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Dynamic Pre-Hiring Practices
The pre-hiring process can be a challenge. Much time and energy can be invested and in the end, wasted, if your approach is not focused, deliberate, and specific. The following approaches have resulted in meeting candidates that not only meet our specifications, but also regularly exceed our expectations!
5 Steps to Writing An Ad that Gets Results
The following ad formula has yielded qualified, fitting job candidates:
1. Begin with a compelling headline
2. Provide a brief description of who's hiring to fill what position
3. First, describe what's in it for THEM, to really pull them in
4. Second, describe what you expect of the employee
5. Conclude with instructions to submit if they fit PERFECTLY with the description, asking them to describe how they connected with the ad
1. Begin with a compelling headline ? Your ad copy must make an impression, but it all starts with a headline that pulls in potential candidates with a few carefully chosen words. Your ad should stand out above the others and candidates will read further if the headline hits them on a core level. Example: SUPERSTAR salesperson wanted.
2. Provide a brief description of who's hiring to fill what position ? Your ad should include a succinct description of your company and position being filled, e.g. "We are an ad agency that provides the highest quality services at competitive prices and are looking for a team player with sales experience," or "We are the lowest priced car dealership in Atlanta with a reputation for getting anyone with poor credit into a loan. We are looking for an administrative assistant with charisma and a penchant for meeting tight deadlines." This tends to draw applicants who resonate with your type of business as well as the position you are filling.
3. Describe what's in it for THEM ? We all want to know how a situation meets OUR needs. If this information is positioned first in the ad (which most ads don't even include!) it makes your ad stand out as much more enticing than the rest.
4. Describe what you expect of the employee - The more specific you are, the more likely you are to attract candidates with the technical as well as "soft" skills you require. Expectations should include a succinct but detailed job description emphasizing the qualities of the perfect candidate.
5. Conclude with instructions to submit a response if they fit PERFECTLY with the description ? When seeking employment most candidates respond to ads even when they are only marginally qualified. Including the word PERFECTLY is an internal check that, most of the time, won't allow the candidate to respond if they don't fit perfectly. Also, ask that the response include a description of how the candidate connected with the ad. This will provide valuable information that can be discussed in further detail during a personal interview, if events proceed to that point.
The Ad should include specific instructions for the applicant to follow in submitting the resume, e.g. "resume attached or embedded in body of email, by 5 PM Friday afternoon, provide name and contact telephone in subject line," etc. Chances are that if someone cannot follow detailed instructions before they are hired (when they are trying to make the BEST impression), they will not be able to follow detailed instruction when employed.
1. Remain anonymous! Set up an anonymous method of initial response so that your valuable time is not wasted answering follow-up telephone or email inquiries regarding the position.
A method that works well is to request a resume via FAX. This allows complete anonymity. No company information is offered. If a candidate looks promising, you will contact them, not vice versa.
Another anonymous method for contact is a feature found on craigslist.com. Job posters are given the option of "anonymizing" their email address, which encrypts it so applicants don't have direct contact information.
2. Eagerness is apparent in a timely response by the applicant to your requests. If s/he delays in responding, will they delay in showing up for work? Or delay in getting the job done? It makes a prospective employer wonder.
3. For the first few exchanges, contact the applicant using an anonymous or generic email address. If someone is not a good candidate, for whatever reason, they do not have access to your direct contact information. You expend no time or energy communicating with candidates that are not excellent candidates.
4. Based on a promising resume, initiate contact with the applicant and ask for an email response to several questions that may or may not relate to the available position, e.g.:
* Why did the ad resonate with you? (Which they would have answered to some degree in their first email!)
* What made you respond specifically to this ad?
* What are your favorite activities when you are not working?
These questions put the applicant at ease to respond honestly and provide you with a great deal of "behind-the-scenes" insight into your prospective employee.
5. The response will confirm whether or not applicant is able to follow the instructions in the ad. If not, it's not a good thing, but they're not eliminated from the interviewing process. Perhaps they're overly eager or were blasting employers. The lesson here is to refrain from drawing conclusions about them, but be watchful.
6. Establish a dialogue of at least two emails before setting up a personal interview. Based on the prospective employee's timely first response to your questions, email a second time asking specific questions relating to their response. This gives you additional, telling information and communicates that you are actively listening and genuinely interested in them.
7. When the email dialogue process has narrowed the candidate list, arrange a convenient time to speak via telephone. This will provide additional, valuable information.
8. If the telephone meeting goes well, at the end of the discussion invite the candidate for a personal interview.
Following the preceding steps will give you an advantage by not only limiting the number of potential employees to the most qualified, but also by taking control of what can be a tedious and inefficient pre-hiring process. Pay close attention to the responses you receive from potential candidates; it is possible to learn quite a bit from initial contact that will save you time and energy when you are considering inviting prospective employees to a formal interview. The pre-hiring process does not have to be challenging if confronted with intentional and precise preparation.
This process is well worth your time. The hiring process should not be taken lightly, and a great fit is all-important. In the end, you have hired quality people you keep for a long time, saving you many headaches!
by Charlon Bobo, Red Frog, Inc. © 2005
Charlon Bobo is the Virtual Assistant to Red Frog, Inc., the Portland, Oregon ad agency that provides worry-free experiences and powerful results in the areas of Marketing, Print design, Web/CD-ROM development, and Video production.
You have permission to distribute this article as long as all of the text contained herein remains intact.
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