Filling Your Company with 'A-Players'
By ensuring your processes are up to date, you'll have a much better chance of attracting and retaining great entry-level candidates.
By Andre LaVoie
Filling entry-level roles is harder than it seems. You're investing in young talent who can potentially shape the future of your company. Unfortunately, most HR and talent-acquisition professionals feel uncertain about how they assess and recruit entry-level candidates.
The October 2016 Entry-Level Applicant Job Skills Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that only 20 percent of HR professionals were "very" or "extremely" confident in their organization's ability to effectively assess the skills of entry-level applicants.
You need more confidence in your hiring strategy. When you measure quality of hire, you can make adjustments and only hire the best entry-level talent. Here's how:
Measure How You Screen
Quality of hire tells you how your hiring team is doing with regard to bringing on talent that fits. Identify what you need to measure so you can find where to make improvements.
For pre-hire actions, look at metrics such as candidates-per hire and job-posting effectiveness. This way, you can figure out where your hiring team is spending too much time and too many resources.
For example, if your candidates-per hire is high, maybe you need to refine how to assess and screen applicants. You shouldn't be spending too much time interviewing and engaging with a lot of job seekers. Focus on narrowing it down to a few qualified individuals.
Additionally, your job post may be ineffective. Review the wording so it attracts entry-level candidates specifically. In addition to detailing duties and responsibilities, you should also identify the transferable skills needed for the role, because entry-level candidates are often equipped with these skills and are ready to prove themselves. For example, highlight the importance of time management and critical thinking.
Consider promoting your company to recent graduates by showcasing your company values. By doing this, you are targeting like-minded candidates who will fit into your culture. Describe how your core values and vision steer the company. For example, Squarespace lists "Be Your Own Customer" as one of its core values to show how the company wants employees who can step into the shoes of its customers and who are empathetic. After all, Squarespace runs on creativity and is focused on delivering premier customer service. It needs empathetic employees who can relate to the frustrations of their clients and effectively resolve problems in a kind, compassionate way.
If you have high turnover in entry-level roles, your job descriptions may still need work. The accuracy of job descriptions can make a big difference not just in attracting talent, but retaining it as well.
OfficeTeam's 2014 survey found that only 50 percent of the 2,290 administrative professionals queried said their job description accurately describes the work they do. Forty-one percent of those surveyed say that their jobs have evolved significantly and consider their descriptions to be inaccurate.
To keep job descriptions updated so they accurately describe the current level of responsibilities, make sure everyone collaborates. Ask employees to describe the scope and size of their job, assign their managers to review and approve the updated document and, finally, have HR ensure that the descriptions comply with laws, are balanced and consistently worded with the rest of the organization.
It's essential that expectations are clear throughout the employee lifecycle.
Data can't improve your processes if you aren't looking at it. You need to pull reports regularly to see where your hiring team is falling short.
You can really only base the effectiveness of your hiring team on how well the people they bring on perform, how they fit into the culture, and how long they stay with the company. Measuring quality of hire doesn't stop at onboarding.
Look at comparisons between goal achievement and performance of new hires and tenured employees. Collaborate with new hires to set realistic objectives to help guide their transition into their new roles.
You can measure their performance by using these objectives as benchmarks. When they aren't hitting them, it's best to use open communication to discuss performance and help them by offering constructive feedback.
Don't force entry-level new hires out on their own right away. You can't assume they will adapt quickly. Make their transition easier by designing an effective onboarding program.
Use quality-of-onboarding metrics to see how effective your current onboarding program is. At the 90-day mark, conduct a self-assessment by asking new hires about their general satisfaction regarding how well you set them up for doing their job on a daily basis, how clearly you set goals and expectations, and how well the community treated them.
The onboarding program should familiarize new hires with policies and procedures and make them feel comfortable with asking questions. Assign them mentors, because asking a single person questions is far easier than seeking out help from an office full of strangers. This will set new hires up to successfully learn their role and become a part of the culture with fewer social obstacles.
Your current team of all-stars can tell you a lot about what to expect from your new hires. Use performance data from top performers to better assess applicants. Look for similarities in your A-players and applicants.
You're looking for candidates with a lot of potential. They may be demonstrating a strong aptitude for the skills and competencies you're looking for that suit your current entry-level needs, but they should also show potential for growth. Don't focus only on performance -- look for the right attitude and behaviors that make up the best of the best on your current team.
You can gauge their attitude by asking the right interview questions. Instead of asking them about what they've accomplished, inquire how they overcame an obstacle.
Chances are, these entry-level candidates don't have much work experience. However, they certainly will have stories that will show how they work with others, solve problems and make tough decisions. Compare their answers to how your A-players perform their duties. Do they share similar processes and mindsets? How do they think alike?
Conduct surveys to get a better understanding of how your best employees make decisions and consistently maintain top performance. Encourage management to observe their behavior and note how they perform.
For example, top performers regularly seek out feedback. After a project, they'll assess the outcome and ask leaders for advice on how they can improve. Ask a question during the interview to see how candidates reflect on their work and how they seek out growth opportunities.
Data from your top performers helps hiring teams evaluate candidates so they can feel more confident in making offers. When your hiring team can determine if new hires will follow in the footsteps of tenured high performers, they can be more confident in offering the candidate the role.
Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, a talent management firm that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A-players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.