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Challenging the ‘net-casting’ theory of recruiting!

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By this stage of my career, I have been on every side of the recruiting perspective (other than that of being a national head hunting firm, which I am not). I’ve been an HR Director in charge of recruiting, I’ve been a resume writer, I’ve been an actual recruiter, I’ve been a hiring manager and I’ve been a job searcher and I think I represent the majority of folks when I say that this process is NOT fun, enjoyable, cost effective or particularly efficient.  For the purposes of this article, I’ll be speaking primarily to hiring managers and I think most will agree that reviewing resumes and interviewing candidate after candidate rates right up there with budget cuts, inventory weekend or possibly documenting performance problems.

Usually, when company owners or managers need to hire someone, they pull out the job description and figure out if it’s reasonably accurate.  A good job description will contain the duties and responsibilities as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to do the job. This is posted pretty much ‘as is’ on a job board, and then the hiring manager sits back and waits while sometimes HUNDREDS of people respond to the ad with equally bland resumes. They sift through who looks promising (and after about 20 resumes, it can be very difficult to stay focused and/or tell one from another), make some calls and begin the ‘weeding out’ process.

Now, my professional opinion is that going through this sucks. However, this does NOT mean that finding amazing people for your amazing business sucks. It’s just that it’s a sucky, broken system that we only keep using because we’ve always used it. We are ‘casting our nets’ wide. Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have time to weed through thousands of sardines looking for the perfect kipper.

Consider instead approaching this process with professional confidence and pride in your company. No, you may not be BIGNAME CORPORATE GIANT, but not everyone wants to work for them. As I mentioned in another article, maybe you’re not paying off the charts in compensation but the reality is you DON’T want to attract 100 candidates for your job. You want to attract one (maybe two if you’re booming). Maybe, just maybe, you should change your hunting analogy to more of a snare trap than a net (and maybe not use a hunting or otherwise violent analogy for bringing aboard new employees, now that I think about it).

With just a little bit of effort on the front end, you can drastically reduce your recruiting time and probably actually enjoy the process. Instead of a typical, bland, corporate-y job description, approach this as a marketing campaign, only it’s a two way marketing campaign. Most job descriptions focus on the features you are looking for from the candidates and the features you are offering. “You will process payroll, unemployment claims, benefits….blah, blah, yawn, yawn…” “We are a great company….our people are our greatest resource…we have snacks…blah, blah, yawn, yawn…”

Any great marketing coach will tell you it’s the benefits that sell, not the features. Every company (with one big fat glaring exception that I can think of) says their people are their greatest resource. Every. One. Every Payroll Processing job is more or less similar. So what is the unique contribution you really want from your next hire? Will they love creating order and structure where there is none and not go completely bonkers when you re-invent their world every six months? Then SAY THAT!!  There is someone out there who is awesome at that and knows it, and you kind of want to warn off the ones who will run screaming into the night the third time you do that to them!

There are benefits to EVERY feature – especially your company and your target employee. Even features that aren’t conventionally sought-after are benefits to someone. The old ‘lid for every pot’ phenomenon. Employment is much more like a marriage than like a fishing expedition in that we are seeking quality and a symbiotic blending of uniqueness rather than 100 cut cookies falling into 100 perfect cookie shapes.

So…if you’re feeling frustrated with your current process consider the following.

  • Write a compelling, refreshing description of the benefits of the role and of the perfect person.
  • Describe the role and person so specifically that 98% of the wrong people will realize it’s not them, and the right person will recognize themselves immediately.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor if that reflects your culture.
  • Don’t ask for more than you need in terms of experience or education. Talk instead about where the role is now, and where you want the person to take it, if different.
  • Don’t play the pay guessing game. You have a budget for the role. Unless it puts you at competitive risk, just tell the candidates what your range is. People will assume it’s somewhat negotiable (and it probably is) but if you’re in two different stratospheres it’s probably good to know right off the bat.
  • Let the candidate know the 30, 60 and 90 day deliverables in the role. If you don’t know this, figure it out. How else were you going to know if they were doing a good job? I am recruiting for a very savvy CFO who did most of the above for his positions and the comments from virtually every (very well-suited) candidate was that it was rare and attractive knowing the expectations and working for a company that a) had the expectations and b) communicated them.
  • Ask the candidate for a cover letter addressing how they fit in to all of the above. I personally wouldn’t consider a candidate who ignored this request, but you may feel differently.

Some food for thought that will hopefully make finding your next employee of the year a little easier. Happy hunting…or prospecting, if you will!

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Author: Carrie Maldonado

Carrie Maldonado, is an organizational development consultant, author, and speaker. Carrie's eclectic mix of professional interests include writing, speaking, coaching, and consulting on topics ranging from organizational behavior management to spiritual transformation in and out of the workplace. Carrie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her patient and long-suffering husband and their three children.

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