Finding and Attracting the Best Job Candidates for Your Team

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Dear CFO,
Our department is hiring. I’ve been asked to write an ad and assist HR as they narrow down the resumes. How do I write an ad that will get noticed? Attracting the best job candidates and finding the right fit for the role is critical to our small team. Help me write an employee ad that sells!
Hiring in Harrisburg, PA

So, your company is in a position to hire? That’s terrific! Business growth is all about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. You’ll want to attract team players who fit with your company culture, bring fresh ideas, and help shoulder the work.

Easier said than done, right? Strategic hiring begins by attracting the best job candidates, and attracting the best candidates starts with a great ad.

Odds are you know how to sell your company to a prospective client pretty darn well. When it comes to attracting the best job candidates, you may not use the same words or even the same tone. However, you still want to achieve the same objective: You want to sell the prospect on the idea of your company before they experience the product or service for themselves.

How to Sell Your Company to Potential New Hires

When a team member leaves or employment is terminated, the owner (or manager) has a choice. Should the newly open position be replaced, or do you need to redefine the role? If your company is starting to grow, you may also be in the position to hire, as is your case.

When you’re ready to hire, you’ll want to know where to source high-quality candidates to build your pool of potential employees.

Before you find your dream candidate, you need to know how to seek them out. Step number one is to write an employee advertisement that sells the candidate on your company before they ever step foot in your office.

How do you expect to sell your company and the job opening to your prospective employee? From my extensive hiring experience, the old fashioned process of “post the job description along with the minimum qualifications and hope for the best” doesn’t draw the best and brightest. So, how DO you go about attracting the best job candidates?

In the book You’re Not The Person I Hired!, the three hiring-expert authors suggest a creative plan:

  • Envision the ad as a sales tool. How will you appeal to the candidate you seek?
  • Consider the job posting a marketing effort from your company to the potential candidate; with that in mind, direct the ad to your target audience.
  • Use words to entice and interest. (How about the personal ads in Jimmy Buffett’s If You Like Pina Coladas?) Get creative!

Comparing Employee Advertisements: Old vs. New

How do you go about hiring the best job candidates?
via Pxhere

When writing your employee ad, keep in mind that filling a technical position may look different than filling a sales position. Here are two example ads, before and after considering the opportunity to market both the company and the sales position.

What’s the difference between these two headings?

  • Account Executive
  • Are you looking for a rewarding sales position with a great company?

Which headline draws your attention? Which company sounds more exciting to work for?

Now check out the full ads…

Both of the descriptions below give a real sense of what the job entails, but which would entice you more? Which position would you rather explore?

Original Version:

The Account Executive reports to the Vice President and is primarily responsible for the maintenance and growth of existing business and the development of new business. The selected candidate has demonstrated the ability to effectively call on low- to high-level decision-makers, identify potential opportunities, and secure business in a timely fashion. Additionally, candidates will possess the following:

A sound understanding of features and benefits along with basic sales practices and procedures used to generate and secure new contract business.

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are essential for both personal and team success.

  • Must be a team-oriented person motivated by money and success.
  • Strong customer support skills.
  • Solid sales experience with a proven track record of success.
  • Strong business development and closing skills.

REVISED Version:

The right person for this Sales Opportunity will desire income growth and career advancement potential in a dynamic organization. The ideal candidate will want to capitalize on existing customers and business partner relationships and will readily achieve their personal and financial goals.

If you:

  • View yourself as a Sales Professional, and not just a ‘salesperson,’
  • Want unlimited earning potential,
  • Take ownership of customer satisfaction,
  • Know how to question the customer into “Yes, I’ll buy,”
  • Want to be part of a fun and flexible work environment, and
  • Can mine a significant existing book of business…

…Then YOU are the person we’re seeking! In this position, you will have direct access to the President and report to the Vice President of Sales and Distribution while managing a local territory. This opportunity is not about putting in the time; it’s about achieving goals.

You can see the difference between the two ads. One offers the details and one “sells” the idea of the position. Creating an interest in your business and position requires creativity. Not all roles are “sexy” or easy-to-sell on the surface.

Think of the differentiators that set your office apart, such as a team environment, flexible scheduling, or dedication to your customers. What’s your unique selling point and how will YOU attract the ideal job candidate?

Where to Find the Perfect Employee

The concept of a “perfect employee” is an oxymoron when you think about it. Why? Because we’re all human! Perfection is impossible. What your team needs is a new hire who’s a good fit for your unique situation; this requires a careful approach.

Let’s be honest. There are many ways to fill a position. You may have heard “hire slow, fire fast” or “hire for attitude, teach skills.”

When it comes to hiring a new employee, everyone seems to offer different advice. But it isn’t about waiting for perfection to stride through the door. It’s more about grabbing the attention of as many qualified candidates as possible (by writing an appealing ad) and then choosing wisely from a high-quality pool.

Now that you’ve written your ad, you may be wondering, “Where’s the pool?”

Post your dynamic, eye-catching ad in the spots most relevant to your industry. School and college job boards, as well as alumni networks, are fantastic for finding entry-level recruits. Higher-level searches may require the assistance of an executive search firm or recruitment agency.

Keep in mind, most employment agencies charge a significant fee for their services. That said, they offer valuable insight, vetting, and screening assistance as well as access to a vast network of potential recruits. This reach makes an agency a fitting choice for multiple hires or specialized industries.

Consider where you’ve hired employees before. Where did your top talent come from? Don’t underestimate your network, either. LinkedIn and other professional connections may put you in touch with excellent referrals.

Online job boards are also an option to consider. Post job ads on websites directed toward specific geographies, technical expertise, or niche groups. Most online job boards charge a fee, but it’s worth the investment to find the best job candidates.

Narrowing Down the Pool

To effectively narrow your high-quality candidate pool, start by reviewing each candidate’s resume
via Pxhere

You’ve written an ad that SELLS your company to prospective employees. You’ve identified superb candidates by networking and looking in the right places. Now you’re wondering, “what’s the best approach to narrowing down the worthy candidate pool?”

In my own experience (over 30 years in management in multiple industries), narrowing the field and finding the best possible candidate fit for an open position is a challenge. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Inevitably, some candidates look great on paper, but may completely blow their interviews. On the other hand, there are those whose resumes don’t look so hot, but they’ll really wow the interviewer in person. Occasionally you get a candidate with a good resume and an excellent interview performance, but when you hire them –  End of story! You’ll find yourself wondering what the heck you were thinking as you’re whipping up the termination paperwork.

What a waste of time and energy! I bet you’re wondering how you could avoid hiring mistakes.

I wish I could give you a magic hiring key, but on a serious note, there’s no foolproof method for finding the right person. HOWEVER, there are a few ways to lessen your chances of hiring the WRONG person and making a costly mistake.

The Key to Vetting a Resume

To effectively narrow your high-quality candidate pool, start by reviewing each candidate’s resume.

  • Does the resume make sense?
  • Do the timelines align?
  • Are there explanations for gaps in employment?
  • Does their experience match the requirements of the position?
  • Is the layout clean, and free of careless errors?
  • Are there easy-to-avoid grammatical mistakes?
  • Have you checked their social media profiles?

Most businesses—especially small businesses—look for people who figure problems out on their own, put two and two together, or stretch to complete the job. If a candidate doesn’t provide a top-notch resume, you may not want to talk to them. Take the hint: The type of person who hands in a shoddy resume is likely the type of person to hand in shoddy work. If a candidate can’t locate a sample resume online and ask a friend to proofread, how good of a job do you think they’ll do once hired?

Once you’ve narrowed the candidate pool down to 3 or 4 candidates, it’s time to start the interviewing process. You’ve carefully written the ad and taken the time to review the resumes. Rest assured you’ve carried out your due diligence to hire the best job candidates possible.

Best of luck as you prepare to on-board the new team member in your department!


Featured image and post image licensed for use via Pxhere.

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