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Healing Employment – Sifting & Suiting for Effective Applicant SELECTION

Installment three in an eight-part series, “Employment is Broken” by Kim Shepherd, CEO, and Jeff Bloch, CMO, Decision Toolbox

Part one of our series set the stage for the contention that the world of employment is woefully broken, and at each of its 7 Stages of Engagement:  attraction, selection, interviewing, hiring, on-boarding, retention and development.  In part two, we discussed problems and solutions at the first critical stage of ATTRACTION.  In this part three of our series, we’ll examine the second stage of engagement – SELECTION.  Once you’ve successfully attracted a viable pool of job applicants, how do you effectively determine on which prospects to spend your valuable time?

How Selection is Broken

Without a plan, recruitment can be a real time-sucker.  The process of selection is particularly hazardous, especially in our current economy.  We have a “Perfect Storm” scenario – a candidate rich environment, a talent drought, available jobs, and high unemployment – creating hiring quicksand all around us and it’s hard to determine where the real talent is hiding.  The job market is full of overqualified applicants willing to take any job with a paycheck – for the time being.  It can be tempting to hire on an overqualified candidate at a great price for all they bring to the table, but once the job market shifts, they will be gone.  Remember, you can’t buy up the food chain for long.

Another pitfall is to assume unemployed applicants are not A-players.  You may think the unemployed are not worthy of your time.  Think again.  In late 2009, many companies slashed 10-20% of their workforce, and those cuts were made to their higher salaried positions – their A-players.  This top talent is all around us now – they may have struck out on their own to perform consulting work, gone back to school, taken a lesser paying job (as per above), or are engaged in other non-traditional means of employment until the economic smoke clears.

So, how does one avoid being sucked into the confusing selection vortex?  How do we determine who to spend our time on?  By hatching a plan, a well thought out selection process that includes both sifting and suiting.  Here’s how…

Plan your Work and Work your Plan

Once you have screened your resumes and developed a first batch of potential candidates, shoot them each an email.  For this initial email, come up with eight strong questions around the skill-set that you desire.  For example, if you’re looking for an experienced Sales Manager, you may ask questions like:

  • “In the last five years, what role has building a sales team played in your job?”
  • “ What size teams have you managed in the past?”
  • “Provide a brief example of a time when you have turned a “B” player into an “A” player?”

Next, develop three strong questions around the soft skills that you’re seeking, such as:

  • “What aspects of this position do you find attractive?”
  • “Which of your personality characteristics do you feel would be most beneficial to this role?”

If an applicant is unemployed, ask about the circumstances of their unemployment.

Based on the answers you receive, narrow down your pool and set up phone “meet and greet” conversations with those in which you are most interested.  In this stage, be ready with four key logistics questions to discuss – these may be related to the job location, salary, cultural fit, career pathing, etc.  At the same time, be prepared to assume the role of Suitor, positioning yourself as the employer of choice to those A-players on the other end of the phone.  Most importantly, you recognize that everyone’s time is important, and ensure nobody’s time is wasted.

The final stage in selection is to decide who, based on your phone screening process, you should bring in for an in-person interview.  If you have done a thorough and consistent job in the initial layers of screening, you will probably have a small pool of well-qualified candidates to meet – and not too many surprises.  Call these candidates personally.  Tell them you would like to meet them, and to be prepared to interview YOU as well.  At this point, they will either opt in or out of the interview, and you’re in the home stretch!

Look out for the next installment in our series, number four, where we’ll dissect and reassemble the next stage of broken stage of employment and engagement – INTERVIEWING.

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