Recruiting the right person for the right role is all about finding the best possible match between an individual and the job.
Let me use an example to explain how I recommend you recruit someone, starting with preparing the job description.
Let's say you need to hire a salesperson. What do you do now?
You could write out a job description based on what you think the salesperson should do. (Or you could find and copy a template job description from your files or from another company's job ad -- I don't recommend this by any means, but it does happen!)
But if you're not totally familiar with what your company's salespeople do or should do, you may risk writing out a wish list that turns the right candidates away and attracts the wrong ones. Although you might know the key requirements for the job -- for example, the ability to build rapport -- you might add some nonessential ones too.
A better approach is to look at your star salespeople and use them as models. In fact, whether you are looking for a secretary, plumber, accountant, marketer or anyone, the best way to attract the right candidate is to model your top performers.
Sit down with them and ask them some questions. Go "on the road" with them and observe how they work.
The information you get will be invaluable. It will help you prepare the job description and also flag things to look for when you start interviewing candidates. (More on that in a later article.)
In short, take the time to find out what qualities your stars possess that makes them successful in their roles. What drives them? What do they like and dislike about their jobs? What are their ambitions? What do they do that makes them successful?
You might find that there are certain attributes that all your stars share, and certain attributes that differ between them. The qualities that they share are the key attributes that you're looking for in the salesperson you want to recruit. The attributes that vary among your salespeople are nonessential.
Now write out your job description. This time it will be more realistic -- since it's based on real people -- and will also be based on your stars, so only people who think they've got star qualities will apply for the job!
What if you don't employ any salespeople at the moment? Or you're not satisfied with any of your current salespeople?
Don't be tempted to use the wish list approach. You need to find the top salespeople at companies like yours -- companies that sell the same types of products or services, in the same way, to the same kinds of customers -- and model them.
This isn't as difficult as it may sound.
If you don't know of any companies or salespeople who come to mind and are using an executive search firm, this firm should be able to work with you to identify the characteristics of star salespeople at other companies. You may even be able to organize to meet with these salespeople if you offer to take them out for say, breakfast or lunch.
If you don't plan to use an executive search firm, it's time to network! Speak to representatives from your local chamber of commerce or a professional, business or sales association. They should be able to point you towards the type of people you should be modeling.
Of course, any one of these activities may turn up people you would like to employ. Just make sure that you don't misrepresent yourself as looking for "models" if you are really looking for candidates, both to the individuals themselves and (if applicable) their employers.
As mentioned above, this "modeling" approach applies to recruiting anyone. But what if you need to appoint someone to a role that doesn't currently exist in your (or any) organization?
If the role combines elements that already exist somewhere, then you can find and model people who are superior at performing those elements. If the role is genuinely unique, then you might resort to preparing a job description from scratch. In this case, it's wise to list what the job will involve and what outcomes you want achieved and leave it at that.
Don't go further and list a range of personal and professional qualities that aren't essential to the role. When you interview candidates you can select someone based on having the "nice-to-haves" as well as the essentials.
Of course, getting the right people to apply is only the first step in recruiting the right person for the right role. The next step is to assess candidates to identify those who genuinely possess the talents, skills and knowledge needed for the position. I'll discuss that in a future article!