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Why is it so difficult to recruit the right people?

Over the last few weeks the focus of coaching with several of my clients has turned to the subject of helping them to create a process to recruit and retain great people.

The Department of Work and Pensions reports that 2 out of 3 new recruits prove to be a mistake within the first year - at a cost of thousands of pounds for each departing employee. Recruitment mistakes negatively impact productivity and erode your company's profits. In Jim Collins' landmark study and book "Good to Great," he states: "The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths."

  1. "If you begin with 'who', rather than 'what,' you can more easily adapt to a changing world"
  2. "If you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away"
  3. "If you have the wrong people, it doesn't matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won't have a great company."

What would your business look like if your recruitment system delivered the right person 75% of the time? Here are some tips to place the odds in your favour.

Create thorough job descriptions:
Most business owners use job descriptions to insure the candidate understands the positional duties and responsibilities; but here's where many fall short. A good job description should also include a list of the skills and competencies required to perform the tasks and duties expected. Other information that should also be included:

  • Certifications, education, and experience required or preferred
  • Work environment and any special physical requirements, such as ability to lift certain weights, stand for 8 hours per day, etc.
  • How we measure success; the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will use to evaluate performance for this position.

Well-written job descriptions for all team members help keep you focused on what you want, facilitate quick recruitment when the need arises, and communicates your expectations to candidates and current employees.

Market for employees, just like customers
Recruiting, like marketing, is most effective when it is targeted, planned and executed with consistency. Start with the basic question, "What makes your company a great choice for potential employees?" Having a written Culture Statement that is alive and well will help you to answer this question. Cross checking your Culture Statement with your employees' experience should be a regular practice. Now is a good time to ask your current team - they'll tell you.

Next, identify the best ways to reach potential employees for the position you are recruiting for.
It will likely vary based on the position. Develop the "advertisement" to attract them and be creative. The rules of good advertising apply - great heading, good content and a call to action. Include the aspects of your company that make it a great place for the type of person you wish to attract, as well as the "spirit" of the person you desire. Additionally, always be on the lookout for good people who can bring value to your organisation. Make recruiting something that is ongoing, not crisis driven! Remember "Good to Great."

Make recruitment a De-Selection Process
Your time is valuable! Don't waste it interviewing potential employees who don't possess the character qualities you need or don't fit into your culture. You can improve your results and save time by incorporating a de-selection process, using a phone screen and group pre-interview assessment to test for integrity, work ethic, and passion. If you design the group pre-interview assessment properly, those that have the "fire in their belly" will stand out and those who don't will leave (de-select themselves), saving you time and hiring mistakes.

Your written Vision, Mission, and Culture statements are a valuable tool at this point to assist in the de-selection process. During the group pre-interview meeting use these tools with the position's KPIs to communicate the high standards of behaviour and performance expected by all within your company. If you effectively communicate these criteria, those that you would not want as part of your team will depart, leaving you with the "cream of the crop".

What are you looking for at this stage? - Passion, confidence, and the desire to grow. These attributes are much more important than knowledge or experience, which can be taught. Stay disciplined and only interview candidates who make it through both the phone and group interview steps. Recruit for Attitude, develop their Aptitude.

Once you decide to invite someone for an interview, email them the job description so expectations are clear before they arrive. Have the candidate meet with multiple people, when possible, and employ behavioural interview techniques and tests to probe for the skills and competencies that are most critical. Be willing to turn down candidates who are not the right fit and don't settle for less than the best!

Believe You Can and You Will
Sounds simple, but too often we defeat ourselves before we start. Telling yourself "I just can't get good employees" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, start telling yourself "I have a great team committed to achieving our goals." Even if it's not yet true - YOU can make it so. Remember the objective when recruiting is to be able to say 3 years later that, "Knowing what I know now, I'd recruit this person again in a heartbeat!"

Added: 18th October 2010


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