People are talking a lot right now about the Great Resignation. Everyone I know is losing people or worried about losing people, and everyone agrees that it’s harder than ever to hire.
It’s true that we’re experiencing a lot of turnover right now. People are reevaluating how and where they want to work. Service industries, in particular, are struggling. Even employees who aren’t jumping ship are renegotiating pay, benefits and the definition of a work week. This is what happens when the job market is strong.
But let’s be honest: The highest skilled employees—the ones we want because they are motivated, share our mission and deliver gold-standard service—are always in demand. Except in the very worst economy, those employees always have options. That means that what we should be doing right now is what we should always be doing: working a hiring process that attracts, engages and retains first-rate team members.
Let me stop you before you go there: Yes, you can draw those kind of employees. Maybe you don’t have the most glamorous work. Maybe you can’t pay outrageous rates. I won’t lie to you: Right now, there are a lot of people following the money. Money is important—you will drive off people if you’re offering belowmarket rates—but money is not the key motivator for top-notch employees. In the five steps below, I lay out how you can find—and keep!—the best employees out there.
Step 1: Implement a Solid Pre-Posting Process
Everyone thinks that the first step to hiring is writing an amazing job description, but that should actually be pretty far down on your job posting to-do list. First, you want to take a look at the bigger picture and make sure you can answer these questions:
- What is my vision and mission for my company? Great employees want to believe that they and the company they work for are making a difference. Vision and mission is how you convey what that difference is. If you don’t know and believe in the difference your company can make for people, your employees and prospective employees won’t either.
- Does my organizational chart support this position I want to hire for? If not, you need to take a step back and determine if this position is necessary to the future of your company. Great employees are motivated by feeling like they have a place in the company and that their role is important to the company success. (Don’t have an org chart? Stop right now and make two: one that shows what positions your company has right now, and one that shows what positions your company will need in the future.)
- What is the success or career track for this position? Great employees want the company to grow and develop, but they want to grow and develop themselves, too. By defining what success means for a position and outlining opportunities for training and progress, you show prospective employees that you are invested in their future.
Once you answer these questions, it’s time to write an engaging and detailed job description. You won’t include all the details of your answers in that description, but having the answers will enable you to write a job description that really sells the benefits of your company and the position.
Notice I used the word sells. That means don’t write a boring post. Candidates aren’t coming to you for a snooze fest. They want to be excited to apply to a job, and you want that too. It means they’ll be more invested in getting the job.
Step 2: Think Outside the Indeed Box
Indeed, Monster and other online recruitment tools have revolutionized the way we find employees. Definitely take advantage of that amazing technology and its ability to expand the audience you can reach, but don’t put all your eggs in that one basket. Thousands of other employers are also using those sites, and it can be hard to break through the noise. You’ve got to think outside the box to other sources of candidates, too.
I often say that referrals can make up to 80% of your new business. The power of referrals is that they tap a source of prospective clients who are already primed to think positively of your business. Referrals are also a great way to find job candidates.
Let me give you an example: When I worked with several Chick-fil-A franchises, I noticed that one of them consistently hired high-performing employees who stayed. If you know anything about fast food, you know this is an incredible feat. I asked the owner how he did it, and he said that his wife posted job openings at the private school she worked at. It turned out that those private school students made great employees.
Where could your referrals come from? Start with your employees: Encourage them to refer people they think would be a good match, and reward them when their referral results in a filled position. Reach out to your connections on social media and, like that Chick-fil-A owner, to friends and family members. Spread the word through your other referral partners.
Pro Tip: Not all sources are created equal. Craigslist works like a charm for some industries but not others. Track your results so that you know which platforms and approaches deliver the best candidates. Focus on those in the future.
Step 3: Employ a Multi-Layer Vetting Process
Most people think about vetting as a process for finding the right people. In truth, it’s just as much about weeding out the wrong people. A strong vetting process has multiple layers, each of which digs deeper into the match between candidate, job and company.
Don’t be afraid to be rigorous when vetting; that’s how you get the outcome you want. For instance, an IT company I work with discards all applications that are not completely filled out or where the candidate didn’t follow all the instructions. If an applicant can’t be bothered to do the first step correctly, what are the odds they’ll bring a dedication to detail to the job?
In general, I recommend three levels of vetting, past that initial rigorous weeding of applications:
- The initial phone interview. During this interview, you’ll assess a candidate’s overall fit for the job and the company culture. This is a fairly high-level interview, where you get a feel for their personality and what they do and don’t like doing. It can also be a good opportunity to ask them how your vision and mission resonate with them.
- The first in-person interview. This is a chance to dig deeper with candidates who look great on paper and felt like a good match on the phone. This interview should include open-ended and behavioral questions, as well as questions that get to a deeper understanding about the candidate’s skills and experience.
- The second in-person interview. You’ll often involve the team the new employee will be working with in this interview. This interview might include skills testing, case study discussions and other activities that assess the candidate’s ability to perform the job.
Notice that the early layers of vetting are about filtering out people who are an obvious poor fit. The further you get into the process, the more thoroughly you’ll get to know the candidate and the more accurate your ability to determine if they are a good fit will be.
Have a look at your current vetting process. Are you tossing out applications that aren’t filled out properly? Do you have enough layers to really be able to evaluate your candidates? If not, ramp it up. It’s better to spend more effort in the early stages than discover later that you hired someone who was not the best fit for the position.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget that while you’re determining whether the candidate is a good fit for the job and your company, you’re also trying to convince the candidate that the job and your company are a good fit and a great opportunity for them.
Step 4: Make an Offer They Don’t Want to Refuse
Take a look at the last job offer you made to a candidate. Does it make you think, Dude, I cannot wait to take this job? I’m guessing it doesn’t.
Most offers are stiff, formal things. They tell you how much money you’ll make. They probably talk about benefits. Maybe they tell you “this is a great place to work.” None of that is enough.
If you’re making an offer to someone, it’s because you think they will be an awesome member of your team. You think they have great things to contribute and that they’re going to help your company make the difference you know it can make. You’ve decided that out of all the people you interviewed, this person is the one you really need.
So don’t tell them “here’s your salary, and by the way, this is a great place to work.” If you hire someone for money and benefits, they’ll leave for better money and benefits. Remember that you’re searching for people who stay because they are as dedicated to your vision and mission as you are.
Use the offer to get them excited. Make it personal. Remind them of some of the things you talked about in the interview; let them know you can’t wait to start working with them, and outline some of the ways you know they will contribute. Paint a picture of the impact they’ll have and the things they can accomplish. Make it an offer they can’t wait to take.
Step 5: Set Your New Team Member Up for Success
Buyer’s remorse is real, even with employees. By having a strong onboarding and orientating process that covers the first 90 days of employment, you are not only reinforcing to your new team member that they made the right decision, you’re also setting them up for success.
Those first 90 days are crucial, and I recommend breaking them into 30-day periods. At the end of each of those 30-day periods, you or a manager or mentor should meet with the employee and see how things are going. Address any concerns, challenges or gaps in training (a well-documented onboarding and orientating process is essential!). Check that they’re getting the tools and support they need. Make sure they feel welcome and that they’re getting to know people and becoming a part of the business family.
By providing the training they need for success and making sure they feel like an integral, appreciated part of the team, you set the stage to nurture employees who are happy, fulfilled and productive. In short, employees who love their work and are in it for the long-term.
Pro Tip: Make sure your own expectations for new team members’ progress is realistic. You didn’t learn your job in three months, and neither will they. Here are some reasonable, general standards for what percentage of a job a new employee should be succeeding at in each of those first 30-day periods: After the first 30 days, 25%. After the first 60 days, 60%. After the first 90 days, 80-90%.
Your Next Step
You’ve invested in a solid pre-posting process that enables you to write a compelling job description that makes people want to work with you.
You’ve posted the job on outlets that you know work for you and your industry, and you’ve tapped into your employees, your friends and family, your social media connections and your other networks.
You’ve used a deep vetting process to ensure that you get the best candidate for the job, for your culture, for your vision and mission, and for their future.
You’ve presented an offer that was so appealing, they leapt at it, and you ensured their success with a welcoming, empowering and instructive onboarding process.
What’s left? Just to do it again, and again, as you build a great team that works together to build an amazing business that provides a better life for you, your employees, your clients and the world around you.