In September 2009, a certain job fair drew a crowd of more than 8,000 hopefuls even though only 26 companies were hiring. With unemployment at record highs around 10 percent throughout the country, it’s an employer’s market and an opportunity to recruit the best of the best. On the down side, high unemployment means hiring managers are often overwhelmed with too many resumes—most from unqualified applicants who randomly broadcast hundreds at the push of a button. Proactive companies have implemented some simple systems to take advantage of the overabundance of available talent while screening out the unsuitable.
Stem the tide
The simple solution to deal with too many electronically transmitted resumes is designing a pre-screening filter. Applicants are asked to answer a set of five or six questions before they can submit their resumes. The questions will vary depending on the position being filled, but should cover the critical areas hiring managers would jump to immediately if they were reviewing resumes. Depending on the size of the company, developing screening questions represents a collaborate effort between company leaders, project managers, the new hire’s prospective supervisor and the human resources director. Prior to recruitment, these stakeholders need to establish the parameters for the position, the qualities and competencies of the desired candidate and how much the firm can pay. If the most experienced candidates are beyond the company’s budget, consider hiring a mid-level candidate who can grow with the business.
Save big with phone interviews
Recruiters at nationwide companies used to spend big bucks on airfare, hotels and rental cars to interview candidates in various locations. Today, some are interviewing out-of-state candidates exclusively by phone. One company not only saved $9 million its first year with a phone interview process, but at the same time, also increased the quality of hires by screening more thoroughly. The company e-mails preliminary questions to candidates, along with information about the company, the position and the pay structure. Rather than rushing through a 15-minute interview with a recruiter in a hotel, candidates can take their time reviewing the information, evaluating their suitability for the position and preparing concise answers to the preliminary questions to make the phone interview more efficient.
Streamline the interviewing process
Interview guidelines and questions prepared in advance will ensure the efficient use of time. Begin by questioning the candidate about the most critical, qualifying matters to avoid discovering after an hour’s time that the individual is unavailable or missing the most important prerequisites. Interviewers who come armed with a checklist of these most critical questions are less likely to forget asking them, particularly when they have to initial each one as it is addressed. Interviewers should also be aware of the compensation the company can offer so they can set their expectations.
If applicable, clearly explain to candidates that they will need to submit to tests, whether aptitude, psychological or drug testing. Applicants slated for work in high-risk environments, for example, need to be psychologically fit and insurable. Offers of employment can be made orally or in writing. Regardless, make sure to ask candidates to sign an agreement that states the parameters and requirements of the position. That way, all information is out in the open, and prospective hires can ask questions before making a commitment.
Recruit at no cost
Joe Percario, president of Joe Percario General Contracting in Union County, N.J., uses networking to recruit. He describes his company as a self-networking organization. With every opening, word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire among employees, contractors and vendors, and soon someone introduces a suitable candidate.
“I stay in close communication with my senior management team and they help me put out an all-points bulletin when there is an opening,” Percario said. “It’s a zero-cost mechanism that beats sifting through hundreds of resumes. The candidates we attract also tend to be known quantities.” The shared recruiting process also keeps Percario’s employees alert and aware that the company is always looking for the best of the best.
“It keeps everyone in a competitive mindset,” Percario said.
Most recruiting, however, is done from within.
“Often the most efficient course of action is to promote an employee and then have him or her help you fill the position from within and train or mentor the replacement,” Percario said. “A common mistake owners make is to recruit new hires themselves even though they will not be directly working with these people. That’s like parents picking spouses for their children. Owners are entrepreneurs, not recruiters. If they don’t get their hiring right, it can be very frustrating and cost a lot of money and time.”
Fish for better talent
Today’s abundant labor pool is a temporary opportunity for firms to pick the cream of the crop, as well as a call to action to streamline recruiting processes. Companies at the forefront of the talent game have developed systems for pre-screening, conducting phone interviews, networking and internal recruiting, all of which have proven efficient and cost-effective.
Old and new recruiting venues
- Local newspapers remain a good place to advertise for unskilled labor. Alternatives are word-of-mouth, notices on bulletin boards or large poster boards on busy street corners. Newspapers also produce results when advertising a job fair or special recruiting event.
- For skilled and managerial positions, Internet job boards, such as CareerBuilder, Monster and HotJobs, are effective venues. Remember that people looking for construction work, for example, are often willing to relocate, so nationwide advertising on job boards is essential. A remodeling contractor who advertised on CareerBuilder found 15 qualified candidates over a weekend and selected one within three days. Employment agencies that specialize in recruiting out-of-state employees also exist.
- Postings on college recruitment e-boards are effective when looking for unskilled summer or holiday labor.
- Blogs are becoming an effective recruiting mechanism. There are specific blogging job boards and some companies use their own blogs to announce openings, which are then picked up by other bloggers.
- A fee-for-service resume database search is a good backup mechanism when ads produce insufficient results. The search engine finds resumes on job boards posted by people who have applied to other companies.
- Ads in high-end trade magazines are effective in finding management-level candidates.
- Job fairs are expensive, but may be a worthwhile investment to find that special candidate.