Hiring is more of a headache than ever, so say many companies who receive HR services from my firm. This might come as a surprise considering that there's no longer an overheated talent market in which companies desperately compete for top talent. But instead, business owners are facing a down economy in which scores of job seekers clamber over each other in order to land scarce positions. The influx of new candidates into the marketplace makes it even more difficult for executives and hiring managers to find the perfect people for open, high-impact positions.
And yet, hiring the right person is more important than ever. A single bad hire can cost between $60,000 and $120,000--that's not exactly the way you want to spend precious dollars in a difficult market.
For the most part, the way to make the right hire is the same as it's always been:
1. Define the requirements carefully. This sounds ridiculously easy, but it's amazing how many business owners will embark on a search without determining exactly whom they want to hire. It's important to detail the specific job requirements and desired personal characteristics, creating a "hiring scorecard" that can be used in screenings and interviews to determine if a candidate can fulfill the requirements of the job. Needless to say, it's also critical to determine if the candidate will be a cultural fit as well.
2. Look for repeated patterns of success. Don't just look for tactical job responsibilities and skills--find the applicants who have repeatedly made a mark and exceeded expectations, time and time again. Drill down in the interview to ask those questions; find out how they measure their own success and whether their employment history tells a story of a superstar.
3. It's the network. With so many resumes flooding in for each open position, you should rely on inbound candidates even less than you ever have. Your friends and their friends know the fantastic players who are searching for their next opportunity; tap into them and save yourself a lot of paper time.
4. Find a recruiting platform that allows for pre-screening. When you do need to wade through resumes, use a recruiting system with pre-screening questions and candidate rating capabilities. This allows you to focus on the exact capabilities you need and only review the candidates who have passed the initial screening, saving yourself massive amounts of time.
5. It's still about the passive seekers . I personally recently hired a VP of Marketing for my company, but when I first came across him, he was already installed at another company. I courted him for months, persuaded him and eventually he came to work for me. In essence, I treated this executive search as though it was occurring during a gangbusters economy where talent is scarce. The reality is, the truly premium talent is still scarce, and always will be. If your bar for talent is as obscenely high as mine, passive seekers can make or break your search.
6. Don't settle. Almost every tip I've provided works in both a good and lousy economy. But let's be honest: When the good times roll, it's easier to find someone and say "good enough." But in a down economy, you should never do this. Take the time you need to find the right candidate, either active or passive, and make the right hire.
There's no question this is a great time to hire people. But don't make the mistake of thinking it'll be easier. The exceptional hires are out there, but just as in the old days, you may need to do some detective work and actively seek out the people who will make your company great.
Burton Goldfield is president and CEO of TriNet, an HR outsourcing partner to small businesses located in San Leandro, Calif. Goldfield is responsible for setting TriNet's overall corporate strategy, directing business and providing strategic guidance regarding TriNet's human capital offerings.