Describing the 2011-2012 recruiting economy as dynamic is an understatement.  In early 2011, hiring was still all but frozen and the last thing employers were worried about was how to improve recruiting. Pink slips prevailed and HR focused on damage control caused by downsizing. Now, the landscape has shifted and employers find themselves behind the eight ball again, playing in an applicants’ market. These swings in the employment sector have left many hiring programs fragmented, bloated and rife with bad habits. Across the board, inefficiency has crept in, consistency has crept out and compliance has been put at risk. For employers that want to improve recruiting in 2013, it’s time to start a new regimen. It’s time to get lean.

Lean hiring is a process defined by the same core principles as lean manufacturing, the philosophy that revolutionized process management and supply chains decades ago. Yep, the same techniques that made Toyota great in the 80’s can put your recruiting process on the path to world domination. You can read more about lean hiring here or if you’re more of a visual person start by watching the Ron Howard classic Gung Ho. Seriously, by eliminating wasted steps and periods of inactivity, maximizing resources and promoting consistency you’ll hire faster, save time, money and resources and create a stronger “hiring culture”. With lean hiring as a foundation, we’ve put together our top three tips for employers that want to trim the fat and start the new year as a lean hiring machine.

1. Simplify everything.

The easiest way to hire better people faster is to simplify your recruiting process by eliminating wasted steps, paper forms, complicated approval processes and anything else that creates unnecessary friction in your process. Dissect your entire recruiting process starting from the initial job approval to requesting a background check and making an offer. Remove anything that will create inefficiency. Next, standardize the stages of your recruiting process across your company, organize resources that will execute at every stage and make it easy for everyone to access applicant information and recruiting pipeline data online.

Tip: Get rid of all paper forms, excessive consensus building and anything else that creates unnecessary inefficiency. Avoid over customization and the urge to just “lift and shift” your existing processes to a new tool or system.

2. Drive Decisions

For nearly every employer, the hiring process is comprised of discrete, sequential events that are driven by a series of yes and no decisions that act as stage-gates. This makes the hiring process a natural candidate for an efficiency overhaul (a “leaning). By sharing decision making responsibility amongst recruiters, HR and hiring managers in a streamlined, consistent manner you will drive the events that drive hiring and eliminate periods of inactivity (waiting).  Waiting kills a hiring process (time kills deals).

Tip: Make it as easy as possible for decision makers (hiring managers) to access information and to make the yes and no decisions that drive hiring. Choose an applicant tracking system that promotes visibility and accountability without requiring massive customization and training. Complexity kills adoption rates.

3. Be Consistent

Build your process, engage decision makers and be consistent. Ultimately, consistency drives more than just efficiency or cost reductions; it’s also critical for promoting compliance and producing measurable analytics (often the number one gripe we hear from HR leaders). Only a lean recruiting process with well-defined stages will efficiently capture all the required compliance outputs, bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

Tip: Standardize recruiting processes across your company and avoid dramatic customizations for specific departments and locations. Once you thoughtfully set your course, stay on it and make minor adjustments along the way. Remember, you’ll only capture data and stay compliant if everyone participates in the process consistently.


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