It’s a candidates’ market … 50-90% of small businesses report “few or no qualified applicants” apply to their advertising [NFIB December 2018].
Yes we get it– highest employment in
the US in decades, lowest unemployment rates, 30 million shortage in skilled
That means that you have to adapt to
the current economic realities AND compete with larger employers with your
It is highly likely that your
recruiting and selection process is not adapted to the attract and convert many
potential applicants into a few qualified candidates.
Here are 21 questions you can use to
compare your hiring process to the best practices of mid-size and big
Quick Self Review of Your Recruiting & Selection
System [hint, the best answer is YES to every one]
- We have 10+ qualified applicants when we run post a job
- We continually recruit for entry job to build a future bench
- We have tried all the free and low-cost job boards that are relevant to our industry/ area
- Our job postings include minimum qualifications and appealing / realistic details about the job and company
- We direct job postings to a single Jobs page that shows our key job roles, company info, and starts the application process
- Applications are saved to a central folder, archived for 2 years
- We track the source of applicants and evaluate cost vs value
- We have a simple way to track each applicant and their last stage in the selection process
- We easily screen out unqualified or low-interest applicants
- Our administrative team is responsible for initial candidate communication and screening based on establish criteria and respond promptly to applicants and inquiries
- We have a short online application for people without a resume or for a â€œquick applicationâ€ with further info requests
- We have a single â€œjobsâ€ email for inbound and outbound candidate communication
- We have standard candidate communication templates based on the stage in the selection process
- We contact candidates for a consistent phone interview prior to inviting to a personal / first interview
- We have a simple skill test that is easy to administer in the application process before first interview
- We have standard and competency-based interview questions prepared for the first interview and spend at least 60 minutes with qualified candidates
- When relevant for the job, we conduct a criminal background check, drug screen or medical exam
- We have qualified candidates to do a “realistic job preview” with another employee, or demonstration / role play
- We ask candidates to set up 3 references calls to contacts at work numbers
- We use personality / attitude assessments to determine job fit
- The future manager is involved in the final selection process
If you need qualified People to maintain and grow your business in — you need to adapt quickly in this new hiring environment.
The companies with 100+ employees have the HR team and time to devote to poaching your employees as well as finding qualified applicants.
Last week I had similar conversations with owners at two very different businesses. I asked them:
“Do you have Right People… in the Right Job?”
If you have been in business for a few years, you start to realize that getting new customers isn’t the challenging,
getting “good people” who want to take care of your customers is far more challenging!
Before I tell you how to build a great team…
Let me ask you, “How many A- Players do you have?”
[Those that go above and beyond your expectations, are trusted, accountable and a good team player, open to feedback, eager to learn….]
If you have more than 25% A-Players, congratulations, you are in an elite group of small businesses! This is the foundation to build the rest of your team.
But until you get to +75% A Players, you don’t have the foundation in place to grow your revenue, profits, and customer
base without overwork and overwhelm.
When you don’t have the Right People:
Without a team of A Players, you are captive in your business, involved in daily activities, fire-fighting, and are the only one who drives results. You may feel hostage to the low performer or toxic employee, for fear they will make trouble or quit and leave you hanging. You worry that things are falling through the cracks, you chase people down to find out if something was done, and you get interrupted all day long with questions and “checking” routine decisions. You feel like you can’t leave for more than a few days, and you pay for it when you go on vacation.
When you have the Right People, sometimes they are not all in the Right Jobs:
Perhaps you have promoted a good employee to a new role, but she is struggling adapting to the new demands. You hired a new employee who seemed like a perfect fit, but he is not working out as expected. “Old-timers” are slow to adopt new ways of doing things and resist changes you want to make. You are frustrated with young employees who learn fast but leave in a year or two because they say you don’t have any future opportunities for them.
If any of these situations sound familiar, you are not alone!
Most of us focus on hiring A Players to help us achieve our company goals, but once they are on the team we don’t give them the tools to be successful or reach their potential.
For our current staff, we are not sure how to build up their capabilities and performance. They have settled into the
habit of “good enough” and the status quo.
You are left wondering how to light a fire under the average Josie, and how to turn around the performance or attitude
of your most challenging employees.
You don’t want to be the bad guy or the witch, your attempts at coaching have not worked, and it is just easier to
tolerate mediocrity or do the work yourself. Or worse, your best people keep picking up the slack, but they may be
reaching burn-out or are frustrated with you.
If you wonder how some businesses seem to be easy to work with and have a great team, they have the Right People in the
When you have this, your trusted team works together to make good decisions (good for the customer and good for the
You don’t have to oversee every sale and every customer, yet you are confident that things are being done right and
customers are happy. You have a sense of control, and trust that the business on target for healthy growth.
The team initiates and implements process improvements, for fewer hassles and more sales without working harder. This
allows you to finally take time off guilt-free and worry-free.
This concept is credited to Jim Collins who wrote about this in his book “Good to Great.”
1. Define the Right Things
2. Evaluate if you have the Right People
3. Ensure work is Done Right
You can read more in my detailed guide, Building Your Team, Right People…Right Jobs. Click here or below to download.
My first experience with recruiting was 1985.
Our family business would run a short ad in the Buffalo News weekend edition and at 9 am Monday morning the phones would literally ring off the hook. Everyone in the office would frantically take down applicant’s names and numbers, and my mother and I would call back each one for a 5-10 minute chat, and then mail an application and wait for them to be returned (via mail).
Fast forward 30 years– how things have changed.
Now applicants want to find out about your job opportunities before they are open, from their social network, apply online in 10 minutes from their smartphone, and get frequent updated communication about the status of their application and next steps.
Can your selection system handle all this?
If not, you will be missing at least 40% of candidates this year. Likely more if you want tech-savvy candidates of any generation…
Quick article to outline the concept “Do You Have a Mobile Recruiting Strategy?”
INFOGRAPHIC that shares statistics of the need for mobile recruiting
Luckily most larger employers aren’t prepared for mobile recruiting – yet– but 90% indicate this is a top priority for 2016.
Passive (employed) candidates are your largest source of applicants- so you need to meet them where they are and make it easy to attract A Players.
Scary statistic– according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.5 unemployed per every 1 job opening.
Now you know why you are getting a trickle of applicants to your job postings, and why you “can’t find good people.”
When the economy really heats up, this situation will be even worse.
So how can a small employer attract and convince top candidates to join your team?
The answer is that you will need to turn your recruiting and selection process into a well-oiled machine.
- Continually source a flood of applicants, appealing to those that are attracted to your culture and opportunities.
- Find and woo the “passive” candidates who are already employed but not “loving it” at their current job.
- And then you need to be super-selective in who you let join your team (remember the rotten apple effect).
Most small business managers dread having to hire someone new…
- It’s time consuming, frustrating trying to find enough qualified applicants, and there is time pressure to fill a role as work piles up.
- You don’t have extra time to spend getting to know your candidates so you rush though the interviews.
- You typically find the “last (wo)man standing” and make an offer. Then you wonder if you are making the best choice.
- Or even worse, the candidate declines the offer and you are back to the beginning. [Ouch!]
Mid-sized and large employers solve this with an ongoing recruiting “funnel” and automated screening and a rigorous selection process, using modern online tools.
- They approach hiring as they do sales…
- They identify the ideal prospect,
- market to them with an Employer Brand and enticing offers,
- and then have a system to decide if there is a good match to work together.
If you want an automated selection process that makes your job roles stand out, here are resources to assist you:
“Recruiting is a process, not an event. It must be ongoing and continuous. Can you imagine only going after a new customer when you lose an existing one?” Jack Daly
Really- why not?
I hear this phrase far too often from managers who are now urgently rushing to fill an open position. Perhaps someone quit on short notice, or an employee on leave decided not to come back. Or you had to take decisive action to terminate an employee whose behavior warranted such a quick outcome.
Moral of the story? Here you are scrambling to find “someone good” on short notice.
And everyone on your team is feeling the pain, because they are picking up the workload for the missing person, most likely doing tasks that are unfamiliar or not in their area of expertise.
What does the team want? A new, awesome, fabulous team mate (who needs no training) – and make it quick! Can she start tomorrow?
Despite the apparent urgency of the situation, you know what I am going to tell you next….
“Take your time to find the right person.”
In the midst of your crisis, pause, take a breath, and met me remind you what is at stake…
Hiring an A player may take a few more weeks of recruiting, more focused and stringent selection, and passing up on “good enough” candidates who can start tomorrow. But that A Player who starts in 4 weeks will likely learn the job more quickly, be an asset to the team right away, and be performing at a higher level in six months.
Rushing to settle for a C player (usually a perfectly nice person who was a decent performer at a prior job, but NOT a fit for your job) means a few weeks saved now, and hundreds of hours lost later.
C Player’s are estimated to take 25% of a managers time—the one or two people on your team who struggle with the job knowledge, performance expectations, or do not match the attitude and culture you need can suck 10 hours a week!
Do the math- 10-20 hours now versus 500 hours next year … and that does not count the actual and opportunity cost of lower quality or service, slow processes, lost sales, unhappy customers, unhappy co-workers, and unhappy managers.
You are not a beggar, and you can be choosy! Only settle for A Players with a 90% chance of success.
There are fabulous candidates out there—but you have to cast a wider net, be more selective and systematic in your selection, and wait until you have found “the one.”
Read our articles on “selection” to find out more about what you can do to evaluate and validate your candidate’s job fit.
Read our article about how to always be scouting for talent and building a virtual bench, so that you are not scrambling for applicants next time!
Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.