What It Takes to Win Top Talent

By Accutrace, Inc.

“I Need to Hire Now!”

You need to hire employees now, but you can’t find candidates with the skill sets you need.  Worse, it’s a candidate’s job market.  Current unemployment is hovering at about four percent.  Couple that with the latest Gallup data that says “seven in 10 U.S. workers are not engaged in their work or are actively disengaged” and you have a recipe for a recruiter’s nightmare.

So what do you do?  Where is the talent you are looking for and how can you entice them to join your company? 

1.    The Candidate Experience Is Crucial

One of the most important things you should be concerned with is your candidate’s experience.  You may need to look at your hiring practices and ask yourself some hard questions:

  • How do I treat my candidates?
  • Do I let candidates know what the recruiting process is that I will be following?
  • Do I respond to them in a reasonable time frame?
  • Do I expect them to drop everything and be available when I need them to be?
  • Am I so busy that I let them languish until they disappear?
  • Am I asking them to interview at times convenient for them or am I asking them to rearrange their schedules for me?
  • Do I remember that my candidates are working and that they are taking vacation time to do in-person interviews?
  • Am I interviewing candidates just to see “if there’s anyone better out there” before the hiring manager can promote who s/he really wants?   
  • Do I contact candidates to say I want to talk with them only to fail to reply to their email expressing interest?

Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of Hired says that “69% of candidates have a negative hiring experience.”  He encourages recruiters to communicate with their candidates through each step so that they have a positive experience with you through clear expectations. 

When recruiting, be sure that you understand the most important skills required for the role.  The hiring manager should be able to tell you what the characteristics are of an employee who is great at this role.  You can use that information to create interview questions to identify whether a candidate has the skills you’re looking for – or not.  Avoid using the same old job description that has been in the files for ages.  It’s no doubt out of date for today’s workplace.

2.    So Where Do I Find Top Talent?

Talent is everywhere so you have to identify the type of candidate you are looking to hire.  At this writing, millennials make up the largest demographic surpassing baby boomers in 2016.  By 2020, they are expected to comprise 50% of the workforce, and 75% by 2025.  Companies covet this group who are now coming into their own as managers and leaders.  While this group will bring their values, attitudes, expectations, and ways of working to the workforce, they aren’t the only candidates seeking work.  

College grads, those looking to move up to their next job, and baby boomers are also on the hunt. 

For many college grads, by the time they graduate from college, their skills are mostly rendered obsolete.  So employees need to learn how to learn and apply their skills in new situations.  Your company can consider several initiatives:

  • Internships for college students that lead to jobs when the individual graduates
  • Apprenticeships in manufacturing to enhance employee’s skills
  • On-going employee training so every worker stays abreast of the latest skills 
  • Experiential learning embedded in daily tasks to ready employees for promotion
  • Hiring baby boomers for their experience and work ethic
  • Hiring career transitioners who are demonstrating their ability to adapt to change

Give silver medalists a chance

Companies should also consider seeking candidates at different skill levels who can make real contributions to your organization but may not be able to “check all the boxes” on your list of position requirements.  That may include availability, work history, titles held, schools attended, or certificates attained.  This does not make them unemployable and you may be delighted by their attitudes when they are given the opportunity to do the job.  Engaged and happy workers are more productive workers.  And you can keep them that way by doing on-going training or creating experiential learning tasks embedded in their daily work.

Career Transition Candidates are Eager to Succeed

People in career transition are routinely overlooked because they didn’t hold the same jobs as someone in that position’s traditional career path.  As a recruiter, you will have to ask them insightful questions about what they can do and the skills they bring to the table.  That will require a recruiter’s deeper knowledge about the positions they are attempting to fill.  Doing a word search to match keywords or phrases will not produce the career transitioner using their skills in a new position. Transition skills are not as apparent on a resume, but they are there. 

Let’s take an example:

The job seeker has been in sales influencing and persuading clients daily, done strategic planning with top decision makers, and managed client expectations, issues, complaints, and problems.  She has implemented large-scale marketing campaigns and trained front line and technical workers on product knowledge and the associated incentive program.  Interacting with people from a diverse workforce happens daily.  What else can they do?

Did you recognize the skills of a human resource business partner in the above paragraph?  Look again.  Those skills are the same ones your HR colleagues use.  Were you able to spot them as transfer skills?  You could, but only if you have deep knowledge about the sales function and the people skills required to be successful in both positions.

The website, AfterFiftyLiving, states that 70 is the new 50. You may not want to hire a 63-year-old, but they could be with you for another 11 years!  Author Bill Byham says that “60% to 70% of seniors in their 60s and 70s say they want to continue to work.” He says their reasons span enjoying their work life, getting a paycheck and the challenges associated with work are their major reasons.  They are healthier and more energetic than ever and live longer than previous generations.  They look and act much younger than their chronological age.  You will benefit when you allow them to mentor younger colleagues.  Conversely, millennials and Gen Z-ers can teach boomers the tricks of technology and their generation’s proficiencies.  This group opens up an untapped resource for recruiters looking for talented employees. 

First Impressions and Recruiter Interactions Count

When you schedule interviews, there are two things you can do that will ensure your candidates will have a positive impression of you and your company:

The Invitation to Interview In-Person

Jackpot!  This is what your candidate has been waiting for.  Once you are ready to invite them in, make sure they are prepared.  Tell candidates who they will meet with, what their titles are, what the interview schedule is, what time the interview is, directions to your office, where to park (especially if you are located in a city), and what to bring to the interview.  Setting an appropriate expectation can make all the difference to your candidate.

Some healthcare positions, for example, require copies of certifications and transcripts.  If the first question you ask a candidate is, “Did you bring your paperwork?” You must remember to tell them to bring it!  Don’t assume they know what you need.  They might be coming from a different industry and not know which documents you need up front.

Feedback Counts

When a candidate doesn’t get the job, they are naturally disappointed and want to know why.  Candidates just want to know what they can do better in their next interview. 

Companies are so concerned that giving candidates feedback might open them up to lawsuits.  But candidates don’t have the resources or inclination to sue you.  They just want to know if they did or said something that knocked them out of the running for the position.  If so, they want to know what they need to do to explain their skills and experiences to a hiring manager the next time they get an interview. 

One word of caution: Steer clear of telling candidates that someone else had better skills or experiences than they did because that is overused and meaningless.  You’ll need to give them honest feedback they can act on. 

It might be that you were really looking for a project manager with a PMP certification who also had experience developing software during IT integration initiatives.  As long as you listed that in your job description, the candidate will understand that their chances of being hired would be increased if they had a PMP.  Or maybe they didn’t realize that development work was a major consideration for your job and they didn’t want to do that again.  They will realize this job was really not the one for them, even if they could do all the other job requirements.

Providing candidates with real feedback produce the positive impression you are working so hard to achieve.  Even if you don’t hire them today, they might be a great fit for another position you might have six months from now.  You’ll want them to remember that you treated them well and knew what their skill set was so you can invite them in to interview for a more relevant position later.

Remember, in HR and Talent Acquisition, you are the face of your company.  When you leave a good impression of the hiring process with your candidates, they join the company engaged and excited to contribute to your organization.

And isn’t that what you really want?

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