As I just had the opportunity to search for a new position I monitored current recruiting practices,compared it with my experience during recruiting and would like to share my observations with you.

With this post I’ll use the perspective of a company searching for a perfect new team member. Next posts will focus on perspective of the applicant, followed by perspective Headhunter/Agency.

Implement a lean recruiting process

Speed and quality in the recruiting process is of major importance. Especially in a market where applicants can choose between several offers in a short time frame. 
How long does it take you from receiving an application and providing an answer with an interview appointment proposal or a rejection answer?  
You should assume that an applicant uses different channels to apply for positions (e.g. scanning job portals like Monster, StepStone, working with HeadHunters/Agencies – who fight for market share and contact immediately as they see an updated profile), your company will be in competition mode. In the first day the applicant opens the search good candidates receive a heavy load of proposals. 
I consider an answer between 48h as mandatory and would recommend answering within one day
And please consider that time changed that applicants will find you only.  
Automatic mails that an application is scheduled and it takes some time to scan all the applications and provide feedback within the next 2 weeks … SORRY – either you’re a real big fish and everyone would like to work for you or you lost already before having started. 
Your rejection answer can wait a little longer, but still consider it as an important service for the applicant who may spread the word.
To reach such fast answering times – consider your current steps and remove all non value adding activities. Scan for queues and not necessary handovers. What priority does recruiting have and is it reflected by actions taken. You can compare yourself to the attitude from Valve (see their employee handbook) making finding great people everyones responsibility.
How many steps for the applicant to receive a final offer?
I made good experience using 2 steps. 
Step 1 – Skype/Phone interview or direct interview for a fast check on determining facts. 30-45′ must be enough. A prepared fact list is important (what are the constraining facts to ask – e.g. salary range, possible starting date, key questions to check for knowledge). This way you can stay focussed and don’t waste the applicants (and your) time in chatting. 
An in house interview for step 1 is possible too, but change the perspective to the applicants view and check if it is easily possible for him/her. It does not make sense to have the applicant traveling for hours just to figure out in 15′ that it’s not a fit. In addition it’s a little more difficult to arrange the appointment (the applicant has to travel).
Step 2 – Direct interview with different perspectives (HR/Team/Management/POs). It must be onside. Including a challenge to really learn more about the applicant. E.g. I was allowed to moderate retrospectives. What a challenge and opportunity to show my skills and get to know the company and vice versa.
Talking to many people with focussed questions helps to receive input and learn about connecting and communication behavior.
After step 2 you have a concrete picture of your applicant. You are able to make an outstanding offer. The applicant got to know your company and can make a decision.
YES – it is time consuming. But you can stop at any point in time and you need to make a decision for a longer period. Therefore an invest in time will for sure pay off. 

Check your partners supporting your search

Headhunters/Recruiting agencies are a popular model at the moment. To be honest – it’s in my opinion a real mess. Many agencies I had contact with used a 20 minute interview to get to know me and throw some possible positions over the fence. Interestingly often not at all reflecting what was discussed. I really don’t get it that they earn around 20-30% of a yearly salary proving a non service.
It’s important to work with high quality and engaged agency or avoid doing it at all.
How can you check for the agency quality?
  • Get together and take your time to describe the position in detail. What is important and is maybe not that visible in your job ad? Are they leading the sync and really try to understand your need?
  • How does the agencies process look like? How do they determine if an applicant may fit. Check for timings and direct applicant contact.
  • How will you sync during the search to steadily improve your job ad, change filters to adjust 
  • What is their base? Are they specialized in the area you search for? How are they connected – just scanning LinkedIn/Xing or are they attending Meetups/Conferences and have a real strong network.
The agency is representing your company (at least implicitly)! 
A statement for your applicants is that your company does not work with an agency and is actively searching via it’s own network and job portals. Diversifying and interesting for applicants (if you really are engaged). Recommendation: Show it on your job page. 

Sell your benefits

You can use Step 1+2 (see last point) – to sell what it means to be a member of your team. Enable discussions, show the team areas, work with examples and success stories and don’t forget to provide a catalog with benefits you offer. This way a candidate can remember who you are (even after some days, maybe having more talks with other companies). Outstanding: provide a folder with facts about your company including the cool environment and benefits description. 
Embed this part actively in your recruiting process to not forget working with it.

Have a clean Job Ad

The job ad as (often) the first contact point for your potential applicants must be interesting, to the point and match your companies spirit. Please avoid overloading it with too many requirements – worst case describing 3 different roles. You scare off people doing that and addition show a maybe missing understanding of that role.
Monkey see, monkey do is a good starting point. 
How do job ads of other successful companies look like? Check really what’s the background of the role – key areas and key requirements. I recommend checking the ad in your teams and asking for feedback and active participation in creating it. This way you get input by people knowing what is needed and win by identification and support by the team.
If in doubt – consider working with experts in this area (e.g. in the agile world). They are highly willing to help you creating a rocking job ad (just ask me for some recommendations and I’ll send you a list).

Build and use your network 

Try to reach applicants using your network. 
Internally – everyone needs to know and have a high visibility about the open position. Ask everyone for contributions. Incentives are supportive in this area (and it is considerably small compared to the agency fees ;-). 
Externally – e.g. by attending Meetups, Conferences. Actively using LinkedIn and Xing is a must. Best align with activities throughout your company – e.g. if your ScrumMasters/Developers join events ask them to spread the word about open positions.