Hiring a new employee is one of the most challenging decisions a small business owner or manager can make. Even among recruiters and HR professionals, finding the right candidates is tricky. As recruiting evolves, and the skills market tightens, the need for effective hiring processes becomes paramount. Learning how to hire good employees for small business and large corporations alike involves time, energy and smart strategies. When you put in the work, the perfect fit becomes easy to spot.
The Importance of Hiring the Right Employee
When you find the right fit, you set the foundation for a fruitful relationship with your new hire. While it’s far less common these days for an employee to spend several years with the same company, the better you can retain the right personnel, the more successful your company will be.
Hiring Is an Investment of Time and Money
In most cases, it costs far less to keep an employee than to hire a new one. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the average cost per new hire is $4,425. Just as with any investment your business makes, you want to be able to ensure a good ROI.
Once you hire a candidate, you and your team must train your new recruit. Hiring the right candidate can mean you spend less time on training. If all goes well, that training was time well spent. If that candidate isn’t a good fit, you lose out on your time and financial investment. You also end up repeating the hiring process, spending more time and money on a new hire.
Hiring Affects Workplace Culture and Morale
Every candidate you hire brings a new person into the mix. This new person should complement your team’s strengths and have the social skills to get along with the rest of your staff. A person who fits in with your company culture will be far more successful. Furthermore, a conflicting attitude could dilute your company culture. The wrong fit can cause frustration from other staff members. Hiring the right candidate adds value to your corporate culture.
Modern Hiring Holds More Weight
Hiring has gotten more complicated in the last several decades. Up until the 1970s, corporations filled 90% of their job openings by promoting from within and shifting their employees around. That figure has since dropped to less than one-third. Back when a company focused on cultivating talent from within, it could hire decent applicants and transform them into superstars. These days, the pressure is on to find top talent who can hit the ground running.
A byproduct of this shift means hiring managers must be good at recognizing aptitude for positions at any level. The skills of a manager are so different from the education and can-do attitudes we seek from entry-level candidates. All the factors that go into hiring mean the task has become critical to an organization’s success.
How to Improve Recruitment Strategies
With so much riding on the success of your new hire, it’s no wonder recruitment strategies are evolving. The historically low unemployment rate entered 2020 at 3.6%. In such a tight labor market, a robust recruitment strategy is crucial to getting the best candidates sitting at their new desks. Talented candidates get snapped up by companies with savvy recruitment strategies, so your efforts need to keep pace.
Write a Realistic Job Description
At a larger firm, a recruiter will push back on a hiring manager’s wish list. As you add more skills and years of experience to your requirements, you deter more candidates. A skillful job seeker who is one year shy of your minimum requirement might focus their attention on other applications. Someone with many years of experience who is missing a few skills can do just the same.
Research by Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School, found many job descriptions are too complicated. According to Cappelli, running resumes through applicant tracking software would turn up fewer candidates if the job description tacked on too many requirements.
You also have to consider your starting salary. The more experience you look for from a new hire, the more you may need to offer in compensation. A candidate with five years of experience might not settle for an entry-level salary. So, if you have a strict budget for the position, design a role that matches.
The secret to recruiting the right applicants is to think about the minimum requirements as just that. Be tough with yourself, and have other team members review your description if possible. If you have a few skills a fast learner could pick up on the job, consider listing them as “nice to have.” The right people will shine through.
Understand How to Market Your Company
When many companies are hiring at any point, applicants can find themselves fielding a few offers. Many hiring managers ask candidates, “Why should we hire you?” While interviewees rarely voice the reverse question, “Why should I work for you?” it’s often in the back of their minds.
You should know how to answer that question implicitly, and that means marketing. Here are some ways you can position yourself as the best opportunity for a candidate:
- Be upfront about the salary or negotiable range
- Highlight benefits such as health insurance in your job posting
- Get creative and offer some perks your competitors don’t, such as flex time
- Make workplace culture a regular social media feature
Hire From Within
With promotions being so hard to come by, a business that hires from within has an edge. When you focus on internal hires, you open your applicant pool to individuals you know will be qualified. People who have been with a company for a few years are likely already an excellent cultural fit. You also have a much clearer picture of your applicants than a resume provides. You know precisely the kind of work they do and may have a more reliable intuition about what they are capable of.
Another advantage of hiring from within is that it can be desirable to outside hires. If you usually hire from within and can show that commitment to potential applicants, you’ll get a better pool when you hire externally. People who want to grow will see your company as one that will support their efforts.
Methods for Selecting Candidates
Narrowing down a list of 100 applications to your top 10 is challenging. There are so many ways to see who rises to the top. Your business should use a combination of candidate selection methods to give you a 360-degree view of your top talent.
Reading a resume is often the first step in any hiring process, as it gives you a complete picture of a candidate’s work history. It can be a time-consuming task, especially if you get hundreds of applicants for a particular role. However, you can glean many insights from a resume, such as the following.
- Organization skills: Generally, a resume should be no more than one or two pages. Most applicants know this and focus on conveying their information concisely. You can see how they organize their work experience and skills. Any applicant should send you a legible, well-organized document.
- Work experience: The main reason we look at resumes is to see relevant experience. Has the applicant had previous roles doing similar tasks? How long have they been in this role or industry?
- Attention to detail: Many recruiters will disqualify an applicant for a spelling or grammar error. Strong language and grammatical skills can reveal a candidate’s attention to detail. You’ll also be able to tell how much an applicant researched and tailored their resume for your position.
The sheer amount of resumes that come in have caused many recruiters to rely on applicant tracking software, or ATS. These programs filter resumes by relevant keywords. An ATS screening can cause problems, especially for a detailed job description. For a high volume of resumes, or for an HR specialist who deals with applications regularly, the system may be a necessity.
It can be challenging to understand a person’s skill set from a resume alone. When a candidate lists that they handled inventory in a previous position, it’s not a guarantee that they were successful. There’s also an issue of applicants lying on resumes. One in 10 employees has lied on a resume, and 85% of employers report catching an applicant in the act.
Most employers use interviews as a next step in the selection process. After narrowing an applicant pool to a set of suitable matches, the hiring manager meets each one. Some first screen candidates over the phone or via a video chat interview. You might save time by doing a one-way interview, where you send candidates questions, and they record their answers over video.
You can understand a lot about a candidate through interview questions, which make them a central part of the selection process. For one thing, you get a sense of personality. If you’re hiring for a sales position and the person displays confidence and strong social skills, you can preview their ability to speak to new customers. You can get a clearer picture of applicants’ experience and approach to problem-solving.
Like resume reviewing, the interview process can take time. You might call dozens of candidates for a 15- to 30-minute interview and then bring back top contenders for another round. They also create room for bias, where a smooth talker can outshine a more qualified candidate.
Skills and Personality Tests
As valuable as resume reviews and interview screenings can be, they still leave some blind spots. Employers often use a skills-based test to understand how a candidate will perform. They can be more revealing than resumes and interviews because they relate directly to the functions of the job you’re filling. You can see a candidate’s typing speed, their skills with Microsoft Office or get a clearer picture of their personality by test-based screening.
There are a wide variety of skills tests you can choose from, and they give you hard data to help you qualify applicants. When you have 50 resumes that all boast strong leadership skills, put their behavioral abilities to the test and find the best leaders.
Skills tests give you real evidence of a candidate’s knowledge and skills. You’ll ask candidates to perform a task, then see how accurately and quickly they completed it. For example, a spreadsheet skills test would present applicants with a simulation of the program and ask the candidate to perform a particular duty, such as find the sum of a column.
Best Hiring Practices
Following a few hiring tips for managers can help them find the best candidate for every position they need to fill. It’s best not to rush the hiring process, because taking a thorough look at applicants can help you ensure the best fit. Know that hiring doesn’t stop when the ink dries on the contract. Setting up a candidate for success is a huge indicator of a long-term relationship with a new hire. Also, reflecting on what works best for your hiring needs can help you hone the process for future job openings.
Take Your Time
No matter how you shake it, good hiring takes time. Sifting through resumes, shortlisting applicants and interviewing candidates are all time-intensive tasks. Yes, it’s undoubtedly a significant investment, and it’s one you want to make. Spending less time now is likely to add up to more time, energy and money down the road if you end up repeating the process six months later.
The average amount of time it takes to fill a position rests at around 36 days. For some businesses, the process can take a few months. Taking the time to ensure the right fit is something to celebrate. Be realistic and thorough.
It’s also critical to be smart about your time. Once you put out a job posting, treat the review process as a priority. A fantastic applicant can get hired elsewhere before you finish your review. If you know you want to bring someone in for an interview, contact them soon. Keep your contenders informed about your hiring timeline as much as possible. They will understand your need to take some time, and knowing when they can expect the next steps can keep you in the running as they continue their job searches.
Develop a Robust Onboarding Program
The best recruiting strategy is retention. Making a new employee feel prepared for the job at hand is essential to their success. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years after a great onboarding experience. Organizations that have a standard onboarding procedure see 50% more productivity from their new hires. A successful onboarding program is as essential to the hiring process as an interview.
Work with current and former employees in similar roles to develop an onboarding program that works for the position. Ask others what they wish they knew before starting, and the strategies they use to be most successful. Take care to make new hires feel welcomed and valued within the team. Like with any part of the hiring process, plan to adjust your strategy as you find what works best for your organization.
Measure Your Results
One prevalent problem in most company’s hiring practices is that they often don’t know what yields the best results. Between recruiting practices, selection processes and more, there are so many hiring strategies. Each has advantages that can lead to fantastic hires. If you’re looking to improve your process and tactics over time, though, it can be challenging to know what works without data.
One way to measure recruiting strategies is to include a question about how an applicant discovered your job posting. It’s best to add this question to the initial application, so you have data from every applicant. With this information, you can easily see where most people view your listing, and also where your top candidates find it.
More important is to measure the quality of hire. Keep track of your turnover rate as one indicator. Anonymous surveys from team members can contribute valuable data about the success of a new candidate. You may find adding a third round of interviews produces a better final candidate, or that a focus on skills testing leads to shorter training periods.
Sign up Now for Smart Testing Solutions
Hiring is complicated, and getting reliable data about your candidates can help you move forward with confidence. Total Testing offers a variety of employment testing solutions to find the people with the critical skills your business needs to thrive. Our behavioral aptitude tests can give you a well-rounded view of your applicants’ strengths and weaknesses, while our pre-employment testing gives you hard data on job seekers’ skill mastery.
Looking for a unique skill set? Try our custom test builder to find the talent with all the right capabilities. Need to cultivate your recruits into top performers? Our employee training benchmarking tests can help you identify the areas to focus on. If you’re ready to identify your top job candidates, sign up for Total Testing today!