Recruiting “Right First Time”

There are infinite benefits to recruiting “Right First Time” – not only that standard recruitment costs which often range between 15%-20% of the role salary – and for those harder to fill or very specialist vacancies it can be as much as 30%!!!

Hiring can take a disproportionate amount of time too, and if it’s too drawn out, the excitement of the prospect decreases so it just becomes chore. A recruitment opportunity can lift the morale and change the dynamics of the team – and when it works, your business benefits from massive advocacy – free marketing!! (Don’t forget that return on any training investment for new hires turns into a BIG cost when it’s the wrong person – but pays huge dividends when directed at the right person)

Therefore, the importance of a bespoke, commercially savvy recruitment approach that brings the talent you need into your business with a view to longer term partnerships is critical.

So how do you ensure your new hire fits the bill – making sure you’ve got it right first time.

Stage One is to realise that, whatever the job market, it’s unlikely that a candidate will choose to join a business that doesn’t match their own Values, or Culture. Cultural fit is a kind of glue which binds a business together, so before beginning any recruitment programme, it’s important to be able to articulate the business ‘personality’, its values, goals and practices. It’s worth noting that poor cultural fit costs too– a Harvard Business Study carried out 5 years ago recognised the cost as potentially 60% of salary based on rate of people leaving due to poor recruitment decisions.

So, make sure you’re very clear about your organisational culture and can articulate it easily, providing clarity and evidence for potential new team members.

Of course, cultural fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same – in fact quite the opposite. For example, if working collaboratively is a key value or a usual way of working in your business, then people who have a genuine, authentic belief in the value of collaborative work will be a better ‘fit’ than those who are more comfortable contributing as individuals. And remember that a deep-rooted belief in collaboration can just as easily be found in a person with a corporate background as someone who has worked in the non-profit sector or who has spent most of their career in the military.

The risk of focusing solely on the relatively nebulous criteria of cultural fit is that hiring based on this alone can mean levels of bias, whether conscious or unconscious. Therefore, it is critical that your culture is clearly defined in terms of actual behaviour rather an ‘buzzword terms’, and you are crystal clear as to why and how those behaviours relate to successes for your business – otherwise you risk veering toward the ‘dark side’ of simply cloning your team.

Once you have defined your business culture and can articulate it with confidence, review any outward signs of it – for example, if you believe that diversity is a key value, consider how this is reflected through your website – is it accessible for everyone? In short, make sure you’re congruent throughout, otherwise your prospective new team members may doubt your authenticity when researching you as a prospective employer.

Here are some questions that might help to explore the cultural fit of a prospective new hire:

  • “What does your ideal workplace look like?”
  • “How would you describe our culture from what you’ve seen?”
  • “Why do you want to work here?”
  • “Tell me about when you’ve worked somewhere where you didn’t enjoy it? Why?”

Stage Two is all about defining the role. Carrying out a role analysis is not only reviewing what the existing incumbent is doing and replicating it – a new hire gives you the opportunity to create a new way, a new dimension, way of thinking or

different perspective – or, if you’re replacing a leaver, look to replace with different skills and capabilities associated with where the business is going rather than where it is now.

A good role analysis includes what the role looks like now and how it’s being delivered, researching what similar roles look like in other organisations in terms of core responsibilities, duties, skills and expectations, and prioritising the most important outcomes needed from the role, and thinking about what your own busines is lacking – and building a role profile that reflects all of this.

This role profile will then enable you to create an inspiring and honest Job Description which defines clearly not only what the role involves, but the expectations around outcomes, what the role involves, how it is expected to be done – always combine the What & How in a Job Description.

Once you’re clear about what your business and the role offers, then Stage Three is about thinking about how you communicate and market the opportunity.

But – before going out to the open job market and posting on job boards or chatting to recruitment specialists, look inwards…

Is there anyone who has the skills and potential to grow into the new role, or to bring a different fresh perspective? Perhaps an internal referral scheme might prompt your team to introduce you to other people with the right stuff? Is there an opportunity for job sharing to create flexibility when you need additional resource, or operating short period trials for any interested team members?

If you choose to instruct a specialist to help you find your perfect new team member, consider your budget. Fixed price recruitment services can give you an assured approach to spend while others who work on a % basis may have a wider pool to choose from…whichever you choose, get recommendations from trusted business colleagues and be crystal clear about your budget. It may be worth taking a staged approach, assigning specified costs to different recruitment activities – and make sure you capture your learnings for next time you need to recruit!

Stage Four involves great communication through the period from job offer through to Day One – it sets the tone for the most successful start – and this is where the best and most sought-after employers win hands down. They make new starters feel like part of the team before they’ve set foot into the new role.

Think about how you keep in touch – maybe materials that will help the new hire orientate themselves into the business before actually starting e.g.

  • Send business info and induction reading that might help
  • Setting up password and log in details so the new hire has these before they start
  • Send SMS pics of their desk or workspace with Welcome sticky notes
  • Invite to any social events, quizzes etc pre-starting
  • Check in by phone weekly in case of a protracted notice period – keep it light, what’s going on and what’s priority so they’re aware of the key focus from day one.

The bottom line when recruiting “Right First Time” is that it’s much less about process and all about awareness and understanding; of what your business has to offer, how it operates and how it will impact on a prospective new hire. The best customer experiences are rooted in great employee experience – it’s the “Inside Out” effect.

So, discover what’s critically important for your business in terms of behaviour, ways of working, gaps in diversity or skill set etc – this is foundational. Without being absolutely confident about this, then communicating this and building on a new person’s potential becomes a shaky proposition.

And along with the other toolbox tips, this should ensure your new people LOVE working for you from the start – and if they LOVE you, so will your clients, customers, and bottom line.

Lindsey Marriott
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Lindsey Marriott

Lindsey is a passionate trainer and learning consultant, driven by a firm belief that harnessing the input of clients, customers and employees and bringing those together, is the most super valuable business resource. She loves to work with organisations that move people (train/plane/airport/coach), logistics, call centres, engineering – in fact, if you rely on a remote workforce to deliver your service proposition, Lindsey understands you. Her passion comes from wanting to help your people shift from ‘process-led’ to ‘service-led’ thinking. She believes clients already have great people, services and products – and its often small adjustments or adaptations, rather than massive changes that help to realise your targets.