3 Essential Components of a Superstar Hiring Process

At CareerPlug we know that our people are the heart of our business. It is our people who execute our mission and vision and live our values every day. Having the right people in place has empowered us to innovate, explore, and grow as a company. And this isn’t unique to us – HR leaders across many industries understand the impact people have on their organization. From top to bottom, people set the pace and pulse of a workplace, ultimately impacting the culture, growth, and reputation of the company.

So why it is so easy to fall short when it comes to hiring the right people?

There are many common answers we can insert here: Hiring managers don’t have enough time. The hiring market is too tough right now. This person seemed perfect during their interview… it’s not our fault they left two months later.

There is no formula for making perfect hires 100% of the time, but there is a path to predictable hiring results. It’s true that hiring rarely comes at an opportune time for hiring managers. They have full workloads before the hiring responsibilities of reviewing applicants, conducting interviews, and then devoting days or weeks to training land on their plate. When a team is understaffed there’s even more pressure to fill a position as soon as possible. Maybe the hiring manager skips a reference check to expedite the process. Or settles for someone they would’ve passed on if they had the leisure of another week. It seems like a Catch 22: We rush through the hiring process to fill the seat quickly and save time, but then risk that new hire leaving sooner than expected (or having to show them the door) and starting the process all over again. And again. And again.

To stop this cycle of turnover, organizations need to develop a consistent hiring process and give hiring managers the tools and resources to execute it. It’s common for individual managers to develop their own process, and maybe some of them have a knack for always making great hires… or maybe they don’t. By removing the uncertainty and adopting consistency, companies can make predictable hiring decisions to build stronger, lasting teams.

Build Your Process

Start by standardizing job descriptions for every position. Job descriptions are the core of performance management. Before the hire is made, job descriptions attract the right applicants, lay out the expectations of the job, and set the hiring criteria for hiring managers. After the hire is made they guide training plans, set the foundation for performance reviews, and can even indicate when employees should be on performance improvement plans. While every job description will differ based on the role, first consider what key components each job description should have to help attract the right applicants. Remember that your job postings should not be a bulleted list of responsibilities, but rather communicate the purpose and impact of the position. Highlighting growth-potential, training opportunities, and other company benefits and perks will make your job descriptions more attractive.

Next, outline the essential steps each hiring manager should execute during the hiring process. While this could differ by position, it should not differ by hiring manager. At CareerPlug, we have a standard set of hiring steps across all our departments which include a phone screen, personality and cognitive assessments, multiple in-person interviews that involve in-depth interviews that uncover career aspirations and motivations, and reference checks. We also incorporate a “role play” exercise, or a job shadow, depending on the position.

Our more comprehensive process is a recent development; many of our seasoned employees were hired with a quick phone screen and in-person interview (or less). As a smaller company we definitely made our share of “gut-feeling” hires and were fortunate to get some truly talented people on our team. But that luck doesn’t last forever, and we have since shifted our hiring process to make more predictable hires. Focusing on building a consistent, effective hiring process has made our hiring managers more efficient and has enabled our teams to confidently add new, high performing team members.

Train Your Team

Not every hiring manager is going to have experience interviewing. Taking the time to train managers on how to run an effective interview is crucial. Clear hiring criteria in job descriptions, identified competencies for the position, and standard interview guides will set managers up to make better hires. When I sit down with new hiring managers, they often don’t know what to expect from the hiring process. Providing them with resources to execute and thrive is essential to success. Pre-screen questions and assessments save time on reviewing resumes; interview guides cut down on interview prep and help make the selection process more objective. We use our ATS to centralize email communication and move candidates through the interview and verification process. In the end, having a set process brings peace of mind to hiring managers and saves them time, all while helping them consistently hire great people.

As you consider what hiring steps make the most sense for your positions, consider these 3 essential components to a superstar hiring process:

Component #1 – Assess

Resumes are a great indicator of job history, but often fall short of digging into what you really need to know upfront about a candidate. Using prescreen questions on the initial application gives you immediate visibility into the most important questions that are relevant to your open position, such as certifications, work availability, or years of experience in the industry. Make sure these questions are consistent each time the job is posted. This way, hiring managers can expect the same info and evaluate applicants on the same criteria.

Once you’ve collected the initial information from applicants, use assessments to learn more. Personality assessments can measure soft skills like assertiveness, emotional intelligence, sales potential and service orientation, while cognitive assessments can be an indicator into problem-solving and verbal skills. Evaluate each of your positions and consider which competencies are most important to be successful in the role. Then, have current top performers in each role take assessments so you can benchmark their scores against potential hires. By utilizing assessments hiring managers can begin to see which candidates would complement their current team.

Component #2 – Interview

Interviews are the backbone of the hiring process. They are a chance to truly get to know a candidate, ask specific questions about their experience, and learn if they are a professional and cultural fit. But again, if hiring managers are not consistent in how they interview the evaluation process will be for naught. When all hiring managers ask the same questions to every candidate, it’s easier to evaluate on the job criteria and make more predictable hires.

Here’s a more detailed look at CareerPlug’s interview process:

  • Phone Screen – This is a short interview hiring managers conduct first to learn about a candidate’s current position and what they’re looking for in their next role. We use this interview to screen for basic qualifications: skill set, salary expectations, and ideal work environment.
  • Assessment – All candidates complete a personality assessment and a timed Math/Verbal assessment. Because we have benchmarked these scores against current employees, we have learned which scores are indicators for success in certain positions.
  • In-Person Interview – Lasting between 30 and 60 minutes, the first in-person interview validates the assessment results and explores in-depth behavioral and culture fit questions. This interview indicates whether the candidate has the experience and potential to perform well in the role. Their responses should also demonstrate alignment with our values (i.e. Communicate Openly and Innovate & Grow Every Day).
  • Life Story Interview – This interview takes a deeper look at a candidate’s professional history and asks them to reflect on past jobs and education. By learning about their highs, disappointments, and lessons learned, we can see if CareerPlug makes sense as the next step in their professional story.
  • Motivational Interview – The motivational interview digs into the question “where do you want to be in 5 years?” We ask candidates to expand on their motivations and goals for their career, finances, and other personal ambitions. This interview is essential to establishing CareerPlug as the right company to help them achieve these goals.
  • Leadership Interview – As a small, collaborative company, most positions work closely with multiple departments. It’s important to get leaders involved in the hiring process to offer perspective and to support incoming hires. Leaders of adjacent departments conduct short interviews with final round candidates to further explore company fit.

While we make slight adjustments based on the job, like adding a role play or a technical interview, we never sacrifice the core components of our process.

Component #3 – Verify

It only takes one time to regret not verifying a candidate. I approach hiring with the assumption that people are generally trustworthy, but that doesn’t make reference checks and criminal background checks any less mandatory in our hiring process. Reference checks should verify your assumptions about a candidate and give you an opportunity to learn how to best manage someone if they are hired.

At CareerPlug, all our offers are contingent upon completing a criminal background check. Rather than just another hoop to jump through before the hire, verification instills confidence in the hiring manager – and the company – that the right person is joining the team.

How CareerPlug Can Help

Creating a consistent hiring process that speaks to our values and culture has helped make CareerPlug’s team what it is today. We’ve seen the benefit of investing time in our hiring process played out in the dedication, service, and innovation of our employees in every department, and we are passionate about helping other companies build the hiring process they need to grow their business.

To learn more about how you can build a hiring process to get the right people in place, request a demo of CareerPlug’s hiring software today.

3 Tips For Writing Better Job Descriptions

Writing stellar job descriptions is one of the first steps a company can take to give job seekers a great candidate experience. After all, these preliminary interactions set the tone of the working relationship. Set the right tone by showcasing your opportunity in a candidate-friendly way with these three tips for better job descriptions.

Use Clear & Straightforward Job Titles

A job title should be like a great headline— short, sweet, and to the point. The best job titles also use relevant keywords that applicants are likely to enter into search engines such as Indeed. Thus, it’s wise to avoid cute or weird job titles since they are less likely to turn up in search engine results or get clicks. Not to mention they can be confusing to job seekers. Use “Personal Trainer”, not “Fitness Ninja” or “Wireless Sales Consultant”, not “Rockstar Sales Guru”.

Make Job Descriptions Easy To Read

Although it’s tempting to list every position requirement and exhilarating detail about your company, job descriptions should be clear, concise and scannable to the reader. In other words, get down to business but don’t overwhelm applicants. To do so,

  • Limit job descriptions to 400-800 words
  • List 3-4 qualifications
  • State 5-10 of the most important responsibilities and/or requirements
  • Clearly state the key objectives or outcomes for the position
  • Break up text with bullets and subheads for easy readability
  • Use action words to keep blocks of text engaging and focused

Sell The Opportunity

Always keep in mind that the high quality candidates you are after have a lot of options. That means you can’t forget to sell your company in your job description. Why would a motivated, career-driven top performer want to join your team? What makes your company unique and interesting? What do your current employees say they love about coming to work? Write those things down and add them to the job description to attract more great candidates.

PS – Don’t forget that top candidates care more about health benefits, training and advancement opportunities and your company values than they do about the office ping pong table and beer Fridays.

Build A Talent Magnet

Taking the first steps to give applicants a great candidate experience is crucial if you want to attract top talent and ultimately build a talent magnet. The long-term effects of a strong talent magnet can positively impact the growth and profitability of your company.

Want to learn more about creating a talent magnet? Download our free ebook today.

How The Job Search Process Has Changed

Ahem, The Job Search Process Has Changed

Remember when it was common for companies to hang a “Help Wanted” sign in their storefront when they were looking to hire? Ya, a lot sure has changed in the last ten years. In today’s fast technological times, where one can order a car or food instantly from their smartphone, it’s hard to fathom the job search process of the past. Thankfully, modern technology has changed the job search process for the better. However, how job seekers apply isn’t the only thing that has changed.

What Else Has Changed?

Jobs Are Now Online

The internet has revolutionized how job seekers and companies interact in the last decade. Job seekers can now access dozens of opportunities in just a few clicks of their mouse. Gone (but not forgotten) are the days of the “Help Wanted” sign.

Job Seekers Are Now Applying From Their Phones

The smartphone has enabled job seekers to easily apply for a job within seconds with minimal effort. While it’s a wonderful thing for candidates, this has created yet another issue for HR managers to overcome to continuously attract top talent. In short, companies have had to Go Mobile or Go Home. Making career pages mobile-optimized has become essential to attract quality candidates and rank higher in search results thanks to a clever algorithm put in place by Google.

Job Search Engines Offer More Opportunities

A decade ago, job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder were the go-to platform for job seekers. However, with the rise of platforms like Indeed job seekers now can search instantly across multiple company career pages with just one click of their mouse…err… smartphone.

How Employers Can Deal With The Ch-ch-ch-changes

So what can companies do to consistently attract superstar talent in today’s technology-driven job search process? Companies must make sure their virtual “Help Wanted” signs are seen on high-traffic job boards and then they must make it easy for applicants to apply from their phones by mobile-optimizing their job postings.

Want to learn more on how your company can attract superstar talent in these techy times? Download our free ebook now.

Achieving Workplace Goals With CHANGE

The New Year just began and already people are setting goals and implementing new practices throughout the workplace. Sadly, The University of Scranton reports that 92% of people will fail at accomplishing their New Year’s goal. This can come off as defeating to leaders of organizations trying to adopt company-wide goals. However, there should be something said about the power in numbers. Goals in the workplace can have positives outcomes with a little CHANGE. One just needs to know how to make them stick. So, if you want your idea to last past the third week of January, follow the guidelines for effective CHANGE:

C: Communication

If there’s going to be any real change within your company, then the channels of communication must remain open. After all, can you think of one success story that came from NOT communicating? Allow for open and clear communication up and down the professional ladder as well throughout teams. Also, if a change is going to occur, be clear on why the change needs to occur, and what it means to the company.

H- Have clear expectations in place

Set clear expectations from the beginning. When a change occurs in an organization, it’s important for everyone in the company to understand why those changes happened and how it will affect them individually. Confusion equals disruption in workflow, so take the time to set the stage upfront. By outlining clear expectations for every team member, you prevent future confusion and lay an easy path for them to achieve the company’s goals. 

A- Are the correct systems in place

Now that you’ve decided to set new goals for your business, do you have the right resources? Are there any people, processes, or systems that would get in the way of success?  Your system of communication is vital – are all managers on board? Is there a system for communicating down through the company?    

N- Never assume or rush into things

A good rule of thumb: never assume anything. If you haven’t mentioned your goal since it was first implemented, don’t assume everything’s fine. Take time to analyze what progress has been made. Relying on everyone to do their part isn’t enough, so keep communication channels open within your team and perform frequent check-ins.  

G- Gain a sense of measurement

A goal lasts longer when it exists in reality and not just in the mind. Solution: write your company’s goal down preferably where people can see them. Does your goal have a timeline? When there are clear milestones in place, goals become concrete and actionable rather than something broad and distant.

E- Encourage and provide support

A goal will grow or die depending on a company’s approach. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to develop the right people to make your business successful. As a leader, beyond expectations and accountability, you need to show encouragement and support to everyone involved. During both good or bad times, a leader’s passion and commitment can uplift the team and keep everyone focused.  

Achieving your company’s biggest goals this year can happen, but it all depends on the communication, accountability, and support structures that are set in place for your team.  Use the CHANGE method as a starting point to achieve lasting success. 

Pipeline Recruiting for Financial Institutions

Utilizing Pipeline Recruiting in Financial Establishments

The recruiting process for franchise financial institutions is dated and results in turnover, sporadic hiring, and a lack of diversity. There have been very few technological innovations in the banking and financial services industry in franchises that are not part of the upper echelon of firms that have the ability to dedicate resources to it. Having a process that can tailor candidates to the specific need of your firm will leverage a consistent channel from which to hire, and give you a pool of readily available active candidates.

Benefits of a Pipeline Recruiting Process

Whether you are running a bank, credit union, financial sales firm, or insurance agency, your sales force represents your brand, and the channel through which your organization will bring in revenue. In order to maximize the satisfaction of customers, and ensure that they will continue to transact with your company, it is important to have the best-suited employees to interact with your customers.

Identifying candidates who have sales and other client-facing job experience is going to be the most beneficial to your business because they know how to interact with clients. If you want to try to innovate your financial institution’s online presence, it may be beneficial to hire candidates who have a background in I.T., or technological sales. All of this criteria can be met by implementing a pipeline recruiting process.

Taking a proactive approach to hiring can ensure that there is less stress put on your recruiting process and that you are able to attract more high-quality candidates. Also, with a sufficient amount of time dedicated to thoroughly evaluating candidates, you can improve retention rates among new hires.  Filling critical open positions more rapidly will be made easy, once you have developed a pool of qualified candidates ready to enter your organization promptly.

Your Recruiting Process Made Easy

CareerPlug has worked with over 6,000 financial services branches including First Command, New York Life, Liberty Mutual, and State Farm. With the experience and tools needed to hone in on the specific candidate profile needed, evaluate, and supply a pipeline to recruit from, CareerPlug can streamline the way you hire. To learn more about how CareerPlug can help your business make hiring easier, request a demo today!

Home Services: Hiring Skilled Workers Before Your Competition

Home Services Industry Outlook

The resurgence of the housing market has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, and with it, the home services industry has had the opportunity to evolve. The home services industry includes everything from plumbing and HVAC, to flooring, remodeling, landscaping, and moving and storage services. The home services industry has matured greatly in the last decade, especially with the recent emergence of online booking services. As a result, competition between companies has increased greatly. Currently, estimates of total industry revenue range from $400 billion all the way to $800 billion (Forbes). With the home services industry continuing to see growth, it is becoming even more important to hire the most skilled workers to stay on top of the competition. After all, employees are the people who can best reflect the brand image of your home service company.

Importance of Hiring Skilled and Qualified Workers

Home service employees are on the front line, representing your brand. If clients have a bad experience with your employees, you are highly likely to be affected by it. There are plenty of other companies offering the same services, so there is nothing keeping a client from moving onto another company who can provide a better experience. With a thoughtful recruiting process, home services businesses should be able to hire the best talent to represent their brand and ensure that their business flourishes.

How To Find Qualified and Skilled Workers

Identifying the most qualified and skilled workers to fill your positions can be made easier with the use of pre-screen questions. If you were looking for qualified Sales or Measuring Tech positions, you may want to ask questions upfront such as,  “How many years of experience do you have in the remodeling or home repair trades?” or “Do you have a current driver’s license?.” Asking questions like this at the beginning of the recruiting process can ensure that you only spend time on applicants who have at least the basic qualifications for the position.

Finding Candidates Quicker Than Competitors

As competition increases in the home services industry, it is imperative that managers are able to get the most qualified and skilled workers in the hiring process quickly. Following up with quality applicants right away is critical and ensures you are not letting any star candidates slip through your fingers.

CareerPlug allows you to identify highly qualified applicants right away, so you can move on them right away. This lets you to get a jump on your competition, by having a first movers advantage. Highly skilled applicants are likely applying to multiple jobs and will make a decision based on who offers them a job first.

Contacting your quality applicants faster and starting the hiring process sooner could prevent you losing them to a competitor. This also helps to reduce the time that you are spending with the wrong candidates.

CareerPlug is Here to Help With Your Hiring Needs

CareerPlug Makes Hiring Easier by helping home services companies hire top talent and ultimately grow their business. To learn more about how CareerPlug can help you turn your company into a talent magnet, request a demo today!

To learn more about the approach we take to hiring, download our free ebook, How to Build a Talent Magnet.

Insurance: Pipeline Recruiting

Finding Top Talent in the Insurance Industry

For the past decade, insurance agencies have struggled to hire qualified employees due to the changing workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor there are 5.5 million unfilled jobs, and 49 percent of employers say they are unable to fill many positions because of a lack of skilled workers.  Compared to other sectors in the economy, the insurance industry has a greater shortage of qualified people. Moreover, a study by McKinsey and Co., reveals that 25 percent of the professionals in the insurance industry will retire by 2018. Thus, there will be a greater talent gap in the industry that is already experiencing a shortage of workers. Today’s competitive economy has challenged insurance employers to modify their hiring strategies to close the skills gap and effectively recruit and retain employees.

Hiring managers and recruiters can get ahead of this talent shortage by taking a proactive recruiting approach. Right now, many employers take the opposite approach: reactive recruiting. This is when a company waits until there is a vacant job position to rush and fill the spot. In this scenario, employers often rush through the hiring process out of a necessity to fill the position as soon as possible and are more likely to make a bad hire.

Benefits of Building a Talent Pipeline

A pipeline will help with maintaining a pool of qualified and interested external candidates.  A hiring manager will have the opportunity to spend time  assessing candidates’ skills more thoroughly.  

Whether your agency has an open position or not, adopting an ongoing recruiting approach will set you up to build a successful team. In fact, it is more important to build a talent pipeline when you are not actively hiring. The many benefits of proactively hiring include:

  •         Less stress on the recruiting process.
  •         The ability to attract more and higher quality applicants.  
  •         The ability to provide your firm with a competitive advantage.
  •         The ability to fill critical open positions more rapidly.
  •         Increased retention rates among new hires.
  •         Dedicating a sufficient amount of time to thoroughly evaluate applicants.

Moving Promising Candidates to the Pipeline

A good applicant tracking solution offers tools that go beyond simply prescreening and sending assessments to candidates. The ideal tracking system helps agencies effectively keep in touch with those quality applicants that are available, even when there is not currently an open position. Think of this as a pipeline of qualified, interested candidates who you can contact the moment you have a job opening – this is the number one tool that an agent or hiring manager can leverage to keep recruiting and interviewing costs low, and it significantly reduces an agency’s time to hire. Once you’ve built a talent pipeline, you can resume the hiring process with applicants from the pipeline when you are ready to consider them for a current job opening.

Recruiting Pipeline Made Easy

CareerPlug specializes in working with over 6,000 insurance agencies to hire top sales producers. CareerPlug makes hiring easier by helping agencies build their talent pipeline to ultimate make the right hires and grow their company. To learn more about how CareerPlug can help you turn your agency into a talent magnet, request a demo today!

To learn more about the approach we take to hiring, download our free ebook, How to Build a Talent Magnet.

Insurance: Competency Based Recruiting

Insurance companies find themselves in a tough position right now: they need to hire fast to keep up with competition, but they also need to hire the right people to avoid the costs associated with turnover and replacing a bad hire. Balancing these two items can feel like walking a tight rope. Traditional hiring practices focus on skills and knowledge, but that alone does not ensure a good hire. Insurance agents these days need to look at a candidate’s overall core competencies, in addition to formal skills when evaluating a potential hire.

Competency Based Recruiting

Competency based hiring is something that is not widely understood. Often times, hiring managers will know some of the skills, knowledge, etc. needed for a position, but that is only half of the equation. According to Guidestar, the other half is understanding behavioral attributes and personality characteristics. While traditional recruiting and hiring focuses solely on the skills needed, competency based hiring seeks to identify and analyze a candidate’s behavioral profile. A lot of times, this is what can be deemed as “culture fit”, yet it is so much more than that. It requires analysis of successful people within the organization to determine what skills they have, but also how they behave, what personality traits they have in common, and where their individual aptitudes lie. Once this is done, you will have a much better picture for what “success” will look like for a new hire. For example, when looking to hire a new insurance salesperson, talk to three other successful agents and see where to commonalities lie. You will find out what skills are important – product knowledge, no fear of rejection, consultative selling, etc. – as well as personality traits desired to protect client assets like, being financially motivated and highly organized.

Using Core Competencies to Reduce Agency Turnover

Using core competencies to drive the hiring process will surface more relevant information on which you can base hiring decisions, as opposed to making gut decisions or hiring on skill alone. For an insurance agency, a single producer can mean revenue generation in the hundreds of thousands, so it is critically important to make sure that the right person is hired the first time. According to a study on independent insurance agencies from MarshBerry, the cost of turnover can be as much as 20% of an employee’s salary. If you couple that with a three year turnover rate of 52%, it becomes very apparent how impactful competency based hiring can be. Ultimately, this will lead to better candidates being hired, lower turnover, and increased profitability.

Implementing Competency Based Recruiting

The question now becomes, how do I do it? The answer is actually quite simple. First, talk to top producers within your company to gain a better understanding of what the person looks like, not just what the position looks like. Next, leverage tools to make the initial screening process much more efficient and streamlined. You can have simple pre-screening questions on the front end of your application to capture some of the skill-based information that you need. Once you have quickly reviewed applicants to see who has the relevant skills for the position, invite them to take aptitude and personality based assessments and compare their results to your existing top producers (benchmarking!). Systems, such as CareerPlug, help standardize and streamline these processes.

Once you have done this, you will be able to have much more meaningful conversations with qualified (skills) and aligned (personality and behaviorally) candidates. This means you will be investing your time with the right candidates, based on their core competencies, saving you time, and allowing you to get the right person hired, faster.

Next Steps

CareerPlug provides recruiting and applicant tracking software built to help busy insurance professionals improve hiring speed, but also to make better hiring decisions through the use of competency based hiring.

To learn more about how CareerPlug can help you, visit our website and request a demo today.

Tweet to the Top

This post was researched and written by Justin Zuniga, Careerplug’s sales & marketing intern.  

Social Media is the powerhouse of recruiting and company branding in today’s business world, and if you’re not on board… you’re missing out. One of the main sources of online success for companies big or small is Twitter. Twitter has an estimated audience of 250 million users and growing. If you are a company who is over-looking this growing platform, it is time to get on board.


Using twitter not only gives exposure to what you do, but it gives you  a chance to engage and listen to your customers, business partners, potential clients, other local businesses and people from your professional network. While on the subject of who to follow, many companies forget to follow an important group….their competitors or peers. Yes, following your competition on a social media site is actually a good thing. You will be able to see their latest updates, and have the chance to learn from their mistakes or accomplishments and apply them to your company. Same goes with customers… it’s important to communicate with your clients and watch how they respond to certain postings.  After all, your business is all about how to provide best benefit for your customers.


Have a blog? Twitter is a great transition site for pushing online traffic to your website and blog. With Twitter’s posting options, you can feature your blog and current updates to your company’s website in 140 characters or less.

Twitter is the fastest way to spread news, thoughts, and client valued information. Stop missing out on a free networking site and follow us today at CareerPlug’s very own account!