You need talent. And you need commitment. But above all, as you launch your candidate search for a critical open position, you need a clear and reliable match between the needs of the position and the candidate’s personality, abilities, and plans. Far too often, staffing managers focus exclusively on job specific skills, or ineffable personality traits (what exactly is a “hard worker”?), and as they pursue this area of single-minded focus, they target candidates who just won’t stay with the company, no matter how talented they may be.
To avoid this problem, open a wide and honest communication channel between the company and the candidate. Don’t be blinded by his or her programming or leadership abilities; keep personality and plans in the picture, no matter how tempting it may be to push them aside. Consider the guidelines below.
Just because they can doesn’t mean they will.
You need a candidate who speaks five specific languages, and lo and behold, you found your needle in the haystack and a brilliant linguist is sitting across from you at the interview table. Your first instinct may be to spin the nature of the job in a way that she might find appealing. You may feel the urge to blur the truth, hide the gritty daily realities, or make her role seem more prestigious than it is. Ignore this temptation. Why? Because if you bring her aboard on misleading pretenses, they’ll leave within a year and you’ll be restarting the search from square one — at great cost and expense. If their core skill set is rare, it’s even more important to stay honest and open from the first interaction to the last.
Signal honesty at every turn.
It’s great if you ARE honest and your statements are all perfectly above board and accurate. But you also need to SEEM honest from the start. Candidate interactions can be brief and fleeting, and just as you may make decisions based on quick impressions, your candidates are doing the same. An unreturned phone call, a long awkward pause before answering a question, or even a fleeting hint of rudeness during the session can send an oversized message.
Deal in good faith.
Of course, your offer and the salary you present will be based on your own needs and your own budget, not the candidate’s. You hope to gain maximum returns on your investment, and you’re paying the employee for their productivity, not for their dismal commute or their steep student loan payments. But at the same time, you’ll be more likely to attract and retain top candidates if you factor these things into the equation and treat the candidate like a human being with needs and requirements of her own. Listen closely to discern what they’re looking for (Flexible hours? A strong mentor?) and do what you can to offer these things. Seek common ground during the negation process; don’t just focus on your own interests.
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