One of my biggest hiring rules of thumb is to make sure the job candidate knows that I’m a candidate as much as he or she is a candidate. I only hire the best people, and since they are the best, they have a lot of options too. By being humble and treating the candidate as an equal, you can actually create better long-term employment relationships.
This gets to the heart of what I call “hiring for retention.” Too many business owners treat employee retention as something to do after they hire someone–things like annual bonuses and free lunches on Fridays. But retention actually starts well before the first day of work. Before any employment contracts are signed. Before any offers are made.
Retention starts during the recruiting process. The reason: Retention has a lot to do with ensuring cultural fit from the get-go, and not merely incentivizing happiness. Of all U.S. employees who left their jobs last year, 40 percent did so within six months of starting the position–and signs point to bad cultural fit as one of the main culprits.
Imagine if those employees and businesses had assessed one another more accurately from the start. Here are six tips to do just that.
1. Create more choice.
Greater choice gives you a better chance of finding someone with the right mix of skills, experience and personality traits. Search all the places where top people are, including your colleagues’ networks–the best source of quality candidates–as well as, your careers site, job boards, recruitment firms and mobile channels.
2. Hire for attitude, not aptitude.
Knowledge and skills are certainly important for making a long-term hire, but there’s also no discounting cultural fit. When deciding between the two, put personality first. You can train for skill. You can’t train for personality.
3. Broadcast your employer brand.
Give candidates in-depth information about your employer brand and what it’s like to work with you. Fill your culture Web page and social media with regularly updated content about life at your company. This helps candidates decide if they align with your mission and personality and whether they see themselves being happy with you for the long haul.
4. Foster high-touch relationships.
Engage with candidates through several different interactions, such as in-person interviews, lunches, dinners, email correspondences and phone conversations. Have your entire hiring team meet with candidates to gain a full understanding of whether you see a long-lasting match.
5. Let candidates know you are a candidate, too.
Hiring for retention requires you and a candidate to mutually decide to work together. During interviews, let candidates know that they are choosing you just as much as you are choosing them. Ask if they have questions and provide the information you would like to have if you were in their shoes.
6. Always be closing the best candidate.
Don’t dawdle when you’ve found the best candidate. Average time to hire is about 25 working days, according to the Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure. But I’ve found that the best candidate gets snatched up within two weeks. You have to close a candidate to make the relationship happen–not the other way around. If you don’t manage this step well, you often settle for less than the best.
Hiring for retention should be part of every company’s business strategy. Long-term growth hinges on having long-lasting team members, who provide far greater productivity and value than a constantly rotating workforce.