An often repeated quote is “if I had 8 hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend 6 of it sharpening my axe.” (Side note: while I always attributed this quote to Abraham Lincoln, there is research suggesting he never said it.)
The point being if you truly want to be successful hiring someone into your company you have to put in the work before you ever post the job on the internet. It all starts with a thorough understanding of what needs done, how the work will contribute to the organization as a whole and what capabilities the best candidate needs to have (note I said capabilities not experience, more on this later).
A detailed job description is the best place to start and candidly where many organizations fall short. A typical job description reads like a grocery list of skills that a candidate needs and many times it’s a “wish” list which no one single candidate could possibly possess. The thinking is the more things they can check off the list, the better suited the candidate is. The real truth is that nearly half of all new hires “fail” in the first 18 months and of those the majority were due to poor cultural fit versus skills.
Instead of following the crowd, take the time to really analyze the position from various viewpoints. Who has been successful in this role already and why? How much direction/management time am I able to devote to a new employee? What are the 30, 60, 90 day objectives I expect this person to achieve? Who are the team members they need to rely on to be successful and what type of individual do they work best with? Is industry experience critical, why or why not? What do we do, have or experience here that is unique compared to other companies? Why do our current employees work here? What does the “complete package” have from a skills, personality, aptitude and attitude perspective to really shine here? What growth opportunities can we offer a new person? Why is this role vital to the organization? Lastly and absolutely tantamount to success, can I conduct a thorough in depth interview with well thought out questions that go well beyond gut feel to determine who the best candidate is for our company? While this list of questions isn’t exhaustive I hope it helps you think in a different way about your job and the information you have to include to attract the right candidates for your organization.
As I mentioned, I can’t stress enough that you focus on someone’s capabilities and not just their experience. It is estimated 40-50% resumes contain false information, so you might not have an accurate picture of what they’ve actually done. In my experience I’ve seen many companies post job descriptions that their current employees who are successfully doing the job would never qualify for based on the required skills. Also, does the experience the applicant gained somewhere else really translate into the way it’s done at your company? You have to keep all this in mind as you search for the ideal candidate versus finding a potential star if given a chance.
If you do the prep work and craft a job description that’s accurate, reflects the position as a whole, the company and the culture while painting a picture of the type of person that’s successful in your organization, you will standout from the crowd and be so much more successful attracting great people.
Go “sharpen that axe!”
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