5 ways to get better quality applicants

October 13, 2016
6 mins

It  is every recruiter’s nightmare.

More open positions to fill than you can count, looming deadlines, 24-hour days which are just not enough, 234 résumés in your inbox to review, a few no-calls, no-shows…

And you are struggling to find the right fit. Sounds familiar?

If you are having trouble attracting top-quality applicants, this read is for you.

I have had my fair share of sleepless nights trying to recruit sales professionals. I used to screen, shortlist, and conduct interviews for days. Candidates would either decline the offer or accept the offer and not do well on the job. There are also times when a candidate has just disappeared. I always wondered what went wrong. Back to square 1. The hiring process begins again.

Let’s not forget the fact that the business takes a hit too.

It took me a while to figure out the underlying problem. I was so focused on finding “great” candidates that my focus was not whether a candidate was the “right” candidate. A stellar performance in the previous company did not necessarily mean that they were “right” for my company.

The golden boy of Serie-A need not be the wonder kid of the Premier League. Eventually, I realized that there are so many more dimensions to consider, such as job performance, contextual performance, employee engagement, and so on.

Can I find candidates to meet the specific demands of a job? Yes.

But now I also focus on their needs with respect to work environment and behavioral aptitude. After all, the winning combination is suitability and eligibility. It turns out that a major part of the assessment can be done pre-interview.

The definition of an ideal applicant may vary from role-to-role and organization-to-organization, however, the basic qualities are more or less constant. In my opinion, these are the qualities of an ideal applicant.

The four qualities that separates all applicants from the ideal quality applicants.

Now that you know the recipe for an “ideal” candidate, the challenge is attracting such talent.

The following practices helped me attract the best talent. These ideas are not brand new, revolutionary, or out of this world— they are just undervalued.

 

1. Start with the job description

A job description serves just one purpose—to ensure that the expectations of a job applicant and a company sync. Drafting your job description, whether it is generic or specific, as clear and concise as possible is a given. The distinguishing factor of a well-crafted job description is honesty.

If you expect your employee to put in long hours, say it upfront. If you cannot offer a big fat paycheck but can offer immense opportunities to learn and grow, say it.

Understanding each other’s priorities can have multiple advantages. If you’ve put out an incorrect description of what a position requires, you cannot complain if you do not get the right candidates.

 

2. Choose your channels wisely

If you are looking for Batman, you stand a better chance of finding him on a cold night in Gotham city than in broad daylight in New Hampshire where you are more likely to run into a Trump supporter.

Be selective. Posting your job advertisement everywhere will not help. It only increases your work by adding résumés to the ever-growing pile. Remember you need quality applicants, not just a hundred more profiles.

With more niche communities being formed, you now have exclusive spaces to hire talent—be it developers, photographers, or even geologists!

For example, to hire an intern, internships.com or internmatch.com will serve you better than Dice or Monster. Coroflot is a great place to hire outstanding creative talent. Similarly, Icrunchdata is the place to go for data science and analytical jobs.

3. Set up a filtering mechanism

Set your filters so that you only find the candidates who are interested in working for your company.

Set up filtering mechanism to get better quality applicants

One of the companies that I worked for used to ask applicants (after shortlisting their résumés) to fill out a one-page questionnaire with the most commonly-asked interview questions.

?    What prompted you to apply to our company?

?    Why do you think you will be able to perform well in this role?

?    Why are looking for a change at this point in your career?

These questions are not special in any way but they helped learn what companies expect you to know during interviews. This made a big difference in my interview prep. I learned that I had to read the job description more carefully to understand what was expected out of me.

I was now more prepared as I knew exactly what the company wanted and they knew exactly what they were getting.

How Zappos attracts customer-service ninjas

Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, wanted the employees to be extremely passionate about serving the customers. Interviews alone did not help him figure that out. So he got creative and found a better way. It was unusual; it was audacious—but it did make a difference. Zappos offered its new hires $2000 to quit. The amount increases by $1000 every year till it reaches $5000. Some people accepted the money and left the company. What did it leave the company with? It left them with employees who were truly passionate about serving customers. No wonder Amazon has adapted this model for its warehouse employees.

What kind of employee do you want to attract? Keep this end goal in mind while you create your filtering process.

 

4. Create an employer brand

Is an employer brand good to have? No, it is a must-have.

It takes time, effort, and does not happen overnight.

What is employer branding?

As an employer, you make certain promises to your current and prospective employees. Your promises can be anything—job security, work-life balance, the opportunity to learn, or  a hefty pay. If you can deliver your promises consistently, over a period of time people associate your company with these value propositions. The better your propositions, the better your chances of attracting A+ players.

Here’s another argument in favor. Most people can provide one or two-line descriptions of the companies they have worked for. I was once told, “My previous company is not great, but if you want to learn, then go work with them for a couple of years. Your social life may become non-existent, but your learning will be phenomenal.” Intentionally or unintentionally the company has created a brand image which positions it as a great place to learn.

Decide what you want to offer your employees and deliver what you promise. If you are consistent, then you are likely to receive an impressive number of quality applicants. I think I can safely say that building value propositions that are compelling are always worth the effort.

But first find out what your employees think about your company. Glassdoor would be a good place to start.

 

5. Create an employee referral program

If you do not have a referral program in place, please do yourself a favor—start now! d

Why pay someone else when you can reward your employees? Nobody knows better about your company than your employees do. They know whether the person that they refer will be a good fit for the company and the position, and vice versa.

Ensure that the referral bonus is attractive enough to motivate your employees. If this does not work out, strengthen your brand value.

Are all these foolproof solutions? Definitely not. However, they increase the odds of attracting quality applicants. It worked for me and it might work for you too, but you will never know until you experiment with different ways of attracting top talent.

 

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Also published on Medium.

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About the Author

Vivek Siva
Learned what not to do as an entrepreneur. An optimist with a love for business, the outdoors, and movies. Superpower: Ability to smile even when all hell breaks loose. Affiliation: World of witchcraft & wizardry

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