As the economy slowly seems to be turning more positive and companies are tentatively considering returning to hiring the staff that they have had to do without over the last few years; there is renewed attention being paid to how to go about securing the best candidates for job openings. However, approaching this important decision in a non-strategic way can lead to difficulties for both the prospective employee and the company. It is therefore important to follow a proscribed process to ensure that the chance of errors being made is kept to a minimum.
What is needed?
The first step is to determine what are the gaps, needs, or requirements for the business to succeed in both the short-term and long-term. Going through the process of not only thinking of the immediate future, but how the position will evolve and grow over time and how the hire is expected to fill current versus future needs.
A job description will help clarify what is “in scope” for the position and what is out of scope. Merely seeking help with “Marketing” is far too broad. Does the business require Public Relations help? Advertising? Website development? Or other needs? A good resource for writing job descriptions is this article.
Turning over rocks
Once the parameters of the job have been determined, it is necessary to go and find suitable applicants with that background. Associations, school career centers, articles published by authors with experience in the field, and personal networking contacts can all provide introductions to people with the right experience. Other commonly used methods include hiring recruiters with experience and “tentacles into the industry,” posting jobs on websites, or in commonly read publications relevant to the industry or geography of the position’s location.
Each of these will require some trade-off in expense, time investment, and involvement in sorting through the potential applicants before making a determination to continue their candidacy for the position. Given the economy still has a large number of people who are unemployed or under-employed, it is not uncommon for job postings to generate hundred of applications (many of which will be deemed to be outside the needs of the position).
The first step is often the resume. Given that there are likely to be a large number of applicants, many companies or hiring managers will look for reasons to eliminate (rather than seek reasons to hire) applicants. So, misspelled words, unexplained gaps, poorly organized content, or lies (schools attended, positions held, companies worked for) etc. will often eliminate the applicant from further consideration.
The next step is often an interview with the applicant. If the applicant is unsure of what the resume includes, cannot speak knowledgeably about the experience, industry, or position requirements, etc.; it often raises concerns for the hiring manager and places that applicant in the “do not hire” pile. Additionally, if the applicant does not show up on time, has poor hygiene, manners, or social graces; it can also relegate the person to the “do not proceed further” grouping. Even in positions that are remote or do not involve social engagement – any factor that can be used as a negative differentiator will often work against the candidate.
One technique in common use today is the behavioral interview where rather than just asking what the applicant did or accomplished; the applicant is asked to provide an example of how they would approach an issue or when they previously did something and what the impact/process/techniques employed/etc. were for the company, themselves, and others.
As robotic as it seems, following up on references is highly recommended. Conventional wisdom would have you think that a reference listed would have been pre-screened by the applicant to ensure that only the most positive feedback would be given. Yet, time and again, it has been shown that applicants do not do “due diligence’ with their references and when employers call or check on references – the response is lukewarm or even negative.
Success for the company and the new employee is predicated on doing the right things pre-hire and during the process of hiring. If the strategy used to source and select employees is not aligned with the current and future needs of the business; the chances of it succeeding are dismal. And, having to re-enter the process to try to correct a mistake in hiring initially is a further drain on resources and can be a distraction with implications for the organization and other employees.