4 hours today saves 40 hours tomorrow
I’ve spoken with a number of hiring managers lately who voiced their surprise at how time consuming and frustrating the hiring process is in their organization. This latest downturn has, once again, reduced the capacity in human resources departments to support the recruitment efforts of their business partners. This, combined with a philosophical divide between hiring managers – who need to get top talent hired in order to keep up with increasing demand; and the internal HR function – who is understaffed, overtaxed by eager job seekers (and recruiters), and pressured to keep costs under control.
This divide complicates the search effort and often results in frustration for both HR and the hiring manager. Here are some tips for increasing the effectiveness of your search and creating harmony during the process:
1. Deliver an accurate role description. You likely have a position description that was written (or approved) by your human resources department and is used for position leveling, performance measurement and other internal purposes. This description is generally boring, task-oriented and ‘academic’. This is not a useful tool in your search for great talent. Instead, sit down with whoever is managing your search and discuss the type of person you’re looking for, the 3 most important technical qualifications and why folks will want to work in your organization. This results in a ‘morphed’ document that becomes the role description. This commentary is interesting, enticing and will help attract the people you are looking for.
2. Help blaze the trail. Don’t assume that your internal recruiter knows where to find the people you need. Talk about user groups, associations and specialized career sites that your target audience frequents. Offer company names, complementary industries and alternative job titles that will help the recruiter zero in on strong candidates.
3. Communicate the interview process clearly. Discuss and document the interview process for each open position. For instance, senior level people may need a final interview with executives, while a staff level person will spend in-depth time in a ‘technical’ interview with members of your team. Compress the interview process as tightly as possible – ideally completing all but a final interview in one single session. Everyone (even job seekers) is busy and scheduling conflicts can mean that you miss out on great people because you can’t make the interviews happen in a timely manner.
4. Evangelize internally. Pull out all the stops with your internal employees – “great people hang out with other great people.” Reward your unofficial recruiting sources with a bonus – yes, real money – to encourage their participation. Would you rather pay a recruiting fee to an outsider – or a bonus to your own people?
5. The 24 hour rule. All follow up with candidates should be done within 24 hours. Even if the follow up is ‘we don’t have any news and here is why,” at least you have demonstrated your commitment to professionalism and follow through. This is a very important point – and may make a difference if your candidate has to choose between you and a competing offer.
6. Protect your personal brand. Social Networks have increased transparency (I’ve talked about this in prior editions). Not only does your company have an employment brand and reputation; you, as a hiring manager, have a personal brand, and reputation. If you generate high turnover, can’t make hiring decisions, or treat people poorly the word WILL get out. Set the example for how to be a leader – and build a positive personal brand.
7. Be decisive. Don’t start the search until you have a very clear picture in your mind of what you are looking for. Shifting gears mid-stream is frustrating for both your team and your recruiting staff. When you meet the candidate you are looking for, act swiftly – make the hire! Don’t window shop hoping that ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ or wait to act hoping that a better ‘deal’ will come along.
8. Check references. As a hiring manager, do the references yourself. Talk with former supervisors to gain insight into your future team member. What are their strengths? What kind of environment have they worked in? What inspires them? What are their weaknesses? This is critical insight for you – and will help you create a successful working relationship with your newest hire.
9. Offer Management. In my humble opinion, hiring managers should make their own offers to candidates. You have more to lose than anyone; your reputation, your budget, your candidate, and the candidate’s loyalty toward you as a manager. And finally, top talent knows what they are worth – don’t try and bargain – it will come back to bite you in the form of turnover.
10. Onboarding. Stay in touch with your new hire during their transition period. Give them some research to do in advance of their start date. This will help them feel like part of your team. Assign them a mentor during their first few weeks on the job; someone who will be there to answer questions and ‘show them the ropes.’ Take them to lunch during their first week. Check in with them often. And ALWAYS make sure their workspace is in order and their equipment is set up before they arrive.
Hiring is not an activity that managers have the luxury of planning into their normal business day. It’s often treated as an afterthought or additional burden. Let’s face it, hiring IS part of your role and is reflective of you as a manager – in your executive’s eyes. By following a sound process and by doing some up front work with your recruiting team, you can alleviate time, energy and lost productivity while you search for the best talent for your organization.
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