The most underappreciated aspect of Human Resources might be the candidate search. The people that don’t work out well in a company always seem to get remembered far more often than the ones that do, but finding the ideal employee can sometimes seem like an unreachable goal. Fortunately, the professionals we have interviewed have some ideas on how to make that happen.
The days of posting an ad on the various job boards and receiving hundreds of resumes is long gone. And if that is how you are still trying to find your next employee, then here is some insight into why it is taking so much longer for you to fill a position than even 5 years ago.
Today’s job search is all about “networking.”
While HR technology, such as Applicant Tracking Systems software (“ATS”), has been a great way for companies sort through resumes received based on qualifications and build a database of future possible candidates, it is not as welcoming to today’s jobseeker. In fact, the frustration that having to apply for a job that uses an ATS has caused most jobseekers to seek ways to “get around the system”…and that has led to them taking a more direct approach at trying to find their next job.
Some jobseekers will cite the reason being many companies’ ATS requires too many questions to be answered that are already available on their resume being submitted that will be scanned and purged into the database anyway. Others have concern that the filtering methods put in place with an ATS will result in them being “passed over” for consideration of a job that they would otherwise be deemed qualified.
The result: Jobseekers have put more of their focus on networking. They have joined industry organizations, networking groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter “chats”…any way they can possible meet Hiring Managers, Recruiters or just Influencers in their field to help uncover potential openings or get them directly in front of the person trying to fill an open job.
What should companies do to find today’s top candidates?
Simply put – You need to go to where the candidates are and not just wait for them to come to you.
- Join in on Twitter or LinkedIn “chats” in your industry. See who joins in and what they offer to the conversation…and connect with them.
- Attend industry “networking” events that jobseekers are going to and mingle with them. It’s the easiest way to get some “first interviews” with potential candidates. Some may not be actively looking for a job, but most will be open to hearing about new opportunities.
- Make sure your company is profiled on LinkedIn and create “groups” that people can join. You may even find some of your alumni may join and could be open to coming back.
- Get your company involved in community events. Many of today’s jobseekers support various causes and put an emphasis on volunteering. They are looking for companies that embrace the same values they have, which will make your company someplace they will want to work.
Those top candidates are still out there. Meet them halfway…before another company does.
Approach it with obsession and fanaticism. Too many times hiring is not high enough a priority. The goal is not to just get a body to fill a suit or a uniform. That’s not how Bill Walsh operated when he was General Manager of the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t fill his roster with any players. He studied and sought out the best—living, sleeping, eating, and breathing football. His function was nothing less than the acquisition and development of the best 48 player active duty roster of football players in the league.
GE’s Jack Welch put quality talent at the top of his agenda for 20 years. He and his top two HR people visited every division for an entire day. They reviewed the top 20 to 50 people by name and talked about strengthening the talent pool. He had a passion for winning a talent war that he created and sought with the brute force of time spent and attention. As in Walsh’s career of choice, talent pursuit was a contact sport. Both examples require practice.
If you want the right person you need to treat it strategically and be a “professional student of” hiring. It’s a craft and profession that takes learning and mastering. If you were a professional offshore motorboat racer and wanted to be good at it, you’d have to work at it. Effective hiring would be the same. Paul Russell, Director of Leadership and Development at Google says it like this: “Development can help great people become even better—but if I had a dollar to spend, I’d spend...70 cents...getting the right person in the door.” It’s clear that developing is important, but getting the right person to develop means taking the hiring process more seriously than filling the position out of obligation. Be a fan of your company and a fanatic at hiring employees.
If you want to find the right people you have to start with some self-evaluation. Think of it as a mission statement for an individual position. What are the company’s real needs? You’ll certainly get applications if you post a job, but if you want to find the ideal employee, you’ll need to discover just what that ideal is supposed to be before you begin.
Once you know what you need, you have to be clear how you write up the description. Certain job titles will attract a large number of applications, but you don’t want to waste time weeding out the unqualified. It’s advertising, to be sure, but you want to think about the type of employee you want to find and attract that person.
Finally, you have to let that ideal employee know you want to hire. That doesn’t just mean posting to a few job sites and waiting for the mail. Chances are you’re already passively making your presence known through the right channels, but you want to be proactive. It’s not necessarily casting a wide net—it’s more like casting a much better net more often and in the right places to find the right catch.