Make the marriage work from the start

Personnel Matters

Humor me while I talk about dating for a moment. An interested suitor is passionate about making that first date memorable by tending to the smallest details. Wilted flowers, fast food burgers and running half an hour late leave the impression that very little thought went into making the night an experience to remember.

Let’s apply that logic to staffing during a labor shortage. The top companies understand that whether they’re hiring an hourly worker or a high level executive, the leverage right now belongs to the candidate. The businesses have the vacancies, but qualified candidates hold plenty of cards when jobs are plentiful.

If you’re a company struggling to attract elite talent, review your hiring process starting from the beginning. How easy is it to apply? Are candidates having to navigate a cumbersome application process from the jump? That’s a turnoff. Make it as easy as possible for a candidate to apply for your opening. It goes without saying that being mobile friendly is a must.

Set expectations and hold yourself to them. Job seekers typically fill out a bunch of applications and hit “submit” only to feel like their information has vanished into a deep, dark portal. Follow up promptly if you’re interested or at the very least, let candidates know when they might expect a response.

Once you’ve settled on someone to interview, it’s very much like planning that first date. You’re not going to get a second one if too many glitches sabotage the evening. Let’s say you’re flying an executive to town for a position with an excellent benefits package. Don’t skimp on the front end to save a few bucks. Have a car waiting at the airport so that candidate doesn’t have to figure out logistics in an unfamiliar city. Refrain from making it a whirlwind by rushing the jet-lagged candidate to your headquarters to answer a bunch of questions before being returned to the airport to fly home.

Create a pleasant experience so that candidate feels an immediate connection with the company. Book an overnight stay in a nice hotel. Make arrangements for a rental car. Fly out a spouse if possible. Sending a thoughtful welcome packet to the hotel room is also a nice touch.

If it’s a wage worker you’re hiring, the same philosophy applies. Avoid ushering someone in and out for an interview. Nobody wants to feel like a number. Make time for a tour. Let the applicant talk with potential peers and supervisors. If you say you’re going to get back to the applicant in a few days, get back to the applicant in a few days.

Essentially, your company should follow a defined process for hiring. Make sure communication is consistent throughout. When you’re up front with candidates, they appreciate it, and it goes a long way toward developing a sense of trust.

Too often companies have to strike out a number of times before they get the message that their process or lack thereof is standing in the way of attracting top workers to their openings. An employer doesn’t have to feel the pain if things are done right from the beginning.

If you’re hiring a manager, ask yourself why someone should want to work at your company. Make sure you communicate that message in all of your actions during the process. Let what I call your first date set the stage for a second one and ultimately a marriage that works well into the future.

About Eric Kean 8 Articles
Eric Kean is principal at The Lee Group, executive recruitment and headhunting firm, serving in multiple roles as one of the firm’s leaders and visionaries. He manages business across all of The Lee Group locations, collaborating with the leadership team on key decision making and strategy. Kean can be reached at 873-0792 or by email at

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