10 Ways to Attract the Best Candidates

Finding the right people is hard.

Especially if you are a small or medium sized organisation. Recently, I have had a number of pretty similar conversations, that all followed the same pattern. Mainly, managers, entrepreneurs, and business owners all needing to replace key members of their team, and finding it almost impossible to do so.

In this post I want to offer 10 simple ideas that can help you when you are next trying to find the right people. I have often seen managers and entrepreneurs struggle to communicate exactly what it is they are wanting in a new hire. Make no mistake, communication is the #1 factor in determining whether or not you can get the attention of the best candidates for your role. It is worth spending a bit of time on because we all know how painful (and expensive) it can be if we mess this up.

  1. Start by writing a "Person Specification". Your hiring a person into a role, not a role into a person. What are the key skills, traits and values you need this person to have? If you are wanting a duplicate of someone that is leaving you, then list all of their skills, traits and values that makes them so valuable. If you are needing another you, then either get someone else to write a person specification about you or do one yourself (but be honest). At first make long lists of these skills, traits and values, then be ruthless and cut it down to 5 each. The person you are going to hire is probably not going to be an expert in everything as well as being a saint with the cure to cancer. So just focus on what matters most.

  2. Spend 20 minutes "Backcasting". What the hell is backcasting? Simple, backcasting is imagining the future (for example +1, +2, or +3 years) where your desired outcomes have come true and working back from the there, linking what happened along the way that led to a successful future. It may sound a bit odd, but this simple excercise can help highlight important aspects that you may not usually consider such as what training the new hire might need a year after joining, or what steps were taken to make sure the new hire got on well with John from sales who can be very difficult to deal with sometimes. This excercise can really help you with a more holistic, long-term view of the new hire. It can also act as a indicator for success to refer to in the future after you have hired the person.

  3. Now do some "motivations research". Its not all about the money, although that is an important factor. So what are the main motivations for people that work in the position you are hiring for? I have seen everything from a cool office environment through to employee reward schemes work as effective motivators for people. During this research you could ask exisitng staff members in the role you are hiring for what motivates them to work for your organisation, ask other businesses associates, search Google, ask questions in Linkedin Groups, call up the professional body (if there is one) to ask. The main question you are asking is "What are the most important motivators for you in your role as a {insert role here}?". Once you have a list of motivators, decide which ones your business can realistically offer. This is going to be part of your unique selling point (USP) later on.

  4. Develop a "Job Vacancy Elevator Pitch". It is amazing often you can be connected to really high calibre people through a exisiting connection. The best tool you can develop now you have your person specification, backcasting results, and motivations research is to develop a 30-60 second "pitch", and have it memorised.

    • Who you are (very brief introduction),
    • Who you are looking for (person spec: skills, triats and values), and
    • Why they should work for you (results from backcasting and motivations reserach),
    • Other important details such as closing dates (very breifly).

  5. Now materialise your efforts into a job advert. This can be the stage where things go horribly wrong. If you have followed the above steps you will have some really amazing material that will get people interested. Remember it is a job ADVERT. Adverts are about grabbing people's attention, and getting results. Communicate clearly and effectively. Here is a good starting format:

    • Job/Ad Title (try and grab attention)
    • Captivating Sub-Headline
    • Person Specification
    • Job Benefits (from your motivations and backcasting)
    • Job Features (what is the day-to-day)
    • Other requirements, nessesssary legal stuff, and remuneration information.

      Remember: if you can, show off any motivations you have use pictures, video, and any other appropriate formats.

  6. What are you channels of distribution? There is no right answer here it varies from role to role. If your hiring a graduate then Universities are going to be on that list somewhere. If you are hiring in digital then maybe social media would appear. A common mistake I see is people trying to use too many channels of distribution, and not quite doing any of them propery. Pick 3 channels and focus on them. If you are going to focus on social media, job boards, and graduate fairs then maybe pick one platform in each channel such as Linkedin, Monster, and Milkround. Draw the line otherwise you will definitely spread yourself too thin.

  7. After you start distributing your advert you will start receiving responses. Develop a "Elevator Inverview Question". Imagine you just had 60 seconds with a candidate in an elevator. What single question would you ask them? Like the "Job Vacancy Elevator Pitch" this is a great tool to have in your toolbox. If you meet someone at an event, or have a short phone call or email conversion with a prospective candidate having one killer question can save you time effort and cost later. It's not the be-all-and-end-all, but its a great start for filtering prospective candidates. To develop this question you should look at your backcasting notes, and person specification. If you are looking for someone and a specific skill or experience is really important then ask them about what they would do in the role. For example, "If we gave you this job tomorrow, how would you setup a Google Adwords Campagin for a organisation like ours if you have just £1,000 per month?" You will typically find people with the right expereince will be able to answer this sort of question quickly and clearly, those without will struggle.

  8. Develop your "Interview Experience". The best candidates will have other organisations trying to attract them at the same time. The interview is a great opportunity to show you are professional, efficient and credible. Don't waste this opportunity. Interviews cost a lot in time and in effort so think through and plan the interview experience right from the very start (the offer of an interview). This is your chance to show what you are like as an organisation. The candidate is either going to love it, hate it or be indifferent. Use your backcasting notes to see how the interview went when you imagined the successfull future.

  9. Carefully craft your interview questions, don't use generic questions. Using your Person Specification, backcasting notes, and the candidate's CV/Applications extract the key areas you want to discuss for a given candidate. Be specific. This takes time and effort but it will reflect in the quality of interview and ultimately result in making your decision easier. Cut the crap and get to the point, respect their time, and yours.

  10. Be respectful, respond promptly, with feedback. You might not catch the best candidate initially, but by responding promptly, giving feedback and generally being a decent person, you will benefit from the positive word of mouth effect of that candidate. In the future you want them to tell their friends and family about what a great organisation you are. You never know their friends might be even better!

Learn how Workbase can help you attract the best people by requesting a free demo.