How many people responded to your last “help wanted” ad? According to Forbes, the average number of applicants applying for a job is around 118, give or take. That’s a lot of resumes to sort through, even if you use an automated system that helps you screen the least qualified applicants from the batch.
To make your search easier, we’ve put together this list of 10 tips to help you sort the diamonds from the quartz as you conduct your next job search. These tips apply to businesses searching for full time, part time, or contract labor. If this is your first time hiring, you might want to check out this guide on what to do before hiring your first employee.
The costs of leaving positions unfilled is high, but turnover can be costly as well. If the cost of turnover is an average of 20 percent of an employee’s salary, and the average salary is $50,000, you’re looking at hiring mistakes costing you around $10,000. It pays to use these tips to find the right candidate for the job among the dozens of resumes arriving in your inbox.
10 Tips to Find Great Candidates
The following tips apply to many industries. They can be put into place as best practices for your company to help you find the best candidate from your talent search.
1. Start with a Well-Written Position Description
It’s difficult to find the right candidate when you’re not entirely sure what talent, skills and experience you’re looking for to fill an open position. If your company doesn’t have job descriptions on file for all current positions, it’s time to write them. You can write your own position descriptions or work with a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) if you outsource your human resources work. Each job description should include the job title, education and experience requirements, job goals, reporting structure, expected tasks, measurement of job performance, and salary range. Once you have a robust job description, you can use it as a springboard to write the help wanted ad, listing the essential qualities and experience you need to fill the position. This can narrow down the resumes coming into your company to only those candidates with the right qualifications as well as help you sort through the resumes to find ones that meet the characteristics required.
2. Write a Specific Title and Description
You’re looking for someone to fill a specific role at your company. Be as specific as possible in your help wanted ad. If you need someone with 5 years of experience, say so. If you need someone with a specific degree, certification, or experience in the industry, make it clear. The clearer you are in your job post the easier it is for candidates to self-screen and apply only if qualified. The job description can be especially important when attracting employees, so make sure that’s as descriptive and specific as possible.
3. Fish in the Right Pond
Many companies post a quick ad to a major job hunting bullet board or website and expect great results. Think about where your potential candidates are likely to look for jobs. Higher-level candidates for executive positions aren’t scanning the big job boards that house thousands of resumes and posts for lower level positions. Make sure you “fish in the right pond” or search for candidates among the pool most likely to have people with that match your requirements. For many hires, though, the larger job boards can be a great way to reach a large base of active job-seekers.
4. Post on Industry Specific Sites
Even when fishing in the right pond, you may still encounter big applicant pools. Consider posting ads on job or industry-specific niche sites. Professional organizations often run help wanted ads for very low cost or free of charge, and industry-specific sites tend to be frequented by people devoted to furthering their careers. These job sites can provide you with a small applicant pool of highly qualified people.
5. Social Networking Works
Especially among the younger generation, social networking is favored as a method of finding new jobs. Consider reaching out to your LinkedIn or other professional networks. Professional groups and similar social networking groups can also help you tap into a rich source of great job candidates. Facebook and Twitter can also be a good way to reach out to friends and people in your field who might not even be actively looking for a job yet.
6. Ask Screening Questions
Companies like Fit Small Business, ask candidates to answer three short questions during the application process to see if people are truly reading the help wanted ads or just spraying resumes out and seeing what hits. You’d be surprised at how many people fail to answer these questions. That’s an immediate red flag that people can’t follow directions or aren’t willing to take a small extra step to do the job right. Try asking a few questions, such as, “Why do you want to work at XYZ company?” or “What business blogs, websites or periodicals do you read regularly?” to see how on the ball candidates are. You’ll not only test their abilities to follow directions, you’ll get a glimpse into their professional skills, too.
7. Assess Their Interest
Sure they want the job. But just how much do they want it, and why? Assess candidate’s interest level in the job by asking pertinent questions. An open-ended question such as, “Do you have any questions for me?” can help you weed out the thoughtful job seekers from the “I’ll take any position at any cost” types who are apt to be unhappy in their work.
8. Request a Short, Paid Trial Assignment
Even with resumes, background checks and the like, it can be difficult to assess someone’s skills. Try a paid trial assignment. We say “paid” because when hiring freelancers, contractors or employees, asking for an unpaid test is unprofessional and many good candidates who value their time and talents will turn away from requests for free work. A short, paid assignment demonstrates your professionalism and interest in the candidate. It also enables the candidate to demonstrate their skills without a filter that can make their skills look better than they really are. Short tests at the end of the hiring process are an easy way to find a winner among your short list of candidates.
9. Always End with an Interview
You may conduct your interview by videoconference or telephone, or in person for local candidates, but always end your job hunt with an interview. Narrow down your list to the top 5 to 10 candidates and schedule half hour interviews with each. During the interview, non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expression and so on can provide you with a rich source of information to help you assess how well each candidate might fit in with your company, and how much they’re really interested in working with you. Make up a list of questions for the interview first, reviewing each question against this list of legal and illegal questions to ask during interviews. Focusing on job skills, education and experience is generally safe.
10. Watch How They Interact with Others
Before making your final hiring decision, ask the short list of candidates into your business to meet everyone. Watch how they interact with the team. Do you think they can get along together? Work well together? Ask team members later how they felt about each candidate. If you’re hiring someone at a distance and relying on phone interviews, ask your candidates if they’d mind spending 15 minutes on the phone with a few of your staff members. You can accomplish the same screening process over the phone as you can in person.
No matter what industry you’re in, finding the best candidate from dozens of resumes can be difficult. Take your time and use these tips to screen candidates to find your next superstar employee. The best person to work for you is out there. No go and find them!
Jeanne Grunert is an award-winning writer and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience. In 2007, Jeanne quit her marketing executive position at a large New York City area publisher, moved to Virginia, opened her own freelance writing and content marketing firm, and began growing a life instead of just making a living. She writes about business, marketing, home and garden topics for a variety of publications and websites.