Where does your company's character come from? Sure, it is shaped by your values, your mission, and the day-to-day operations of your office, but the heart of your business is actually rooted in what happens during the hiring process. Make the wrong choices during recruitment, and everything falls apart.
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For this reason, it is vital to start any hiring process fully prepared to identify and onboard the right individuals. Unfortunately, few managers are ever trained to do this.
If your hiring process — and, by extension, your company — is to succeed, you'll need to get yourself recruitment ready.
1. Identify a Direction
Recruiting and hiring practices vary widely across fields and corporate levels, so it's important to take a look at the norms within your industry before starting your hiring process. For example, lower-level hiring in just about every industry is handled directly by managers, but strategies for filling leadership roles can take numerous forms. Sometimes, an obvious internal successor exists; other times, the company's needs may be so niche that a time-consuming search is necessary.
For jobs requiring thorough searches and intensive vetting, your company may want to consider working with a boutique recruiting agency that specializes in your company's field. Recruiters at these agencies will work closely with your team to learn the ins and outs of your company. They'll assess your specific needs and use their extensive connections in the industry to identify the best candidates for the role.
The best boutique recruiters will have deep experience in your field. They'll have worked in the industry, hired for similar positions, and established connections with the major players. It's one thing to hire a generalist recruiter for low- or mid-level jobs in a large industry, but you need a specialist when the stakes are high.
2. Ready Your Team
Whether you choose to undertake the recruitment process on your own or with the help of an agency, your team will and should be involved. They will conduct the interviews and onboard new hires, so it is important to get them recruitment ready, too.
If your recruitment process will involved high-level executives or other leadership team members, you may want to consider getting the aid of an executive coach. Top-level employees tend to have the least experience with recruiting and hiring, as these tasks are usually overseen by lower-level managers.
As business coach Michael Whatmore explains, "There are four elements critical to your business success: vision, mission, purpose, and strategy." For recruiting, as with any business operation, these four elements must first be in place before your company can succeed. An executive coach can help your team establish these elements and zero in on the right recruiting strategy. An executive coach may also be able to help with more mundane tasks, like figuring out what questions to ask during the interview, who should participate in the interview, and how to navigate leadership transitions to avoid conflict.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
While hiring may not be entirely new to you, it does require the application of skills you don't use every day. When you're used to managing employees or guiding projects to ideal results, it can be hard to switch your mindset over to that which is required to assess candidates on their past and potential achievements.
Prior to the interview process, spend time training yourself and other interview participants on critical knowledge and skills, like combating implicit bias, reviewing job descriptions, and maintaining compliance with employment law. It's important to make good hires at any level, but the cost of a bad hire increases as you go up the corporate ladder. Especially when it comes to upper-management hires, you want to get it right the first time.
Hiring a new employee can simultaneously be exciting and nerve-racking for many companies. Accept the anxiety as part of the process, but don't let it guide you. Instead, look to the people who know what they're doing and spend time preparing — even if it means holding an opening or bringing on interim leadership.
That said, it is best to be recruitment ready all the time. Consider it a core capacity and train for it the way you would any other professional skill. You never know when you'll need to hit the ground running.