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There’s no secret formula for hiring a perfect team. As your organization grows and adjusts to changing consumer behavior and fluctuation in the market, so too will your team. Keep in mind that while you are hiring for your needs now, you should also strive to retain employees who will benefit your organization in the future. So, while it’s important to consider the needs of your business today, it’s always just as important to think about the human element. Cultivating the right team that can act synergistically takes time along with the right leadership and management style and structure. Though there is no magic formula for finding the right team, there are some general guidelines that may help strengthen your hiring practices.

What are the elements of a successful recruiting strategy?

You can’t expect the right person to simply walk through your doors — so when it comes to hiring, one needs to pay close attention to details and explore more modern approaches to recruitment. Here are just a few key elements of a successful recruiting strategy that we think deserve your attention.

1. Writing a detailed job description

You’ve identified a need within your organization for one or many people - great; so how do you express that need in a job description? These days the job requirements and responsibilities section has become an almost comically and impossibly long list of hyper-focused asks and duties that an ideal candidate who could meet such demands are commonly called a “unicorns” — meaning that they’re fictional beings that don’t actually exist. Before you start to fill out these areas, leave some breathing room to actually meet people who can handle the position but are also willing and eager to learn and grow with your company.

A huge, and common mistake is hiring for current or past expertise or pedigree. Past performance does not guarantee much, if anything at all, for the future of your organization.  Another often overlooked or under emphasized matter comes when it’s time to clearly outline the company benefits. You should let your current employees help you! Ask your senior leadership what they need and what they’re looking for before crafting your listing. Is there something that you offer that makes you stand out and invite the right candidate to apply? Be sure to list the core functions/requirements for the position as well as the perks (for instance, a generous maternity or paternity policy, partnership opportunities, a robust 401k offering or maybe a faster-than-usual vesting schedule). An emphasis on true work-life balance (like flexible working schedules for example) can help your organization not only find but keep the right kinds of people. This type of environment is becoming more important each year.1,2

2. Choosing the right job boards to post employment openings

The venue is definitely important. Some of the largest, most sweeping job boards include, but are not limited to, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, and Career Builder. But there are other, more specialized places that may not only be cheaper to use but also more effective for finding the right candidate, depending on your industry and open position. Just a few of the more popular specialty boards include Behance, Mediabistro, Fairygodboss, and Idealist. It doesn’t hurt to cross post on multiple sites, just make sure you put the proper resources in place to receive and review applications in a timely manner.

3. Choosing the most qualified candidates

When it comes to answering the question of how to actually hire employees, now’s the time to think outside of the box. Years of experience are nice, but don’t always predict future outcomes. Look more at what skills the candidate already has, what they’re working toward professionally, and ask what they’re pursuing outside of work that’s fulfilling both personally and professionally. Getting an idea of a potential hire’s ability to learn and grow can help you make a more informed decision. Another great tip is to assign a qualified, trusted employee to review applications. This will help you and your team get a better idea as to whom they would like to work with for the foreseeable future.1,3

4. Interview strategies

Most candidates are ready to hear the same banal questions that are asked in every interview:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Tell me about your biggest professional win. 
  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses. 
  • What do you think you’ll bring to this organization?

These kinds of questions rarely unearth the important information about the person you’re interviewing. An interview should not be a face-to-face review of someone’s past, but an opportunity for you, the interviewer, to truly get to know the person sitting on the other side of the table. Group interviews can sometimes be useful depending on the industry but require a skilled interviewer. They also have some serious downsides, so make sure this isn’t the only method you’re using.

Be creative; ask thoughtful, unique questions. Give them scenarios or problems to solve that pertain to your industry. Ask employees both above and below the open position what questions they would ask a potential hire. Your goal for this process should be to not only get to know the person but to understand how they interact with your space and your employees. Take them on a tour of your space, introduce them to a few potential coworkers, and give them some time for small talk to see how they interact. Give them a small assignment to complete either in person or at home and have it returned for review. All of these things will hopefully add up to a more comprehensive picture of a potential hire.4,5

5. Writing a job offer letter

When it comes time to make an offer it’s important to send a formal offer letter. This is a potentially legally binding contract once you and your potential hire sign it. Until that point, it is a formal invitation for the candidate to join your organization, so make sure it’s clear and has a friendly tone. The letter should include information on some key things like salary, job title, expectations, contingencies, hierarchal structure or direct reports, and a starting date for example. If the candidate comes back with a counter offer, think long and hard about how difficult it would be to find someone else with the same set of personal and professional skills. It’s typically in your best interest to consider the counter offer and do your best to work with the caudate to make reasonable accommodations.2,6

What documents do employers need?

Before starting out with your creative recruiting strategy, ensure that your business has all of the required documents securely in place. These items can sometimes vary state to state, so it is critical that you check your local labor laws. Typically, the documents that an employer needs include:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • State Tax ID number (which you can learn more about here)
  • Employee handbook
  • Employee contracts
  • W-4 & I-9 forms

Hiring the most relevant and best suited employees for your team is key to ensure long term growth and quality of work. By matching their skillsets, personality, diversity, and creativity with your existing team you’re helping to continue building a more positive working environment and investing in the future of your organization. For more helpful insights visit the Business Solutions Center.

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Lundin, Paul. How To Hire & Lead Great Teams. 27 Oct. 2016, https://medium.com/startup-grind/how-to-create-lead-great-teams-9bba962e1fd6.
Kohll, Alan. "The Evolving Definition Of Work-Life Balance." Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 May 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/03/27/the-evolving-definition-of-work-life-balance/?sh=265ddb19ed3e.
3 "The 4 Hiring Practices of Highly Successful Organizations." Inc.com, Inc., 16 Jan. 2002, www.inc.com/articles/2002/01/23815.html.
4 "How to Hire the Right Person." The New York Times, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/how-to-hire-the-right-person
5 Martic, Kristina. “Pros and Cons of Group Interviews." Medium, HR Blog & Resources, 17 Jan. 2019, https://medium.com/hr-blog-resources/pros-and-cons-of-group-interviews-f5d9b6bb85c7.
6 "What to Include in a Job Offer Letter." Business News Daily, www.businessnewsdaily.com/15936-how-to-write-job-offer-letter.html.

The information included is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts. It is the reader’s responsibility to comply with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations and to make their own decisions about how to operate their business. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, its affiliates and their employees make no warranties about the information nor guarantee of results, and they assume no liability in connection with the information provided.