Ever had this feeling? Despite the fact that one of the primary purposes of my job for the last 17 years has been to encourage as many people as possible to apply for jobs I’m responsible for, I know the feeling of getting swamped by applicants well. In fact, the more success you have maximising job applicant traffic, the worse this feeling gets.
For line managers and HR people, particularly those who only dip in to recruitment as a part time function, recruiting can be a nightmare component of their job. Somebody hands in their notice, or your team is getting swamped, and instead of facing inwards towards the business, they have to turn around 180 degrees and face outside the business.
Advertising, database searching, networking, reading cover letters, reviewing resumes, sifting through applications, dealing with agencies, doing verbal references, validating skills, all a process of elimination where most of your effort leads to 93% of applicants being eliminated and nothing to show for that effort; but it has to be done to find the 7% of applicants who are good.
Then you get to scheduling interviews, liaising, interviewing, follow up interviews, written referencing, more elimination, offering, negotiating, on-boarding, and finally meeting, greeting and inducting. All whilst you’re trying to do your day job!! Recruiting can be a pain for non-recruiters. Add to all that the fact that you have to tell hopeful prospects that they have been rejected, engage with, interview and liaise with people who you will later reject, even though you might like them and they are really nice people. The feeling it gives is nearly as bad as having to retrench someone, yet if you don’t get back to them they never have any closure, and you are left feeling doubly guilty, but you are too busy to do anything about it. You really should tell them.
So, what to do about it? Well aside from buying a Recruitment Management System, which is purpose built and designed for high volume, for part time recruiters, or even full timers, the simple answer is usually right on your Desktop, Microsoft Outlook. A semi- professional Applicant Tracking System can be applied in Microsoft Outlook, which is all you need to keep on top.
Step one of MS Outlook Applicant Tracking System – Managing Folders
If you are a Line Manager, create a folder under your inbox called ‘Vacancies’. If you are HR, first create a folder under the name of the Line Manager’s department, and then create a folder called ‘Vacancies’ under that. In the Vacancies folder, create another folder using the Job Title of the actual vacancy; i.e. Secretary. If it hasn’t been emailed to you already, email the Job Description (you do have a Job Description, right?) to yourself, drag and drop it in to this folder. Also create a folder under Outlook Contacts with the same job name, i.e: Secretary. (If you recruit in more than one location you can make it; Secretary Sydney, and so on), and another Contacts folder called; ‘Employees’.
Step two of MS Outlook Applicant Tracking System – Managing Applicants
Before you advertise the job, give it a reference number, if it hasn’t already got one. Now when you advertise the role on a job board, or give it to an agency, the reference number will be in the subject header. Now create an Outlook rule that all emails with that reference number in the Subject Header go straight to that folder. Now, all job applications , whether direct or otherwise, will be in the same folder. If Outlook misses one for any reason, drag and drop them in.
Step three of MS Outlook Applicant Tracking System – Categorising Applicants and selecting Candidates
At the top of the main Outlook email screen you will see 2 buttons beside each other. One is Follow Up, One is Categorise. Click Categorise, click ‘All Categories’ and go in and change the names of the Categories to something that relates to your application process. i.e.: Green = Good Candidate, Orange = Average, Red = Reject, Blue = Follow up, or whatever suits you. Remember you can always refine these later. Now you should copy the email to the contacts folder with the same name. Make sure you copy it and not move it, as this will make it disappear from the email folder.
Step four of MS Outlook Applicant Tracking System – Follow-up and Interviewing
Now, you have them all in one place, and a way to categorise and store them. If you have the Linkedin Outlook plugin installed you will also see their Linkedin profile in your contacts. If they are good, use the ‘Follow Up’ button to do just that, and start scheduling calls and interviews directly from the application email. Telephone calls, interviews, all followed up directly from the right folder in Outlook. When you arrange an interview, drag and drop the Resume, and cover letter if there is one, in to the Calendar entry, so you or the line manager has it to hand ready for the interview. HR people can also use the follow up function to track any candidates submitted to Line Managers.
Step five of MS Outlook Applicant Tracking System
After it’s all over and the job is filled, move the successful candidates’ contact record to the ‘Employees’ contact folder that you created in Step One. Now do a mail merge from the Outlook folder with the job name ‘Secretary’ etc. Use an email template if you wish, or create a new email, and mass email all those left in the folder to let them know that they have been unsuccessful. This is just a courtesy though, so both you and the candidate get closure onManaging recruiting and job applicants without a Recruitment Management System. this, and both you and your company will be remembered for the integrity of this last little, yet ever so important step.
Following these steps religiously, and keeping track of applicants is going to be the easiest part of recruiting new staff. There are a few bonuses gained from doing this, including that you will always have all the applicants categorised according to job type. If you are hiring lots of temps this is good because you can email them direct from Outlook without having to advertise. There are also lots of other great functions within Outlook that you can now use because you have everyone’s details stored in the correct way.