Ten Things You Must Do Before You Recruit
Here's what you must do before you jump into recruiting:
1. Learn Federal and State Laws and Regulations.
The hiring process is rife with lawsuit traps. If you don’t know the tricky anti-discrimination laws that apply to the hiring process, your most innocent comments—even if intended to put an applicant at ease—could form the basis for an expensive lawsuit.
2. Study Your Organization’s Rules and Policies.
If you act without reviewing company rules and policies, it’s easy to be inconsistent (always dangerous) or to overstep your bounds, making commitments that you can’t live up to (for example, flying a person 2,000 miles for an interview, only to learn that relocation isn’t authorized).
Familiarize yourself with the following areas:
1. Job posting and internal search requirements
2. Union agreements and rules
3. Application form and résumé management policies
4. Equal opportunity obligations and policies
6. Relocation policies
7. Salary, compensation, and benefits policies
8. Recruiting budget
9. Reference and background checks policy
3. Clarify Your Role.
Each employer has its own way of running the recruiting process. Some are highly centralized, with the HR department doing most of the work. Others, especially in this era of leaner management, have decentralized recruiting, putting the burden on the shoulders of the hiring manager.
Ask these questions:
1. Who places advertisements?
2. Whose budget pays recruiting costs?
3. Who contacts job boards, search firms, and employment agencies?
4. Who does résumé screening, phone screening, and testing?
5. Who arranges for and conducts interviews?
6. Who extends formal offers of employment?
7. Who makes and maintains records?
4. Verify the Job Opening.
Before investing time and money in interviews, make sure that the job opening is “real.” If your organization has a formal process for approving an opening for hire, make sure that all appropriate forms are signed and authorizations are obtained.
If your organization is less formal, at least send a confirming memo to involved parties, outlining your plan.
5. Identify Controls or Constraints.
There can be any number of constraints on your hiring. You’ll just waste time if you set off without knowing what they are. Ask these questions:
1. Who else needs to interview or meet with final candidates?
2. What authority do you have to set salary?
3. Who needs to approve your final choice for hire?
4. How much of a hurry are you in?
5. Do you have authority to relocate?
6. What is the budget for advertising?
7. What is the budget for job board, search firm, or employment agency fees?
6. Picture the Perfect Candidate.
It sounds silly, but the biggest mistake in hiring is starting the recruiting process before you know what you are looking for. When there's no clear picture of the ideal candidate, you don’t know what questions to ask, what answers to listen for, and how to evaluate candidates.
You're also not going to attract the best candidates because they'll sense your fuzzy thinking, and that's a turn-off. Further, vague requirements mean you won't get poor candidates to self-select out of the process.
Don't rely on a job description; do a little digging:
1. What characteristics have helped others excel at this job?
2. What aspects of this job have caused others to fail?
3. What aspects have caused the manager the most heartache?
4. What failure in performance would get the person in this job fired?
5. In what areas did past jobholders need the most improvement?
7. Clarify for Outsiders.
Now you know what you want, but you still have to translate it into language to share outside the company. How will you describe your opening on job boards, advertisements, and notices to others helping with recruiting?
Each job is different, but in general, consider specifying the following things:
1. Number of years’ experience at a specific job
2. Specific duties or types of duties candidates should have performed
3. Specific responsibilities candidates should have had (management, training, bottom line, etc.)
4. Key characteristics or abilities
5. Industry awareness and trends
6. Degrees required
7. Certification or special training required or desirable
8. Computer abilities or software familiarity
8. Gain Agreement.
When you are comfortable with your description of what you are looking for, share it with others involved in the process. Do they agree that you have captured the essential requirements?
9. Check Legalities.
If you are not careful in setting requirements, you may be guilty of inadvertent discrimination. For example, if you set requirements that aren’t really necessary (such as a college degree for a clerical position), then you may illegally exclude a disproportionate number of members of a particular protected group.
Focus on meaningful requirements based on the position’s essential functions. Avoid any mention of age, sex, race, religion, disability, or national origin, or any characteristic protected by your state law (for example, sexual preference, marital status, or public assistance status).
10. Get Real.
Finally, make a reality check. Managers get carried away in dreaming about the “perfect” candidate, and end up describing a superhero who is overqualified for the job.
So, ask one last question: Would the candidate you have described be attracted to—and succeed at—your job?
And that's it. Get these ten preliminaries out of the way, and you are set for a successful search.