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Screening In Can Help Your Company’s Big Picture

December 19, 2018

This is an excerpt from “Keep Your Candidates Engaged,” a whitepaper from Wonderlic and Jazz HR. Download the full whitepaper here, and be sure to save the date for our joint webinar January 17 at 2 pm EST.

Screening out job candidates is nothing new. If you get 250 applicants, perhaps four to six of those will make it to the interview stage. What companies may not do as often is a different type of vetting – screening in.

Let’s take a deep dive into screening throughout the hiring process.

Screening Out

This hiring process started with a job analysis, and you’re about to see why. Doing the legwork to analyze the job you’re hiring for provides a certain set of requirements you’re not willing to live without.

Perhaps you’re hiring an accountant and you’re only looking for licensed CPAs. Maybe you’re hiring someone to operate heavy machinery and need to see a clean driving record. You might be hiring an educator and aren’t willing to settle for anyone without a Master’s degree.

This is also where factors such as salary expectations or location can be valuable. If you have $70,000 earmarked for your new hire and an applicant suggests they’re looking for at least six figures, you’ve just screened out a candidate. If you have an applicant that looks good on paper but lives four hours away, there goes another.

Screening In

The screening out process eliminated those that don’t meet some base requirements you have for the job you’re looking to fill.

Screening in, as the names suggests, takes an opposite approach. Your job analysis may have yielded 15-20 essential skills, and while it’s unlikely you’re going to find a candidate that ticks each one of those boxes, someone who covers most of those bases is likely going to emerge as a strong contender.

In some companies, a person who comes up short on the essential skills you listed might be screened out. But screening in is betting on potential.

Are there skills that, while they may seem a bit outside the box, can ultimately transfer to the role for which you’re hiring? Imagine a theater actor who was an economics major applying for a sales role. That person might lack the measurable success of some other applicants, but are they likely to be good at talking to potential customers? Are they going to be persuasive in selling your products?

What if a person has only three years of experience instead of the five to seven your job description stated you’re looking for, but you’re convinced there are intangibles that make them worth a second look?

So how do you identify that potential?

Fortunately, the most effective way to identify potential is also the easiest. And, you’ve probably already collected the data earlier in the process. The answer: Pre-employment assessments. Pre-employment assessments like Wonscore offer data-driven, objective insights that can help you by screening in the candidates most likely to thrive in your organization.

High-Volume vs. Low-Volume Positions

Let’s go back for a second to our introduction to screening. We mentioned posting your opening on job boards – internal and external – as the first step between your job analysis and the beginning of your screening process.

For most positions within many companies, that’s the correct move. Employee referrals (90%) were the most common tool to source candidates according to SHRM’s 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmark Report, but company websites (85%) were second and both free (71%) and paid (68%) job boards were third and fourth.

One issue: Using job boards – particularly one where you’ve invested financial resources – can be like lighting up the bat signal in Gotham City. For certain lower- and mid-level positions, you might get more resumes than you bargained for.

That’s OK. You have your screening process in place for those positions. Ultimately, when you’re facing the challenges created for high-volume candidate openings, it’s about collecting and using data intelligently.

For specialized roles or executive-level roles, however, a different approach might work better. If the role you’re hiring for requires a less localized search, the screening process takes a different approach.

Search firms, or headhunters, are the second-most popular tool to source executive candidates, with 49% of companies using them. That’s behind only professional contacts/networking (61%).

With any position – particularly a specialized or executive-level position – any time wasted can cost a company dearly. Even if it seems like a C-level position will yield a shallow pool of candidates to begin with, doing the homework early in the talent acquisition process – either by having a professional contact in mind or using a search firm – can be a very valuable screening tool in the end.

Screening with Unemployment at All-Time Low

The unemployment rate in the United States was 4.1 percent to begin 2018, and the dip from that already record-low number has continued. The rate was 3.7 percent in September, the lowest jobless rate since 2000.

That’s enough to make hiring anyone, let alone a quality candidate, a challenge. Forty-five percent of HR managers have openings they can’t fill because they can’t find qualified talent, and 58 percent say they have jobs that stay open for 12 weeks or longer.

So perhaps that job posting from 2015 that produced dozens of qualified candidates within a few hours is no longer replicable. It’s up to your company to be proactive.

Rather than screening out from a qualified pool of contenders, try screening in for your position with some unconventional candidates – and some who may not know they’re candidates at all.

  1. Passive candidates. Make connections and nurture them. Whether it’s joining a Facebook or LinkedIn group that connects you with candidates for a particular position, or attending networking events to scout talent, it’s worth having a Rolodex of those who might not be looking – but might jump in if the opportunity is right.
  2. Make better use of referrals. Remember how we said employee referrals were the No. 1 way employers source candidates on a general level? There’s a reason – it’s a great, cost-effective resource! Not only may a trusted, current employee be able to vouch for a candidate’s professional skills and abilities – they could have a good idea if that person is a cultural fit.
  3. Look for potential – both in house and out. Career fairs at college campuses are a great resource for sizing up talent, and even if you find students who are about to enter the workforce lacking in hard or soft skills, don’t worry. You’re betting on them growing into their role, and with proper onboarding and a mentorship program, that’s a bet that’s likely to pay off. And don’t forget your current employees when you’re screening in. Only four in 10 corporations are currently investing in reskilling in-house, but those that do may find valuable candidates with cross-functional capabilities.

Screening for the Next Hire

Even if you’ve found the ideal candidate, the game isn’t over and the funnel will start again. No matter the size of your organization, there’s likely going to be another opening sooner rather than later. You want to be ready.

Every action your company takes between hires is screening for the next one. So what’s the most important step you can implement in the interim?

Nurture your brand.

Carefully cultivating both the internal and external reputation of your organization will make attracting quality candidates that much easier when you’re ready to screen prospective fits for your next hire. Put these plans into action.

  1. Promote your culture. This one helps both inside your walls and outside. Internally, it drives employee engagement. An engaged employee is more likely to champion the company’s culture to those outside the organization, which increases awareness and could land you a referral down the road. Sharing your company’s picnic or softball game on social media makes the culture look attractive to those that follow you and are at least somewhat aware of your brand. And, finally, there’s the good old bottom line. One study found that companies with strong cultures saw a 400 percent increase in revenue growth over those without performance-enhancing cultures.
  2. Learn from negativity. Employee review sites are getting more and more popular, and millennials in particular are using destinations like Glassdoor and Indeed to do a background check on a company prior to applying. Nearly 80 percent of people check a company’s Glassdoor listing before accepting a job offer. Some bad reviews can sink your reputation in the eyes of job seekers. The important thing to remember: Take the high road. If you respond, acknowledge what went wrong and explain what the company is doing to fix the issue. More important than a public response, though, is going from reactive to proactive. Investigate the grievance, but reach out to current and former employees you think will offer a more favorable assessment and ask them to write one. Don’t dwell on the negative reviews. Take action to encourage more positive ones.
  3. Try to tell stories. Whether it’s social media or, in certain cases, your company’s blog, create the narrative you want for your organization. Talk about employee recognition programs and show that you put employee feedback into action. Take it a step further when you’re thinking of future job descriptions. After you’ve done your job analysis and written a description that highlights all the necessary background and requirements for the position, include a “Why this position matters” section. A prospective employee doesn’t want to feel like a cog in a wheel. They want to feel like they can come into an organization and know when and where they can add value from Day 1.

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