We’re going to focus on the hiring side of this equation for this article. We’ve got plenty of advice for job seekers, so if you’re looking for job-hunting advice, check out our advice on when to talk about salary in a job interview and tips for fast-tracking your job hunt. Hopefully those articles get you started on a successful job search!
For hiring managers, there are a lot of challenges as well. So here are four big challenges you’ll probably face during the hiring process, and some tips for what to do when you encounter those challenges.
The right applicants aren’t applying, and the wrong ones are
This is a really, really common problem in the hiring process. You might consider these two separate challenges, but we think they’re interconnected enough that we’ll talk about them together. If you’re seeing the wrong candidates apply for a position, the problem is almost certainly due to your job listing being too vague.
This is something we see all the time. Someone spends hours and hours writing the perfect job description, trying to make it sound as official and elevated as possible. You might, for example, have a statement that says, “Knowledgeable with Microsoft Excel and Word,” because the position will require employees to use these two pieces of Software. But then will come the urge to rewrite it to: “A vast knowledge of integrated software systems in the Microsoft environment.” That sounds fancy, right? And it’s technically true if you think about it (and squint your eyes a bit).
The problem is that you’ve taken something that’s pretty general knowledge for an office worker and turned it into something that sounds like it might require programming knowledge. You can see how someone who is fully qualified for this position might see this line and assume they’re not qualified.
Have your colleagues look over a job listing before you post it. Ask people what job they think this is describing, and if their answer surprises you, ask them to explain why they feel this way. If you end up having the wrong people reach out, ask them what about the job posting made them seem interested in it.
The right applicants come in and interview, but you don’t hear back from them
This situation is fairly common, and it’s harder to diagnose than the previous challenge. At this point, you must do an autopsy of your interview process. Are there any things that you said that might be driving people away? Did the interview process feel chaotic and rushed? How far into the building was the interviewer allowed to go, and is there anything they could have seen that would have turned them away? Did you talk about salary? If so, are you offering a competitive salary for your industry? Is it possible that you’re underpaying, and candidates are changing their mind as soon as they learn this? Or is there some other issue that’s turning them away?
If you try to honestly answer the questions above, you should be able to start narrowing down your possibilities.
If some of the people who came in for interviews were referred by employees of your organization, you should ask the person who referred them if there’s a reason you haven’t heard back from the candidate yet. If all parties are completely honest, you might find a solution to your problem this way.
Another thing you might want to experiment with is asking a friend to come in for a dummy interview. Go through the entire process as if it’s a real interview, and then ask the person afterward if they saw any red flags. There might be something extremely obvious that you didn’t even notice, whereas a fresh pair of eyes might catch it immediately.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this challenge, but we hope the questions and methods we’ve mentioned above get you closer to finding a solution.
Candidates seem interested in the pay, but not in the position
This seems like an odd problem to have, yet it’s one we do hear about. Candidates come in for an interview, yet they’ll only talk about salary and don’t seem interested when you talk about what the job actually entails.
First off, a reality check. People work because they need to feed themselves and their families. While there’s a general understanding that it’s polite to at least feign interest in a position during an interview, how many interviewees are there simply because they love your organization and not because they need the money? Probably zero, and if not zero, then almost certainly few enough that you could count them on one hand. How many of your employees would still work for you if you weren’t paying them, or if they suddenly won the lottery? Again, probably zero. It might be beneficial for your entire process to acknowledge this, at least silently and strategically, before you try to get fresh faces in the door.
So the reality is that candidates are almost certainly interested in the pay more than the position. You can count on this before anyone ever comes in for an interview.
Okay, so now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the challenge that this creates: You have candidates who only seem interested in the pay.
Is the salary you’re offering too high? Perhaps you’ve provided a number that’s a bit too high for the current position, and you’re attracting a lot of people based solely on that. That would be a lovely problem to have, wouldn’t it? However, we’re going to go out on a limb and say this probably isn’t the case.
In fact, it’s likely the opposite is true. Perhaps you’ve offered a salary that’s quite a bit lower than what would be expected for that particular position, which puts your candidates on the defensive automatically.
Your applicants are saying to themselves, “I’m qualified to work in this position, but I can’t really justify working here at this wage. I’ll go in for an interview to see what happens, but I’m not going to take the position unless I can talk that salary up.” You’ve put yourself in a position where it looks like you’re playing hardball, so you’re attracting aggressive negotiators who see this as a challenge. The obvious result is that you’re talking about salary more than anything else.
We see this frequently. An employee who has been with an organization for decades leaves, and the instinct is to fill their position with someone else at that same wage. Unfortunately for you (and for the person who’s leaving, if we’re being honest), if someone has been with your company for this long, you were probably underpaying them. Average salary in many industries goes up faster than what people are getting in raises, and the gap between actual pay and industry averages gets larger the longer an employee stays with a company. Forbes did an interesting piece on this phenomenon.
If a longtime employee has left your company, the salary you must offer a replacement is going to be larger than the person’s who left. That’s just the nature of inflation and competitive wages.
Try offering a larger salary and see if your conversations start to change.
You’re investing too much time and energy into the hiring process
Sometimes, hiring can feel like an uphill battle. People don’t seem interested in your organization when you aren’t hiring, and when you are hiring, getting people in for an interview feels like pulling teeth.
If this sounds like your organization at all, it’s possible that you aren’t focused on becoming an Employer of Choice. An Employer of Choice is the sort of employer that people are naturally drawn to. Thankfully, there are several actionable key traits that define an Employer of Choice, and we’ve written about all of them in depth. That’s a lot to go over here (and this article is already getting pretty lengthy), but we’ll just quickly reiterate the key qualities of an Employer of Choice:
These are the things you should be striving toward as an employer. Can you honestly say that you practice these values? If not, what is holding you back? If it feels like you do consistently follow these guidelines, are there things you could be doing to improve those areas even further?
Being a competitive employer takes a lot of work. You can’t ever rest on your laurels; you must be in a state of perpetual motion. If you can manage to do that, you should see a new life and energy come into your hiring process.
Another thing you might want to try is reaching out to a staffing agency like Staffing Proxy. A staffing agency can help you find talent that you didn’t even know existed, saving you time and money in the process.
Hiring brings with it a slew of challenges, and we’ve touched on four that we see pretty commonly. We hope you find a workable solution to whatever challenge you’re facing in your hiring process. That said, we’re always just an email away. Let us know if there’s anything Staffing Proxy can do for you. We’d love to help!