Your team needs star employees. The right employee will go the extra mile to make their role, and your team as a whole, stronger. Whether you have a sales associate who exceeds every goal, an IT manager with a solution for any problem or an accountant who does twice the work in half the time, your best employees add value to your organization that extends well beyond their salary.
It’s easy to spot the stars you already work with, but it’s much harder to find your next best employee when it’s time to hire. When you have a number of applicants, each with several years of good experience, how do you screen for that extra resourcefulness, effort or charisma that makes a candidate a perfect fit? A fresh approach to the entire recruitment process can help bring the best new people to your team.
Take your search beyond the job boards
You can draw great applicants from job postings on your website, forums and social media outlets. But if you want to reach candidates who are not actively searching for new opportunities, use your own network to identify and attract potential team members. Find top-notch candidates by building relationships before you absolutely need to hire.
Meet star candidates in their natural settings
Initiative is one of the defining characteristics star employees share. Joining and attending industry groups and meet-ups, volunteering for nonprofits and charity events, and presenting at trade shows and conferences all show effort beyond minimum job requirements. If you plan to grow your team in the future, joining a few professional organizations can help you meet people who are willing to put extra work into furthering their careers and the goals of organizations they represent. This is a great way to gain new contacts who may be interested in joining your company in the future.
Keep track of your best people when they leave
When a quality employee decides to move on to a new opportunity, make sure that you handle their exit from your organization well to keep the relationship intact. There are many reasons people choose to leave a job, and under different circumstances, previous coworkers may choose to work with you again if they feel that you support and wish them well. Keep lines of communication open with great employees after they leave, and remember them if you find you could really use their help in the future.
Screen for the traits that create success
The interview process is more than a rehash of candidates’ résumés. Find out what your best performers, in roles similar to the one you are hiring for, want in a coworker. Develop strategies to determine if candidates meet these requirements. Looking for specific traits keeps you focused on the qualities you want in a candidate and remove some of the subjectivity from the screening process.
Get the real story
Instead of asking candidates about their strengths and weaknesses, make them show you by asking about specific experiences. This can provide insight into how they will perform within your company. For example, instead of asking a candidate for a client-facing role how they believe they should treat your customers, ask about a specific time they dealt with an angry customer and what happened. You can learn a lot about the interviewee’s real-world sense of team work, responsibility and problem-solving skills, providing a more holistic overview of their skills and personality.
Take a chance on a star in the making
Don’t fear the notorious skilled worker shortage. When a candidate with perfect experience isn’t available, move forward to find a person who has the best overall fit for the job. How can a candidate with less-than-perfect experience become a star? An employee with a great attitude and similar experience can be a great fit for your team in the long run. If you are hiring a technician to work with specific software or equipment, don’t toss out résumés that don’t include the same software or equipment by name. A potential hire with experience mastering similar workflows may be the perfect fit for you. Even if you may face a longer training period for the new employee, an open mind about experience can broaden your pool of potential candidates to include people who may excel in other ways. It’s much easier to teach an eager candidate new technology than to train for personality.
Base your offer on what makes a top performer special
Once you find a star candidate, the last step is to convince them that the chance to work with your team is an ideal opportunity. Hopefully you have been inculcating this impression throughout the recruitment process. If they still need convincing, making an offer is your final pitch. Certainly a reasonable salary and benefits package are of the utmost importance, but star employees will be drawn to less tangible benefits as well.
Offer potential employees a chance to shine
You’ve probably heard legendary things about the benefits that tech giant Google offers their employees: on-site health care, salons, laundry, free food and more. According to the New York Times, even Google finds that an employee’s manager is the most important factor in determining job satisfaction. The critical influence of management helps to level the playing field when you make an offer to a candidate who currently holds another job. While it can’t make up for undervaluing the candidate in terms of salary or benefits, offering a better work and team environment can go a long way in recruiting a truly dedicated worker. Because star employees are ambitious by nature, they are drawn to jobs that will allow them the autonomy, responsibility and support to achieve results.
Help them succeed on their own terms
Flexibility is another invaluable benefit that you can offer potential employees. New technology and business practices where employees can set their own hours or even work remotely part time or occasionally without decreasing productivity. Allowing flexible work indicates to new team members that you value and trust them enough to let them to work how they prefer.
If allowing team members to work outside of traditional hours or complete projects from home sounds chaotic, consider the new cloud-based resources that make this not only possible, but affordable as well. Webmail allows employees to log in and communicate efficiently through e-mail, today’s preferred medium, anywhere and from any computer they choose. Additionally, business solutions allow teams to meet, share data and access their workstations remotely, so employees have access to all of the resources in the office. This may sound difficult to set up, but business providers such as Citrix Systems offer all of these features in scalable, cloud-based formats (GoToMeeting, ShareFile and GoToMyPC, respectively), so the cost of providing flexible work options is easily regained by hiring and retaining the right candidate to move your business forward.
Find the employees that will make your business remarkable
In today’s world of online job postings and recruitment automation, it can be difficult to cut through the excess and find the best person for a job. Many applicants will have similar qualifications on paper, but there is much more to an exceptionally high-performing employee. By creating and maintaining meaningful connections to potential hires and screening for factors that can build long-term success, you can discern between the good and great candidates. Further, creating a job offer that speaks to the qualities that make high-performers unique allows candidates to see that you appreciate their abilities and potential for growth. A comprehensive recruitment strategy targeted at bringing in only the best talent will pay for any extra effort many times over by building a team that exceeds expectations.