I know in this job market there are few jobs and too many candidates. However, I’m concerned that if we try to use an online job service to post jobs, we’ll get inundated with resumes from over- or under-qualified applicants. What’s an effective way to target the right potential employees? Or is an online job listings site our only and best option, and we’ll have to wade through mountains of irrelevant applications?
Summary of Advice Received
How to Build a Better Hiring Process
Finding the right employee without drowning in resumes
by Meryl K. Evans, Editor, Professional Services Journal
Job searching has changed drastically in the last 20 years. Before sites like monster.com and careerbuild.com hit the scene, people combed the classified ads in the newspaper. Instead of shooting off an email with a resume, job searchers wrote cover letters and mailed them with their resumes. That took more time and effort than searching a few keywords and electronically submitting your resume.
Unfortunately, using this technology has created a new problem, and high unemployment rates exacerbate the process of finding the right employee. Because it’s easy to submit a resume, hiring managers and human resources receive many unqualified applications.
Readers and experts give you a few strategies that you can mix and match:
- Ask your employees for referrals.
- Use techniques to shorten the list.
- Go to your network.
- Work with a niche recruiter.
Share your experiences and tips for hiring that perfect employee by joining the conversation and leaving a comment. Or ask your own question.
Ask your employees for referrals
Your employees have networks of their own. They probably have worked for other companies and met talented people there. They know conscientious, hard-working people from school or their community. And the best part is that your employees already know the culture and are in a better position to figure out who fits. This process has benefitted many companies, and many have a formal employee referral program (ERP).
Tarek Pertew, founder of Referio.com, says that the ERP leads to high-quality candidates, but sometimes there aren’t enough or any candidates. “Enhance your ERP with incentives and social platforms that facilitate the referral process over the web,” says Pertew.
Another advantage of ERP is retention. “An employee feels a sense of ownership and engagement in their referee’s success at the company, which typically translates to higher retention rates for employees who come to the organization through ERP,” says Tisha Freer, head of client partnerships, Evviva Brands.
Use techniques to shorten the list
These tips take a lot of work, but the payoff is big. Not only will you yield better quality candidates, but a much smaller list than if you take the typical route. The simplest thing to do is post the job on a niche site rather than on a general site. If you need an accountant, don’t post the job on monster.com. Find a site that specializes in finance-related jobs. If you won’t pay for a move, you might consider using a local job site.
“Make it hard to respond. Require a response that is no less demanding than the job itself, and create conditions that require candidates to listen to respond correctly,” says Chuck Blakeman of Crankset Group. How do you do this? Blakeman found a keeper using craigslist. Yes, that craigslist, from which companies supposedly get hundreds of resumes within an hour of posting a new job. Blakeman’s route produced 135 resumes … in one month!
He did it by writing a four-page ad that shares everything about the company, complete with the vision, mission, culture, services, market, clients — everything. Of course, he also included everything the person filling the job will be doing and, here’s the kicker, he added essay questions. “Buried in the middle of all this, I requested that they not send us resumes (they’re just tombstones that talk about the past), but to answer seven questions about how they would fit in, what contribution they would make, why a company like the one we described would be a place they would want to work, long-term ambitions, etc.,” Blakeman says.
Blakeman deleted 45 submittals on the spot because they only included a resume and no essay responses. That left 90. Blakeman says, “If I didn’t like the first couple of answers, I stopped reading. We ended up with 35 people who we invited to send us a resume.”
Using a similar approach, Andrea Ballard, director of HR and administration at Peterson Sullivan LLP, offers a great essay question: “‘Please take a look at our website and think of two ways to keep our company a Top 50 employer’ (or something along those lines). This can point you in the direction of people truly interested in your company and in making it a better place,” says Ballard.
The easiest way to weed out those who don’t pay attention to the job posting comes from Rob Bedell of Bedell Media & Consulting. Tell applicants to put a specific title in the subject line. Delete those that don’t have that specific subject line. You can create a filter with that subject line to file those you want to see and ignore the rest.
Often, companies don’t require or expect candidates to include a cover letter. Maybe it’s time to bring it back. Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, a career expert at Vault.com, says, “Use that cover letter as a screen — Make sure they highlight specific experience in the critical skills necessary to succeed. For example, if exceptional customer service is an absolutely necessity, have them describe when and how they provided that level of service.”
Go to your network
Your network doesn’t stop with social network sites like LinkedIn. It also includes your business contacts, email newsletter subscribers, blog readers. Morgan Padway, general manager, Insurance Personnel Service, suggests mentioning the job in your newsletter. No newsletter? No problem. Padway says to look for a newsletter from another company that’s complementary to yours and ask if you can include the job opening in the newsletter.
Of course, take advantage of LinkedIn. With a free account, you can search for candidates through your network or by joining relevant LinkedIn groups and posting jobs there as Lee Vikre, vice president of talent and culture with McMurry, suggests. This is one way around the fees that come with posting a job on LinkedIn. You can also post the job on your website and link to it from LinkedIn.
If you need a little help in making the most of LinkedIn for finding candidates, Vikre says, “Read recruiting blogs to learn techniques recruiters use in finding passive candidates through LinkedIn.”
Expand your search beyond LinkedIn based on the kind of candidate you need. Before you do that, know who you’re looking for. Tracy Brisson, founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, says, “Many recruiters and businesses do not take this first step to really visualize the person they seek when hiring for a position beyond a basic job description. What are the skills and behaviors that person must have? Is there a model staff member or other ‘real person’ to base this on?”
Once you figure this out, go to the places where you’d find this person. Brisson gives an example. “If you’re looking for a smart GenY tech savvy candidate, you might look at industry Twitter chats,” Brisson says.
Work with a niche recruiter
You may not have the time or resources to do the entire search process yourself, so bring in expert help in the form of recruiters. However, rather than working with a general firm, look for one that specializes in the field or industry that you’re in. As one reader puts it, “Obviously, if their specialty is recruiting nurses in Michigan, they won’t be much help for you in finding an seasoned Oracle Linux database administrator in Houston.”
A reader offers a clever solution that paid off. Rather than using a recruitment firm, his company used the company that trains the sales team. The training company does it all until they narrow down the resumes to however many quality candidates you wish to interview.
You can help the recruiting firm do a better job by discussing your company’s unwritten rules and covering its culture. A reader recommends meeting with the firm several times a year to do a review of what works and what needs improving. She also encourages trying two or three firms and then selecting the best firm.
Lynda Zugec, managing director of The Workforce Consultants, says, “With the advent of technology designed specifically for the hiring process, applicants can be automatically filtered, respond to specific questions via text, participate in online video interviewing and be scheduled for an in-person interview all with the click of a mouse. Incorporating such a system into your hiring process is sure to increase your effectiveness and reduce inefficiencies!” So while technology has given companies an easy way to find the right employee, it has also created a quagmire. These tips will help you cut through and get to the heart of the situation: landing a keeper.
What hiring process works well for you? Facing other work challenges? Ask a question.
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