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Tips to Recruit the Best Candidates

Q. I have been recruiting for an entry-level position in my business. I am surprised by the lack of good candidates. I thought it was a buyers’ market and that there were a lot of people looking for work. Why can’t I seem to attract the right people?

A. Recruitment isn’t an exact science. There isn’t a specific recipe we can give you that will guarantee you hire the perfect person. However, we can give you a few tips that will help.

1. Determine what you are looking for – This is always the first step. You can’t write an ad before you decide what you need. Focus on behaviors. Often you can train someone to use your software if he/she is smart and hardworking. We say, “Hire behaviors, train skills.” While certain jobs require specific skills and experience, behaviors will still make the difference between an employee who fits well in your company’s culture and with the hiring managers or customer’s personality.

2. Write a compelling ad– Be different. Posting an ad that looks and feels like everyone else’s won’t get you noticed. You need to stand out from the crowd. Most ads include a list of job responsibilities and qualifications or a few lines about the company. You should include these, but give the prospective candidate more. Write about your company and the things that make it special. Tell them how your company got started and about your great team. As long as you are not paying by the column inch be extravagant. At this point, it is about selling yourself, your company and this specific position. Tell them why they should buy.

3. List your compensation level – We believe you should list compensation. Writing TBD (to be determined) in the compensation spot doesn’t help applicants to decide if the job is at the appropriate career level for them. If your job pays between $35,000 and $40,000, advertise the low end. Candidates who currently make $60,000 for a similar title won’t apply. That’s okay, you can’t afford to pay them what they need and believe they are worth. If you have other incentives or perquisites, it is okay to list these.

4. Post in multiple places – We find that some of our best candidates come from Indeed, Craig’s List and college career sites. Indeed is a pay-per-click site where you set the budget. We find that with the right ad, we average between 25 and 50 candidates for each $150 spent—not too bad. Craig’s list is free or a nominal cost depending on the city. Most college career sites are free. The process is mostly copy/paste and only takes a few minutes per site once you’re registered.

5. Post at the right time – We have found that recruiting new college graduated before they have graduated if difficult. You might think that college seniors would be job hunting in the spring before graduation. Unfortunately, our experience tells us they are focused on graduating instead. We have had better luck in July after the glow of graduation has dimmed and loan payments are on the horizon. Similarly, trying to hire between Thanksgiving and the New Year tends to yield poor results.

6. Organize your applicants – You can quickly become overwhelmed as the resumes arrive in your email. Create email subdirectories for the job. Move the emails from your inbox to the subdirectory as they arrive.

7. Screen the applicants – Schedule a time approximately three to five days after posting to review resumes. You should have a pile of them by now in your email folder. Polly’s technique is to create three more subdirectories under the job folder entitled: Yes, No and Maybe. She moves each resume after reading it to the appropriate folder. Creating and using folders will eliminate a lot of redundancy. You won’t be searching for those great candidates. They will be in the “Yes” folder.

Solid recruitment is essential to great hiring. You can’t hire the perfect candidate if they don’t apply. Use the tips above and if you need information on the next step in the hiring process, please read our articles on interviewing posted on our website.

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