Are you a leader who is plagued with an ongoing battle to attract quality applicants? Do you spend an unnecessary amount of valuable resources to replace people who are leaving - over and over again? Does this confuse you when we are supposed to be in the middle of a hiring manager's market? After all, our nation is still experiencing significantly high unemployment rates, right? Not so fast.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you - like millions of others - are unknowingly letting qualified candidates slip away. Fortunately, it is never too late to have a new beginning, and you can change your fate when it comes to hiring the best. Consider trying these best practices.
1. Look at your organization through the eyes of a candidate.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla
Take the time to see what they see when deciding to apply. Try to remain objective. Compare your job postings or ads to those of your competitors. Navigate your career site to find and apply for a job. Visit one of the many "rate your employer" websites to see what your current or former employees are anonymously saying about their experience at your company.
2. Stand out and they will come.
Product differentiation is a basic marketing concept that applies to effective recruitment practices. It is based upon how a product distinguishes itself from others to make it more appealing to a target market. If you can do this effectively, you will have a competitive advantage over those who don't. Tell candidates what makes your opportunities different from the countless others they've come across during their search. What is different about your organization? What makes your culture unique? What would be different about your organization versus what they are doing now? Why would they want to work at your company?
3. Make the candidate experience a top priority.
Recruiting is sales. Each candidate is your customer. This is a lesson I learned early on in my career, and it has served me well. The good news (for you) is that most companies are neglecting their candidates throughout the hiring process. As a result, they are losing out on talent each time someone has a bad experience applying for a job with their company. This gives you the perfect opportunity to stand out when trying to attract the best. In a recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 800,000 workers nationwide, 15 percent of job candidates reported having a worse opinion of the employer after they were contacted for an interview. Make your candidate's experience positive. Have the courtesy to tell applicants they didn't get the job. Don't allow your recruiting staff to be rude and inconsiderate to potential future employees during the interview process. Ensure you are responsive in returning emails or phone calls to applicants.
4. Don't let qualified candidates slip away.
Process streamlining is an operational practice that efficient organizations do well. It should also be a focal point of your hiring efforts. Do you have a career site that is functional and easy to navigate? Are there drastic time lapses in your application process? Are you creating unnecessary hoops for candidates to jump through just because it's always been done that way in the past? Are you showing candidate insensitivity by inviting your top candidates back for an additional interview four, five, six or more times instead of efficiently scheduling interviews with the key stakeholders earlier on in the process? Remember that these impressions give candidates a true glimpse at your organizational culture. It is important to avoid creating frustration, which will result in a negative experience. Often times, your top candidates may drop out of the process entirely and never return.
5. Hire smart.
Don't make the age-old mistake of being overly rigid with what you are requiring when there is room for flexibility. For example, if you are requiring 10 years of experience, don't automatically disregard candidates with less. Instead, focus on the kind of experiences they've gathered in their career. Some candidates may have gathered what you are looking for in a shorter time. Others may take longer. Take a fresh look at your absolute "must haves" and what you can live without. Never forget that you can always train the right candidate.
Above all else, remember that the best recruitment strategy is retention. Happy hiring.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, professional development and executive coaching for more than 13 years. She brings leadership experience from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.changeagentsee.com.