Hide and Seek – Some thoughts on recruiting talent.

Over the last four weeks, I have been recruiting for two roles. It was interesting to once again, be on the hiring side. Going through the process again reminded me of a couple of things that can help keep things moving, and maximise your chances of making the right decision as an employer.

1. Plan for success by specing up the role in detail. What do you need from both a personal and technical competency set. If you rush or skip this stage, how will you know when you have the right candidate? Candidates are also interviewing you, and a good one will always have multiple employment options on the go. If you completely understand the role it will come through when you talk to them – and you will give the impression of being organised and competent.

2. Plan your conversations with candidates. Identify the key things you are looking for. Create questions and conversations that will help you explore each candidate’s potential match with the role. Write them down. Make notes on each response from candidates so you can easily recall what they say and how it added to your understanding of their profile.

3. Make sure you respond to each and every person who applies, and let them know when they are no longer in contention for the role. A form email is fine for anyone you don’t contact at all. For people you spend time with, a custom email or direct conversation is appropriate. Applying for a role can be a larger emotional investment for some – a form email is not a great final impression for people you have interviewed or spoken to on the phone.

4. Screening candidates via an initial phone call can save a lot of time on both sides. Just getting them to run through their work history and finding out why they are applying for the role is a great way to get a feel for the potential fit.

5. My preference is also to give direct feedback, where possible, if a candidate is not the right fit for a role. If it is a screener call on the phone, it is better to simply let a candidate know at the end of the call if you will not be proceeding, along with a short explanation. People expend a lot of personal energy applying for roles, and as Tom Petty says “the waiting is the hardest part”. Better to let them know sooner rather than let them stew on the role if they are not in the hunt.

6. Cover letters are crucial. A good candidate will have a killer cover letter that highlights why they are a great fit for the role. It demonstrates their understanding of the opportunity and your company. A resume or CV sent in without any cover letter just feels a lot like spam…

7. Brevity is king. The most impressive resumes I have seen over the last month are two pages at most. OK, I am recruiting entry level roles, but the temptation is still there to pad it out – again, good candidates tend to be able to prioritise what they want to say.

8. Linkedin is a great tool to have a look at potential candidates, so make sure you are up to date on using it. Always remember everything you do and say online is forever, and permanent. Just ask Nick Riewoldt…

And I haven’t even started on interview technique yet! Maybe another post?

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2 Responses to Hide and Seek – Some thoughts on recruiting talent.

  1. Katie says:

    I like everything about this post.

    As another recent jobhunter (yay employment), I was really surprised (and a bit hurt!) by how many companies/recruiters do not respond in any way to receiving an application these days. Part of my role at my previous employment was to do the advertising for new positions and cull any inappropriate/unsuitable applications before handing over a short list for review, I always sent out at the very least a form letter saying thanks but no thanks. It’s respectful and a gentle way of letting people know not to hold out hope.

  2. Ross says:

    From the perspective of interviewee, I particularly like points 3, 5, and 7 (on contacting people promptly, even if they’re not successful). It seems like such a small return for someone’s investment in applying for a role (often quite a bit of time, effort, and energy, not to mention some people’s emotional investment) to send them an email or phone call letting them know their progress or lack thereof in as timely a manner as possible. Not enough employers do this in my opinion, so good on you for that Damo.

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