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When you can’t find a star applicant

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Have you been struggling to fill an important position in your organization? Here are some common—but not always obvious—causes of hiring misfires:

  • You don’t really know what you want. If no applicant you interview comes even remotely close to your expectations, chances are you’re not sure what you want. That’s often true with newly created positions. Tactic: Revisit the job description. Have key people rank the post’s responsibilities and describe the characteristics of an ideal candidate. Create a vision for the position.
  • You want the impossible. Is the job description realistic? You might be looking for someone who doesn’t exist. You may run into this problem if you’re trying to replace an employee who’s been with your firm for a long time. Sometimes, a job evolves to match a key person’s talents, and you’re not likely to find that person’s clone. Tactic: Shuffle the job’s duties around—passing some to current employees and carving out a set of core responsibilities for the open post.
  • You’re expecting too much and paying too little. Today’s job applicants are informed and sophisticated. They may know more about the market value of the position they’re interviewing for than you do. Tactic: Do your homework and expect to pay competitive rates. If you want too much talent for too little money, redesign the job and distribute or outsource some responsibilities.
  • You’re moving too slowly. People whose skills are in demand go fast. If you take too long to snag a good prospect—or force candidates to jump through bureaucratic hoops—you’ll lose the best ones. Tactic: Streamline your hiring process. Determine how quickly you can identify top candidates. How early in the process can you find a person who will be a good fit? If it takes weeks to pick a winner, you need to tighten the process.
  • You’re scaring off prospects. If you consistently fail to grab the top candidates, something is wrong. Tactic: Follow up with the “ones that got away.” Say: “Tell me why you chose not to work for our organization. Did we do something to scare you off?”

— Adapted from Don Blohowiak’s The Productive Leader, The Economics Press Inc., www.economicpress.net.

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