Where Are All the Good Candidates?
You have an urgent need to fill a spot on your team. You’ve got a deadline. So far, your recruiting efforts have come up short. Your “No” stack is six inches high. The last person you interviewed showed up to your office wearing a t-shirt and track pants; they had explained that they thought “business casual” meant “casual, but still able to do business.” The person before that had lied on their resume and had passed the phone interview with your HR rep by plugging every question into a search engine. The person before that seemed solid but didn’t show up for their interview and has simply disappeared, perhaps into the same black hole you hear surrounds your company. Maybe it swallows resumes and people.
Where are all the good candidates?
They’re out there and they’re asking where all the good managers are. People talk, and we’re living in a time where word travels at the speed of light. Consider these tips to ensure that your company doesn’t build a poor reputation (amongst candidates and staffing firms).
You aren’t (yet) this person’s boss. Keep in mind that the candidate is interviewing you as well.
Times have changed. As an employer hoping to attract top talent, you must do away with old-fashioned interview protocol and the notion that you alone are in the driver’s seat. Instead of grilling a person in a boring quiz-show style interview (e.g. “Tell me about your Windows Server experience”), have a dynamic conversation that engages candidates and shows off your awesome work environment (it is awesome and you are proud of it, right?).
For example, you could discuss a problem you’re facing and encourage the candidate to provide in-context details of their experience and demonstrate how they might be the right fit for your team. The candidate, in turn, will be able to see if your team is a fit for them. You will stand out and they will appreciate the give-and-take nature of your interview; most other interviews they have attended have probably followed the dreaded quiz-show style. Only a seed of mutual respect and understanding will cultivate a successful long-term employment relationship.
Write a quality job description.
You’re the manager, right? MANAGE! Don’t let your HR rep write your job description for you, even if you’re directly providing them with the details. If the role is important to your team, put in the effort to own the process. Taking the time and thought to write out the responsibilities and requirements yourself will cement important speaking points in your mind and give you a stronger interview presence. Your candidates will notice that you have invested yourself in this process and they’ll see you as a more engaged, confident and competent manager than your competition.
Be forthcoming about growth opportunity.
If your role has little upward momentum and you hire a person seeking just that, eventually everyone will be left sitting on their hands. In the job description, disclose the opportunity for growth within your team and organization. When you’re seeking a go-getter to transform your growing department and advance within, say so. If you need someone to support existing systems and handle grunt work as part of a long-term migration, put it in there. Nobody likes to waste valuable time; your disclosure of these details will attract the right candidates and encourage the wrong ones to move on.
Provide solid and timely feedback.
I get it. You’re a busy person – probably the busiest person alive. You have many important things to do. I assume that filling this opening on your team is one of them. The importance of solid feedback in achieving this goal cannot be understated. There are articles dedicated to this point alone.
If you’re communicating directly with candidates and decide not to move forward with them, have the courtesy to let them know that they’re no longer in consideration and take an additional thirty seconds (it probably won’t even take that long) to tell them why. They’re busy, too, and will greatly appreciate your feedback. Don’t contribute to propagating the “black hole” rumor that everyone loves to spread. People talk, and I have spoken with many people who were very interested in a job until they found out that it was with Dumpster Diving for Candidates Inc, known for treating people like they don’t matter.
While working with staffing firms, PLEASE STOP considering acceptable feedback to consist of a vague email containing nothing more than “Pass” or “No thanks” or “No interest.” These types of responses are worthless and there is no quicker way to get your open position (which—let’s be honest—is costing you money and productivity every day it remains unfilled) sent to the bottom of a recruiter’s priority list. You had a reason for passing on a particular candidate, right? Share it! We want to make sure you’re happy! Your happiness puts food on our tables!
If you work with staffing firms, work with them closely and consider exclusivity.
How do you optimize external recruiting efforts? If you like to work with staffing firms, communicate with them directly (skip the HR middle man). There’s so much to be said for a good relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager. Hiring goals can be made clear. Bottom line-oriented questions can be directly addressed. Time isn’t wasted routing questions through multiple departments. You can, in your own words, explain exactly what makes your team great and why people should be excited about joining you.
You may also want to consider exclusivity with a firm you trust. Creating competition amongst multiple firms might widen your net, but it will increase your headaches, too: more duplicate applicants, more repeat questions, more points of contact to juggle. With an exclusive agreement, we will work that much harder knowing that you trust us and only us to fill this critical role on your team.
So where are all the good candidates? We can help you find them and show them how working with you will be a great career move.
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