Current market dynamics aren’t favorable to employers. The fact remains that skilled candidates are in high demand and short supply. But there’s also a chance you may be partly contributing to the recruiting challenges your firm is facing. Answering these three questions can help you determine if that’s the case.
1. Am I looking for a job candidate who doesn’t exist?
Don’t set the bar to unreasonable heights when laying out your candidate requirements. This is a key reason I see the hiring process drag on. Many employers ask for everything but the kitchen sink in the job posting — years of relevant experience, multiple professional certifications, knowledge of the industry, familiarity with several specialized software platforms, and maybe a degree from an Ivy League school to boot. Few, if any, candidates are likely to meet these prerequisites.
Ask yourself this: “Have I ever encountered a professional who has all the skills, experience and credentials I’m looking for?” If not, you’ll want to be more flexible with your hiring criteria.
Decide on four or five must-have skills or attributes that a professional needs in order to perform the job well. Use these qualities as the basis for your candidate evaluations. If you come across an applicant who fits that bill, and also has the right personality and interpersonal abilities to thrive at your firm, you’ll want to consider extending a job offer.
2. Am I making hiring a top priority?
Just thinking about the fact that you need to hire more people isn’t enough to actually staff your open positions. Of course you’re busy. Reviewing resumes and interviewing potential hires may seem impossible to squeeze into your already overpacked schedule. But you must make the time. There are no two ways around it. Hiring will simply not happen otherwise.
Delegating the task to HR isn’t the answer. As a business leader, you need to be actively involved in the hiring process because no one knows the position and requirements better than you do. An HR representative doesn’t understand the day-to-day workings of the role. Only you can read between the lines of the resume and accurately size up a candidate during the interview.
I suggest you reserve time on your calendar specifically for hiring activities — asking your network (and staff) for leads, creating a solid job description, meeting with specialized recruiters, reviewing resumes, interviewing, checking references, and more. I assure you, it will be time well spent. You will see your hiring process speed up as a result.
3. Am I leaning too hard on my staff?
You have great people on your team. Have you thought about what you would do without them — especially now, when you’re understaffed, and workloads aren’t easing up?
With that in mind, think about this: Is there a chance your team is doing such a good job at juggling right now that you don’t feel the pressure to accelerate your hiring process?
If you don’t provide them with some relief soon — by stepping up hiring and, perhaps, engaging temporary and project professionals to ease the burden while you search — you may not need to imagine what the office will be like without them. They’ll be gone.
The time to turbocharge your hiring process is now
Unemployment is low and has been for a while. I’m not an economist, but if the past is any indication, you can be sure of one thing: Skilled talent will always be in demand.
So it’s time to take hiring off the back burner and turn up the gas. If you invest the time and effort in the hiring process and hire right, you’ll reap benefits for your firm immediately and over the long run.
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Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half. He writes and speaks frequently on hiring, workplace and career management topics. Over the course of more than 30 years in the recruiting field, McDonald has advised thousands of company leaders and job seekers on how to hire and get hired.
McDonald joined Robert Half in 1984 as a recruiter for financial and accounting professionals in Boston, following a public accounting career with Price Waterhouse. In the 1990s, he became president of the Western United States overseeing all of the company’s operations in the region. McDonald become senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in 2000, and assumed his current role in 2012. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from St. Bonaventure University in New York.