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31 practical ways to improve quality of hire in 2020

September 9, 2020 10:28 am by
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Quality of hire is recruiters’ most valuable metric, LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting Report 2019 shows. Some 88% of recruiting professionals said quality of hire would be very important over the next five years.

That’s an acceleration of a trend we’ve seen for years.

Back in 2016, for example, LinkedIn’s Global Reporting Trends Report showed quality of hire was a top metric for 42% of businesses.

What hasn’t changed is, many businesses are still unsure how to actually take control and improve quality of hire. It’s 2020, folks. Let’s sort this out.

As LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting Report says, “The future of recruiting will revolve around strategic metrics: those that measure the business outcomes of your team’s efforts – not just the actions they take.”

Improving quality of hire means taking ownership over recruitment’s impact and proving strategic value to the business.

Let’s do this thing.

Quality of hire

Broken into handy categories…

Define what ‘quality’ looks like

1. Decide what you’ll measure

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Decide what metrics you’ll use to assess quality of hire, so you can track progress. Usually a combination of employee retention, employee engagement and performance ratings, LinkedIn say.

2. Reverse-engineer from your best employees

Help your recruiters recognise what often makes a high-quality hire. Map backwards from your best employees. Who’s thriving? Who’s a great cultural fit? Who’s doing surprisingly well? Who’s being promoted? Who’s happiest?

It’ll be difficult to form any quantitative conclusions but subjective impressions matter. If possible, hold interviews with top employees. Brainstorm with recruiters, to better understand quality markers for your biz.

3. Create business-wide accountability

Quality-of-hire isn’t recruiters’ sole responsibility. Look at the metrics involved in calculating it – retention, engagement and performance. They’re everyone’s responsibility: HR, L&D, D&I, managers, executives.

If your business is serious about improving quality of hire, it can’t just be a recruitment initiative. Recruitment can lead the charge but a cross-functional team with bigger-picture vision is best placed to drive change.

4. Work closer with hiring managers

61% of hiring managers say recruiters have only a low to moderate understanding of the jobs they recruit for, LinkedIn say. Better collaboration is vital – because you can’t improve quality of hire if you don’t know what would make a quality hire.

Normalise deeper hiring manager involvement upfront, to nail the internal job description and recruiters’ understanding before resourcing starts.

Attract better quality applications

5. Craft compelling job adverts

In 2014, Lou Adler wrote about how “most job postings are written to weed out weaker candidates, not attract stronger ones.” He notes how the underlying assumption – that there’s a huge talent pool of top candidates needing trimming down – is totally wrong.

The same’s true in 2020. Even when you’re battling huge application volumes, most markets are still candidate-driven.

Instead of publishing bland internal job descriptions designed to weed out unqualified applicants, write job adverts designed to attract the best. (Brush up your copywriting skills with this practical toolkit.)

6. Emphasise your culture

All three metrics that contribute to quality of hire calculations (retention, engagement, performance) depend on new hires’ being a great culture fit.

Browse any job board now though and most roles copy-and-paste skills with no discussion of culture. Agency recruiters typically avoid talking about specifics for fear of other recruiters stealing their clients or roles – so there’s space for in-house recruitment teams to steal the show here.

Use job adverts to showcase your culture, to improve quality of hire by attracting better-fit candidates from the get-go.

7. Downscale your must-haves

Again, it’s that perspective-switch Lou Adler talks about. Don’t try and rule out unqualified applicants – try and attract the best. And the best might not have exactly five years’ experience, or a precise degree, or whatever it is.

Think carefully about the performance outcomes you need; don’t dictate skills unless they’re genuinely a deal-breaker.

8. Use unbiased language

The average job advert has 6 male-coded or female-coded words, Total Jobs say. And Adzuna found 60% of businesses show significant male bias in their job adverts.

That’s a major problem. If you artificially narrow your talent pool, you risk missing great people. Invest time upfront in optimising your job adverts so they’re unbiased. (Then save as a template, if you’re using Tribepad’s talent acquisition software, so you can use those best-practice templates with a click).

Optimise sourcing channels

9. Build a referral program

88% of businesses believe referrals are the best source for top-quality hires. Referral hires also typically stay longer, work harder and reduce time-to-hire.

If you don’t already have a robust employee referral program, building one (or optimising the one you’ve got) is the fastest way to improve quality of hire.

10. Embrace outside-the-box channels

It’s 2020: your recruitment team probably uses Twitter. But think further outside the box – Tumblr? TikTok? Twitch? Tribe?

There are some 75 popular social media channels – doing something new could help you reach top people in more compelling ways. And that’s the recipe for getting better candidates into your recruitment process and hopefully into the business.

11. Advertise across more boards

To improve quality of hire, you first need to deepen your talent pool and extend your reach. If you’re not attracting top applicants, you’ll struggle to make top hires. ‘Nuff said.

Posting to multiple boards shouldn’t increase your workload though. For example, Tribepad’s talent acquisition suite can post roles to multiple boards from one dashboard.

12. Headhunt passive talent

Often the best candidates aren’t active jobseekers. Copy agency recruiters by starting conversations with top people in your space. You never know who’ll be open to a discussion unless you ask.

Plus, even if they’re not looking right now, you’re then on their radar. Which brings us to #13.

13. Build talent communities

The biggest quality of hire gains come when your recruitment function moves away from reactive resourcing and towards proactive relationship building. Start conversations, turn conversations into relationships, then over time your pipeline of quality people will grow.

(Tribepad makes this easy with robust talent pooling and CRM functionality. Book a short demo to learn more).

14. Level-up PPC investment for key roles

PPC adverts can be a powerful tactic to extend your reach, especially for roles you’re struggling to fill.

Consider a strategy that also targets outside-the-box terms that passive but dissatisfied candidates might search, to reach top-quality hires nobody’s talking to yet. Like ‘overlooked for promotion’, for example, or ‘problems with my boss’. Unusual avenues can unearth higher-quality candidates that’re on nobody’s radar.

15. Emphasise internal mobility

There’s no better candidate than an existing thriving employee. But recruitment typically prioritises external talent without doing enough to promote internal movement.

Get into the habit of looking internally first, every time. This should be a no-brainer, given 82% of employees would leave their jobs because of poor career progression. The lower your turnover rate, the better for quality-of-hire. It’s a double whammy.

16. Optimise your channel strategy

Spend most time and money on the sourcing channels that work best. And although there are trends (like, referrals are usually great) every business is different. Robust reporting capability is a must-have, to help unpick the quality-of-hire equation.

Redesign your application process

17. Prioritise the candidate experience

Mid-process dropouts are often your best applicants. Because the best candidates don’t put up with frustrating processes, and they don’t hang around long. A temp-cover receptionist won’t trawl through three rounds of interviews, for example. Tailor your application journey to each role and make the process easy and appropriate for the role.

78% of job candidates say the overall candidate experience they get is an indicator of how a company values its people. The best candidates expect better.

Improve quality of hire by prioritising candidate experience (for example, designing a mobile-first journey and allowing LinkedIn Easy Apply). And use automation to accelerate time-to-hire.

18. Add robust pre-screening

Incorporate pre-screening into your application journey to prioritise candidates who’re the best aptitude fit. Especially if you’re handling extreme application volumes and need to sift through the pile, fast.

Accelerating time-to-hire for everyone is harder than accelerating time-to-hire for your likely-to-be-best people. Root them out early then give them the red carpet treatment.

19. Use video interviews early

Video interviews give a better impression of cultural and organisational fit than telephone screening, without the time investment of face-to-face or live interviews.

It’s the same principle as pre-screening: use tools to identify your best applicants faster, so you can fast-track them through your recruitment process. To accelerate high quality hires into the business.

20. Level-up your interview technique

Are your recruiters consistently spotting the best quality applicants, or do good people slip through the net? Are some recruiters better than others?

Recruiters are quality gatekeepers: to improve quality of hire, improve recruiters’ ability to assess quality of hire. Review interview questions to check they’re genuinely fit-for-purpose and track your recruitment team KPIs religiously. Now’s a great time to schedule interview training, if it’s needed.

21. Anonymise applications

Like with #8, if you narrow your talent pool you risk missing great people. Using recruitment technology to anonymise applications helps eradicate unconscious bias – so you don’t rule people out who’d have been great.

22. Improve collaboration

How much collaboration happens on your team? How many people review each candidate? Do hiring managers help or hinder the process?

Build mechanisms to gather diverse perspectives on employees, to improve your decision-making around quality-of-hire. Good recruitment software makes collaboration easy, with on-the-go dashboards and at-a-glance progress reports for hiring managers.

Elevate your employer brand

23. Encourage employee-generated content

Nothing shows off your culture better than the people who embody it. Empower employees to become brand ambassadors. Encourage them to share life-at-work content; give them company-wide hashtags; protect them with clear guidelines; reward them with interaction.

The better you bring your brand to life, the higher quality applicants you’ll attract.

24. Maintain an active social presence

Not just regular business content but regular recruitment content. If there’s budget, a dedicated recruitment social media manager could be a godsend.

The point is, be visible. 90% of candidates would apply for a job from an employer brand that’s actively maintained, so this stuff is a no-brainer.

25. Ensure brand consistency

If you’re ‘talking’, people should know it’s you. Invest in messaging and tone-of-voice guidelines if you haven’t got them, and make sure every recruiter is confident representing your business.

And it goes without saying, your visual game needs to be on-point. Applicants, candidates then new hires should have a consistent, on-brand experience from first touchpoint to last.

26. Don’t make basic mistakes

A-list hires don’t apply to B-list employers. And the fastest way to relegate yourself into the B-list is making shoddy mistakes, like not giving fast feedback (or auto-rejection emails sent the second someone applies – they also suck) or not personalising emails.

If you’re not using recruitment software to take the guesswork out of this stuff, you should be.

27. Build a great careers site

Did we already say it’s 2020? Not having any dedicated careers content is so last year. Or last decade.

Create a hub for your business. Ideally with regularly updated blogs and curated employee social media feeds too, so your site always feels relevant (and you build your SEO collateral: win, win).

Set new hires up for success

28. Deliver seamless onboarding

Great onboarding matters. However amazing a candidate, if they have an awful onboarding experience, they’ll never turn into a quality hire.

Use technology to embed consistency, avoid mistakes and slash your admin burden.  And if nobody’s taking ownership of onboarding, recruitment should step up.

29. Check-in with new hires regularly

Your best candidates probably felt like you’re their new best friend throughout the recruitment process. It’s jarring and deflating if they sign their contract and you suddenly disappear.

Build check-ins with new hires into your processes, so it’s not forgotten. It might feel like a small thing but candidates who feel deflated are less likely to become engaged employees.

30. Build a strategic contractor community

Use of contractors, temps, locums and freelancers has exploded in almost every industry. When you harness those workers effectively, they can ease the pressure on existing employees (for example, providing holiday cover), to help prevent burnout, boost engagement and keep turnover low.

Recruiters should help businesses use this contingent workforce more effectively, to indirectly make significant inroads into improving quality of hire.

31. Champion flexible benefits

You mightn’t be directly responsible for setting benefits, but recruiters are uniquely placed to help HR stay in-touch with candidate needs and expectations.

Contribute to a culture of retention that delivers better quality of hire by proactively acting as a conduit between candidates’ needs and HR decisions. For instance, make space to summarise candidates’ top requested benefits monthly and pass those insights along.

… And there you have it: 31 ways to improve quality of hire in 2020.

Because – as 88% of recruiting professionals say – quality of hire is only getting more important. Recruitment professionals are becoming business advisors, not just order-takers. To build a recruitment function that genuinely furthers business outcomes, recruiters must focus on improving strategic metrics like quality of hire.

What do you reckon to these 31 tactics? Is there anything we’ve missed? Anything you’d add? Anything we’ve got wrong?

We’d love to hear from anyone walking the walk on quality of hire. Comment below!

We’re Tribepad. Our powerful talent acquisition suite helps recruiters take control over the end-to-end recruitment process, to start freeing space to add more strategic value. Book a short demo now. 

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