Find employees who stay for the long haul

These pros think about retention at every stage of the hiring process.
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The White House via Giphy

· 4 min read

Hiring decisions can be a lot like the choice between heading to the supermarket every time you need a cucumber or putting on those gardening gloves and growing some yourself. Want a greener thumb? We’ve got you.

Hiring the right person for the job is critical, but it’s just as important to keep your eyes peeled for candidates that are both a good fit for the open position and right for the company and its long-term goals (i.e., your artisanal pickle business).

“Our job is not to present candidates to managers. Our job is to present qualified candidates that will be a good fit for the company to the managers,” said Shireen El-Maissi, people relations and talent acquisition (TA) manager at Blueboard, a rewards and recognition tech platform.

El-Maissi said her transition from external recruiting to internal TA has helped shape her approach to looking for candidates that will be a good fit for the company and its future. James Lafferty made the same transition from an external “recruitment consultant” to leading a TA team in-house at software company Epicor. The VP of global TA said knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about the business helps him make better calls about the coupling between candidate and opening.

Be a company connoisseur. Know the business and its goals and “what types of people assets we need to help the company reach those goals,” El-Maissi said. She recommends getting as clear a picture as possible of what’s happening at the company. This includes details about products and services, what changes might be coming, and what future growth might look like.

Knowledge about the business is also important in building relationships with candidates, El-Maissi told HR Brew. Many candidates prefer to connect directly with the hiring manager, “but then I start dropping knowledge, because I know the business, and then they get engaged,” she said.

Use screening effectively. El-Maissi said that while hiring managers may rely more heavily on a candidate’s résumé, she’s zeroed in on the candidate conversation.

“I’m not screening to alley-oop a candidate to a manager, because then I’m wasting my managers’ time,” she said. “It is my responsibility to only introduce qualified candidates.”

El-Maissi uses the screen as a filter for unqualified candidates, but she’s also intentional with her questions. She’s sleuthing for indicators that she has found a person who can fill the role and is aligned with the company, its values, and where it’s headed.

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Ask candidates why they left their last job; answers can reveal what might be important to them as job-seekers. For example if a candidate was laid off, they’ll likely be more interested in stability, El-Maissi said. She also assesses whether or not the candidate meets key objectives needed to fill the open role, and then always asks candidates what they’re looking for in their next role and what is important to them.

El-Maissi said she’s looking for growth opportunities, which means candidates with a potential connectedness to the company mission. “That tells me you will do what we need you to do right now, but you will also want to gain more experience because you see the benefits of knowing how to do jobs for the future.”

Build relationships with hiring managers. You need good relationships with hiring managers. This helps understand their urgent needs in filling the vacancy, and they’ve got to trust that you’re thinking about them and the future of the company, El-Maissi said. She advances candidates with different backgrounds, skills, and experiences to help the manager make the best decision.

“I know this hiring manager, I know them well,” Lafferty said of his relationships with hiring managers. “This candidate, what they’re saying, I think they will really get a lot of value from this hiring manager...you want a perfect partnership.”

There are recruiters at Epicor who have hired entire business units for the company, he said, and as a result they deeply understand the makeup of the department and can identify candidates with the skills and personalities that complement what is already working.

While you can’t control the uncontrollable, Lafferty said, if you trust the hiring managers’ onboarding capabilities and understand the internal mobility opportunities, you can set the team and the candidate up for success.

“We’ve got people who work for the business for like 20-plus years, and I think if you were to place someone, and they go, ‘This is where I want to spend the rest of my career,’ then…you can’t do a better job,” Lafferty said.

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