I’m sure many of you remember the dark days the recent past, when we found out that 70% of employees were not engaged at work. Other recent milestones include the foot out the door report that found that most millennials work with what some might label a certain generational ambivalence. Balancing us from the other side has been a rollicking uptick in new jobs since ‘08. Now that’s slowing down too: As of April 2016, only 160,000 new jobs had been created, as the Labor Department reported.
While we may not set our hiring targets to statistics, they are revealing. It’s a tight market and it costs time, money, and morale to make a bad hire. So here are three best and three worst ways to hire talent:
Best: Play the odds. Top employers (yup, Google is one) don’t just invest in one candidate, they invest in several. Larger firms make it a policy to play the odds, and have as large a field as they can. They interview at least five, if not 10, if not 15, candidates for one job. The more choices, the higher the probability of the best fit.
Worst: Bet on one horse. Investing in one single candidate has a twofold risk. One, you’re prematurely forecasting to the candidate, which ironically may diminish their enthusiasm. Two, you may not be making the right choice. While it’s becoming harder, according to the studies, to find the best candidates, depending on your field, it may be far more damaging on the business side to make a bad hire than leave a position open.
Best: Hold hands all the way to the door. Yes: Do hone that candidate experience to a streamlined but engaging process. This is a bottom-line practice in a super-competitive job market, and there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of the tech at our fingers, including video. That means a hiring process that includes video, digital interviews, social recruiting, and a lot of social and mobile back and forth. And for video, make sure you know what you’re doing.
Worst: Don’t over-communicate. Forget about laissez faire here, or trying to not appear desperate. A culture of transparency means be honest and present. Taking the nature over nurture approach with a top potential hire is also potentially turning a candidate experience into a strange black hole, another unnecessary risk. We’re learning that the experience before hire is critical. Yet many organizations are still lax with everything from overwhelming microsites to an utterly impolite lack of follow-up. Please don’t ignore the candidate experience.
Best: Enable employees to rise towards the top. It’s now common knowledge that engagement is where it’s at. A key factor in engagement among not just millennials (who already make up the majority of the workforce) but the workforce in general is being able to grow and become senior leaders in a firm.
Worst: Don’t refine your succession process. Promoting from within has its merits. If the criteria is controversial, however, it could turn an HR dream into a nightmare. Witness Yahoo, whose flawed peer review system caused how many people to not be promoted. Check the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Having invested years in a firm, being passed over for a promotion burns even more.
Certainly there are other factors: In an interview, don’t just ask all the questions, let the candidate ask the questions, too. Don’t just have one interview, have several. Don’t be mild and gentle in the interview process and then expect that the cutthroat, hyper-caffeinated culture of the actual workplace isn’t a shock to the system. It will be, and it may shorten that honeymoon phase enough to shorten the length of the marriage.
Do assume that candidates have formed their own perception of your firm long before they decided to apply for a job. Also assume that they expect that companies, rightly or wrongly, have worked hard to make the hiring experience reflect the company brand. Organizations may be mired in mud and indecision when it comes to polishing up the brand, but from the outside, there may not be much empathy for that. It’s a buyer’s market and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. It’s likely time to tighten up your brand and the candidate experience.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.