The two most common reasons organizations cite for using a recruitment firm are time and level of difficulty. And a poorly structured candidate search can dramatically increase both. A successful hiring process is dependent not just on creating accurate search criteria but also on taking steps to actively adjust the search to find candidates that qualify as your perfect fit.

In this post, learn how to define your search criteria, the telltale signs your search may be out of scope, and ways to correct a search that is going off course. We’ll also share a little insight into how AEBetancourt structures our candidate search process.

It’s hard to know when you’ve found something if you don’t start by defining what you’re even looking for. And while job descriptions are great, they often serve more as legal descriptions than helpful criteria for finding the talents and skills you need to find and select great talent. Effective candidate sourcing is an evolving, ongoing practice throughout the search process, but there are solid guidelines for how to begin.

Ask the right questions

The first step is to ask three critical questions:

  • What does this person need to do?
  • What skills does this person need to have?
  • At the end of their first year, what will success look like?

A good sourcing strategy should start with a defined profile, target candidate, and target market. Finding your perfect-fit hire is about finding alignment between abilities, knowledge, and experience, and then establishing the priority of specific qualifications.

Clarify where the boundaries lie

While you won’t be able to identify every nuance, it is extremely helpful to clarify some of the more common variables you might uncover in your candidate search process. Typically sourcing will begin by targeting the obvious talent and then slowly expanding beyond what is an obvious profile to profiles that appear to be “close” or “just outside” of the defined guidelines.

Some important questions to ask when clarifying these boundaries are:

  • What education, degrees, licenses, or certifications are required for this role? Can experience level be considered instead?
  • Do you have the budget to hire an expert or the capabilities and resources to train someone with potential?
  • If you are hiring for experience, do you want direct industry experience or would related, transferable experience be considered?
  • What personality and traits fit best with your team, organization, and clients/customers?
  • How will the location of a potential candidate come into play? How long is the average commute? Can they work remotely? Do you have the budget to relocate an ideal candidate?

Common Candidate Search Mistakes to Avoid

While your desire (or pressure) to make the right hiring decision can be fairly high, don’t make these mistakes that could do more to push you away from a great hire than toward them.

Using Culture Indexes or Personality Surveys as deciding factors for whether or not to interview a prospective candidate. These tools are designed to be a contributing factor to making a hiring decision, not the definitive factor. Too often the resulting information from these tools can also be misinterpreted or even inaccurate.

If you have concerns about conducting a face-to-face (or even a video interview) schedule a brief phone interview instead to talk through and clarify your concerns.

Only interviewing candidates that perfectly match your ideal. Many times we want to hire someone who matches our checkboxes with 100% perfection. While an understandable goal, the problem is that a candidate that completely matches “the mold” may not exist. And if they do, they may quickly grow out of the position you are now hiring for.

Instead look for a candidate that can accomplish the job you want them to do. While you should aim to be close to your perfect-match qualifications and characteristics, don’t discount candidates who may be just outside of the mold you are looking for. This is especially true for candidates with a healthy hunger to succeed. Oftentimes, these employees will surprise you with the extra effort they contribute to prove themselves.

Relying too much on instinct. While intuition and gut feelings have their place in business, selecting, interviewing, or hiring candidates based on feel or personality alone could mean missing out on a great hire.

Placing too much emphasis on a hiring manager’s feelings could allow for personal biases to cloud objective thinking. And while you want new employees to fit your current corporate culture, you don’t want your entire hiring decision to be based on one aspect alone.

We create and use a Candidate Scorecard to evaluate each prospective candidate against a predefined benchmark. Our interviewing method also follows a consistent process of candidates walking us through their resumes and career history from past to present. This is a modified version of what is called the A-method or top grading interview style. Combining these two practices allows us to interview and evaluate, candidates based upon their education, skills, talent, and personality then recommend them by their ability to perform in the role. This also helps us identify and address any red flags in candidate work histories such as patterns of terminations.

How to Recognize Your Candidate Search is Out of Scope

With so many variables involved in the hiring process, and with so much at stake, there are real potential risks for your candidate search to become too narrowly focused or too broadly approached. The key is to notice the warning signs and understand what adjustments to make.

Signs your search is too broad

If you are receiving an overwhelming number of unqualified applicants or sourcing too many unqualified candidates in an active search, your candidate search parameters are set too broadly.

The most common cause is a poor or loosely defined profile for your ideal candidate. While less frequent, the same problem can also happen if your sourcing strategy isn’t properly defined.

Signs your search is too narrow

Conversely, if you are struggling to receive applications or to find candidates when actively sourcing, your search is likely too narrowly focused.

In this case, the problem typically stems from a misalignment of who your perfect-fit hire is and some other factor such as seniority, compensation or geography. However, it could also be something as simple as using the wrong keywords, filters, and identifiers while sourcing, so be sure to confirm how you have that structured.

Consequences of Being Out of Scope

If you’re someone who likes to know the bottom line, here are some real consequences of conducting a candidate search that is out of scope.

Missed opportunities for finding and potentially hiring great talent. This can happen in either case. Too narrow a focus and that next great hire may not even apply or be found in your search. Too broad and you could easily overlook them among a sea of unqualified candidates.

Increased time to hire. Whether you are conducting a candidate search yourself or have hired a recruitment firm, no one wants a search to drag on needlessly. If your candidate search is too broad you will waste time reviewing candidates nowhere near your ideal. However, a search that is too narrow can turn your search into the real-life version of finding a needle in a haystack.

Increased cost to hire. Many factors can add up quickly during the hiring process if you’re not paying attention, especially when the process is delayed needlessly. Let’s start with the cost of the unfilled position itself, then factor in the cost of your human resources department, hiring manager, or recruitment firm for delays in time or unnecessary work. Finally, there’s the cost of making a bad hiring decision if you don’t find the person you want and need to hire.

Our process at AEBetancourt begins with a tailored 360° Profile based upon our clients’ needs, industry, market, and specific roles being filled. This profile becomes our roadmap for how we source, identify, and connect with target candidates. To verify the defined scope of the new candidate search, we compile Candidate Benchmark Lists using a diverse range of candidates at varying levels of experience and industry knowledge. Reviewing this with our clients allows us to align our search strategy and mutual goals.

Our Perfect-fit Process is designed to target the right talent in the right market to decrease both time and cost to hire. Plus our model provides dedicated Talent Development Specialists to your search to manage the entire project or any component you need assistance with.

As a hiring company, you should never wait for the warning signs, expanding timeframe, or creeping costs to make adjustments to your candidate search. Whether you are working with an external third party or with internal departments or teams, communication is key. Plan frequent and consistent check-ins to evaluate your search progress and to make any needed adjustments.

Your key areas to evaluate should include:

  • Quality of candidates identified within the defined 360° Profile and target market. Expand or contract the scope of your candidate search based on your findings.
  • Compensation package relative to market research and candidate conversations. Be prepared to adjust your total compensation package to be competitive to attract and land the right talent.
  • Job posting activity and engagement. A job posting should be much more than simply listing a job description. Instead, it should be viewed as a marketing piece that should encompass your organization’s culture, mission and vision, values, position benefits, company perks, as well as the growth trajectory for the role. Equally important, is where your job posting is placed. The audience and user profile of the platform or website used should mirror your ideal candidate profile.

Conducting a successful search process means evaluating and appropriately reacting to a wide variety of information and activity. It is essential to start with clear goals and objectives, realistic expectations, and a defined strategy. However, regular and focused communication with your entire hiring team is needed to properly evaluate progress and determine where any adjustments might be needed in your strategy or approach.

Do you have questions about your talent acquisition processes? Contact us today with your concerns, we’re happy to help. Until then, learn the keys to an effective recruitment process by accessing our guide today.

a guide to the recruitment process