Goldilocks Recruiting: Finding “Just Right” Candidates

family guyI’m convinced Goldilocks and the three bears was written by a recruiter, or at least someone who was hiring. Perhaps it was the metaphor the early recruiters used in early pitch meetings to explain their magic formula. “From porridge, to chairs to beds, Goldilocks is just looking for the ‘perfect’ one and we can find it,” they’d say.

If you’ve been doing this long enough, you probably agree when I say that whole idea of “perfect” is still a bit crazy to me. I mean, “perfect” isn’t a real thing in the world of people, persuasions and preferences. But none the less, hiring managers became convinced that Goldilocks recruiting exists and that perfect was always available, accessible and interested in taking a new job.

Take this all too familiar scenario. You think you’ve found that perfect candidate for a position. She’s got a well-rounded skillset and her personality is a great match for the team. You extend an offer only to find out she’s been offered a job with another employer — and she’s accepting it. Once you’ve chosen a candidate, having them pick a competitor is always a letdown (especially given the time, effort, and money your team put into recruiting for retention). 

Here’s the harsh reality: If a candidate is the right fit for your team, chances are they are also a desirable match for another company. Unlike the fairytale world, you can’t be comforted by another bowl of porridge or happily ever after. As a recruiter, I had to quickly evaluate where I was losing people and why. While yes, there’s a story for everything – the bottom line is that the responsibility was on me to make them choose us. 

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve talked to a ton of recruiters who are self-reflecting because of a “rut.” If you’re having trouble finding high quality candidates, or you attract plenty of them but can’t seem to reel them in, it’s time to take a hard look at the way you’re recruiting and treating talent. I did, and here’s what I figured out. 

The Interview: Not Too Cold

goldilocks recruitingCandidates understand that applying and interviewing for a position can be a lengthy process — to a point. While having a panel interview, written test, and one-on-one interview are entirely reasonable if they specifically test skills related to the job, what isn’t reasonable is spreading these out over the course of several months. As a recruiter, we have to remember that a candidate’s time is valuable too. People do not have the time (or patience) to wait out an entire bureaucratic hiring process or they may be snatched by a competitor in the meantime.

It is often in both an employee’s and an employer’s best interest to move a hiring process along as quickly as possible — though, not too quickly. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the job where the hiring process wraps up within the week (you know what I’m talking about; we’ve all experienced it). While it might sound dreamy for those of you suffering from bureaucratic stalls now, this doesn’t give employers time to fully assess the qualities of a candidate, nor does it give the interviewee any time to reflect on your company and the opportunity.

Don’t eliminate the recruitment process all together just because it may be faster and less expensive. Panicked, rushed recruiting won’t result in a great hire. The most important change you can make is simply adding transparency into the mix. Start sharing the steps of the interview process in the job ad and keep reiterating next steps when you connect with the candidate. This will alleviate anxiousness and allow the best ones to get excited for the journey ahead.

Sourcing: Not Too Hot

goldilocks recruitingFrom LinkedIn to sponsored Facebook ads, there are more methods recruiters are using to try to catch the eye of top talent than I can list. Sometimes they work, and other times they don’t. It’s these “other times” that should stand out as a red flag to you. As a recruiter, part of your job is to figure out where to allot the company’s time and money — and your resources are certainly not best spent reaching out to an uninterested audience.

Before running any recruitment campaign, sit down with your team and think: who will this position appeal to? What kind of people are we looking to hire? What level of their career are they at? Some people like to call these talent personas. Whatever you call them, by the end of your team meeting, you should have a target audience for your position: the level of education they have, their age, where they go to find job opportunities, and the workplace benefits that may appeal to them. Using this new wealth of knowledge, target your job ad. Determining your target audience can also inform which networking events and conferences you attend to scope out talent. This isn’t to say the assumptions you make about your candidate group are always correct, but it’s safe to say most applicants will follow specific demographic trends.

It’s not only important to think before you leap into a pool of candidates — but also after you leap. It’s just as crucial to analyze your efforts after a recruitment campaign has ended and the position has been filled. You don’t do a test on anything without assessing the results to find out what worked and didn’t work. So, why would you run your hiring process without a similar system of evaluation? Most online job sites will show analytics of how many candidates viewed and applied for a position through that platform. This data is here to help. If a number is particularly low, reconsider sharing job ads through that platform, especially if you have to pay to post.

Evaluation doesn’t just apply to job ads. You can get the most valuable and direct feedback from new hires by asking them to fill out an anonymous survey (if your survey pool is large enough) to ask them about the recruitment process, and what convinced them to join your company. Request constructive criticism about the recruitment process. 

Just Right: The Human Touch

recruiting goldilocksIf you’ve been recruiting for large companies or clients, you’re probably familiar with the bot strategy. Bots crawl through cover letters and resumes in order to pull applications that fit a pre-specified list of characteristics and experiences. While these bots certainly save time, you risk missing out on candidates who may be a good fit for reasons outside your list of bot bait. Take two of the most brilliant minds in the world of computing, for example: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Now imagine them going up against a resume bot that was set to weed out anyone without a university degree. Both Gates and Jobs would have been eliminated from the application process. 

If there’s the time and capacity, it’s better to have a human do an initial first screening of all applications. Try doing this on an ongoing basis as applications are submitted, rather than reviewing them all in bulk at the end. This helps break down the task and prevent resume aging and outdating.

These elements aren’t complicated, and can be used by recruiters working for clients big and small. As a recruiter, it’s your job to advocate for changes to the process, in order to get the best talent through the door. Take a good look at your current recruiting tactics, and be honest with yourself: are you doing the right things to make top talent want to come on board, or are you accidentally alienating good candidates? If you see any of these mistakes in your process, take steps to make changes — to reach out to the right audiences, engage current employees in the search, and make candidates feel respected.

About The Author:

michelle stedmanMichelle Stedman, Vice President of Operations and Talent Management Strategist, joined the BirdDogHR team in 2012 and leads the Professional Services and Customer Care teams. Michelle’s multifaceted background in corporate recruiting and agency staffing gives her a unique perspective into developing professional services that help BirdDogHR customers achieve talent management success. A published author and frequent presenter, Michelle speaks to AGC of America and SHRM audiences across the country.

 

Michelle Stedman


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