Being an “Employer-of-Choice” makes recruiting easier.

It's been said that trying to find quality employees is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Over the years, I've grown to believe that if properly executed, an ongoing employee recruiting plan can make the task much more manageable. I'd liken it to trying to find a needle in a haystack - using a magnet!

The most important aspect of recruiting is to understand that if you wait until you have a need, it's probably too late. Immediate need creates urgency, which results in possible shortcuts and settling for a less-than-ideal candidate.

Before you can find that ideal employee, you must prepare a job description that lists the competencies, skills, education and abilities required. You should also list any physical requirements, such as lifting specific amounts of weight. Knowing what skills and background you want, based on specific job responsibilities, makes it easier to select a recruiting channel and narrow the search before you even start. Certain skill sets are easier to find, for example, with a national recruitment effort vs. local word-of-mouth, specialized placement agencies or newspaper ads. Once you know the skills and tasks required, you can also tailor your advertising, job posting or search criteria accordingly, which will also control responses to the extent that you won't be wading through piles of unqualified applications.

Being an “Employer-of-Choice” in your area makes a world of difference in recruiting. If your company offers a friendly and pleasant work environment with competitive wages and benefits, it's much easier to attract good people. Most employees want to be proud of where they work - so if you can instill that feeling, quality candidates will seek you out. Business owners of all sizes need to be aware of local competitive salary ranges and benefit offerings. All too often these days, a quality employee changes jobs over a nominal salary increase or benefit difference. While I'm not suggesting that it's appropriate to address each of these issues whenever raised by an employee, it is important to know where you stand in the local job market. If an employee leaves for a position offering better wages or benefits, that may be a symptom of a competitive problem. Remember: Being an “Employer-of-Choice” means that people want to work for you - it also means you have a much better selection of candidates eager to interview!

Sidebar: Best Practices

Each month, we'll provide several proven Best Practices. Readers are encouraged to send along any successful approaches they may be using in managing employees. We will feature the best of them in upcoming columns.

3. Know “who” you want and where to go to find them - in advance!

Job descriptions, including requisite skill sets, for all positions - open or not - are critical. While you should be aware of possible legalities, maintaining a file of interested applicants can provide a head start in recruiting. It also provides an excellent overview of the local workforce skills. This can be important in the early stages of recruiting, as it can provide an indication of the need to move outside of the local area for a specific skill set. It's also a good idea to be familiar with national recruitment agencies and local placement and temporary services prior to actual need. That way, some of the groundwork is already done when an opening occurs.

Many companies hire qualified temporary help to fill open positions. This allows for a continuation of production, while the company is afforded the opportunity to evaluate a potential candidate in action with a minimal commitment. If the temporary employee works out, a permanent offer can be extended - and if not, the search can readily continue.

4. Be an “Employer-of-Choice” in your area.

Hiring quality employees is a marriage of sorts. The more you have to offer, the better candidates you can attract - and vice versa. It is much easier to find qualified candidates when people in your local area are waiting for an opportunity to work for you. That may mean offering an above-average work environment, compensation package and benefit plan. An above-average offering allows you to demand above-average people!

Being an “Employer-of-Choice” also means being visible in the community and allowing existing employees' word-of-mouth to spread. If your employees are proud of where they work, you are an “Employer-of-Choice”!