Does your hiring practice ever feel like a Tough Mudder where, instead of crossing the finish line with your awesome new hire, you find out that they’ve dropped out of the race completely, sending you back to the starting line to begin from scratch? Sound like a bad dream? For a lot of companies, this is their idea of a hiring nightmare.
Don’t get caught sweating it out in a frustrating hiring cycle where you end up empty-handed. Instead, use these three tips to boost your recruitment practice and cross the finish line with an all-star hire.
1. Remember Reciprocity
Hiring can be stressful. Especially if the need to fill a role is urgent and the resources available are limited. In these high pressure, high stakes situations there is a very real tendency to default to tunnel vision. We get stuck focusing too much on what we need instead of what we can offer.
It’s easy to forget that no matter what side of the table you’re on, the hiring process is highly relational. Yes, you have a role to fill on your team, and a job to do sussing out the suitability of each candidate you interview. But your candidate is working just as hard to determine if you’re a fit for them. They’re considering everything from the details of the role to the character of the company, from the nuances of your communication style to the quality of the team culture.
Recruitment, in other words, is about reciprocity. It’s about an exchange of benefits, opportunities, and responsibilities. Like a good conversation, there needs to be some back and forth, some give and take.
Imagine if you were out for lunch with a client or stakeholder and your entire conversation focused solely on what you could provide them, no matter the topic. Would you enjoy the conversation? Would you feel valued? Would you be interested/motivated to move forward? Our guess is probably not.
Recruitment conversations work in a similar way. Spend time considering your candidate’s perspective. What can you/your company bring to the table? Get creative and consider things like:
- Why is this company great to work for/with?
- What sets our team apart?
- Are their opportunities for advancement?
- What’s appealing about the company culture?
- Are there training, education and/or development opportunities?
- Is feedback part of the interview process regardless of the candidate securing the role?
- What’s motivating candidates to make a move and how does this role align with those motivations?
Throughout the whole hiring process (think job description through to the offer letter), highlight the benefits as much as you outline the job requirements. Not only will this help you attract top tier talent, it also becomes a fantastic opportunity to learn more about candidates during the interview process. It opens the door for exploratory conversations where candidates often feel more inclined to share concerns, feedback, and even details about competing opportunities which could allow you to mitigate potential losses.
By highlighting opportunities and adding a few carefully phrased questions during the interview, you may uncover a diamond in the rough leader looking for a breakout role as your team’s next A-Player.
2. Know what you want. Think big picture, long game
Most hiring managers we meet fall into one of two camps when it comes to identifying their ideal candidate.
This hiring manager knows exactly what they want. They have a comprehensive list of competencies, a detailed outline of required experiences, and a firm salary band specifically designed to help them identify the ideal candidate.
The risk? While they’re diligently looking for a unicorn hire, qualified candidates may not apply because the job description feels too daunting. There may be candidates who don’t check every box but whose transferable skill sets and/or experiences mean they could knock it out of the park. Those few candidates that do apply may drop out of the race if there’s inflexibility around salary. Rigidity limits your hiring reach and squeezes out talent opportunities.
This hiring manager isn’t totally clear on what they want. They post the role before they’ve ironed out the details and once they see the types of candidates they’re attracting, they realize the job description needs some editing.
The risk? Repeatedly evolving your desired target profile wastes time, money, and in many cases harms brand reputation. If a job has been posted, and reposted, and reposted again, eventually you will begin to detract candidates. Those candidates who do apply end up washing out during a potentially confusing interview process where the role, job title, and expectations continue to change.
Strike a balance. Look at the whole candidate.
Yes, you should work with your team to get crystal clear on what you want in your next hire. But after you’re clear on the hard stuff, spend time identifying opportunities for flexibility. Take time to consider the soft skills that might not translate into a perfectly articulated bullet point in a job description but could result in hiring the best fit for your team.
For example, if you’re hiring for a management or leadership role, ask yourself, what character qualities would you see in a best-in-class leader? What does leadership look like, sound like, feel like? How would you identify those qualities in a cover letter, resume, LinkedIn profile, or interview? During the hiring process, tune in and observe the candidate through a whole-person lens instead of ticking off boxes on a checklist.
Consider what’s coachable. What skills and qualities does your candidate posses that, with a little additional development, training, and coaching, could help them level up from good to great?
While you’re considering candidates, remember to think for the future and compare the whole person to the whole job. Strike a balance between rigidity and flexibility.
3. Transparency and Momentum
At Smart Savvy you’ll often hear talk about two key elements of a successful hiring practice:
Transparency is the art of clearly communicating the scope of the hiring process to your candidates. This includes sharing everything from the required number of interviews before hiring to call back times, from setting expectations around technical assessments and/or personality profile testing to expressing start times.
You don’t have to lay all your cards on the table. In a lot of cases you can’t. But a little goes a long way. Keeping the channels of communication as open as possible will lead to better conversations during the interview process. It will also encourage candidates to be transparent with you in return, which can pay in dividends.
Momentum is the art of keeping the hiring process on track and candidates engaged throughout the process. Before you start you next big search, ask the following:
- How many interview steps do we need to make a clear assessment? How many might deter applicants?
- Who on our team is a mandatory part of our interview process and who is optional?
- Are all the key decision makers available? If not, do we have backups?
- Is there anything that might delay the interview process?
- Are we aligned on the scope of the role and the needs of the team we’re hiring for?
- Are we clear on the qualities and soft skills we’re hiring for? Do we have a process for identifying those during the interview process so that we can make efficient decisions?
Consider all the factors that could slow down the interview process. Then consider how those factors might affect a candidate’s feelings about the process or your brand.
In some cases, you may be forced to slow the interview process down.
- Maybe a key decision maker isn’t available due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Maybe the scope of the role has changed due to internal restructuring.
- Maybe the candidate you’ve just interviewed isn’t a fit for the exact role you’re hiring, but they're so good, it's worth taking time to adjust the role.
In these scenarios, the key is keeping your top candidates feeling like they’re part of an active, involved process of consideration. Keep the ball rollin’ through clear, timely communication.
Put it into practice
Director of Recruitment
Jaylene forged her experience with 15 years in tech marketing before making the transition to marketing recruitment. She brings an energetic dedication, unstoppable work ethic, and an ability to consistently give 110% demonstrated by her hundreds of placements.
Smart, Savvy + Associates are experts in helping marketing and communications leaders find people and develop teams that thrive and deliver inspiring results. As a people performance company, we specialize in finding marketing and communications talent in the Pacific North West. We also offer training programs for leaders and teams as well as options to become a certified coach or get coached.