This article originally appeared on ICMI.com.
Happy New Year! The new year often brings new candidates to the job market, so if you're taking advantage of that like I am, here are three tips to improve your contact center’s recruiting and hiring efforts. If you’re not doing them now, feel free to consider them New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution Number One: Track Every Candidate Throughout the Entire Hiring Process
Whatever your interview process is like, track the source of every new candidate and at which level each dropped out. If your organization doesn’t use an applicant tracking system (ATS), you can track your results manually. And come one, we’re contact center leaders, we’ve all created magic with Microsoft Excel, so this should be a snap! Are there meaningful differences for each of your sources? Many contact centers proclaim that referrals are their best source for new employees. But are they? If you’re tracking how many candidates move through each step in the process and from which source each candidate came, you’ll know the answer to that question.
As a bonus tip, you should have two different referral sources: one to use when your current team member refers someone they know, and one when they refer someone they don’t know. You may have already tapped your existing team members for referrals of people they know, but what if they encounter a service employee via social media or networking that might be a fit? Have you given them an easy way to make that referral? Train your team members on what skills to look for and provide them with business cards that have the hiring manager’s contact information and some details about the job. Team members can be nervous about “referring” someone they don’t know, but those referrals can often be an excellent source of new team members. And if you’re tracking all of the data from your hiring process, you will know if it is. In my experience (and in my data), referrals of people not known by the existing team member have higher interview success, offer acceptance, and performance on the job.
In our contact center, candidates complete an e-mail questionnaire, a phone interview, a face-to-face panel interview, and a final face-to-face interview. Every candidate goes through the same process and passing one level is required to advance to the next. If a candidate passes each of the four phases of the process, they get an offer. Knowing the drop out rates by source allows us to calculate the percentage of offers accepted compared to the total number of candidates for each source. Although the weighting is different - we get a lot more candidates at a job fair than we do from referrals - while the quality of the candidates is considerably higher for referrals.
If you’re not already tracking every part of your hiring process, it might be difficult to go back in time. Start now, and you’ll be able to make better decisions in the future. Recruiting and hiring takes resources, having these data, and regularly reviewing it can help you decide where to put your resources. We do some online advertising, but we focus more on employee referral programs, and we have stopped attending job fairs.
Resolution Number Two: Don’t Outsource the Offer
It is the contact center leader’s job to hire the right people. Therefore, it is their job to get offers accepted - to close the deal! The most important lesson I learned early in my career was that it was my job to make the offer. This is your opportunity to impress upon your newest team member that you are excited about them joining your team. If your company has a policy that requires someone in Human Resources to make the offer, you still need to be part of that crucial conversation. Ask if you can join the phone call and if you can be the one to make the offer officially. If you cannot, call the candidate and tell them that your HR department will be calling to make an offer. Do what you need to do to ensure the candidate hears the offer from you. This is a critical moment in the process, don’t outsource it.
Resolution Number Three: Stay in Contact
Even if you’re not tracking results along the hiring path, you likely know that the last drop out point is one of the most frustrating. And it’s something through which nearly every leader has suffered. This is when a candidate has accepted your offer, but they never actually start. One way to reduce the risk of this happening is to stay in contact with the candidate; as a general rule, twice a week. Yes, twice a week! During the offer conversation, invite the candidate to contact you if they have any questions, no matter how small. Tell them that you are going to follow up with them a few times before they start. Ask their permission to text them. When a candidate gets a text from their future manager before they start, it affirms they made the right decision by accepting your offer. Our department manager or I will send something such as, “Only one more week until you join the team. We are all excited and can’t wait; we know you’re going to be amazing! Have a great weekend and be sure to call or text me if any questions come up.” If you want to go even further, have your boss (or your boss’s boss, or even the CEO) call the candidate to welcome them to the company before they even start. Show the future team member how excited you are for them to join and you significantly reduce the likelihood of losing them before they start.
Hiring the right people is the most critical part of a leader’s job and tracking the results by the source is a simple way to understand the effectiveness of your efforts. Communication with candidates during the offer stage and after they’ve accepted the offer is important and can reduce the risk of losing them before they’ve even started.