Hiring — A Puzzling Process
The process of hiring (and getting hired) can be puzzling, even in these days of low unemployment. With candidates able to be more selective about their options, companies are seeking the services of professionals to assist them in navigating this new playing field.
Gina Breslin, consultant from North Group Consultants in Lititz, is one such person who helps organizations (and individuals) find the best match. Character traits, not just one’s ability to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are now an important consideration to hiring companies.
Breslin suggests starting the hiring process with a candidate profile to assess important characteristics, skills, and experiences of the successful candidate.
The term “soft skills” is bantered about a lot. What exactly are soft skills? These include personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
“At North Group, we define them as characteristics,” Breslin adds. “Identifying the characteristics that are essential to the role is a foundation to a successful hiring process. The characteristics, or ‘soft skills’ (we avoid use of this term as we view characteristics as broader than ‘soft skills’ and not soft at all) identified are essential in developing an understanding of who the candidate is and how they behave and interact with others.”
Breslin says that hiring based upon desired characteristics is an important consideration.
“As Dee Ann Turner, vice president of corporate talent at Chick-Fil-A, states in her book, It’s My Pleasure, ‘People can be taught to do a lot, but if they have poor character, skill and talent will not compensate for the negative impact they can have on an organization,’” says Breslin.
Apparently, it’s good news for future employees that characteristics count more than ever. And most characteristics can be learned or improved upon.
Yet good characteristics and a fine reputation aren’t common terms on a resume or questions usually presented in a face-to-face interview. How can a would-be employee shine in these circumstances?
Breslin explained that one of her priorities in every hiring process is to create an environment where candidates are encouraged to be themselves: be honest, be sincere, and be transparent.
It is in the candidate’s best interest to find an organization that appreciates them for who they are and for the characteristics, skills, and experiences they will bring to the table.
Breslin also encourages candidates to truly investigate the potential new employer to determine if the culture is an ideal match for them. Look to understand leadership styles, their approach to teamwork and employee development, and how communication is handled within the company.
Breslin often asks employers, “What are you doing to create a work environment and culture to attract good people and where your current employees want to stay?”
In this age of the internet and social media, job-hiring boards, such as Indeed, Ladders, and Monster, seem to be reigning high in the candidate’s toolbox. But do these sites really work, or are they a waste of the job seeker’s time and effort?
Breslin cautions that social media can be a double-edged sword.
“Yes, we find that Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and the local newspaper actually do work and are great ways to look for new opportunities,” says Breslin. But hiring companies also spend a good deal of time looking at your social media postings.
When looking to hire a new team member, Breslin says they consider it a best practice for employers to cast a wide net, utilizing a variety of outlets (jobs boards, social media, print, etc.).
LinkedIn is probably the best platform for job seekers to highlight their characteristics, but know that some organizations have a policy against using social media in their hiring process.
“Another great option to communicate who you are and your characteristics is a personalized cover letter or letter of qualifications attached to your resume,” suggests Breslin.
Once again, sometimes the “old-fashioned” approach works the best, since not many people are currently using it.
With the omnipresence of social media and the Internet, potential job candidates ponder just how much their future employers can find about them — information perhaps strategically left off of their resumes. Everyone warns you not to place any postings on social media that could come back to haunt you.
You should assume that employers will be fact checking everything from credit history, to education, to DMV records. To allay any fears of questions that might arise from a background check, be up front and candid. Most employers will appreciate the honesty.
If you would like to run a background check on yourself, ensure the provider is a legitimate source due to the significant personal information that will need to be given for the checks to be completed.
You should also “search” yourself every now and then on the internet to see what pops up.
Breslin goes on to say that as an employer, if you end up in a situation where your intuition is telling you something different from what the data is suggesting, trust your gut. You are not setting up a new hire to be successful in their role if you are second-guessing them from the onset.
Are resumes becoming obsolete?
“Definitely not,” says Breslin. “I see LinkedIn as supplemental to the traditional resume. However, it’s highly recommended that job seekers read job ads/postings carefully and provide the exact information the organization is requesting, in the desired format, and in the preferred method.”
Breslin’s best advice to job seekers is:
• Customize your resume and cover letter to the position and company for which you are applying.
• Don’t hesitate to apply for positions for which you may be “under qualified.”
• In addition to regularly checking the top job boards for opportunities, research companies that appeal to you and reach out to them.
• Network, network, network.
Melinda Williams is the managing partner of The Williams Group, a public relations, journalism, and photography firm. www.TheWilliamsGroup.info