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Whether hiring or looking for your next career, we want to ensure you are equipped with the information you need for recruitment or job seeking success. This blog is the recruitment resource you need, from your Canadian recruitment experts.

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How to hire: Best practices from ad to offer

Posted Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President on Thursday, Aug 3, 2017

Canada Blog - How to hireAs your business grows, so too will your need for talented new team members to take it into the future. We talked to our expert consultants to find out their top tips on hiring to create a document you can refer to any time you need to hire.

1.    Writing a job description and person specification

Once you have decided exactly what you need from your new team member, you need to articulate this into a specification. You’ll need to create both a job specification and a person specification, and it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of these before starting the hiring process. The job specification is a tailored description of the vacancy, including the responsibilities and goals of the new employee, while the person specification is a profile of the person you think would fit your culture and requirements.

Many employers make the mistake of advertising a vague-sounding job, with the intention of seeing ‘who turns up’. This invariably leads to time being lost sifting through irrelevant applications or interviewing candidates who, when confronted with the reality of the position, discover the role is not for them after all.

•    Overview and aim of the position
•    Range of responsibilities
•    “Must have” and “nice to have” skills
•    Qualifications and work experience
•    Character and personal qualities


2.    Writing a job ad

Your goal should be to gain the attention and interest of the most relevant candidates, and this means taking time to craft a message that is targeted, informative, and engaging. If you work with a recruiter they will write a job ad for you, but if the task has landed on your desk then try putting yourself in the candidate’s shoes. What are they looking for and what do they want to know?

There are six key ingredients for a successful job ad:

•    Clear, searchable job titles
•    Targeted keywords for candidate searches
•    Emphasize the “must haves”
•    Details about salary range and desirable benefits
•    Sell the job, not the tasks
•    Describe the company, team, and work environment

3.    Screening resumes
Whether you’re sorting through 20 resumes or 200, you want to be efficient and thorough. Many hiring managers tell us they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of applications that come in and often more than half are not relevant or sufficient for the advertised role.

We suggest taking a three step approach to reviewing resumes:

•    Do an initial screening to discard resumes that don’t meet your minimum requirements. The goal is to have a shorter pile of “maybes” that you know have the necessary skills and experience so you can focus on key differentiators.
•    Now you have your longlist, filter it by looking at what each candidate has to offer, and how that could benefit your business. Consider whether they have shown they can set and achieve goals, whether they invest in their own skills development, and what makes them unique
•    With your final shortlist, read the cover letter and look at LinkedIn profiles to develop an impression of who they are, not just what they can do. A cover letter will give you an indication of their communication skills and career priorities, while LinkedIn shows whether they are engaged in their industry and career, as well as showing any endorsements and recommendations.

If you work with a recruiter then they will be able to streamline the process for the first three steps so you can focus on the interview and selection process.

4.    Interview techniques and structure

The interview is the most important part of the recruitment process, both for you and the candidate. It’s your opportunity to see how this person would fit into your organization and to see if they have the knowledge and expertise you need to improve your business. The right structure will help you consistently find the information you need. Start with clear objectives for the interview, and from these create an action plan including how many interviews you will have, who will be involved, what the timeframe will be, and who is responsible for final decision making. Now you can develop a clear agenda for the interview. For example, you may start with a company introduction and information about what the interview process will be, then start with biographical questions about the candidate. Once you have that basic information you may move on to competency-based questions to get structured answers that you can score based on the job requirements, before giving the candidate time for questions.

During the interview focus on the candidate and aim to get the same information from each interview so you can compare.

•    Build rapport and assess your first impressions
•    Use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method of questioning to get information about how they approach challenges.
•    Probe any resume gaps and ask about past career decisions

5.    Making an offer
You’ve invested time and effort in identifying the right person for the job, so secure their acceptance with a well-worded offer letter. You need to be efficient to get your top candidate because in many industries qualified and experienced professionals are highly sought after and could be receiving multiple offers.

Use a warm, tailored offer letter that makes the candidate feel appreciated and welcome. A template letter can come across as lazy, impersonal, and off-putting. Emphasize the most appealing benefits in the package you’re offering and ideally keep conditional benefits (for
instance, study support, provided exams are passed) in a separate document or ‘sandwiched’ between other benefits. The letter needs to sell the offer to the candidate, and small print and legal jargon can unnecessarily get in the way. Always ask the candidate to call you personally if there are any queries about the offer or any other aspect of the job.

6.    Managing a counter offer
It’s an unfortunate truth of the market that in some sectors, the most highly in-demand candidates will want to be retained by their previous companies. Counter offers can sometimes entice your preferred candidate to withdraw their application.

Most counter offers will take the form of a salary increase, and if you’re unwilling or unable to match an increased salary offer, you can sometimes lose out on your preferred candidates.

By anticipating and preparing for a counter offer, you can usually avoid the situation altogether. It is therefore crucial to ask potential applicants some questions early on in the recruitment process. Find out why they are unhappy in their current position, what they’ve done to address it, whether they expect to be counter-offered and if they are how they will respond. With this information about your candidate’s goals and values you are more likely to make a successful offer because money usually isn’t the only motivator for leaving an employer. If they wanted to leave their current employer because of a lack of progression, poor promotional opportunities, an unsatisfactory office environment, a personality clash, location or scope of the role, then your organization may still be able to appeal more to the candidate than their previous employer.

Get the tips you need for hiring the best people by getting your copy of the Hays Hiring Essentials Handbook.

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For more advice on how to hire the best talent, check out some of our other blogs:

6 risks it’s worth taking when hiring

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