirth. Government Equalities Office.
  8. Scope (2014). A million futures: halving the disability employment gap. Scope.
  9. National Autistic Society (2020). Managing an autistic employee. National Autistic Society.