14 Tips for Successful Recruitment

14 Tips for Successful Recruitment

Recruitment is probably the most important thing we do as Business Owners. Get it right, happy days. Wrong, and it can turn into a costly nightmare. Here are a few techniques I’ve picked up over the last 30 years that may increase the odds of attracting and selecting a great team member.

1   Always Be Recruiting.

When we’re maxed out is the worst time to recruit. We’re too busy to do it properly, we’re stressed, we’re desperate, there seems to be “no good people out there” and we can end up compromising. Always be on the look out for good people. Keep roles posted on your ‘careers’ page and job boards. Meet them, assess them and keep a list of people you can call as business starts to expand or someone leaves.

2   Don’t rely on CVs and Interviews.

Everyone should be able to produce an impressive looking CV. And people can learn good answers to standard interview questions.

3   Right Attitude.

There are great people out there. They may be harder to find but they’re definitely there. Remember that you, your team, your business and your advert act as magnets. If we’re attracting the wrong people then we need to look in the mirror. We need to work at attracting the right people and repelling the people who won’t fit.

4   Build the business around your people.

It’s easier to modify a job around a person than modify a person around a job. Taking that principle further, taking on a great person adds valuable capacity that you can then go and fill. You need good business development processes and the confidence that the additional business is out there when you put in the effort. Often we quickly get past the break-even point of an extra person. (It’s essential to ‘know our numbers’)

5   Focus on the right attitudes and alignment with your values.

Attitude is more important than aptitude. Skills can be taught. Attitude, character and values are usually pretty fixed. We may want certain skills but its more important that our candidates values resonate with ours and that they have the right attitudes (reliability, work-ethic, willingness to learn, admitting mistakes, taking initiative, etc.)

6   Involve your team and associates in your recruitment drive.

Let your team know that you’re always looking for good people to join the business. Explain that you expect them to look out for good people. Put it in their Role Expectations (job description)! It also gives you the opportunity to talk about values and attitudes and what a great team member looks like. Hopefully no raised eyebrows from our team!

7   Ask people to write and tell you what attracts them to your business, what attracts them to the role and why they’ll excel in that role.

This will take some effort so it’ll immediately rule out the people who aren’t that bothered. It’ll also determine who can follow instructions – some people still just send in a CV! You’ll see how well they write. You’ll get a flavour for how suitable and passionate they are.

8   Initially carry out 5-minute phone interviews.

You’ll probably know at the end of 2 minutes whether or not you want to meet the person. If you’d met them face-to-face you’d probably also know at the end of 2 minutes – but then carry on and give them a full hour! Your time is precious.

9   Create a selection process that mirrors what the job will entail on a daily basis.

This may require ingenuity and effort but it’s worth it. Set up exercises that are as real as possible to see it they really can do what they say they can do. Make any exercise gradually harder and give them more than can be done in the time available. This will allow the great candidates to shine. If someone has to use the phone as part of their job, get them on the phone. If they have to run meetings, get them running meetings. If they have to sort through an in-tray get them sorting through an in-tray.

10   Involve your team in the process, particularly the people who’ll be working closely with our new recruit.

In the past how often have you been introduced to a new recruit and you’ve thought, “They’re not going to last”! Your team will have a good idea if someone is going to fit in. Involving them in the process also boosts how they feel about their role and contribution to the business. Invariably they’ll pick the same person as you. Without declaring your hand, you can go with ‘their decision’. You’ll then find that they work that much harder at integrating the new person and making it work because it was ‘their decision’. (As a team you have discuss before hand what specifically your looking for so everyone can be as objective as possible.)

11   Meet your short listed candidates at the same time.

This is efficient for you and your team and introduces a degree of competition. Don’t tell them they’ll all be there at the same time. As well as circulating around the different exercises we’ve set up let’s get them doing a short presentation with very little notice. Yes, its pressured but we want to see who’ll overcome their fears because their excitement about joining the business is greater.

12   “Tell me about a time when…” is a great opener for discovering relevant experiences.

When you do interview your short listed candidates you want them to talk about their relevant experiences. There’s no right or wrong. We’re listening out for recent, top-of-mind responses. “Tell me about a time when you worked under pressure.” “Urgh, urgh. Well, let me think…oh yes, last year….”. “Last week 2 important client projects coincided….”

13   Make sure they have the right tools to do an excellent job before their first day (desk, pc, log on details, business cards, stationary, etc.)

It’s a basic that all people need the right tools to do a great job. It’s particularly encouraging for a new recruit to come in and to have everything sorted for them to get stuck straight in. The most important thing they need is ‘clear expectations’. What does a good job look like? What results or outcomes are you paying them to deliver?

14   Use professionals.

In addition to always being on the look out good people, there are times when recruiters represent a great investment in short-circuiting the process and putting good candidates in front of us at short notice. Find a good recruiter and stick with them. They learn what sorts of people fit in with your business and will understand what your business aspirations and plans are. They too will always be on the look out for good people. Good ones will also share advice even if there isn’t an assignment in it for them. I’ve found Jonathan Dobkin at Connections Recruitment is always willing to help – a great 2nd generation family business.


Mark Dyble

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