Why do employers nearly always overlook the best candidate?

Is there career progression, for example, which is something that ambitious candidates will want to see?

Whether recruiting to replace a member of staff who has resigned or because they need additional staff due to increased workloads, every manager wants to find the best staff; unfortunately, this does not happen as often as it should.

If you are one of those managers who wonder why they are not seeing the calibre of candidates they hoped for or are finding the staff they have hired are not as good as they need them to be, it might be time to turn how you recruit on its head.

Traditional recruitment processes

Most companies have recruitment processes that follow similar lines, starting with a manager contacting their HR department and agreeing a job description. If they are recruiting for an existing role, this job description is generally already in place and rarely changed prior to the vacancy being advertised.

Once applications have been received, the manager reviews them, tending to look for people doing the same or a similar job at the same or a similar level. This is very much a process that encourages managers to look for a like-for-like replacement for the employee who is leaving, which is where the process falls down and why you are not attracting the best candidates.

New ways of thinking about recruitment

If you want to attract the best candidates, you need to start by thinking about what would make them want to work for you.

This starts with the job description. Your initial reaction might be to automatically approve the existing description so that the vacancy can be advertised quickly; however, in the long run, this will cost you time because you will end up reviewing inappropriate applications or interviewing poor candidates. Instead, take time to review the job description and ask yourself whether it sounds like the type of job a high-quality candidate would be interested in.

When you advertise the vacancy, you need to ask yourself the same question. Your advert should not only say what the role is but also what it offers candidates.

Is there career progression, for example, which is something that ambitious candidates will want to see? Does it offer opportunities to learn new skills or innovate within the role? Just as you want a candidate to sell themselves to you, you need to sell your company and the role to attract the best candidates.

Once you start to receive applications, you need to look at them with fresh eyes, stepping away from the idea that you need a ‘like-for-like’ candidate. Think about what you want in an employee and go from there.

If you want someone who is ambitious and wants to grow with your company, for example, look for a candidate who has taken on more responsibility with each role and may be taking a further step up if they come to work for you. Don’t discount them just because they are not already doing the job you are recruiting for or because you are worried about having to train them.

While this might seem counter-intuitive, it is an approach that will serve you well in the long run and result in you finding great candidates and exceptional employees.

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