As your SMB grows, finding the best-fit candidates to fill key positions can be a costly challenge. Recruitment tools can help smooth the way.
By Terri Coles
As your SMB grows, the task of hiring employees becomes one of the most critical—and most expensive—decisions. These days, new tech tools for hiring can help you make secure and thorough hiring decisions.
Generally, these tools are applicant tracking and recruitment software-as-a-service, or SaaS, products. They can streamline many aspects of the recruitment process, from writing and posting your job ads to keeping track of applicants. These products are increasingly affordable for smaller businesses, and there are now some no-cost offerings available that integrate with third-party providers for services like background checks.
Increased offerings and lower prices mean small and medium businesses have access to more recruiting software platforms than ever before, says Brian Westfall, senior market research associate at Software Advice, a research and consulting company.
“Applicant tracking systems are the most popular for sure, but there are also social media management platforms for social recruiting, sourcing platforms for finding passive candidates, employee referral applications to boost program participation and engagement, and candidate assessment/interview tools to find the best talent,” Westfall says.
Companies that do use formal candidate relationship processes, such as through software, are 40% more likely to be considered “best in class,” according to Aberdeen Group.
Considering the cost of recruitment for smaller firms—a median of $3,600 per hire for small and midsize companies, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal—it’s important to learn about the tools that can help you make the best hiring decisions. Here’s a look at how recruitment tech offerings can help your company during every step of the hiring process. Read about SMBs and mobility: Your workers and your devices.
From start to finish
Finding the right candidate begins with writing the best job ad. Smart HR software includes features such as keyword optimization, which helps you choose keywords for your ads that are most often searched. You can then search the applications you receive by these keywords. This is particularly helpful when searching for deal-breaking qualifications such as a particular certification or experience with certain software programs.
New technology can also save you time in the hiring process. For example, there are software options that automate the process of posting to job boards, saving you the time it would take to put your ad up on each individually. This allows you to share the ad quickly and widely, reaching a larger potential pool of applicants. That’s particularly valuable for in-demand fields like IT. Read our guide for hiring IT help.
These tools help in the recruitment process in several different ways. First of all, they make it easier to both quickly scan the applications you receive, and to look closely at the answers to particular questions. This can help rule out applicants who don’t have a particular key skill. You can quickly categorize applicants and easily respond to them as a group—for example, to notify them that their application has been received or that they haven’t been selected for an interview.
Applicant tracking software can also help in future job searches. You can use the data provided to see where most of your applications are coming from, allowing you to see which social media platforms and job boards garner the best responses. Applicant tracking systems also allow you to build a database of past applicants, which adds to your recruitment pool over time. You can store the applications and contact information of applicants who aren’t right for a particular position but could be a good fit in a different role, allowing you to easily return to them later.
Using social media
Social media is increasingly an important recruiting tool for businesses of all sizes. Research done by Staff.com showed that in 2013, 92% of companies were using social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook in their recruitment process. And 79% of job seekers use social media in their hunt, according to Inc. That means you should be using it, too. Read about harnessing tech to improve customer service.
The latest applicant management applications provide new tools to find candidates, including those who are actively job hunting and may have some key details of their employment history available on sites like LinkedIn. Having this extra information, as well as social-specific features like recommendations and their wider network of contacts, makes it easier to ensure that you bring in the best and most qualified candidates for interviews. Jobvite found in a 2015 survey of recruiters that employers using social media got a significantly higher quality of applicant.
In addition to finding candidates, social media also makes it easier for candidates to find you and the job you’re hiring for. Job ads can now be shared on popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as on traditional job boards and your own website. And applicants can apply directly through sites like LinkedIn, streamlining some of the process for your company.
Along with using the social features of the recruitment software you choose, be sure to use your existing social media management tools as well. Simply sharing the link to your job ad regularly on your Facebook and Twitter accounts can help to reach candidates who may not see it otherwise.
However, if you’re using social media not just to recruit potential contractors and employees but also to make hiring decisions, be careful. Laws vary by state, and some information cannot legally be considered in the hiring process.
Recruitment software makes an impressive array of information about your applicants available quickly and easily. That said, make sure you’re both collecting data that you actually need and that you know what to do with it once you have it. As well, many programs you could be using for other recruitment functions may include their own analytics, and you may find that these are sufficient for your needs.
“A big thing we stress is to buy a system you’ll hopefully use five years from now, but to also avoid the marketing trap of getting an expensive product with features you’re not going to use,” Westfall says. “Many buyers call in saying they actually want a product that does less than their current solution because it’s too expensive and they don’t have the means to truly take advantage of it.”
Software Advice asked buyers of applicant tracking systems about their reasons for buying in 2014 and the key reason given was to increase efficiency and organization. “Ideally, companies and recruiters should have foresight to implement an ATS before the cracks in the pipeline show, but that’s often not the case,” Westfall says. “Some indications that it’s time for a change are missing paperwork, poorly managed application processes and spending too much time on data entry and administration.”
Also, your SMB doesn’t necessarily need to use a particular hiring technology simply because it’s available or affordable. Using the wrong technology can complicate the hiring process unnecessarily. For example, all-in-one programs for human resources or recruitment may seem on the surface to simplify things, but each piece of a particular software tool’s offering isn’t necessarily right for the job. Sometimes the best choice is to decide which recruitment needs technology can help you with, and then to find the best tool for those needs individually.
Ultimately, the best tools will depend on an SMB’s individual needs, Westfall says. “Resume parsing is a big deal to quickly find the gold nuggets in a stack of applications. Collaborative candidate scoring is also a must for HR teams that work together on hiring decisions,” he says.
“But overall, if the platform has any candidate-facing functionality, it has to be intuitive and easy for them to use,” he says. “If a product creates a poor candidate experience that results in job seekers not applying, it’s a deal-breaker.”
This article was underwritten by HP: Introducing HP BusinessNow, the right technology to help your business grow.