How to Find a Great Employee

by Amy Beth Miller on November 19, 2013
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If you’ve been disappointed by a new employee, you’re in the majority. About two-thirds of U.S. employers have hired someone who didn’t fit the job or perform well, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

While most executives recognize that hiring top talent is critical to the success of a business, few devote any effort to recruiting employees until they have an immediate opening to fill. That’s a mistake.

“Hiring needs to stop being reactive and to be proactive,” says Brad Remillard, who has more than 30 years of experience hiring and recruiting and who teaches managers how to hire.

Recruiting better employees doesn’t have to take a lot of time: Managers can create an effective pipeline for talent in 60 to 90 minutes per month, he says. To that end, here’s what Remillard recommends.

1. Embed hiring in your company culture. “Most hiring managers don’t even think recruiting is part of their job,” Remillard says. Leaders can change this misconception by having team members talk about hiring regularly at meetings. Have every manager identify key positions that are currently open or may be open within the next 12 months. Discuss those openings, what managers are doing to find ideal employees to fill them, and the best ways to recruit top talent.

2. Build a network for recruiting. Traditional job advertisements rarely reach the top talent — people who are succeeding in their current jobs. To reach passive job seekers, you must connect with them and the people who know them. In an hour or so each month, Remillard says, you can nurture a network that will help you identify and recruit the best employees.

Participate in professional associations, meet with your service providers, and keep in touch with colleagues in your industry, both your peers and people who are likely to connect with your peers. Over your coffee on Saturday morning or on the sofa in the evening, you can connect with people through LinkedIn and email, Remillard says.

3. Rewrite job descriptions. When you hire based on minimum standards, you don’t reap maximum results. Instead of listing minimal qualifications, define what a successful person will do in the position.

4. Create inviting advertisements. Most job ads sound like a list of demands and describe common duties, which any person who has held a similar position already knows, Remillard notes. Instead, think about whom you want to attract and what will motivate that person. Identify what makes the work meaningful. Talk about the fun of the job and the impact the person you hire can have on the organization. In other words, make what Remillard calls a “Compelling Marketing Statement.”

One business revamped its ads starting with the title, changing “Customer Service Representative” to “Client Services Legend.” The owner told Remillard that by following his advice, “I’m reaching a whole new caliber of people.”

5. Extend your search efforts. Once you have described the type of person you want to hire in a compelling way, share it with your network and everyone in your company. Too often only people within one department know about an opening.

6. Make your online profile welcoming. Job seekers will most likely check your company’s website and your business’s LinkedIn page. Share your values and vision for the company in both places. Market your organization as an excellent place to work and include recommendations from successful employees, whether they are still on your team or have moved on to other positions.

Top employees want three things, Remillard says: a great work opportunity, a great company, and a great person to work for. Promote your company the right way, and qualified candidates will line up to work for you.

Amy Miller is a business writer for Intuit who is passionate about solving small business problems.

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