How the Best Candidates Want to be Hired

In a recent post, I made the contention that too many companies design their hiring processes around the needs of active candidates who have the skills and experiences listed on the job description. Since fewer than one in 150 candidates who apply actually have these skills, this seems like a lot of work for hoping a qualified person applies.

I suggest a totally different approach. One that is actually much more efficient AND will raise quality of hire. Simply stated,

…hire the best people the way the best people actually get hired.

This starts with a simple idea: Just benchmark how the best people in your company actually found out about the job, got interviewed and why they accepted your job over others they were considering. This simple benchmarking exercise is all that’s necessary to redesign your entire prospect and candidate experience.

Based on having done this over one thousand times with small and mid-sized businesses for all types of jobs, here’s what I think you’ll discover what you need to do:

1. Ban job descriptions

The traditional job description was not a part of their decision to consider the opportunity. Not one person – not one – thought the idea of having the exact skill set and doing the exact same work in the exact same industry was an appealing proposition.

2. Duct tape the apply button

Being able to apply while driving or even efficiently was not part of their decision to consider the opportunity. Most found out about the job through someone they knew at the company, were proactively contacted by an internal or external recruiter, were hired by a former boss or were promoted internally.

3. Convert your employer brand into a customized job brand

Other than well-known and well-funded start-ups, having a big employer brand was only important for those just starting out in their careers or for those looking for more security. In all other cases, the job itself was the primary driver for all high performing senior staff, managers and senior executives. Tying this to an important project or mission is called job branding and it’s critical to capture this in all your message to create instant interest.

4. Slow down

Getting an offer quickly was totally unimportant. The only people who thought this was a positive were those who were out of work or were desperate at the time they were looking.

5. Go long

The best people gave careful consideration (hours spread over weeks) to both the short and long-term opportunity inherent in the new job. This mapped directly to their core strengths; companies and industries they believe provide the best upside opportunity; the leadership qualities of the hiring manager; the quality of the people they’d be working with and how the job directly related to the mission and values of the company.

6. Make the job bigger, not the compensation package

The compensation package was not unimportant, but it was not number one on the list when the decision to accept an offer was made. Neither was location or title. All of the short- (comp, location, title) and long-term factors (the job, the team, the manager and the career opportunity) involved were considered in balance with the job itself and the career opportunity (most important). Those who emphasized the short-term over the long-term or who were vague about the long-term underperformed quickly if the job didn’t meet expectations.

The best way to start designing your new hiring process is to just ask the best people you’ve hired how they found your job and why they accepted your offer. Then ask the best people whom you didn’t hire why they opted-out to soon or rejected your offer. You’ll likely discover your new recruiting process rests on the idea of attracting people in rather them weeding them out and treating them as equals throughout the process.