12 Steps to Transform Your Credit Union’s Hiring Process and Keep It Beautiful

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By Christine Pena-Oquist

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Does your hiring process work on some level; but you know it could be faster, more efficient, smoother, more graceful, and, in the end, more successful?

Is it an immature version of what you would like it to be? Maybe you’re just missing a few steps that could pull it all together and bring it to a fuller maturity.

Through our work helping hundreds of credit unions improve their hiring process, we’ve pinpointed the 4 phases and 12 steps of the hiring cycle that keep it smooth, successful, and continually improving.

Phase l: Learn

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The first two steps are part of the learning phase. Evaluation is an important part of any process. You can’t address issues that you aren't aware of. Your time spent making assessments will be more than made up for later.

Step 1

Define reasonable and valuable job requirements.

It’s amazing how little thought is typically put into the qualifications and requirements listed for an open position. Don’t simply accept those that were handed down in the bullet points of previous job ads. Rarely, are they well-researched qualifications that are actually needed to succeed in that particular position.

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Often, those listed requirements were literally “made up” at some point by someone who thought they sounded good. Or, they were handed to an HR professional by an overly optimistic manager to whom he or she was too timid to explain that such a candidate doesn’t actually exist. No, you are not going to find someone with a masters degree in business, who has worked in banking for 10 years, and who wants to be a teller for $10.00/hr.

And, no, you can’t just keep inflated requirements in the job ad and hire whichever applicant comes closest. In studies on this, 100% of the women and 60% of the men involved would not even apply for jobs for with they did not meet all of the listed requirements. What a shame to miss out on all those great candidates because they don't have some arbitrary or random qualifications!

The solution is to do some research, which is why this is part of the “learn” phase.

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The best approach is to spend some time interviewing and looking through employment records on current or past employees who have been successful in that specific position. What level of education did they all really have? What were their actual levels and types of experience at the time of hire?

Step 2

Understand your target job seeker.

The good news about this step is that you can learn the information at the same time as step one. You just need to ask some additional questions about what those employees' motivations for applying were, how they found out about the job, etc.

Then, you can use what you’ve learned to make up some “job seeker personas” which will help you write targeted job ads and get them out to where those ideal candidates will find them. Here’s an article that goes into more depth about job seeker personas.

Phase ll: Engage

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Steps 3, 4, and 5 are part of the “engage” stage. Now that you know whom you’re looking for, it’s time to grab and keep their interest.

Step 3

Write an engaging job ad.

Remember, “ad” is short for advertisement. It’s really as simple as that.

  • Spend more time making jobs sound appealing to your target job seekers.
  • Spend less time writing bullet-pointed job responsibilities which employees who currently do the job rarely actually do.
  • Spend less time writing bullet-pointed qualifications that no one who has done the job in the last 20 years has actually possessed.

And, yes, bullet points are useful when used sparingly. Ha ha.

For more specific help writing engaging job ads, here is our free download: "How to Write a Killer Job Ad."

Step 4

Market your job where the seekers are.

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This step requires some flexible thinking. Your research in the last phase should have given you insight into where your target candidates for each position are most likely to find a job opening. Make sure to post there, no matter where you usually post.

Cross post in multiple locations and don’t dismiss new platforms like social media. You might be surprised how many people find out about job opportunities on Facebook! Make sure your “careers” page on your website is optimized. Here is an article with more about that. Make sure your employees know about job openings. Here is an article about how to get referrals from your employees.

Job seekers won’t apply for jobs that they don’t know about!

Step 5

Make it easy to apply.

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Generally, job seekers are not sitting on someone’s couch 24/7 with nothing to do but respond to job ads. Many are currently employed and/or have families to care for. Plus, they can access listings of 100’s of open jobs at a time online.

So, job seekers are not likely to pick jobs with a complicated application process or continue giving all their job searching hours to just one job opportunity. Using a long, complicated application processes as a tool to filter out less motivated candidates is not an effective hiring tool! Here is an article about why you should quit trying to attract desperate applicants.

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Phase lll: Select

Steps 6, 7, 8, and 9 are part of the “select” phase. Now that you're receiving applications, it’s time to select one!

Step 6

Automate your initial applicant screening.

Yes, hiring decisions need a human touch. It’s also important, however, to be smart about where to put that effort. The initial screening process is usually about weeding out the applications that don’t come close to meeting any of your ironclad basic qualification. This task can be effectively automated.

Our ATS software, for example, allows for customized pre-screening questions that can immediately remove those applications from the running. They are not deleted, however, but archived in a place where they can be retrieved if you decide to change the qualifications or need to broaden your search.

Automating the initial screening process in this way is efficient and effective.

Step 7

Capture additional information only when needed.

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Job applications are often weighed down with all kinds of information that employers never use at all, along with the information they will only need at the point of hire. This does not really save you measurable time down the road, but it does waste your applicant's time.

Also, this practice actually raises your drop-off rates as job seekers abandon long and tedious job applications. Here’s more information about reducing drop-off rates.

Only ask for the information you actually need when you need it. Using good software makes streamlining all of this easy.

Step 8

Use valid selection tools and criteria.

This hearkens back to the “learn” phase. You want to hire people like your best-performing employees. Make sure that you're using criteria specifically based on what you've learned about them. Don’t just think up criteria that “sounds good.”

Look into proven selection tools like personality and aptitude tests that might fit your particular needs. Study up on ways to reduce bias in your selection process.

Step 9

Communicate efficiently & effectively.

So now for the last step of the “engage” phase. You’ve written an engaging job advertisement, you’ve placed it in front of the right people, you’ve convinced them to apply, and they've finished the initial application. Now you just need to keep them engaged long enough to finish the whole process. And, in the end, leave them with a good impression of your credit union--even if you don't end up hiring them.

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You may be getting to the end of the process, but it is here that many employers make serious mistakes. You need to communicate efficiently & effectively with every single candidate. This may seem overwhelming if you have lots of applicants, but with the right hiring software, it can easily be streamlined. Every applicant can receive an email or text about their status with minimal effort on your part.

Applicants are not disposable! You cannot leave them hanging and expect to improve your employer brand. Your reputation as an employer travels quickly on the streets, in social media, and on job sites like Glassdoor. If you want to attract quality job seekers, you have to treat candidates with respect!

Phase lV: Adjust

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Steps 10, 11, and 12 are part of the “adjust” phase. At this point, it's time to make adjustments so that your hiring process continues to improve and stay healthy and beautiful! Like everything in life, neglect results in degeneration.

Step 10

Capture data for metrics & reporting.

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You can’t make improvements without knowing what needs to be improved! This might sound intimidating, but, with the right hiring software, it’s automatic and effortless.

Step 11

Improve your employer brand.

In today's job market, this is what it's all about. You don’t hold all the power. Your reputation as an employer is important. Use the data you’ve captured to pinpoint the steps that need more work and be proactive!

Step 12

Create a great place to work.

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Of course, all of the work involved in the previous 11 steps is for naught if your employees are not loyal to you and you can’t hold on to them. Doing a great job selling a product can only go so far if the product itself is crappy.

The work environment and compensation you offer to your employees is your employer brand’s product. As you improve it, you will increase your ability to sell it to job seekers.

Don’t give up. Just be purposeful about hiring and things will continue to improve.

Here is a visual of the entire 12-step hiring process cycle:

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