4 Hiring Practices You Needed to Drop Yesterday (and What to Do Instead)

Today's job-seeker requires a whole new hiring strategy, and employers need to adapt.

learn more about Heather R. Huhman

By Heather R. Huhman

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In recent years, the power in the hiring process has shifted to the job-seeker. From company career sites to employer-review platforms like Glassdoor, job-seekers have access to endless information about a company. As a result, they're better informed and able to go about the job search in a new way.

Employers? They have yet to adapt.

Related: How to Hire Like a Pro

A February 2017 survey of 616 HR professionals and 438 job seekers by CareerArc highlighted this gap. The report found that 55 percent of job-seekers surveyed said they'll lose interest in a company if they read a negative employer review. Yet, 55 percent of employers don't even monitor or respond to these reviews to mitigate the hiring consequences.

Employers, then, are clinging to outdated hiring practices, and that's keeping them from landing top talent. So, which strategies need to go and what should be done instead?

Cold emailing

For years, one of the best hiring tactics was to send emails to potential candidates and then wait for a response. This did the trick because the job market wasn't as strong in the past. Today, however, talent receives so many cold emails about jobs, they don't even bother to open them.

"Between emails, texts, calls and other types of messages, it's extremely difficult to convince someone to pay attention to a new career opportunity," Nick Cromydas, CEO and founder of Chicago-based recruiting platform Hunt Club, said in an email, adding: "especially if they aren't in the market for a new job."

Rather than sending out countless emails and hoping for the best, companies should rely on referrals -- both from employees and trusted professionals. These ambassadors can reach out to talented people in their networks and build a bridge between job candidates and the company.

The key is to make the referral process as simple as possible. People will be less willing to present candidates if they have to jump through a lot of hoops. Let them know what the company is looking for and have them provide the candidate's contact information. Then, take it from there.

Related: Hiring Your First Employee? 5 Things You Need to Know.

Focusing on GPA

Employers often look at candidates' educational history as proof of their abilities. While a good GPA is an accomplishment, it doesn't necessarily correlate with a person's being the best employee. And if it's been years since that candidate was in college, grade-point average doesn't indicate whether this person has the most up-to-date skills.

"We've found time and time again that past behavior is the best indicator of future success and actions," Amanda Bell, director of recruiting for San Francisco-based applicant tracking system Lever, said via email. "A GPA measures many things, but least of all is past professional experience."

Instead of limiting your potential talent pool to those with degrees, look for candidates within industry-related web forums. Social media groups and industry websites attract people who are interested in the latest skills and trends in their field.

Pay close attention to comments and posts and look for members who have intelligent and insightful comments. This will provide a much better idea of whether a particular person would make a great candidate.

Using scripted interview questions

In theory, asking every job candidate the same interview questions seems like a great idea. The intent is to give everyone the same chance to shine. But, if there is no flexibility in the interview, hiring managers won't be able to truly get to know the candidate.

"Sticking to scripted questions is not natural," Molly Muir, chief of staff at Irvine, Calif.-based video IoT company Arcules, told me. "Candidates often reveal what makes them most interesting when they don't realize it, and a skilled interviewer knows how to build a better conversation on those insights."

Instead of giving hiring managers a script, give them a general structure to follow. Make sure they know what information they need to gain from each candidate. Then, trust they have the skills and knowledge to get that information.

It can also help to have them track which questions led to which answers. This will help the hiring manager and other interviewers identify the questions that work best in which situations. For example, interviewers might discover that certain questions work better with shy candidates. This will create an arsenal of questions managers can pull from when hiring.

Relying on "gut feeling"

Many hiring professionals claim "they just know" when they've found the right candidate. While experience and instinct do play a part in talent acquisition, there are more objective ways to assess candidates. Tracking and analyzing hiring data shows what led to mistakes and ways to avoid them in the future.

The Chicago-based staffing and employment agency Addison Group is in the business of hiring. In addition to the work it does for its clients, the company has also brought on a large number of new team members. CEO Tom Moran credits Addison's success to its dedication to tracking hiring metrics.

"We continue to measure and adjust our sourcing methods and ways of attracting and retaining candidates, as they are critical for us to implement programs that allow us to cater to today's candidates' career aspirations," Moran said by email.

Related: Make More Sales by Hiring the Right People

Be sure to collect data that aligns with your company's hiring goals. Nowadays, tools and platforms are available to measure everything imaginable. Of course, it's easy to get buried in data. So, if your organization is trying to improve retention, for instance, focus on metrics related to that factor. This will help you, as the employer, make quick and informed decisions about your hiring process.

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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