How to Court the Most Qualified Candidates
An organization is only as strong as its talent, but finding the right talent is a challenge many employers underestimate. While drafting up job descriptions and posting them on popular job boards will probably garner you many applications, it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. So how do you ensure you don’t waste hours rummaging through mounds of inadequate resumes and nodding off during vacuous interviews? In short, it takes effort. But when you put in that effort, the payoff can mean a reduction in costs, a more engaged and productive team, clarity of vision, and a boon for your bottom line.
Post specific job descriptions
If the job descriptions you post have you bombarded with underwhelming applications, it’s probably not because there’s no one out there to do the jobs. Rather, those who could do them either didn’t realize those jobs were aimed at them, or those people actually did apply, but got lost somewhere in the flood of less qualified applicants. So why does this keep happening?
Chances are, your job description isn’t specific enough. And it’s not just the responsibilities section that may be throwing people off. How senior is the role? Who would they be reporting into? What does it pay? In addition to clearly spelling out the duties the candidate would be performing, the posting should answer all of these questions. Even the job title might be misleading, so it’s best to name the job in such a way that it describes essentially what the person would be doing. Additionally, where you post the job determines who will respond. For example, industry-specific job boards will probably yield more relevant results than the more popular generic sites, so try those for a time and compare the outcome.
Offer truly competitive compensation – and that doesn’t just mean cash
Even if you’ve written a specific job description that includes the position’s salary range, it may not be enough to attract the talent you’re looking for. First, you have to ensure that the salary you’re offering is in line with market demand – and then you should try upping the ante. If offering a price above market value just isn’t in the cards, that’s okay because there are other forms of compensation you can offer, many of which are valued by job seekers, especially younger ones, more than money.
First, you should offer a total compensation package, which includes typical benefits, such as dental and health coverage, pensions and RRSP plans, income protection (like life insurance), and at times, performance-based bonuses. Referral bonuses are also fairly common as they are a good way to get your current employees to lure in new high performers. However, there are more intangible forms of compensation that have huge appeal, particularly with the burgeoning Gen Y workforce. In fact, as a motivator, money has its limits. At a certain threshold, employees start to value factors such as acknowledgement and opportunities for advancement over cash. That’s why recognition and training programs are also highly valued: they show that you’re invested in the professional development of the people you hire and view them as the backbone of your organization’s success. In fact, if properly implemented and communicated, these non-financial forms of compensation can garner your organization quite the reputation – and as a choice employer, the candidates will flock to you. That may not help to weed out unqualified applicants, but it can help you save money on job ads.
Culture, values, and vision count
Part of becoming a choice employer goes well beyond how well you compensate your employees. News about your work environment and corporate culture will spread like wildfire, be they good or bad. If certain supervisors in your workplace are known for throwing people under the bus or if your organization never holds any social events, not only will turnover be high, but those disgruntled employees will talk about it to whoever will listen. Likewise, if your supervisors are friendly and fair, and your organization occasionally allows its employees let their hair down in celebration of their success, retention will increase and your employees will be recommending people they know as soon as they catch wind of an opening.
That said, pleasant bosses and occasional parties don’t constitute a corporate identity – and an organization’s identity is more and more crucial to its health. What are your organization’s core values? Where do you see your organization in five, 10, or even 20 years from now? Your vision may revolve around gaining a certain percentage of market-share in your industry, taking the top spot in innovation, or being celebrated for your social responsibility – or all three. Whatever your vision, it’s your values that help get you there; not just because they help guide your employees in their decision-making, but also because candidates whose personal values align with your organization’s will actively seek to work for you – and they’re the most likely to make your vision a reality.
Even with well-written, detailed job descriptions, generous compensation packages, a welcoming work environment, solid core values, and an inspirational vision, there’s no harm in proactively approaching new talent. Participate in industry-specific job fairs – especially at schools that offer programs in your field – get actively involved with industry associations, and put on presentations at events and on campuses.
But remember: while face-time matters, these days you can socialize with potential employees without physically going anywhere. Social networking sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and various blogging platforms, allow you to reach an audience that’s always there, 24/7. Sure, you can post job openings on these sites and reinforce your brand, but the goal is to engage people by being interactive. Hold contests, spark discussions through polls, questions, or pictures, and re-post interesting (but relevant) news. Those that follow you are following you for a reason: they’re interested in what your organization does, which means many of them want to contribute. And even though setting up more sophisticated social media tools isn’t always free, there are a lot of free options available.
Turn to an employer-employee matchmaker
Of course, all the advice in the world won’t make you an expert, so it’s worth looking into how recruitment firms can assist you with the initiatives outlined above. Depending on your organization’s size, needs, bandwidth, and in-house expertise, a recruitment firm may be the matchmaker you’ve been looking for. By leaving the writing and dissemination of job postings, resume screening, interviewing, and reference checking to a trustworthy third party partner, you can focus on your core business.