Are your hiring practices having a negative impact on your talent acquisition rates?

The elevated unemployment rate is impacting both sides of the employment sector, which includes both job applicants and employers seeking talent. Given that a large percentage of Americans are still looking for jobs, while others might be looking to switch professions, it seems unlikely that companies are finding it challenging to fill certain roles. However, this is the case across a broad variety of sectors, with employers finding it difficult to fill everything from administrative healthcare positions to investment banking jobs.

There are several factors that are contributing to this phenomenon. In some cases, employers may not be able to find an individual with the unique skill set they need to fulfill certain responsibilities. In other cases, it may be an issue of finding a candidate who fits in nicely with the company's culture. However, one often overlooked factor that may be making it hard for employers to fill key roles are their hiring practices. Proper recruitment, a clear application process and the right type of interview environment are all factors that can impact a firm's talent acquisition rates. Taking some time to address how hiring practices are impacting a talent search can help companies pinpoint trouble areas that may be holding them back.

Listed below are several hiring components that can make or break a company's ability to attract the right type of talent.

1. Recruitment sources
Half the battle in finding qualified employees revolves around where you choose to seek them out. Some companies may rely upon a barrage of resources to seek out job applicants, which can range from social media, online postings, recruitment services, employee referral services, newspaper and magazine advertisements and word of mouth. Whether you use only one or a handful of these methods, the first step in improving your recruitment is to know what is working and what isn't. For example, if you're trying to appeal to a young group of recent graduates, posting ads in the local newspaper may not be the best way to grab their attention, as many of today's job seekers are internet savvy and rely on online portals to seek out companies, scope job listings and read reviews. 

2. Company reputation
You might be doing everything in your power to advertise a job across several diverse channels, but if you're reputation within the industry is weak, you might have better luck attracting new talent by rebuilding your brand. No one wants to be associated with a company that has a poor image, and it may not matter how much you compensate workers or offer company perks if existing talent is already intimidated by your reputation. So while it's important to continue recruiting, it's equally imperative to launch a campaign to improve your brand. This may take time and require several positive reviews, gaining new clients or hosting more networking events to have one-on-one's with job applicants. However, your brand and image as a company will be a driving force in your current and future success and making the investment to improve your reputation will have long-term benefits.

3. Your application process
You want to hire a person who truly wants the job and is willing to work for it, but a convoluted application process that is lengthy and difficult to comprehend can turn off even the most qualified of applicants. It's not uncommon for high-end firms to mandate several references, college transcripts, writing or portfolio samples and the like. However, these requirements coupled with a confusing and invasive application can make applicants think twice about applying. Many companies that impose additional requirements, documents and tests typically wait until the interview process to unveil these requirements. 

4. The interview process
A common mistake some companies may be making is treating the interview process equally across all jobs. It's important to leverage different interview options to find the best fit for a particular position. For example, in a high stakes job where competition is fierce, narrowing down talent pools by conducting a group interview first may be preferable. This enables hiring managers to still meet with a larger group of candidates instead of quickly dismissing potentially good applicants to cut down on interview times. When it comes to positions where the hire will be working in a close team environment, a panel interview in which applicants must speak with several team members can be telling. 

A company's talent pool is its most valuable asset, and companies may spend thousands of dollars on training, employee benefits and professional development over the years. Therefore, it's important that employers see proper recruitment and retention solutions as an investment into their future health and sustainability.