Many employers tell me that successful recruitment is their biggest challenge.
The reasons they give are many and varied: the skills they need are in short supply; it costs a fortune to advertise in the right places; there are plenty of candidates but none of them “fit”; people are too young, old, not skilled, over-qualified… the list goes on.
But the problem may lie closer to home.
Many employers forget two very important things. Firstly, recruitment is a two-way street and the candidate for the job also has a choice. Secondly, the recruitment process should not stop when the new employee has signed the contract.
Showing your best side
If you were trying to sell your house for the best price possible, then you would spend some time and effort in preparing for the sale. You might tidy up the garden . You could increase the “kerb appeal” by a lick of paint on the front door. It makes sense to clean the house and make the beds. You might even go as far as putting fresh flowers on the table, baking some bread or brewing fresh coffee so that there is an enticing smell when people come to view.
But don’t forget that the candidate is also checking your business out to see if they want to work there. If they are skilled and/or enthusiastic, you are unlikely to be the only person who is interviewing them. So it makes sense to show your business to its best advantage. Make sure the candidate is welcomed when they arrive and that they get a friendly reception from everyone they come into contact with. Give them a chance to see the environment they will be working in and to meet their potential colleagues. Ensure you explain the role accurately and clearly. Make sure you spell out the benefits of working for you.
Preparing for recruitment
You are probably extremely busy and recruiting people takes up a good deal of valuable time. That is why it is important to get it right, so you don’t have to repeat the process too many times. A little care could prevent the need. Take time to prepare properly for the interview. Make sure you have read the person’s CV and know a little about them. Remember to use their name – if you need to check how to pronounce it, then ask them at the beginning of the conversation – and listen to their answer, so you get it right from then on! Make sure you have prepared some questions to ask all the people you are interviewing, so that you can compare their answers to help you choose the best fit.
Beware the trap of over-selling, though. The candidates need to get a good impression, but it needs to be the right one. Don’t promise work which exists but you know is going to someone else. Make sure they get a true picture of what you need them to do for you. And don’t show them the beautiful new desk in the airy space by the window, if you are going to put them in the tatty old workspace near the gents’ toilet.
You need to decide quickly about whether a candidate is right or not. If you are not sure, then it is probably a “no” and you need to tell them so. Time is of the essence and it is critical to get the offer of a job out quickly. Otherwise, your ideal candidate will have got fed up waiting for your decision and accepted another job elsewhere. Even if you have made a verbal offer and they have accepted it, you still need to get the paperwork out quickly. It is not unusual for someone to accept a verbal offer and then to start another job in the time it took you to get the written details out to them.
I have often known employers who think that someone they have interviewed “might be OK” but they want to interview a few others before they decide. They are frightened they will miss out on a “better” candidate. In my experience, perfection is impossible to find and if someone is “good enough”, then snap them up. Otherwise, you risk losing out on employing them because you are looking for someone perfect, who probably does not exist.
After the party
How many times have you moved into a lovely new house, only to discover there are rotten floorboards, rats in the loft and a jungle hidden at the bottom of the garden? OK, perhaps that is an extreme, but you get the point. In the same way, a new employee will be wondering if they made the right choice. What if the job is not the one which was advertised and which they wanted to do, but turns out to be something different which they don’t want to do? If the reality is very difficult from the promise at interview, then they will very quickly move on. Then you will have to go through the whole process again.
Recruitment is their choice too.