By Greg Moran, EO Albany member and president of Chequed.com, Inc.
By many estimates, 20 percent of the workforce is looking for a job right now. How can your company make the most of this huge pool of candidates? Below is an overview of five steps entrepreneurs can take to minimize unnecessary effort and maximize the quality of their hires.
Getting clear on the ideal candidate for each job saves time and recruiting resources by allowing companies to focus their energies most effectively. The goal is to spend more time on people who are likely to be high performers— and zero time on people who don’t fit the position.
You can reach that goal by creating an ideal candidate profile. Consider the intellect, personality and cultural fit of someone who embodies the kind of top performer you’d like to hire. Ask others in your company to do the same analysis and compare your insights. And here’s where it gets really interesting: The beauty of doing this analysis in the age of Web-based technologies is that now you can automatically compare candidate profiles to each person who applies for your opening.
Imagine being able to automatically toss the bottom 80 percent of the hundreds of resumes you’ve received and keep only the top 20 percent! That’s how it works when each candidate applies online and completes a questionnaire that reveals his or her intellect, personality and cultural fit to your company— before you ever talk to him or her.
Step #2: Attract That Ideal Candidate
Your company has a lot to offer the ideal candidate. It’s important to ensure he or she knows that by focusing on your brand promise. The way you describe your company in job postings should play up what your best people love about working for your company.
In my experience, your managers should also thoroughly understand what it is about your company that appeals to current employees who are high performers. Being clear about the characteristics of your company’s culture enables them to more easily recognize candidates who will be a good fit and those who won’t.
A company that adheres to and fulfills its brand promise in recruiting efforts will find unfit candidates are dissuaded from applying and ideal candidates are eager to come forward. Providing information that allows ideal candidates to self-select is another time-saver for hiring mangers.
Step #3: Re-evaluate Your Sources
In a candidate-heavy market, using broad marketing sources like big job boards only creates unnecessary work for hiring managers by leaving it to them to narrow the field. But by understanding your ideal candidate, you can sharpen your focus and narrow the field before you put the word out about job openings.
Using direct-marketing tactics—going where your best candidates are likely to be—creates a smaller, better-qualified candidate pool. Instead of posting on those big boards, you may want to try a targeted PR campaign, for example. It’s important to re-think where and how you announce job openings, and track your results as you try new sources.
Step #4: Think Of References as Sources, Too
Most of today’s population is unemployed or underemployed. That means nearly one out of every five references is also a potential candidate. I tell clients to pay special attention to their best candidates. Who are their references? Odds are these are also high-caliber individuals, and that at least one of them is also looking for work. Considering references as a source helps hiring managers not only expand their candidate pipeline, but expand it with quality people.
Step #5: Automate the Upfront Screening
Subjectivity is the silent killer in the recruiting process. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize the biases they carry and how those color their perceptions. Using screening tools as early as possible in the hiring process helps you make decisions based on data, not “gut feelings.” It also allows you to remove low-potential candidates and frees you to fully explore the high potentials.
The most effective tools use collected data regarding your best performers’ behaviors, characteristics and skills to create a benchmark against which all candidates are compared. Results are delivered in an easy-to-read format so hiring managers are clear on how to use the data to further narrow the field and ask the right questions during interviews. Also, consider employing an automated reference-checking tool, which provides further data about applicants’ past performance from the perspective of people who have actually worked with them.
Taking the time to work through these steps and carefully plan your talent search will pay great dividends in the form of time-savings and new hires that help drive your company forward.