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How to be the Company the Candidate Chooses – By Ellis Blevins

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Author: Ellis Blevins, Founder of Fluid Consulting

You probably have spent a lot of time identifying what the ideal buyer profile is for your company. But have you spent the time figuring out the right employee profile? Do you know what kind of employee you need and how to go about “selling” your company to that candidate? It can be incredibly expensive to hire a new employee, with some estimates being up to 3x their salary! Hiring the wrong person is a costly mistake.

In this competitive work environment, candidates have choices. Lots of them. You can’t just assume that putting your job req out there is going to pull in a bunch of qualified prospects and you will find the perfect employee right away. Here are four ways to be the company that the candidate chooses.

1. Know Who You Are

Here is the deal – you have to understand and be honest with yourself about what kind of culture you have. Not everyone is Google, and not every candidate wants to work for Google. In fact, I know a lot of people who used to work for Google, used to being the operative word. Fun perks aren’t always everything. It is absolutely fine to have dogs in the workplace, telecommuting flexibility, beers, and a fully stocked fridge, but this isn’t an experience that will create a long-term employee.

Besides, who wants employees who are only in it for the free beer? You need your people to have the passion in the areas you need them to have passion for, and not just passion for freebies.

It is incredibly important in the recruiting cycle to be consistent in your messaging across the board about what kind of company you are, and what kind of candidates would love working for you. Your company culture should be something everyone in the company is aware of and actually practices. Don’t just give lip service to fun perks to get a candidate in the door that aren’t actually what your company is about. That employee will quit faster than you can say “sayonara.”

2. Be More Flexible

I know I just said that you have to understand your culture and be consistent with it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make changes. If your culture really is awful, then do something to change it. Make your company a place talent wants to be. Being flexible in areas that you previously weren’t can open up doors for a new type of employee.

Even small changes can make a difference. Maybe try relaxing on your telecommuting possibilities, or flexible work hours. This can bring in a whole new profile of employee. But you have to offer this flexibility across the board, not just for new people. Don’t create enemies within your workforce.

Being more flexible can also include relaxing your required levels of skill for a new hire. Sometimes, (and I personally think, most of the time) it is better to hire a person who is a strong cultural fit rather than a person with the exact “right” competence level in this or that. Skills can always be learned, and you want an employee that wants to continually add to their technical toolbox.

3. Stay True to Your Values

In their onboarding process, Netflix talks a lot about how they are a team, not a family. This is not to say that you can’t have a great relationship with your team. But the term “family” gets overused. And you really, really are not a family. You probably don’t want to be! Lots of families are dysfunctional! The point here is that a team is a group of individuals who has the same vision and goals, and there is enough transparency from the top down that everyone knows what the vision is. This makes it easier to stay true to your company’s vision from cradle to death. (Not to be too morbid here!)

4. Understand How to Let People Go

Part of being that company that candidates want to work for is knowing how to fire people. I have never fired anyone who didn’t know it was coming. You have to work with your employees to make sure they have the ability to improve. If they don’t, then you have to be strong enough to let them go. No one likes firing anyone else. But it is an inevitable part of running a company. The key is to do it right so people don’t rush to Glassdoor and trash your reputation. It is important to remember, we aren’t talking about serious behavioral issues like sexual harassment here. That has to be dealt with quickly.

Being the company a candidate chooses isn’t always easy, but I guarantee you will have a more successful company if you have people working for you that really want to be there – team members that understand your vision and values, co-workers that are working towards the same goals with a shared enthusiasm. Just ask successful companies like Southwest Airlines how important that metric is for overall business performance!

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Ellis Blevins

About Ellis Blevins

Ellis Blevins has been involved in the software and hiring industries since 1999. With over a decade of experience in each area, she is able to assist clients with attaining a variety of technical and hiring goals.