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How to find the right people to hire

As I've written about previously here on the blog, I'm looking for work now that my kids will both be back in school next fall. I started in January and have had fairly wide-ranging experience so far. I've had interviews, seen a few scams, joined a few offbeat websites, and found my favorite places (and keywords) to browse. I've had contact with a few jobs where the details s-l-o-w-l-y trickle out and I have to politely decline because the fit wasn't right. That wastes both my time and theirs.

And I've developed a few pet peeves.

Employers, I'm sure you have just as many complaints about employees. I don't want to turn this post into me just griping. So, instead, I thought I'd offer a few helpful pieces of advice on how to attract better candidates. If you want to hire somebody amazing, you need to know what appeals to that kind of worker.

In no particular order, 10 suggestions for employers about what potential employees want to see in your job ads:

  • Don't make us jump through hoops! The chances of us being a match is, let's face it, pretty slim. We want to talk to you and find out more about the job. There's nothing worse than taking what's really a mild inquiry for further information and turning it into a 10 page background on everything from education to work history when really the applicant is never going to hear back from you again. 
  • DO include an e-mail address for us to send our cover letter, resume, and any other links. Try to avoid third party forms for job candidates to fill out. If you use an app on your company website, make sure it functions and is free from errors. Potential employees should get the job just for having to point out that your job application sucked. Would you want to work for a business that makes sloppy errors in recruiting? How do you think they treat employees? 
  • DO include the salary or wage information in the job ad! This one is HUGE. Your job can be amazing. You can be an amazing employer. But don't set you AND the candidate up for disappointment when they're expecting $40,000 per year and you're offering $11 per hour. If you give a 10k range of possible wages, remember that the job candidate could be expecting anywhere in that range. They may apply but you're on the very, very low end of their income expectations. If you're not willing to pay the upper end, don't list it. 
  • Related to the previous recommendation: don't ask for a salary history. No, really. It's none of your business what someone made at a previous employer. What you're asking them to do may be different. They may have raised their goals. They may have lowered their goals. They may have been working at a small organization barely able to afford them and you have deep pockets. Or vice versa. Also, be flexible if you ask for a candidate's salary requirements. You're asking them to take a wild stab in the dark at what they think they should earn if they work for you. It's quite hard to guess. 
  • Set realistic expectations for part-time work. If you're asking someone to sign on for 30 hours a week, why not make it 40 and call it a full-time position? What you're really saying to a job candidate is that you want their skills, time, energy...but you're not quite ready to commit. You're going to use them just enough to not let them have other work and probably not give them benefits, vacation, and stability. 
  • Look outside your target zone. Too many job ads want extremely specific skills or experience and miss amazing employees because they've narrowed the field. Be willing to train new employees. It's an investment. Be willing to find the right personality even if it means they don't have 10 years in the field. Hardly anyone outside a given industry will know industry-specific computer applications, technical skills, or be familiar with those practices. It's an opportunity to get away from what you've been doing. And, frankly, as we learned this week from United Airlines, Pepsi, and more, the same old same old often produces cringe-worthy outcomes. 
  • Don't make your job ad a boring list of requirements and work functions. Sell your organization! Why should a candidate want to work there?! Is there room for advancement? Do you have flexible scheduling, free trips, great office parties? Just today I saw a wonderful ad that discussed annual stipends to throw fun office parties and social events. That caught my attention. Show that you care about more than just "the job." 
  • Job candidates today care about more than just money. Many people would be willing to take a lower paying job if it meets their needs for time off, travel, ability to go back to school, access to affordable childcare, etc. Consider whether your organization is set up to have appeal in other ways besides salary. 
  • Don't hold mass interviews. Group settings are fine if you're hiring many people at once, but most job seekers are looking for an employer who will treat them as an individual. Candidates aren't looking to compete with 50 people. They want a chance to sell you on them. And vice versa. 
  • Finally, contact job seekers. Even if it's just to tell them you hired somebody else. The habit of not responding to job candidates is rude and unprofessional. Similarly, pay attention to the fact that e-mail is now the preferred method of communication for many people. Unknown callers get screened to voicemail on the phone and leads to playing tag if a job seeker has to call you back. An e-mail with details is (or should be) the new normal. Aim to respond to e-mails within 24 hours. If possible, outline the timeline for hiring.