Thanks for not hiring me; I’ll be applying again

A case study in changing hiring practices

Posted: 19/11/2022

Read Time/Watch Time

8 minutes

Who should read this?

employers, managers, recruiters

Author(s)

Melanie Barham, DVM, MBA, PMP

Thanks for not hiring me, I'll be applying again

Have you ever turned someone down for a job and then got an email saying, “thank you for such an amazing hiring process.  Even though I didn’t get the job, I’m going to encourage other people to apply to your organization, and I’ll apply again next time.” I DID get this email, and 2 other similar ones in the past year.  I changed our hiring practices at a workplace just before joining VSGD, and it had some pretty astounding results. Our organization generally had reasonable numbers of applicants as it was a fully remote workplace. We had 4-10 applicants in most jobs listed.  After implementing the changes below, we averaged over 30 applicants in every listing during the toughest employees market I’ve seen.  We also had a 100% increase in BIPOC applicants, and reached gender parity in applicants.  Are you curious yet what we tried? I just finished reading Ruchika Tulshyan’s amazing book, “Inclusion on Purpose.”  That book changed how I think about all aspects of the workplace and is so practical I dog eared and highlighted almost every page. The controls/context:
  • We listed our jobs in the exact same places and promoted them in the exact same way.
  • The job market got decidedly worse for employers during this time, so our results were all the proof I needed never to go back on these techniques.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Listed salary on every job ad
This was one of the second things I tried, and it increased our applicants in a big way, and I loved it as an employer because it took a lot of hassle out of negotiating, and I didn’t have to guess if a candidate was overqualified and would turn me down, or whether they would be insulted by my first offer.  It made it easier for us to come to a clear offer because I could speak to the range and justify placing the candidate at a certain point on the range.  I never lost a candidate of choice.
  1. Modified the job titles and job ads

We had undergone a human resources review of our salaries, position titles and job descriptions, and adjusted the titles of our positions to reflect the actual work being done.  In some cases, we awarded a more senior title to match the level of responsibility the employee was taking on. (In a smaller organization, ensuring you have the right seniority of title is REALLY critical and an incredible flexibility that larger institutions don’t have). In the job ad, I used more action verbs and carefully reviewed the description to ensure I was accurately describing the exciting work and purpose the employee would be fulfilling.

  1. Provided a fully transparent hiring process

Applying for a job is emotionally draining, confusing, and seems to have all kinds of hidden rules.  We took Inclusion on Purpose’s advice and evened the playing field.  We got explicit about expectations (e.g., please submit a resume and cover letter).  We let candidates know what to expect and our timelines.  Because of our structure, we ran a hiring process with grading and at least 3 interviewers.  We let candidates know this in advance. Surprise surprise, candidates came better prepared, and we got to really see them for who they were without excess nervousness. I believe in letting candidates know what to expect so strongly that we have added this to job ads in our platform

  1. Blinded resume and cover letters

This was the very first thing I did when I joined the organization, mostly because I’d always wanted to try the technique.  I assigned a staff member to download the applications from the platform we used, and she redacted them to remove the candidate name/identifier. Then we used a grading rubric to screen the candidates.   It cut down on my admin time drastically.

Candidates were informed that we’d be blinded during the process as part of our transparent process.

When I compared our data to competitions prior to blinding, we interviewed more diverse candidates by a factor of 2-3 times.  This is easy to accomplish with our platform- you can add team members and assign an admin staff member to download and redact resumes/CVs.

Conclusion

After the results I saw first hand with this organization of more than doubling (and sometimes tripling applicants), and obtaining a far more diverse candidate pool, I’ll never go back!  And I’ll never forget getting that thank you card for NOT hiring someone.

I’m curious to see if you have tried any of these techniques, or others that have been successful or unsuccessful?  What’s worked for you?   If you need help with your recruiting and retention strategy, get in touch.  We’d love to help.

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