Rethink your company’s hiring process

By Marsha Lindquist

You probably think good talent is hard to find these days. You may be frustrated with and tired of the process you have to go through every time you need to hire someone.

Consider the typical scenario: You place a classified ad in the newspaper and you receive a slew of resumes. Out of all those resumes, you find only a few candidates you want to interview. Once you conduct all the interviews, you’re not impressed with any of the candidates, but you’re forced to make a decision because you feel you need to hire someone for the position quickly.

Too often, employers hire the wrong people because of the perceived need to hire someone right away. As a result, they fall into the same pattern they’ve always used to seek employees—and they’re less than pleased with the results.

Good talent does exist; you just have to know how to find it. The key is to try a new approach for locating top–notch talent. When you do, you’ll realize that finding exactly who you are looking for is fairly simple.

Don’t rush

A big mistake employers make is rushing to fill an empty position. Slow down and analyze what needs to be done and what type of person you seek. Consider all the possibilities. Can you move people around within your company? Do any employees have crossover duties that you can combine into one position?

Maybe you’ll find that you can combine two jobs previously done by two different people, thus freeing up one of them who would be ideal for the position you need to fill. When you slow down and take the time to evaluate what your organization needs, you may realize the solution is not hiring anyone at all.

Carefully consider the job

If you can’t seem to find the right talent, you may be looking for the wrong type of employee. Most employers automatically think they have to hire full–time, permanent workers. This is not necessarily true.

Re–evaluate the position you’re seeking to fill. Is it really a permanent position? Do you have enough work to justify bringing someone on full time? Or might you be better off hiring part–time people, consultants or a “virtual” assistant?

When you consider other job categories besides full–time permanent, you can alleviate a financial burden for your company and you may be able to bring in more creative individuals. Thinking you can hire only full–time permanent staff limits your possibilities.

Seek seasoned employees

Having young, dynamic and energetic people within your company is great, but you also need seasoned individuals with the knowledge and skills you can gain only from years of experience.

If you need to hire help, don’t automatically go for the fresh–out–of–college graduates with their multiple degrees. Instead, think of what you can gain from hiring someone with years of experience in the work force.

When you hire seasoned people, it’s a positive situation for everyone involved. Experienced people generally take pride in being asked to help develop younger workers, and younger workers can acquire a great depth of knowledge from working with people who have so much experience.

Consider a different demographic

Along the same lines, when looking to fill a position, don’t forget retirees. You can find considerable talent among retirees who have a wealth of experience. This group is not likely seeking full–time employment, but you may be able to hire them as part–time workers. They have been in the work force for many years and know how to do a job—and they won’t need to be taught the subtle nuances of business.

Don’t hire from a piece of paper

When trying to fill a position, you generally have a wish list of the skills and qualities you’re looking for in an employee. But finding someone with the right attitude may be as important. Base your hiring decision on the person, not just on what’s on his resume.

The important thing is to find a person who will mix well with your current team. You will be better off hiring a person with the right attitude and only part of the skill set you need than someone with the perfect skill set and the wrong attitude. You can always train job functions; you can’t train somebody’s attitude.

Get proof of results

Before making the final decision to hire someone, be sure to ask for and get demonstrated results. You don’t want to interview someone and have her simply talk about what she has done in the past. You want to find out what she did differently to make a difference in the last company where she worked. And you want her to put her results in writing.

For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, you want to know how he increased sales at his last job by a certain percentage in a particular period of time. Don’t just ask for the results; verify them. Find out if this candidate has done in the past what you will be asking of him in the future.

Make the right decision for youYou know that hiring people for your company is difficult. And hiring the right talent is even more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. When you slow down, examine what you truly need for your company and approach the hiring process differently, you may be surprised how easy it can be to find the right people. They are out there—you only have to know how to find them. And when you do, your company will benefit greatly from the decisions you have made.

Marsha Lindquist is a business strategist, author and speaker. As chief executive officer of the Management Link, Marsha has more than 20 years experience as a business consultant who works with her clients to transform their organizations through her Value Advantage formula. She has enhanced communication, facilitated change management and improved overall strategies for companies including BP Amoco, Fleishman Hillard and Northrop Grumman. For more information, check www.marshalindquist.comor email her at marsha@marshalindquist.com