(This is the first step in my 5-step hiring process series.)
I write the job ad and post it online.
Be specific. Base your job ad on the position description. Think about the specific skills, traits, or experience you need the job applicants to have. You want to attract the right applicants, so be accurate and specific with your job ad. In fact, our job ad and position description are almost identical for our Email-Marketing Writer/Analyst job (samples attached).
Sell it. Why would a job seeker want to work at your business? If you want a cream-of-the-crop applicant, you need to sell your workplace. Is your workplace fast-paced and constantly changing, or is it more traditional and structured? Be honest. For example, I encourage potential applicants to go to our website and read Our Constitution so that they will see who we are and what we value.
Be compliant. Remember to keep your ad and application form legal. That means no discrimination based on race, age, religion, national origin, disability, etc. For the specifics on the equal employment opportunity compliance laws addressing discrimination, go to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity website.
For a list of the basics to include in (or exclude from) your job ad, see How to Write a Job Ad that Attracts — Not Repels!
Interested job seekers complete the online job application and send their resume.
Why use a job application? It will save you time.
- You can spot gaps in education or experience, and compare the applications of the job seekers as you consider them for the open position. It’s much easier than sifting through a stack of resumes, each with a different format.
- You can include a signature page that allows you to do reference checks, etc. The last page of our job application form is the signature page.
- You can get a first impression of the applicant’s abilities based on the accuracy and completeness of the job application.
- Your nondiscriminatory application shows your compliance with the law.
Finding blank job applications. You can find many generic job applications online, but be sure the form is current and doesn’t ask illegal questions. I use a job application that is a fill-able PDF.
Why request resumes? The resume gives me another perspective on the applicant’s skills. Perhaps the applicant’s previous job responsibilities and accomplishments are better explained in their resume than on the job application. If the resume is an unclear mess, it tells me something (not so great) about the applicant.
Job seekers’ applications and resumes automatically feed into our simple applicant tracking software.
Use applicant tracking software. I strongly recommend using applicant tracking software to organize your hiring process. It lets me store and track job descriptions, job ads, and applicant documents. It tracks open jobs and applicant progress through the hiring process. And our software is “in the cloud” so I can access our records from anywhere, 24/7.
Save time now. Our applicant tracking software pulls key information from resumes and applications, and creates a record for each applicant. No time is spent on data entry.
Save time later. The next time I have an opening, I don’t have to start from scratch. The job descriptions and previous applicants are organized and easy to find.
I look at the resumes and applications and reject the obvious duds.
Review records. It is surprising how often an applicant does not have the clearly required skills for the open position. In addition to reviewing the resumes and applications, I check out the job seeker’s “online information,” including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (provided by the applicant on the job application). I look at their online profiles, just to see what I might learn, and I also Google them.
Weed out. I reject applicants who do not have the required skills. The records review leaves me with applicants who seem qualified, and I move on to Step 2 which is emailing the position description and pre-employment questionnaire to the applicant(s).
Rejection letters. We do not send rejection letters to the applicants who are eliminated at this point, but some employers do. They may send an email message to thank the applicant for submitting an application and wish them well. You can find sample rejection letters online.
Ask the Small Business Expert
Mike Kappel, Serial Entrepreneur
Question: How do I find good applicants for my job openings?
Mike says: You are crazy if you are still using the classic newspaper want ads. The world has moved to online. In fact, if an applicant is not online, I weed them out. Online options for finding applicants include job boards, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Also consider these sources for finding new employees:
- Employee referrals are the most common way to find new employees, and an employee-referred new hire will stay with your business twice as long. So my companies have an Employee Referral Program which gives employees the opportunity to earn cash for the referral of a successful new hire.
- Former employees may be able to recommend someone for the job — or they may be interested in coming back to work for your company.
- If workers you see out in public impress you with their skills, such as waiters and other customer service professionals, you can invite them to apply for your open position.
- Family members can suggest potential applicants, or you might hire a family member. Hiring a family member is a slippery slope. Will it cause resentment among coworkers? What if you have to fire the family member due to “inadequate job performance”?
- Interns can be enthusiastic, talented additions to your staff. We like interns. Hint: Contact a local college to find interns.
Once you’ve reeled your new employee in, you’ll need to figure out how to pay them legally. Start a free trial of Patriot’s payroll services to calculate, file and remit your payroll taxes.