recruitment life cycle

The Recruitment Life Cycle Stages Explained

Full life cycle recruiting is a term used to describe the different stages of the recruiting process. This article looks at each stage in detail.

According to a 2017 report by the Society of Human Resource Management, companies take, on average, 36 days to hire someone new. In some organizations, full life cycle recruiting can take months.

While fear of a bad hire, low-quality applications and lengthy interview processes all play a role in drawing out hiring processes, the truth is that filling a position is neither easy nor quick. 

To ensure that new hires are qualified professionals who will make effective contributions in the long run, companies need to go through all the recruitment life cycle stages before turning a job candidate into an employee.

In this post, we’ll look at each stage of the recruitment life cycle and offer tips on how sourcers and recruiters can improve their chances of success in each one.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 1: Need Identification

This is when a position opens at an organization, and one or more authorities are faced with the challenges of hiring someone new. Job requisitions are approved, recruiters are called in to help and the journey to finding the ideal candidate begins.

Tips for recruiters at this stage:

  • Always create new job descriptions for new openings.

    Jobs evolve along with the people who are doing them. Over the course of a year or more working in a position, employees learn new skills, take on new tasks and ultimately transform the jobs they were originally hired for. As a result, rarely does the job description used to hire them reflect current needs.

    The solution? Refrain from using old job descriptions and create new ones that truly represent the candidate persona your organization is looking for.
  • Listen to hiring managers – especially their complaints.

    Top recruiting and staffing expert Barbara Bruno says that, when hiring managers complain, they are showing you what’s important to them. Listen closely to gain a better understanding of what their pain is, the problems they’re facing and how you might be able to help.

    “When they vent and complain, you’ll be amazed at how many more credentials you’re going to want to surface and how much different your specs are going to be, because now you understand what this hiring authority is facing,” she says.
  • Get all stakeholders to sign off on the new job description.

    Getting everybody to sign off on the job description before sending it out into the world can save tons of time and hassle. 

    Not only does this help ensure that you correctly understood the requirements, but it also gives hiring managers an opportunity to change the specs as needed. 

    A final review of a job description can result in changes to the title, salary level and more.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 2: Sourcing

This stage is all about finding qualified, interested and available candidates for a specific position. 

There are dozens of tools for sourcing candidates. The most used, according to the Society of Human Resource Management’s 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Survey, are employee referrals, company websites, free job boards, paid job boards and social media sites.

Less popular – though not necessarily less effective – sourcing tools include TV advertising, radio advertising, trade publications, virtual job fairs, online college recruiting and networking events.

The best recruitment sourcing strategies depend on the company that’s hiring and the job being advertised.

Tips for recruiters at this stage:

  • Get referrals

    90% of companies surveyed by the Society of Human Resource Management used referrals to source candidates in 2017. That’s not surprising considering the amazing statistics linked to hiring through employee referrals. Referred candidates are better candidates, so make sure company employees are encouraged to share job ads within their networks and refer candidates.
  • Use social media

    Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Meetup.com to identify and kickstart conversations with potential candidates. Social media sites can be excellent sources of passive candidates with a specific skill set in a specific location.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 3: Screening

This is the stage in the life cycle recruiting process in which recruiters narrow down applicants. They review job applications and use selection techniques to assess candidates.

Selection techniques may include reference-checking, phone screening, face to face interviews and in-person screenings.

In 2017, the most commonly used techniques to select candidates of all levels were references, one-on-one interviews and phone screenings, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

Tips for recruiters at this stage:

  • Use artificial intelligence to screen resumes

    According to Ideal, an AI recruiting software company, recruiters can spend approximately 23 hours screening resumes for each new hire. AI software can effectively take over this grueling task, freeing you up to do more important work. Read our article on AI recruitment tools.
  • Prefer online interviews

    In-person interviews are costly for both candidates and employers. Prefer doing interviews over the phone or using platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts at this stage.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 4: Selecting

At this stage, you’ll be zeroing in the very best candidates. Who can do the job? Who will do the job? Who fits in? To find out, you may want to conduct in-depth interviews, apply tests and assign tasks or even a project. 

To reduce selection bias, make sure the assessments you use at this stage are scientifically validated, that the interviews are structured and standardized and that you get input from other team members.

Tip for recruiters at this stage:

  • Shortlist at least two diverse candidates.

    If your final candidate pool has only one minority candidate, there’s no way they’re getting hired – that’s scientifically proven. To give underrepresented individuals a fair chance, make sure you include at least two applicants who are similar in your final candidate pool.

    Having two female candidates in your final shortlist, for example, will make it 79 times more likely that a woman will get hired. This is known as the “two in a pool” effect.

    For more diversity recruiting tips, check out the article 9 Steps to Master Diversity Recruiting.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 5: Hiring

At this stage, you’re set on a candidate and are ready to make them an offer.

In parallel, you might be doing all the checks required by the organization to complete the hiring process. These might include background checks, criminal checks, educational verification and even drug tests, depending on the position and the location. 

Keep in mind that, at this stage, nothing is certain yet – you might have to rescind your offer if you find irregularities. There’s also a risk that the candidate might accept an offer from another company in the meantime.

Tips for recruiters at this stage:

  • Send a personalized and detailed job offer.

    Craft a job offer that makes hiring terms clear. Include detailed information about compensation, benefits, working hours and contract length.
  • Be respectful to candidates who don’t make the cut.

    How you reject candidates impacts their candidate experience and your employer brand. Being honest and respectful will leave a positive impression and help your company maintain a good reputation.

Recruitment Life Cycle Stage 6: Onboarding

An often overlooked stage of the recruitment life cycle, onboarding is providing the necessary conditions for the new hire to do their best at their new job. 

This isn’t just about dealing with paperwork – it’s about properly introducing the new employee to the rest of the team, helping them navigate their surroundings and understand how things work and training them on the specific tools and processes they’ll need to do their job.

Tips for recruiters at this stage:

  • Check in with hiring authorities and new employees.

    Whether you are an internal or an external recruiter, your job doesn’t end after a candidate accepts the job offer. Check in with hiring managers to see how satisfied they are with their hiring decision and with the new employee to find out how they are feeling about the new workplace and company culture.
  • Give the new hire the tools to succeed.

    According to talent acquisition analyst Mervyn Dinnen, the key to great onboarding is to “make sure that every new hire knows exactly what is expected of them, how they can be productive, and that they are already connected to their new colleagues.”

    Making this possible requires seeing onboarding as a process that starts in the final interview and not as an isolated event that happens on the first day.

    Mervyn was one of the 11 experts interviewed for this article listing top employee onboarding tips.

Recruitment Life Cycle: A Journey

Recruiting and hiring encompass a variety of complex and challenging tasks. Understanding each stage of the recruitment life cycle and finding ways to improve upon each one of them will increase your ability to identify and retain top talent.

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