It’s an old adage about relationships that holds true for the professional world too: There’s a lid for every pot. Finding the right lids for your company’s particular pots, though, is more of a challenge for HR directors who often have more cookware than they can handle. To find job candidates who seem tailor-made for openings in your company, follow these tips and find your great fit.
Tell Them What You Want
The first step to finding the right candidate for any job is in defining that job clearly from the outset. Resist the temptation to fill job descriptions with identifiers that apply to almost everyone. ″Creative,″ ″conscientious″ and ″experienced″ are subjective terms that can net you anything from recent graduates who completed an internship to 20-year veterans who far exceed your company’s salary range. Instead, be specific: ″Candidates must have at least four years of experience,″ for example, narrows the field. Don’t be afraid to list characteristics the ideal candidate must have. If the position requires an outgoing personality or a detail-oriented mindset, include it in the description.
In marketing, analysts come up with customer personas to act as models for future campaigns. Borrow a page from the marketing book and develop successful employee personas that model the traits you already know predict success in the role. For example, if you’re hiring new sales personnel, look at what your top sellers do and how they differentiate themselves from the middle performers and the marginal members of your staff. By understanding what makes your best sellers so good at their work, you can look for candidates that share those characteristics.
Advertise in the Right Places
Craigslist and classified ads can only take you so far. To find the best candidates, you need to put your ad where they happen to be looking. Industry journals are a good place to start. So are online job banks that specialize in certain industries, especially if they have options job-seekers can select; these services let applicants self-screen, narrowing down the pool of candidates before they reach you. That doesn’t mean you should neglect local newspapers and free marketplaces such as Craigslist, but these shouldn’t be your only options if you’re looking for the best possible fit.
Ask the Right Questions
Once your ad appears, you’ll field plenty of questions from job-seekers. Those phone calls are your first opportunity to narrow the field of applicants to the most appealing candidates, so make the most of it with insightful questions. You don’t need to conduct a complete interview by phone, but asking about some of your most important deal-breakers, such as inflexible schedules or a lack of industry experience, winnows out candidates who aren’t right for the job.
Don’t Rely on Automation
Resume screening may be a boon to the largest employers, but for small to mid-sized companies, automated screening is usually an unnecessary step that could dismiss some of your most promising candidates before they even reach your desk. That doesn’t mean automation is a bad idea for smaller companies; the software can be useful for flagging high-interest resumes and streamline your review process. Don’t assume the system’s infallible, though, and give rejected resumes a once-over to see if you’ve missed a gem.
Make Interviews Matter
The preliminary steps you went through should leave you with only the most qualified candidates, but the interview is what separates your new hire from the rest of the pack. To give applicants a level playing field, ask the same round of questions to everyone. Remember your model employee persona? Refer to it again and develop a set of ideal answers against which you can measure your candidates’ responses. Because interview questions are usually open-ended, the answers may not match exactly, but you should find some similarities there that point the way to your best choice.