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Ready, Aim, Hire! Preparation and Pace Are Key to Hiring Top Talent

The economy is in the midst of a steady rebound. Companies that were forced to lay off employees or freeze hiring just a few months ago are now looking to add staff. If your organization is like many others, it has been a while since you’ve had to flex your hiring muscles. With a plan, and some practice, you can get strong again and attract top talent.

If your company is poised to add to its workforce, you may be surprised to learn the talent pool has shifted dramatically over the past several months. When the economy plummeted, the only people looking for work were those who were out of work. With an improved economic outlook, “passive” job-seekers (those who are currently employed) are starting to think about exploring other possibilities. A short time ago, these same people felt thankful just to have jobs, but now they feel confident enough to begin job searches. This means the pool of potential candidates may be more plentiful, but these people may also have more options for employment (including staying put!) so competition for finding and hiring top talent has increased. Companies that can move quickly and tailor their interview process to accommodate this changing dynamic — yet still perform the due diligence necessary to make sound hiring decisions — can put themselves in a better position to succeed.

Here is how your company can gain an advantage in attracting this top talent.

Know what you want.

Don’t just jump into the hiring process. Have a plan. Talk to managers and staff to determine what your organization REALLY needs and what roles need to be filled within the company. Once you have determined the positions, get specific. Identify the particular skills and experience the people who fill those roles should possess. Where can you be flexible? What skills are non-negotiable? The more you know about the type of candidate you’re looking for, the easier it will be to find that person.

Create a timeline.

It is helpful to make the hiring process task-oriented and develop a timeline with milestones to keep everyone on track. A timeline might look something like this:

  • Respond to resumes within 24 hours.
  • Conduct initial (phone, in-person) screenings within 48 hours of the resume review.
  • If the initial screening is successful, inform the candidate that same day and schedule a second interview within three days.
  • If required, have the candidate complete and submit a job application.
  • If multiple rounds of interviews are necessary, schedule them as soon as possible. Remember: If you really like this candidate, chances are there are other companies and hiring managers who do as well.
  • If required, begin the background and reference check process.
  • Be prepared to extend a verbal offer as soon as possible after all interviews have been completed — even if the verbal is contingent on successful background or reference checks.
  • Be ready to extend a written offer within a day of a verbal offer.

Knowing the milestones upfront can keep you in the running to hire the top talent, especially if you need to move quickly. 

Review your process.

Is there any way to streamline hiring procedures? A rigorous or time-intensive process may mean missing out on that “perfect” employee. That doesn’t mean you should rush. The hiring process should be deliberate and thorough as the costs of hiring the wrong person are too great. There may be ways to combine or eliminate steps. For example, could you replace an in-person meeting with a phone interview, or schedule multiple face-to-face meetings on the same afternoon? Are you open to meeting employed candidates before or after normal business hours if necessary?

Emphasize communication.

Everyone wants to be “loved.” If your team is truly interested in a candidate, don’t play hard-to-get. Replace “We’ll let you know” with details as to where the candidate stands. If the process gets delayed due to illness, vacations, business trips or busy schedules, let the candidate know the reasons. When delays occur, a call from the hiring manager to explain the situation and reinforce the organization’s interest can go a long way.

Plan for flexibility.

Summer is almost here and with summer comes vacation schedules — for employees and candidates. Don’t let vacations stall the hiring process. Consider taking some unconventional approaches to “meeting” during the summer months. Is it possible to have a conference call or meet via webcam? Do you have a back-up plan in place for in-person meetings? For example, if the VP is unavailable, can a Director do the interview? Could a colleague from a department sit in for a manager?

In just a few short months, the job market and the talent pool have changed. There are more talented people and more competition to get them. Organizations that can tighten up and expedite their hiring processes will be better poised to draw in the best candidates — and hire the best people.

Photo Credit: Middletown Archery