The task of replacing or adding to your staff, in a timely manner, is one with the most serious of consequences. After all, hiring the wrong people takes a toll on your company – and your reputation. In commencing a search, one must remember that many of the best prospects are not actively looking for jobs. Most of the candidates that you wish to attract are gainfully employed. Many are feeling satisfied with their positions and are not really looking to move. So how do you find and attract these elusive, yet highly-desired, candidates to your organization?
First, know who you really want.
Your very first step should always be to identify the experience and qualifications needed to fill the position you hope to fill. As the hiring authority, it is up to you to define all of the attributes necessary to assume the responsibilities of the position. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a comprehensive "wish list." Speak with subordinates and superiors. If available, review exit interview notes of past employees who held the position. Acquire a working knowledge of what the day-to-day functions of the job are and record them. Now qualify those job functions and determine which skills, education and experience will be necessary for prospective employees to possess in order to achieve success in the position. Now you have a sketch of the ideal candidate and can begin your search in earnest.
Implement a three-pronged approach.
There is no one place where qualified candidates congregate for job opportunities. However, there are three strategies you can employ that will make your search more proficient. Advertise creatively, network aggressively and partner with a qualified staffing company.
Advertising online is a proven way to attract candidates. However, make sure that your advertising communicates the benefits of the position and your organization. Stress opportunity, growth potential and other facets of the job that will appeal to the candidate you targeted in your "wish list."
Be creative and use public relations as part of an ongoing, comprehensive recruitment campaign. Supporting community activities is one extremely effective PR tool, which can help make your company more visible to potential employees. Being a good corporate citizen can communicate a message that your company is a caring, attractive place to work.
Another way to increase your company's visibility is to network aggressively. The more people know about your organization, its management style and what it offers employees, the easier it will be to attract the caliber of candidates you seek. Develop a broad network of contacts. Join and be active in trade and professional associations. Become a member of your local chamber of commerce. Think about the organizations where potential employees would most likely be active, and become involved in them. Make one or two calls a day to former colleagues you respect "just to touch base." If you make networking a daily priority, you will greatly increase your pool of available qualified candidates.
Partner with a search firm.
The nature of the staffing industry is to continuously network with prospects, clients and candidates, offering services and suggestions that continually replenish its resources. Because staffing services are in the business of matching candidates and companies, the relationships built are usually in-depth and on-going. Search professionals, therefore, have a continuous resource of candidates from which to draw.
A qualified recruiter has the time, resources and incentive to check deeper, test further, and evaluate with more scrutiny each candidate they propose. There are staffing services, which have developed special computerized skill assessment systems to test candidates and ensure the level of proficiency they profess. There are recruiters who request five or more reference checks be completed prior to any interview taking place. Still others verify qualification and certifications. The good ones do all this, and more.
For these reasons, a qualified staffing service can complement your search and dramatically enhance the level of candidates you interview. Plus, most work on a straight contingency basis, so it won't cost you anything unless you hire one of their candidates. Consider using a specialized staffing firm if you are seeking candidates with special skills such as accountants, lawyers, healthcare providers, information technology professionals, etc.
Finding the needles in the haystack.
Thankfully, most employers have learned not to rely solely on the information contained in the mountains of resumes they receive when it comes to deciding which candidates to interview. Instead, a battery of tests, both psychological and skill-oriented, can be administered before an in-depth interview takes place. Similar to those tests conducted by staffing specialists, the examinations that have been developed can be demanding. But evaluating candidate skills does not have to be a test of your endurance as well. Using the list already compiled as functional prerequisites, assign a value to the experience, education or qualifications each applicant brings to the job. This "quantifying capabilities" method will bring you closer to identifying the necessary abilities a candidate should exhibit to achieve success in the given position.
Excel at the interview process.
The in-person interview is the meat of the hiring process. It's here where you'll separate the contenders from the pretenders and come to your ultimate hiring decision. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you excel as an interviewer:
First impressions mean everything.
This is a two-way street. Be on time, it's simply polite. Be sure the area in which the interview takes place has a neat, professional appearance. Remember, the impression you make is just as important as the way in which you perceive the candidate. Do not take a bad day into the interview with you. Your attitude creates a perception, whether good or bad. Make arrangements not to be interrupted, this time is an investment in the future of your company. Be cordial, right from the beginning. If you really want to find out what a candidate has to offer, make the candidate feel welcome and the interview more conversational than strictly a question and answer session.
Get the responses you need.
Yes or no answers won't yield the information you need to make a successful hiring decision. Ask questions in an open-ended fashion, and create scenarios that elicit thought by the applicant. This type of probing will uncover the data that is most relevant to your search.
Be cognizant of the job requirements.
This information comes from the list you compiled in the beginning of your search. Refer to it often during the interview process so you can continually direct the conversation toward the evaluation of these attributes. Make sure you take detailed notes of each candidate's responses. These notes will help define one candidate from another in the final decision process.
Delve into past performance.
The best indicator of how an individual will perform is how he or she performed on previous jobs. If candidates can demonstrate past success, odds are they will be successful in the future.
Envision the future working relationship.
If a candidate can successfully provide proof of their ability to assume your open position, you still need to investigate their willingness to get the job done and their manageability once on the job. Explore personality and organizational traits to illustrate their approach to specific tasks. Probe past relationships with supervisors and subordinates. This portion of the interview can become uncomfortable, but it's absolutely necessary to avoid potential trouble.
Sell your company to contenders.
Just as you are trying to determine if a candidate is a good fit, so is the candidate trying to determine if you represent a good opportunity. Once you are convinced a candidate is a contender to fill the position, you need to "sell" the prospective employee on the job, your company and yourself as the future manager. Explain the challenges and rewards of accepting this new responsibility. Stress the positives of working for your company.
Be aware of the market value of the prospective employee as well as your budget limitations and be prepared to offer an acceptable compensation package. Probe the candidate's interest by asking about other opportunities he or she might be exploring. Above all, remain positive – attitude will help immensely in bringing negotiations to a successful close.
Keep your options open.
Once the interview process is over, it's time to review your notes carefully, evaluate how well the contenders stack up against your wish list, and pick your top three choices. Remember, just because you are enthusiastic about working with a candidate, doesn't necessarily mean a candidate is enthusiastic about working with your company. Pick three winners, and try to close your number one choice first. If not successful, you still have two worthy candidates from which to choose.
Money isn't everything.
A competitive compensation package will go a long way toward attracting and retaining good employees, but it's not just money that will keep them bound to you. Compensation programs that reward employees for excellence, through recognition and growth, encourage continued achievement. Today's executive wants to be involved, appreciated and challenged. The greater the opportunity to contribute and be rewarded for accomplishment, the higher morale and productivity will be.
Benefits, like compensation, improve loyalty among employees. The ability of an employer to maintain a fluid benefit and compensation program, the more attractive a company becomes. Exhibiting consideration for the "family" of employees increases the adhesive quality a company has in maintaining a loyal workforce.
Successful hiring is an everyday job.
Like any art form, to master the art of getting good help, you must practice it every day. In just about every meeting you go to, every community function, every convention, in just about everything you do, you must always be recruiting. Set the foundation today and maybe the wear, tear and stress that is usually accepted as an inevitable part of the hiring process, won't have to be a part of your search.