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Finding Quality Candidates with the Right Characteristics: How to Hire Great Employees, With Greater Confidence

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With a tight labor market and changing expectations about the workplace, many employers today say they’re struggling to find the talent they need. Whatever qualities they may look for in a great employee—things like strong work ethic, reliability, and loyalty—the competition is seeking those same traits, too.

Here are some tips to help you fill open positions with the good, attentive, dedicated workers you need:

1. Define the Role Clearly

What would you list as the top traits of a good employee for this job specifically? Think carefully about the words to describe a good employee in this role.

2. Reality-check Your Requirements

An easy way to end up as an online meme, ask for 5 years of experience in a technology that’s only been around 2 years. In all seriousness, though, ask yourself whether a degree is really necessary for the job or whether people from other industries actually should be considered. What makes a great employee isn’t always the easy-to-check boxes. 

3. Consider Giving a Second Chance

Second chance hiring is gaining steam—and for many reasons.

There are great employees hiding among the crowds who may have a prior criminal history. Unless required by an applicable law or regulation, individuals with a criminal history should not be automatically rejected for jobs. While not every job may be right for every person, employers are encouraged to take an individualized view of an individual’s past including review of various factors such as evidence of rehabilitation, mitigating circumstances and successful job performance since the conviction(s).

Employers should still conduct criminal background checks. Make sure to work with a provider that can deliver comprehensive results. This will help you develop better insights into a candidate’s past history to have a more informed discussion with them regarding their suitability for the specific role.

4. Plan your Strategy

Once you know who you’re looking for and have adjusted your hiring matrices accordingly, where will you seek candidates? How will you appeal to them? The de facto Indeed postings and job fairs may not be enough. Are there ways you can partner with schools, network within the community, drive referrals, or engage in other efforts to find the quality candidates other organizations aren’t reaching?

5. Prioritize the Candidate Experience

Once you find a prospect, how can you make the recruitment process inviting? How can you better meet their needs, whether through easy-to-fill, mobile-friendly applications or an informative interview process?

6. Screen Carefully, but Quickly

You’ll want to evaluate each prospect in depth to see if they have the requisite experience to potentially be successful in the role. But don’t dawdle! If they clearly demonstrate the characteristics common to quality candidates, others will be eager to hire them, too! A rapid-turnaround background check—one where results are typically available same day—is a helpful tool.

8. Take the Long View

Manage your employer brand in a proactive manner. What should you be doing on social media to attract a following of people with the employee characteristics you’re seeking? Could involvement with a charity event forge relationships with individuals possessing the values, traits, and experience you need? Building connections before you need them can pay off. 

9. Don’t Forget to Promote from Within

Sometimes, an employee with all the skills and qualities you’re looking for is staring you right in the face. Always post job openings internally or, better yet, proactively mentor current employees with great work performance reviews to take on roles of increasing responsibility. You’ll be glad you did. 

10. Track and Adjust

No strategy is 100% successful right out of the gate. Continually monitor your results and adjust your activities to match. Wasting too much time vetting applications from a particular job board without finding anyone with the qualities of a good employee? Try other sites. Did a local partnership sound like a great idea but failed to bear fruit? It’s okay to admit it and move on.

Concluding Thoughts

What makes a great employee will vary from company to company and role to role. But you can find the quality candidates you’re seeking by paying attention to all stages of the hiring process.

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