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How To Humanize The Process Of Hiring

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

Businesses today face a global talent shortage that could create a shortfall of up to $8.5 trillion in annual revenues by 2030. There’s significant competition for talent, overlaid with organizational and cost pressures. Companies can no longer afford to wait for applicants to seek them out, or expect that applicants will wait patiently while companies work through confusing and complicated selection processes. To be competitive, companies need to analyze all facets of their recruiting and selection processes to ensure they meet candidates’ needs as well as their own.

I chatted with Meredith Sadoulet, VP Talent Experience at Comcast, to get some examples of how to fill open slots successfully while simultaneously preserving the value of the both the company’s and candidate’s investment in the process. She shared three strategies for attracting and retaining top talent that you can adapt for your own business.

A Consistent Point Of Contact Builds Candidate Comfort And Engagement

Many company leaders worry that they don’t have the budget or bandwidth to improve the entire recruitment and selection process from end to end. So where should they focus for the greatest returns? Sadoulet described how Comcast has assigned dedicated interview experience teams by business unit to provide a consistent contact and help ensure that candidates have a positive experience, whether or not they’re hired.

The interview process can be confusing and anxiety-provoking, and it’s incredibly reassuring to have the same person be your source for all the annoying little details and to shepherd you through the process from start to finish. “We try to take the guess work out of the equation,” Sadoulet said, “so as part of a digital template that includes information about location, their schedule for the day and interviewer bios, they also receive the interview experience team member’s photo and contact information. That person meets them on-site and guides them through the day, so they can focus on the interview and whether this company is a fit for them.”

Personal Welcomes Integrate New Hires Better Than Traditional Onboarding

Another aspect of recruitment and selection where Sadoulet sees the greatest payoff for improvement is the onboarding process. Too many employers focus on logistics and tech procurement, which is actually a way of ensuring efficiency from the employer’s perspective, rather than emphasizing the human aspects of the experience. In addition to a dedicated onboarding team that conducts orientation for new hires, Comcast has an ambassador program staffed by experienced peer or senior-level volunteers who welcome new hires by email, invite them out for coffee, and can answer all those annoying and seemingly trivial questions that new hires don’t like to bother their bosses with.

As Sadoulet explained, “Coming into a new company, you have a lot to learn and many people to meet as you integrate into the organization. Our ambassadors help new hires understand who might be important stakeholders for them in the business, and also answer questions about the campus, company tools and systems, and other logistics important to ramping up quickly.”

Intentionally integrating the employee from the start actually leads to the kind of enhanced productivity that the employer really wants. But it’s expensive to dedicate teams in areas that most employers may be giving short shrift, and it’s likely that employers may feel that they can’t afford such a program. Sadoulet emphasized the human aspects of the overall experience as an area of crucial investment. “It’s worth it” she said, “because it provides a positive experience for the candidate. We have found it to be quite a positive strategy for Comcast; it sets the culture apart.”

When Expectations Are Well Managed, Everyone Can Be Satisfied With The Outcome

A badly coordinated and choreographed recruitment process can be such a miserable experience that a candidate may turn down an eventual offer even for their dream job. I asked Sadoulet what a company can do if they’re surprised by a candidate who says thanks, but no thanks.

She recommended an introspective inquiry that seeks feedback at every step of the process to make sure that candidate and employer expectations are aligned, and stressed that the best way to do that is to create clarity about everything from the accuracy and completeness of the job description to where the candidate stands at every stage of the process. She emphasized transparency and “the say/do ratio. What you do has to match what you say you’re going to do. If candidates understand what to expect throughout their journey, they feel more comfortable through the entire recruiting process.”

These thoughtful investments in clarifying expectations, humanizing the selection process, and creating community for new hires from the very beginning are tangible ways to stand out in the competition for talent. They can pay off not only in filling companies’ immediate employment needs, but also in becoming an employer of choice.

This conversation was edited and condensed for clarity.

Onward and upward —

LK

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