Unless your organization is primarily composed of robots (which is becoming more of a reality for some*), arguably the most important thing you need to get right is hiring. To restate the obvious, without the right people, in the right places, at the right time, your organization hampers its ability to innovate, collaborate, deliver, and fulfill your mission.
So how do you ensure that your organization consistently makes great hires? Before I get into the steps, let's talk a little bit about culture. None of the steps below will reliably deliver results unless you first get serious about two things: (1) disciplined processes and procedures, and (2) a clear understanding of the roles of HR versus hiring supervisors.
In order to make great hires time and time again, you have to document your practices and put them in place across the organization. Everyone needs to understand that this is the way things are done here, not simply an initiative. Supervisors and HR need to be trained--and reinforced--for how successful they implement these steps.
Speaking of these players, both hiring supervisors and HR need to be very clear about what their roles are. Hiring supervisors are expected to know the job they're hiring for and what it takes to succeed in it. HR is expected to have expertise in job analysis, recruiting, assessment, onboarding, and other aspects of talent management. This should be part of their job descriptions, and their performance should be in part based on how successful they are at serving in these roles.
Okay, with that out of the way, let's talk about the steps your organization needs to have in place to ensure repeatable success in hiring.
Step 1: Know your Organizational Reputation. Before you even think about hiring for a specific job, you need to think about the reputation of your organization. Is it a destination employer, or an employer of last resort? What do people say about your workplace? This is important because it drives the pipeline of talent. If you're a destination, the pump is primed and "hard to recruit jobs" becomes less of an issue, making the steps below that much easier. Find out what the word on the street is about your organization--how do your employees feel? Your customers? Prospective applicants?
Step 2. Analyze the job. Yes, many jobs are becoming more fluid, but even narrowing the job to its occupational category helps. Think about the most important tasks the person will perform on a day-to-day basis and what competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities are required to perform them. Sites like O*NET are a huge resource so you don't reinvent the wheel. Without knowing the job, hiring is a roll of the dice.
Step 3. Develop a recruitment/assessment strategy. Ya gotta have a plan. It doesn't have to be a 20-page missive, but you need to document what your plan is, otherwise you're unlikely to cover all the bases. Honestly here's where a lot of hiring processes fall apart--people have the best intentions but they forget about certain key steps. Hey, here's an idea: use the same document that you used to document the job in Step 2! The way the key competencies will be linked to how you plan to recruit and assess for each of them.
Step 4. Use multiple and creative recruitment strategies. The only time "post and pray" is acceptable (and even then I'd argue against it) is if you've nailed your reputation as described in Step 1. Recruiting is sales, plain and simple--you're selling the job, the organization, and the people. Use the web, but also think about physical interactions, including open houses. Reach out to schools. Develop realistic job previews. Hire recruiters that have a marketing and sales background. Don't be afraid to push the envelope if you need to stand out from the crowd. Honestly, the sky is the limit.
Step 5. Use multiple high-quality assessments, internet and mobile whenever possible. In-person interviews aren't going away any time soon (although many of those are migrating online), but they should be only one tool in your belt--not the only tool. Assessment starts with how you recruit, because you allow applicants to self-select in and out. It continues with assessments embedded in the application process, whether that's a statement of qualifications, an online survey, or a set of online skills assessments. And don't forget to make any "minimum qualifications" truly minimum--please don't rely on hard-and-fast "X years of experience" or "Y degree"--those should be suggestions. The important thing isn't the type of assessment, it's that you're using several and they're tied to those important competencies you identified in Step 2. In short, using a single assessment is like buying a house based on what it looks like from the outside.
Step 6: Don't forget about them once you make the offer. Again, this is pretty obvious, but once you've made the offer, don't breath a sigh of relief and get back to your Inbox--your job isn't over yet, not by a long shot. Your new employee needs to feel welcomed to the organization, have the tools they need, understand what the expectations are, and get continual feedback--in other words, feel like they made the right choice and have a successful future with you.
Get these simple steps right, make them part of your organizational DNA, and you will ensure that not only do you get hiring right--you'll get performance right.
* Stay tuned for my signature article of 2018, "How to hire the right robot for the job"
p.s. this post marks 10 years for my blog! Thanks for reading!