How to Hire Talent – Advice from Julia’s 100+ Job Searches

“What would happen to your revenues if your sales people took weeks to get back to your customers, like your HR people do to job applicants? It’s time for HR to get professional and treat job applicants with respect and speed.” — Phil Symchych

Summary of How to Hire Talent

When your company is searching for talent…

  1. Don’t ignore people who apply.
  2. Don’t communicate with people and then leave them hanging.
  3. Do acknowledge every applicant, even if you use technology to do so.
  4. Set up an interview or tell people they’re not a good fit as soon as possible.
  5. Test the applicant’s skills. Give them a mini project to do and give them feedback on their work promptly.
  6. Remember, everything your Human Resources people do or don’t do directly impacts your company’s brand and your future talent searches.
  7. Don’t become Hardly Relevant by ignoring applicants.

The Full Story of How to Hire Talent

In the ongoing search for the best employees for your business, how effective are you at attracting and retaining talent?

When I was searching for a topic to write about for this issue, I asked my daughter, Julia, for an idea. Somewhat sarcastically, she said, “Write about me.”

“That’s a great idea,” I thought.

In April of 2021, Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Design degree from Ryerson University. She majored in fashion design and graduated with distinction. You can see Julia’s design portfolio here.

Julia has applied for more than 100 jobs and spent about a year searching for full-time work as she started her search many months before she graduated. She’s an expert in how company’s are approaching their talent searches.

Julia and her canine companion Nita enjoying an afternoon in a Toronto park.

Covid has not been kind to the fashion industry, among many others. Fortunately, she has been successful recently and starts working in Vancouver later this month, ten months after she graduated.

When someone has a year of job searching experience and dealing with companies and human resources people that post job ads, we can all learn from them.

Employers, there is lots of talent out there. People want to work for you if you act like a respectful and professional organization. How you interact with every applicant who applies to a posted job will help you to build—or damage— your brand. Your interactions will make your job search effective, or not.

Although your Human Resources people may be tasked with recruiting people, it’s really your employees and leadership who much act in ways to attract talent continually. Your culture is or should be a magnet for talent.

Is your culture a talent magnet?

First, what not to do…

There are countless companies who posted job ads and never acknowledged receiving Julia’s resume or application. That’s not good for a company’s brand. If your HR people are too busy to respond, then set up an automatic response using technology.

The most common response time from companies that Julia applied to was weeks after she applied. Weeks. Not days. Weeks.

What would happen to revenue if your salespeople followed HR’s lead and took weeks to respond to a customer? The customer would go somewhere else.

Well, that’s what your applicants are doing.

In fact, out of more than 100 applications, fewer than five responded in a timely manner, or less than five percent.

Some companies asked for mini (or not so mini) projects so the applicant could demonstrate their skills. This is a great idea to evaluate candidates. However, some companies never acknowledged receiving the project and never contacted the applicant.

This is rude and unprofessional, given the amount of time spent by the applicant.

Your Human Resources department can very easily hurt your company’s brand and send great talent straight to your competition.

Ignoring an applicant and not acknowledging their efforts is turning Human Resources departments into Hardly Relevant departments.

It’s time for HR to get professional and treat job applicants with respect and speed.” — Phil Symchych

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

Julia did have a part-time job on the retail side for one of Canada’s largest fashion brands. This was a positive experience as she was well-trained, informed about business targets, and felt like part of the team. This company had excellent local leadership and Human Resources practices.

Smaller companies that don’t have Human Resources departments conducted interviews by people who Julia might be working with, in her area, an actual peer. This was a very good practice because they could talk the technical language that HR people sometimes struggle with communicating or understanding.

Some interviewers spent time chatting about personal things such as where to live or not live in a new city, and other important logistics that are not job specific. This also builds trust and enhances the company’s brand.

In smaller or private companies, it’s important for the owner to ensure a good fit of new employees with the company’s culture and philosophy. A short conversation by the owner, early on, will help both sides get more comfortable with each other.

For owners, don’t leave all of the hiring process to someone else, especially if the new employee will be working with or reporting to you.

In summary, everything that a company does when searching for talent will either strengthen or weaken the company’s brand and its ability to attract and retain talent. Make sure your Human Resources people or anyone in recruiting is aware of the importance of treating all applicants with respect.

Thanks, Julia, for allowing me to share your story, and for teaching us how employers can be better in their search for talent. Congratulations and good luck on your new job in Vancouver!

And remember, when it’s minus 40 degrees in Saskatchewan, I don’t want to hear how it’s plus ten degrees and sunny in Vancouver.

If you’d like to improve your talent recruitment and retention, give me a call or reply to this email.

Full speed ahead!

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