Determining the best candidates from the rest requires patience, intelligence and commitment.
Hiring managers in the accountancy and finance space are operating in a candidate-driven market. That said, many hiring managers have trouble attracting suitably qualified candidates even when unemployment rates are high. The key to attracting the right calibre of candidate is based in the concept of ‘effective recruiting’ (i.e. the process of finding and/or attracting applicants for vacant positions).
Everything you have read up to now will put you, the hiring manager, in a very strong position in this regard – but now, you need to move fast to secure the right candidate for the role before the competition snaps them up.
When the CVs start to arrive, it can be tempting to “weed out” the weaker or less suitable candidates with rudimentary and rigid criteria. You might exclude anyone who isn’t Big 4 trained, for example, or those who do not work in an identical role in the same industry. This will certainly minimise the number of CVs for review, but it will very likely exclude some of the best prospective talent in the market.
Look at the examples above in a different light. A candidate in a Top 10 firm as it is generally considered may work in a division within that firm that, due to the size of its client base, is in fact one of the dominant players in that space. And you might be looking for a candidate with FMCG experience only, but there’s a lot of cross-over between the FMCG industry and telco organisations, for example. In both industries, candidates will have experience operating in a high-volume, low-margin, business-to-consumer environment. If you look beyond the headline terminology, you therefore have access to a significantly larger talent pool. People often talk about ‘A players’ but as Patty McCord wrote recently in Harvard Business Review, “one company’s A player may be a B player from another firm”.
Once you set the screening parameters, you need to be reactive. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s a competitive candidate-driven market, so don’t wait until a set date to filter applications. Do it in real-time as they arrive and arrange to meet high-potential candidates as quickly as possible.
On this point, if you’re delegating the interview preparations to your colleagues in HR, tell them who you want to meet; the days and times when you can meet them; who you would like to join the interview panel; and a deadline for completing the task.
This might sound ‘bossy’ but it’s nothing more than taking control of the process. Nine times out of ten, your colleagues in HR will thank you for giving them clarity.
And finally, don’t restrict your comparisons to candidates. Benchmark your high-potential candidates against existing team members and previous hires, rather than their fellow applicants who simply happen to be available in the market at this point in time.
We’ve all heard how costly a poor hire can be, so take the time to attract the right talent in the first instance, and shortlist intelligently. Recruitment can be a messy business, but the best hiring managers will be able to find that diamond in the rough.
What a best-in-class shortlisting process looks like…
In the frenzy to filter dozens of applications, be wary of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
In recruitment, there’s an age-old practice that’s often cited. A hiring manager needs to fill a position. The position is advertised, and CVs start pouring in. To save time, the hiring manager asks the office administrator to bin any CVs with spelling mistakes. Versions of this very rudimentary approach to shortlisting continues today, but at what cost?
To get the most of out of a hiring process, the hiring manager has two obvious options. First, work with an extremely conscientious HR professional who knows your industry inside out and can navigate the ‘fuzziness’ in people’s career experience to find the right person for the role. Second, act as your own gatekeeper and use HR exclusively as the facilitator for the flow of information between candidate and hiring manager.
In the best-case scenario, however, the hiring manager would deal with one or two highly-regarded recruitment companies. Each would search the market and present the hiring manager with their two best candidates within a pre-agreed time frame.
The hiring manager can then decide who he or she wishes to interview and when, before instructing the HR department on the requirements for the interview. This gives each person in the process a defined role, with the hiring manager setting clear parameters and goals for their recruitment consultants and colleagues in HR.
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