Stop Hunting for Unicorns

The next time you’re driving around town, take a close look at all the businesses with “Now Hiring” and “Help Wanted” signs on display. The number of jobs available seems greater than the pool of candidates who can fill them.

For businesses that need staffing, the process today involves more than just weeding through stacks and stacks of resumes until you find someone with the exact qualifications you want. It’s more about setting realistic expectations for the current job market and making the available candidates work for you. Don’t hold your breath for the mythical “unicorn” candidate, because this perfect recruit does not exist.

The concept is not to lower your standards, but to combine recruitment and training.

Be Flexible

Be adaptable not just with your open job duties, but also with the candidates you will accept. For example, start with listing five requirements for a position. If a candidate has three of them, then you’re in good shape. Another employee in a different role can fill the other two needs. You may also consider outsourcing to an external provider or invest in internal training.

Identify the Attributes of Your Current Staff

When an employee vacates a position, re-evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your other team members, and reallocate workload accordingly. By doing so, you continue to grow your existing employee loyalty and their contribution to your organization. Define your open position based off the responsibilities that are left.

Consider Attitude, Not Just Skill

Skill sets can be taught. Attitudes are harder to shape. If your company culture embraces self-starters, then a person who has experience in various industries might be a good fit because that person is dynamic and moldable and learns quickly. Examples of the right traits could include being detail-oriented, working well under pressure, acting as an independent worker or being an out-of-the-box thinker.

If you can confirm that your candidate possesses those qualities, teaching that person how to operate your CRM system and other skills is doable. Confirming the culture fit with the company and the new hire’s direct co-workers is sometimes more important than the initial five requirements you listed. People like to work with people they like.

Stop Exclusively Posting Online

When companies rely solely on applicants applying to posted job positions on recruitment sites such as CareerBuilder, Monster and Craigslist, they are limiting themselves. Network in your industry’s circles to identify candidates prior to advertising open positions online. This will limit your competition for talent and allow you to be ahead of the curve as you find the candidates before they find you.

Balance Your Hiring Committee

You may not get a full picture of the candidate’s potential contributions if the hiring manager is the sole interviewer. With a second or even third interviewer in the room, the interpretation of answers varies to allow for an accurate assessment of aptitude. If an interviewer goes into an interview only wanting to hear one answer, you’ve already failed your company and sabotaged the candidate’s potential.

Read Between the Lines

Interviews are not just about the interview itself, but the interactions throughout. Were the candidates pleasant to the receptionist when they came in the door? Did they arrive early? Did they send thank-you notes as a follow-up? Did they ask for a timeline on the decision and then follow up according to that timeline? All of these are most likely better assessments of how candidates will be as an employee than stammering through an interview question.

Allow the Candidate to Ask Questions

Interviews should not be one-sided. Allowing candidates to ask their own questions enables you to assess if he or she researched the company or came prepared and invested in the opportunity. Candidates who come prepared demonstrate their commitment to be proactive and confirm the position is the right fit for them as well. Their questions indicate how seriously they treat certain topics and whether they would be fulfilled in the role and able to accomplish the job.

Perform Pre-Assessments

Administering a questionnaire to candidates before an in-person interview could surprise you and challenge any assumptions you may have formed from reviewing their resumes. For starters, some candidates may not even respond. If they do not take the time to complete the questionnaire, they’ve already proven the amount of effort they would put into your position. On the other hand, if they put in more than what you requested, you know they will deliver similar results in their actual job.

Recruitment is difficult. Companies need workers to facilitate growth and to provide products and services. So, finding the right fit is mandatory. Defining the right fit is where most companies falter because they are under the false impression that unicorns exist. They don’t. Get comfortable with broadening your “wish list” and identifying successful employees through a variety of means rather than simply checking boxes.