Who are you? (Company version)

This article is aimed at companies that are seeking people to fill open positions.  Originally it was going to be for both companies and job seekers, but I am splitting it into two articles because of the length.

Note to job seekers:  some of what I am asking companies to do is the same thing that you need to do when interviewing at a company if you want to know if it is a good long term fit for yourself.

In the course of my work I find myself asking both clients and candidates who they are.  I need to get to know my clients and candidates in much more depth than a staffing agency or headhunter.  I need to understand who they are so that I can make the right placement.  The retention rate for my placements is about 93% after two years of employment which is significantly above the best numbers I can find among my competition or even internal HR.

The key is knowing my candidates and clients well.  My plan today is to provide some thoughts and questions to help my readers get to know their own company, and as important, some of how to present that information.

If a company has mission and vision statements, especially if they are short and easy to remember, that is a great start.  But to find the right people to fill open positions you need to go deeper, delving into departments and even groups within that.  You need to get to know what your culture is really like, and gather information on the sub-cultures as well.

As one example; I have a client that has two different software development groups.  Because of the type of work the two groups do they have amazingly different work environments and culture.  And both of these are different from the general culture that exists in the company as a whole.  If I find a software developer for one group, odds that that person will fit the other group is pretty small.

Here are some of my thoughts about how to learn about the groups:

  • Ask the manager about his/her people.  What are their strengths?  What motivates them?  What traits make good workers?  What do the best workers have that make them stand out from the rest?
  • Ask the people in the group questions about themselves and their group.  Why did you take this job?  What do you like about it?  How would you describe your group?  What does it take to be successful?
  • Sit in on a group meeting or more than one.  This can be especially valuable if the manager is not there.  Try not to ask questions; just observe.  Think about the type of person that would be effective in the group.
  • Grab some of your work and sit in the group area for at least a few hours.  Is it quiet or noisy?  Is there a lot of interaction between team members?  Are people laughing, arguing, happy, intense?  Are they pulling out their hair in frustration?

The next step is taking the information about the group and putting it out to the public.  This means writing a job advertisement, not just posting the job  description.

  • If you are in a large enough company you may have someone in marketing that can help you write an ad.  Of course you may also have restrictions about what you can write about the company and how you can present the job.
  • In a smaller company you will need to write the ad yourself, or maybe enlist the jack-of-all-trades person that many small companies seem to employ, or maybe ask for help among your peers at other companies.
  • The key is to write a job description that is interesting, and also accurate.  You will need to describe the culture in a way that will attract the people that are right for the job, and deter those that are not appropriate.
  • The actual details of job should not be more than a small portion of the ad.
  • I suggest avoiding long descriptions of the company or products.
  • For an example of one of my favorite job ads that I have written see http://www.softwarescout.com/CSoftwareDeveloper

I am not going to go into detail about the interview process, but I will make a few suggestions:

  • Your process needs to ask candidates about their goals so you can determine if they are a long term fit with the group.
  • The interview team needs to be aware of the types of traits they are looking for in a candidate, beyond the technical details.
  • The team may need to training on how to interview to get answers to these things.

In summary I will say that while this work may seem time consuming, in the long run it will save you time as you should only be dealing with candidates that are appropriate for the position.  It should also reduce the time impact of interviewing for the team.  Best of all it should help you to find the right person that will stay with the company for a long time bringing considerable other benefits.

If you have specific questions about anything here please let me know.  I could probably write several more articles detailing portions of what was presented here.  If you want to see my related video blog about employment branding see http://www.staffinginsights.biz/employment-branding-get-started-the-right-way/

My next article with be “Who are you?  (Job seeker version).”

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