Networking Can Maximize the Search for Good Hires
I was talking to a friend who is the vice president for business development at his company. He was looking for a new project manager. “If you hear of anyone who may fit the qualifications, have them contact me,” he said.
I asked him why couldn’t he find someone through the regular processes — the classifieds or employment Web sites. “Finding good people is tough,” he said. “You get hundreds of resumes from the online sources, but over 50 percent aren’t even close to being qualified. That still leaves 80 to 100 resumes to sift through, call, and take through the process. I don’t have the time, and it is like finding a needle in a haystack. It is easier to find someone through my business relationships.”
As I work with businesses both locally and nationally, this is an oft-repeated scenario. Business managers are frustrated with the difficulty of locating qualified and quality employees. Interestingly, on the other side, I also see young adults who are having difficulty entering the job market — and they offer similarly negative reports about the application process.
The hiring and job search system isn’t working well. Why? We have the technology and electronic connectedness to reach out to millions of potential workers across the world. But we do not have the systems in place to process all of the information, and get the right kind of information to help match employers and potential employees.
“Good” employees — those who work well in a specific business — must not only have the right kind of technical training and expertise, but they also must match the cultural milieu of the company — its communication style, dress code and work ethic. Employers are looking for positive character qualities, as well: a desire to learn, the ability to work well on a team with others, dependability, attention to detail, willingness to follow directions. It is extremely difficult to determine whether an applicant has these qualities through their resume, an interview or a conversation with references.
Managers often default to the method that has worked in the past: networking. It isn’t perfect, but getting referrals from those who know you and your business is still one of the best ways to find someone who may fit well with your company. Here are some tips on how to maximize your networking in today’s business climate:
Don’t wait until you have an open position to let people know you are looking for good people. I have a successful businessman who repeatedly tells me: “If you know of any good people looking for work, send them my way. Give them my cell number and have them call me. We are always looking for good people.” I have done so, and he has hired people I have referred to him. Talk to (or e-mail) friends and business associates who are well-connected and know a lot of people. Don’t just talk to your normal circle of friends. Include your CPA, financial advisor, insurance agent, pastor and your business associates who are out talking to people a lot.
Develop a page on your company’s Web site describing the types of people you are looking for. You can more fully describe the character qualities, types of jobs and training, and your business’ culture and values. Make sure you provide the name, phone number or e-mail of a person to contact for more information. This is not about posting specific jobs; it is a resource to direct friends to. Create ongoing relationships with trainers and educators. Get to know the faculty at the local colleges. Meet with the instructors at the vocational/technical schools. And be sure to find ways to keep in touch with the career placement counselors at each training institution in your community.
In the areas where you will have ongoing staffing needs, create internships or part-time positions for students. The best way to land good talent is to get them while they are being trained. Finding — and keeping — quality employees will be one of the distinguishing characteristics of successful companies in the decades ahead. Don’t stay stuck in the current nonfunctional system.