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How to attract and hire exceptional employees

Business | August 1, 2017 | By:

In the buyer’s market of recent years, it was probably easy for you to attract top-notch job candidates. Not so much today. With new job creation being healthier than expected in 2016, and further increases so far this year, finding and hiring the best candidates for your shop will no longer be a slam dunk. You may already be feeling the pinch.

In today’s improving job market, the very best job candidates—the ones who satisfy your strictest requirements—can afford to be picky when it comes to applying for a job. That’s why you need to be at your best when it comes to recruiting and screening candidates. There are a number of techniques that can help establish your business as the goal for first-rate candidates in your area.

Sharpen your image

Competitive salaries and benefits, naturally, are a strong foundation for attracting job candidates, but it takes more than that to be a magnet for the most desirable talent.

A work environment that respects and provides recognition for a job well done will promote positive word-of-mouth that spreads quickly in the community’s employment pool.

Businesses that are recognized as “good citizens” are attractive to candidates who are themselves good citizens. Your company image will be greatly enhanced by participation in local activities such as holiday food drives, fundraising efforts for local charities and health awareness marathons.

Participation in worthwhile community or charitable events will help to establish your operation as a workplace where concern for others is a fundamental philosophy.

Use your website to promote your dedication to good citizenship and solid business principles. Consider using video clips of employees who are proud to be associated with you—it could send a powerful message to potential job applicants as well as to potential clients.

Fine-tune job descriptions

Using written job descriptions sends an important message to job candidates. It signals the kind of well-organized and stable work environment that attracts the most desirable candidates.

If you don’t have someone in your organization with strong writing and grammatical skills, consider using an outside writer. Job descriptions must be clear and easy to understand. Avoid using unnecessary jargon that makes it difficult to understand the necessary qualifications for the position or what you expect of the candidate.

Job descriptions written in the first person can be an effective way to attract job seekers. A job description that takes the form of a personal note from you to the ideal employee will be difficult to ignore by the best candidates.

Ask yourself: Why would the type of candidate you’re seeking want the job you’re offering? Then make sure the job description answers that question.

Become a skilled interviewer

When interviewing prime job candidates, be aware that they will also be interviewing you. Failing to stick to appropriate interviewing techniques, such as giving the candidate an opportunity to ask questions, will turn off strong candidates.

“Most interviewers talk too much,” says Emory Mulling, chairman of The Mulling Corp., Atlanta, Ga., a firm offering talent management solutions.  “The interviewer’s role is to get information from the candidate. Too often, interviewers spend too much time talking about the job and not enough time asking relevant questions of the candidate.”

Human resources professionals agree that talking too much during an interview is a common mistake. Remember, your job during a pre-employment interview is to obtain as much meaningful information from the potential employee as possible. You can’t listen when you’re talking.

It’s important to keep the interview on track. As with any conversation, a pre-employment interview can stray far off its proper path if not carefully controlled.

“Ask only those job-related questions that you need to ask to make a lawful hiring decision,” says labor attorney John C. Romeo, based in Philadelphia, Pa. “Pay close attention to the direction the conversation takes during the interview. It can easily turn into a conversation about family, religion or national origin,” he says. “If you see the conversation going in this direction, you should make a concerted effort to stop and switch gears—get the conversation onto a proper and legal topic.”

If you feel the need to have someone else also interview candidates, be sure to limit it to only one other person. Avoid subjecting a candidate to a gamut of interviewers.

Use your website

Consider using a “Join Our Team” section on your website. It can be an effective recruiting tool for appealing to the high-potential candidates you want to attract. It provides a low-cost means to sell potential employees on your company’s mission, culture and other characteristics that make it attractive to top candidates.

Use this section of your website to express your commitment to producing quality work and to serving your clients and supporting your employees. Photos of your workplace and employees can provide a strong visual element.

As mentioned earlier, avoid dry job descriptions of available or possible future positions. If this section discusses open positions, it’s important to provide an easy way for candidates to submit résumés for consideration.

Another powerful recruitment tool is a “Talk to the Owner” link. It’s a useful way to provide a personal touch and allow potential candidates to ask questions that aren’t answered on the website.

Use social media

The days of relying solely on classified ads for recruiting job candidates are long gone. To reach the widest possible audience, you need to establish a presence on social media sites. Even if you don’t think of yourself as technically oriented, you or your staff can easily put social media to work in your recruiting efforts.

With a dozen or more social media platforms now up and running, getting started may seem a bit overwhelming. All you really need to start putting social media to work for your business, however, is to use one or more of the “big three” platforms.

The biggest (with more than 800 million active users) and arguably the most important is Facebook, and getting started couldn’t be easier. Just log on to and follow the directions to open your free account. Next in size are Twitter ( and LinkedIn (

While learning to use social media for business purposes requires some effort, it will help put you and your operation in the mainstream of modern business communications. Remember that the whole idea behind a social media campaign is to allow two-way communication between you, your clients, prospects and potential job candidates.

Consider a professional recruiter

Sometimes, especially when you need to fill a job quickly, it may be worthwhile to use a professional recruiter or employment placement firm. The best of these will already have done much of the legwork in developing a wide candidate pool.

There will be a significant cost, of course, if you decide to use a third-party firm to help in your search. Expect to pay about 25 percent of the new recruit’s annual salary if the firm finds a candidate that you hire. This is a substantial sum, but it may be worth it if it helps you avoid the time and expense of a failed search and locates the person right for you.

High-quality recruitment firms will have already done the basic interviewing, conducted background checks and looked into work history, drug use, etc. The final hiring decision will always be left up to you and, with most firms, there is no fee if you don’t hire an employee recommended by them.

To get the most value from local recruitment firms, invite them to visit your operation. It can help them understand your operation and its culture, and how best to sell it to potential candidates.

Techniques for recruiting the best candidates are virtually endless, but the time and effort you put into them are worth it. The earlier you adopt these practices (and others that you may develop on your own), and the more consistently you apply them, the better your organization will do in attracting the kind of talent you need to make your operation a leader in the specialty fabrics industry.

William J. Lynott writes extensively on business related topics.

  1. Be worth working for. Provide a high-functioning work environment, skill development and employee recognition.
  2. Toot your own horn. Use your website and social media to promote your community connections and company culture.
  3. Have clear, easy-to-understand job descriptions. Avoid jargon or an unrealistic wish list of qualifications.
  4. Keep interviews focused on the work. Don’t make potential candidates jump through hoops or tell you what kind of tree they’d be.
  5. Communicate throughout the hiring process. Don’t keep candidates guessing.
  6. After you hire the right person, thank everyone on your short list. You may want to contact them with future openings.

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