If you're an executive or a business owner – or both – you really need to read this article about hiring employees. Seriously. The hiring process may be the most missed area of public relations that you and your organization deals with on a daily basis. It's about hiring employees as a public relations opportunity.
When it comes to the whole hiring process – collecting applications and resumes, interviewing qualified candidates, and then making the final decision to hire a qualified candidate – most organizations figure that this is a process that they get to dictate the terms. What doesn't come to mind are the consequences. And, yes, there are consequences.
Most of the time, you are looking to hiring employees with experience and connections in your industry or field. Your ideal candidate is a professional who has worked in your field, knows others well and is well-respected, and will improve your organization. With a good search process, you're probably going to get more than one of these qualified candidates.
What doesn't usually come to mind, however, is that you're eventually going to turn down all of these candidates, except for one. And all of these candidates know people and they probably know some, if not many, of your customers. How you treat these candidates is going to have an effect on your reputation and market presence.
Let me give you some recommendations that will help your reputation and respect in the marketplace, and, quite possibly, the chance that you can make more sales and hire the best candidates.
Recommendation #1 – keep your candidates informed on the process by being timely and tactful.
After working in the recruiting field, as well as speaking with a lot of highly qualified professionals and executives, I am amazed how many organizations are chronically late in responding to candidates in the process of hiring employees. There are way too many organizations who fail to communicate with candidates for 2-6 weeks. It's even worse when they give a self-imposed deadline to the candidate to make a decision. I'm not talking about not making a decision. I'm talking about not communicating at all, even if there has been no decision. That's not just rude – that's simply mean, disrespectful and absolutely unacceptable.
As an organization, you need to maintain the same expectations on yourself as you put on your employees. If you hired someone and they simply didn't show up or contact you for six weeks after you told that person to start work, you would feel totally justified to let them go. So why is it acceptable for an organization to be a “no-show” for a number of weeks? Frankly, I don't see any good reason whatsoever.
Recommendation #2 – don't depend fully on that fancy application process or software to be able to sort through all the resumes to automatically present you the best ones.
Do yourself a favor and broaden your search results report when hiring employees. Look past the top ten candidates you listed and see if there are some other candidates in there that may be even more qualified or attractive. You have to remember that the search is only as good as the software and the data. You will most likely have at least one candidate whose resume didn't trigger all of your key words, but has all of the skills, experience and expertise you want.
I have heard HR people say that they don't have time to look further into the list of candidates. The reason is because they don't have the time. Wow. My response to that comment is this: if you choose to do that, you should start looking for a job yourself, because you shouldn't have one in that role.
By being shortsighted, you are putting the future of your job and the future of your organization on the line. It's dangerous when we are only looking at candidates who know how to work through a search engine. Sure, some candidates are very qualified, but many of them know how to work through the system and get on the top of the list. They can play the process just like being on the top of a Google search. And many of them aren't qualified. In fact, many of the best candidates aren't going to apply for your job . . . but that's another blog post for another time.
Recommendation #3 – remember that you are selling your organization to those candidates you interview.
Just as much as the candidates are selling themselves, you are selling your organization when hiring employees, too. When you consider how much time you will be expecting the final candidate to spend with your organization, you want them to think that working for you is going to be a highly rewarding and fulfilling experience. You want for them to increase their respect for everything you do and what you represent. So, in a unique way, you are selling to them just as much as you would sell to a highly regarded target customer.
It's not about trying to fool candidates into thinking that your company is something that it isn't. What you should be presenting is a company that is committed to success as an organization. More importantly, it's important to be committed to treating its employees well. You never want to talk badly about your competitors. Also, talking badly about your current or former employees, or even candidates is a destination for trouble. You never know who they know or what their motivating factors might be for interviewing at your company. Regardless, you want to earn their respect and give them a positive impression throughout the process.
Recommendation #4 – carefully manage the final decision process.
This part of the process is extremely critical, but not always for the same reasons we normally think. When a candidate is in the “final group,” sometimes we forget he or she is starting to think about the real possibility of working for your organization. They usually are talking to family and friends and they may even start making some contingency plans if it works out. Hopes are raised and expectations start to develop. The reality is that you will be making more “I'm sorry” phone calls than “We want you!” calls. How you handle that call – and, yes, it needs to be a phone call and not an email – when it's not a “we want you!” decision needs to be handled carefully. (Re-read “Recommendation #1 one more time about being timely and tactful.).
Whatever you do, think of the consequences when making the tough phone calls to the candidates who haven't selected. Thank them for their interest. Thank them for considering your organization as being a place they would like to work. Be direct and gentle when you tell them the news. But don't tell them things that have no truth or will not happen. Please do not tell them that you'll consider them in the future when you have no intention of doing so. Don't ask them to help you if there is no benefit for them to do it. Do not brag on them and try to pump them up with false praise to make them feel better. Do try to leave things on a positive note so that they do feel comfortable talking to you in the future.
Some Last Thoughts . . .
These recommendations for hiring employees may seem like common sense. They should be common sense. But you may be shocked to find out that these common sense points are just being ignored all over the place. Hiring people is an expensive process, and it could be done much better. This process is based on establishing and building trust. And in a competitive environment, you just don't have time to have to deal with bad relationships.
It's all about trust. Respect. Community. Always make it a part of your organization's culture to place a high value on those who work for you. Be committed for those who want to work for you, too. And one last recommendation – spend some time with your team to craft and strategize. Think about how you will manage your hiring process to enhance your public visibility and presence.
I've written some other related articles and stories which connect to these recommendations. Even if you are already implementing the right strategies, you'll appreciate the humor and drama connected to the stories when things didn't go the way they should.
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