7 Tactics to Revitalize Your Hiring Strategy

June 9, 2015

Today’s recruiters are stretched thin. “Companies rely too heavily on their internal recruiters and consequently they’re overloaded and maxed out,”says Roberta Matuson, a corporate consultant who helps companies like General Motors and Best Buy. She also penned the book, “Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best.

Matuson believes it’s up to the leadership of the organization to make strategy shifts that make things easier for internal recruiters. Here are a few ideas she says companies can implement to help them attract top talent:

1. Remove bottlenecks to hiring.

One of the first things Matuson does when consulting is remove whatever bottlenecks exist in an organization’s hiring process. Some of the biggest culprits, she says, are ridiculous procedures like “in order for person X to be hired, they have to first be interviewed by Mary, who is on her two-month trip through Africa, even though the candidate won’t report to Mary.”

Another bottleneck is having candidates fill out too much paper work up front, before you’ve even determined that they have the necessary skillset. Why not wait until you have a better sense of the person’s fit, before you get every detailed piece of their work history and references in writing? Once you decide you are going to move further on a candidate, then you can have them complete part B of the application.

2. Invest in leadership rather than playgrounds.

Matuson feels that the current trend in creating campus recreational playgrounds for workers should not take precedence over investing in great leaders. “Great leaders are why people come to organizations and why they stay,” she says. It’s really fun to slide down a slide at work a few times, but it’s not so fun when you realize that you’re never going to get promoted.

She also believes that the current trend in creating open spaces for employees to collaborate and work together can get tired. “After a while,” she says, “many employees want to have privacy and peace and quiet.”

Instead of spending money on trying to create a “fun” space, companies should be spending money on mentor programs that train and prepare great leaders. GM, where Matuson consults, is currently building a robust mentor program where the company provides resources to the employees, such as webinars educating them about what a mentor is, and what they should get from a mentor and how to find one within the company.

3. Rethink how you promote.

Many companies don’t bother asking employees before they’re promoted if they want the job, and consequently they wind up with leaders who may not be the best fit, says Matuson. “Just because someone is very good at sales doesn’t mean they are ideal to run the department,” says Matuson. And, likewise, “having seniority also doesn’t always translate into strong management skills.”

In order to improve promotion choices, Matuson feels there should be ongoing discussions with employees about what their goals are. If someone’s goals are to be in management and they seem like a good fit based on leadership skills, they can be mentored in that direction, she says.

She also thinks organizations should remove silly rules about how long people have to work before they can be promoted. “Promote based on performance and results, not based on the hiring date,” she says. “Workers today, especially younger ones, won’t be hanging around waiting for their next promotion.

4. Revamp how job descriptions are written.

Stop writing job descriptions with long lists of requirements, suggests Matuson. She recently saw a colleague on LinkedIn advertising an accounting job where the college GPA had to be above a 3.25. “I thought, ‘Are you friggin’ kidding me?’ The unemployment rate for accountants right now is like 2.54%,” she says. “I couldn’t even tell you what my college GPA was - and who the heck cares?”

Instead of listing requirements, write job descriptions with the experience in mind. “Millennials are not looking for a job, they’re looking for an experience,” she says. “You really have to paint a picture they can step into.” For example, she saw an ad for a sales job with a West Coast company that began: “Imagine you’re in your car with the top down, driving with the ocean in front of you.”

“I’m reading this description while I’m in Massachusetts, and I’m thinking, I could move to California. I could drive a car with my hair blowing in the wind,” Matuson shares. “But if the ad said, ‘We’re looking for salespeople with three to five years experience who can pick-up the phone,’ it would not have caught my eye.”

5. Create incentives for employee referrals.

Although many companies have employee referral programs, Matuson thinks many of them fail to achieve results. When an employee offers a name and the person isn’t hired, the employee often becomes discouraged and stops suggesting referrals.

In order to keep people involved, Matuson suggests that anyone putting a name forward be entered into a monthly raffle to win a $150 gift card. “That’s going to get people constantly thinking, who else would be a good fit here?”

6. Activate networks you didn’t know existed.

Everyone in an organization needs to get involved in brainstorming about new hires, says Matuson.

During a consulting meeting she had with upper management for one particular company, the executives were feeling very stuck. That's when the CFO realized that many staffers have teenagers who have loads of teenage friends with parents who might be interested in working for them. Based on this conversation, the company decided to implement a plan where current employees would reach out through their social networks and personal family networks to solicit applicants for open positions.

“You can have a much more forceful effort to attract talent if you can get the people in your organization to activate their personal networks,” shares Matuson.

7. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses.

“Top talent is attracted to working with other top talent,” says Matuson. So it’s important to recognize when someone you hired turns out to be a dud. Be sure you let them go from the organization as soon as you realize it, otherwise that mistake will have a ripple effect.

You’re asking a lot of your recruiters when you keep people on staff who aren’t performing, she explains, because you’re asking recruiters to go out and hire top talent to work alongside coworkers who aren’t holding up the same standards.

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*Image by Benoit Duchatelet

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