Humanise Hiring – People Need Love Too

happy employeeIf we are going to be serious – I mean REALLY serious in building a human, highly engaged hiring system, we have to acknowledge a few basics that form the core of how we will hire.

Last time I looked at humanising hiring, it was to curtail a reliance on technology in the sourcing and selecting of potential candidates. In this chapter, I want to explore how we as humans get along and why it is vital to understand human interaction as a basis for any hiring process and how to humanise it.

To be clear, the point I want to make is this: a hiring process with full human interaction is a perfect way to identify and hire top candidates.

Inherently, humans need to feel they are appreciated, accepted, loved or admired. There is a sense of achievement that we want to constantly have and always seek out and it is this need that drives a lot of us to push ourselves both in work and outside. Do you think the guy that punishes himself for 2 hours in a 40km marathon does it purely for the exercise? Or the musician who travels up and down the coast for gigs does it purely for the driving? No they do it for the achievement, the admiration and the sense of purpose.

Looking for work can be one of the most challenging and stressful times for any person to go through (according to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, it sits above moving house) and so, by virtue of this alone, hiring managers, HR, recruiters or anyone responsible for sourcing potential candidates needs to be a little more aware of what they are dealing with. So that’s one way to look at it…

…another is common to the psychology of human interactions. In it’s basic terms, a level of interaction that is personal, face-to-face and connecting is the best way to create feelings of connection and comfort as well as a commodity that no other interaction can create: trust.

Trust is big. Trust gives you significant credibility and unquestioned goodwill. It is an element of business that significantly overrides most other intangible assets and when it comes to hiring is probably the most powerful thing a hirer can possess. You will not find trust at the end of an email, follow, Inmail or retweet. It can only be achieved in person. For all the technology, arms-length interaction and unprecedented access to a company’s personnel, nothing beats the old school.

Humanise, Man…

Before looking at the how we must first think of what we are doing. In any conversation I have had with hiring managers or recruiters about how to humanise it, the first thing I say is this: think of what happened when you were looking for your first role, or your last role. How were you feeling, what emotions were being played out, how did you feel during the actual hiring process, how nervous, scared, worried, elated were you? Use this, then, to determine how you will approach your candidates.

Keep in full mind that the way we were treated when we were on the other side of the hiring process should help us in the way we treat our candidates.

Hello? Is Anyone There?

Nothing irritates nor confuses more than submitting an application only for nothing to be heard or a phone message never returned. It’s as if the effort to apply, to address criteria and to fashion a response particular to the requirements of the role have disappeared into the ether.

The way we can keep candidates informed on how their application is being processes will be a clearly definable way to know whether your hiring process is healthy or not. Regardless of the outcome of their application, communication allows the candidate to know exactly where they stand and allows them to adjust accordingly.

Everything Old Should Be New

The use of more and more impersonal means to communicate is at the very heart of why there is at times a disjoint between those hiring and those applying. Communication channels are often held at arms length, indicative of a certain type of fear or discomfort in having the channels opened to more personal conversation. The recruitment industry has labelled this simply as ‘Phone Fear’ and it is a net result of the plethora of ways communication can happen without physically speaking to the recipient.

In all that, it should be noted the old methods of face-to-face conversation and phone calls yield far better results. Astonishing, I know. The more personal the contact, the more involved directly with candidates the employer / recruiter, the more substantially qualified the decision to hire will be. When it comes to identifying the candidate’s cultural fit, or understanding how they will communicate to the team or customer, or even just to get that ‘gut feel’ about them, the more personally focused it is, the better the result. In other words, bringing in the human communication channel will also bring in the results.

Get Your Feet Wet

OK, so you have the communications and the more humane contact sorted. Great! Keep it up.

Thing is, unless you dive in feet first and actually meet the candidate who could be your next employee, you are not getting the full deal…and neither is the candidate. Phone communication is fine, but it is simply lazy to solely rely on it. Nothing provides a greater indication on the suitability of a candidate than meeting them face-to-face (or via Skype / video conferencing if geographical boundaries are an issue). So doing it is paramount in creating a more human-focused hire for two big reasons:

  • Proper decisions cannot be genuinely made without physically viewing the candidate. They just can’t. How are you going to get an idea on how they will fit your culture? Or communicate with your team or customers? Or how will you get that ‘gut feel’ that many an informed decision are based on? You can’t until you lay eyes on this candidate. Sadly, I know of recruitment firms who do not interview candidates for roles, almost instantly referring them on to the employer. I’ve seen it first hand and it gives me the irrits (as my 11 year old son would say). Suitability cannot be assessed by a phone call only, and I don’t care how good a phone interviewer you are.
  • Interviews, indeed the whole hiring process, is a two-way street. Not only are you assessing a candidate’s suitability, so too is the candidate assessing your suitability as an employer. Meeting them will give clear ideas on how they are to you and you are to them. In other words, you are providing solid information to the candidate to base their decision on. It’s empowering, it’s comforting and it allows the candidate to feel a real sense of being acknowledged as a real option for employment. This is solid human hiring.
  • Get the critical elements of your business involved. What do I mean by ‘critical’? It’s the people that are the decision makers firstly, but also those who will interact day-to-day with the candidate. Most times, they are incredibly important to gauge a potential employees fit into that team.

Friendly – and Human – Tech

Sure, I gave tech a big old slap in the face last time, but I am not the Luddite, tech-will-ruin-our-lives kind of guy. In hiring it must be used sparingly, but where it can be used to enhance the hiring process, it should be embraced. Social Media is a good way to keep the hiring channels open and interactive. Picture having a Twitter account that can be your channel for sourcing great talent or indeed answering questions about what it’s like to work in your company. Starbucks did exactly that as described in this article in Smart Company from a couple of years back. Similarly, there is coming into the market a suite of collaboration apps and online networking tools that allow interaction with a a array of people from the phone or PC. In fact, your online realm is just as busy as the brinks-and-mortar one and just as vital in ensuring engagement. As a means of gaining traction with potential candiates, creating the buzz of attraction and ensuring your presence in both worlds is maintained, it is a solid investment. However it only works if both worlds work in unison and tech does not fully take over the hiring process.

Remember I mentioned the biggest benefit in humanising your hiring? It’s trust. By keeping this in touch with the people you are looking at as potential employees, you are creating something that is often not thought of as important in your hiring structure:

Brand Power

Let’s get one thing sorted: true candidate management creates something that cannot be undervalued – engagement. You engage a candidate to your hiring process, you engage them to your business. Remember, candidates are customers, and thus part of your branding strategy. Sort out how you work closely with your candidates and how it intermingles with your branding, and you will realise that a practice of relationship building at the start will pay dividends later.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, it creates something that a lot of companies want, but few claim to really have: “Attractables“. What are attractables? Simply, they what you company does internally and externally that give potential candidates / employees a sense of who you are, what you stand for and what you offer that make you an attractive employment prospect.

In marketing, much is made of having people rave about your product or service; tapping into motivations behind consumer behaviour and how they can be geared towards your business is something businesses spend thousands and thousands of dollars on. What gets me is that for all this money, if you cannot attract the right people, treat them brilliantly and give them a sense of engagement within your business, the greatest potential ravers of your product of service – your people – are going to be disinclined to do so. You attract great people via the same way you attract your customers…you keep your employees via the same methods you keep your customers.

Hiring is marketing…and human hiring is the single greatest marketing plan your business can implement.

Love Is All You Need

The bottom line to all this is simple: treat candidates as humans, put a bit of old-school contact in your hiring process and understand that this is the sure-fire way to build engagement from the very moment your role is launched in the market. An engaged workforce is now seen as the single-most important element for productivity gains and increased revenue generation…and about time too. Human Hiring allows for greater communication, openness and enhanced employee satisfaction from day one. For it is the human aspects of a business that are its most tangible and beneficial asset and it is the way a business incorporates its human side in their hiring plans that ensures these assets are afforded the best and most obvious vision of your business from the first point of contact.