While getting the right talent was always a challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises or new entrants, the socioeconomic landscape has made it even more difficult.
Remote and hybrid work models have altered the traditional systems of talent acquisition. For companies, this calls for a greater focus on hiring enablement. How to hit hiring goals in 2021 will be one of the biggest challenges for HR teams, irrespective of the sector or the company’s stage of growth.
It’s particularly acute for those businesses without conventional pathways or structures. While these deficits were always present and felt by HR teams, the new reality calls for greater focus from company leaderships.
Why is hiring difficult for small and medium enterprises and startups?
To understand why hiring enablement needs to be a strategic objective, we must first recognize why the process has become challenging.
The pandemic has forced employees to rethink the very nature of work.
Socially isolated and working from the confines of their homes, the past 18 months have given them an opportunity to redefine their objectives. A significant proportion of employees are reevaluating whether their current jobs align with their priorities.
No wonder they’re calling it The Great Resignation.
This exodus is unusual because it may not be a lateral move from one company to another. Employees may be leaving the conventional method to opt for a flexible work environment.
This has led to behavioral shifts that HR teams will have to address if they want to hire the best talent. Recruitment conversations will have to move away from functional benefits and include systemic flexibility if businesses want the right talent.
Small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the systems of their bigger counterparts.
They may not have the necessary IT infrastructure to analyze and store talent information rigorously. While their systems enable larger firms to put talent analysis on autopilot, smaller businesses have to reinvent the wheel every time they hire.
The problem is compounded by the project allocation in smaller businesses.
HR teams in such small and independent businesses and startups - if they do have a specialized human resources function - are expected to manage administrative, transactional, and functional tasks along with their core responsibilities.
In other words, the HR department gets busy with the bureaucratic demands instead of actively focusing on talent acquisition and retention.
Startups that raise money may not have the processes for acquiring or managing talent. Due to their business’s nature and fast-paced growth, they may not realize the importance of a functional HR system until the need arises.
They don’t have the systems that can support the sudden need to scale their teams. Without a well-established and supported system of hiring enablement, startups at this stage use their networks to find candidates, but that limits the pool in a highly competitive world.
Low brand equity
Small and medium enterprises and startups also have to deal with low brand awareness.
When the business has brand recognition, prospective candidates may initiate the process. This makes it easy for HR managers to hit their hiring goals.
They will have a steady supply of talent without having to incur the costs of finding them. It also means that there is little need to convince the candidates about the organization’s uniqueness as they would be aware of it. It also has demonstrable implications on the packages that companies will have to offer.
For companies without adequate brand equity, it’s a different world altogether. They have to actively attract the right talent and then persuade them to join a business based on its future potential.
How to hit your hiring goals
If you’re a small and medium enterprise or a startup, you can attract the right talent even with these systemic deficits and resource gaps. It would need the company leadership to approach HR as a core strategic function and consistently invest in hiring enablement. With the endorsement from business leaders, you can roll out the following methods to drastically improve your chances of hitting your hiring goals as an HR manager.
Build your company brand
Creating robust brand equity among candidates should be the first step for HR managers and business leaders. While established brands, especially in consumer-facing businesses, may have recourse to traditional media, small businesses can always turn to digital platforms to build and manage their brand.
The key to building and managing online reputation is to develop a robust content strategy.
Through short and long-form content, videos, audios, infographics, white papers, and podcasts, you should start building your company’s thought leadership in your sphere.
An effective strategy would also highlight achievers from your current team and posts about what it’s like to work with you. Don’t limit your content to office-related topics. Highlight the work-life balance and the overall growth of your employees.
The focus should be to create a long-term strategy that slowly builds and cements your position in the top tier of your industry. It will increase the number of applicants per post, which will create a community for you to tap into later.
Create a community
If you have an effective social media strategy, it will help you build a community of prospective candidates.
Once you get profiles, it’s important to group them into a pool that you can engage with. This talent pipeline will make it easy for you to hit your hiring goals faster and in a more cost-efficient manner.
Remember that a collection of CVs isn’t a community. You need to actively engage with them through value-added content. You can share relevant industry insights and company news. Whenever a vacancy opens up, these should be the first candidates you reach out to.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that they will still be interested in pursuing that opportunity. But it’s one of the most fruitful techniques to widen the talent pool you can choose from.
Write better job descriptions
The quality of your job descriptions will determine the quality of the talent you get.
Far too often, companies put out uninspiring and dull details about the vacancy. This ensures that the candidates may not understand the responsibilities and requirements of the position. That would discourage several people from applying.
Secondly, it also shows your company in poor light. Applicants will be wary of a business that has trouble expressing its requirements. So, HR managers should ensure that the job descriptions are inspiring and devoid of any administrative tasks associated with the position. You should also take care to avoid any engendered language in your job descriptions.
Create a compelling career page
The career page is usually an afterthought in website design.
This is a serious error because more than 75 percent of applicants visit a company’s career page to know about its current openings. If the page looks cluttered, isn’t user-friendly, and if the job descriptions don’t inspire, they will look for alternatives.
Your user journey should keep in mind the fact that some of the visitors could be potential candidates. “Current vacancies” shouldn’t be hidden at the bottom. The visitors should find an option within seconds of visiting the website.
Even if you can’t redesign the user interface, you can revisit the career page and make it more appealing by getting rid of any clutter and making it user-friendly.
Use a CRM and candidate-matching software
What stops HR managers from focusing on hiring enablement tactics are the tedious administrative chores associated with hiring.
Using the right candidate relationship management tool can help automate most of those routine tasks. It can bring together candidates’ information and help you analyze them.
A candidate-matching software will examine applications and select the ones that closely match the job description. It can choose candidates based on your set filters, including the level of experience, skillset, location, specialization, industry background, etc. It will save you time and resources as the time-consuming task of sifting out applications gets automated.
These ensure that you’ll have more time to invest in the subjective aspect of candidate selection. You can focus on the interview with relevant and customized questions. It will make sure that those who make the cut will match your requirements.
Participate in recruitment events
While the pandemic has put a dampener on recruitment events, they’re making a comeback.
As a business, it’s an effective opportunity to be present in front of the candidates and share your requirements. It makes the process transparent and credible.
It also helps you stand out from others who only rely on digital tools. Whether it’s an industry or college recruitment event, it will also enhance your brand’s reputation. These events also develop traction, which will give you online visibility as candidates share their experiences at such events.
Make scheduling easy
One of the most common pain points in recruitment is scheduling.
Even in an age of instant communication, it’s become a challenge to find a schedule that works for both HR managers and candidates. But with interview scheduling software - or any other digital organizer - recruiters can involve candidates in the process.
Give candidates the freedom to schedule and reschedule interviews by choosing from a given list of time slots. This will free your team to focus on other important tasks.
Use pre-recorded interviews
Since most questions for the same post would be similar, HR managers can pre-record their questions and share them with the candidates. Once they answer the questions and submit them, you’ll be able to analyze all the candidates at the same time.
This will save you time as you don’t have to conduct multiple interviews. It will also help you ask the most relevant questions as you’ve more time to prepare. It will ensure that the questions follow the correct order and cover all the topics necessary for the position.
Importantly, it will help you assess candidates together, which will help you screen them more objectively. As there is recorded proof, these will also ensure that you have a data bank to learn from for future interviews.
Reach out to employees
While organizations are aware of the potential in using employee networks, most of the outreach becomes generic and ineffective. Instead of reaching out when needed, HR managers should actively include employees in building a talent pipeline.
An extended network of their friends, classmates, and previous coworkers will organically create a community of potential candidates. Companies should also segment this list based on their skillsets and specializations and share vacancies whenever they arise.
Simplify your application process
Finally, one of the overlooked aspects of hiring is the ease of application. For large enterprises and well-known brands, candidates will be willing to overlook the complexity of the process. They may not be patient with small and medium businesses and startups.
HR managers should regularly check the company’s application completion rates, which will tell you how complex or easy the system is. If a candidate has to fill long or multiple forms, that too, through inefficient user journeys, it will affect their perception of the company.
Hiring enablement is key to organizational success and innovation. To be effective, it has to be a concerted effort, fully endorsed by business leadership. It should also be consistently evaluated for successes or shortcomings. That’s when organizations will attract and retain the best of the talent in the most cost-effective way.