Hiring managers face a steep hill battle when looking for qualified job candidates. A 2016 study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that 68 percent of HR professionals across industries are having problems with recruiting in the current talent market.
Half of the organizations surveyed cited factors such as a low number of applicants (51 percent), lack of the needed work experience (50 percent), and competition from other employers (49 percent) as the primary reasons for this struggle.
With job pools filled to the brim with both good and not-so-good job candidates, it can take a great deal of time and dedication to find the best person for the job. And, occasionally, a little bit of luck.
So, how do hiring managers identify the best fit? How do they sift through so many job candidates and still know when a person is truly great for a position?
Here are four ways to identify “four leaf clover” job candidates in today’s crowded applicant pools:
1. Standouts can be found anywhere.
When it comes to finding top talent, we use team members to refer friends and former colleagues as one of our best sources of referral.
Our CEO [Deborah Sweeney] found one of her “mom” friends from preschool to start with a small finance-related project. She thought she would make an excellent leader in that department due to her work ethic, efficient manner, and can-do attitude. She was promoted from the project to full-time, and then to our corporate finance manager.
She stuck out right away as a can-do, efficient, detail-oriented person. She had a great attitude and was responsive and kind. I knew she would be a great employee and it turned out to be more than accurate. She’s a true team player and we could not do without her!
Dana Case, Director of Operations, MyCorporation
2. Standouts create quality work.
The quality of someone’s hiring project tells you most everything you need to know about how they work: if they hit deadlines, if they don’t, how do they let you know, how big or how small a problem they can tackle, how well they scope their work, and so on.
When we’ve found a candidate that seems like he or she will be a good hire based on resume, interviews, and cultural fit, we engage them in a test project. This is a project where the candidate works for a week or two (paid!) on a project of either our design or one that they have thought up for themselves. This project is where we see how people think, how comfortable they are owning a problem, and how well they are able to execute on their own deadlines and deliverables.
3. Look near and far to find hidden talent.
There are several ways to find four-leaf clover employees:
1) Promote from within. You will be working with a person who knows the company and how it works. You will be showing all employees that there is a ladder up to increased responsibility and pay, instead of bringing someone new in.
Some technical people can manage others, some not. You can try someone out provisionally, rather than paying 40 percent to a search firm!
2) Bring someone in from a parallel business, with the technical know-how and learning skills, rather than insisting on specific skills in a specific business.
3) Last, but not least, do some succession planning. Hire the best and brightest college grads and orient them to the whole business; then place them where they perform best. You will get a good deal on pay, and they will usually work harder and longer to learn and perform. A win-win.
4. Go beyond Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
I’ve always believed that using social media is a great way to find hidden job talent, and I’ve always found success using platforms like Facebook and Twitter for this purpose. But after reading a report that Reddit users had a higher average IQ than users on most other social media platforms, I decided to try and include it in my recruitment process.
The results have been great since I began using Reddit, and I’ve managed to find 3 candidates in the past year. One candidate in particular is an example of how a candidate who takes a real interest in your business and perhaps even questions the way that your business operates, can actually be a perfect addition to your team.
He was a moderator for a popular wildlife subreddit, and had extensive knowledge about African wildlife. He reached out to me initially to correct some of the information that I had included in a few blog posts. I offered him a role as a copywriter, initially remotely, but he now works alongside me in the office.
Max Robinson, Office Manager, Mahlatini Luxury Safari
How do you find “four leaf clover” job candidates? Share your tips in the comments below!