In 2014, 40% of employees who left their positions did so within the first 6 months of their hiring. This is a pretty staggering percentage and should tell organizations that their recruitment and employment practices may be flawed. It takes time and money to recruit and hire, not to mention the disruption when a critical member of a department or team leaves and creates a gaping hole. Clearly, retention of new hires must become a goal for which strategies are developed, and those strategies begin with the recruitment phase. Shifting Recruitment Process This has become an age of recruitment and employment practices that are now characterized by three things: The company doing the hiring has to sell itself as much as the candidate does Recruitment has shifted significantly to passive rather than active candidates. Culture “fit” is as important, if not more so, than skill fit Traditional Recruitment Here’s what happens when baby boomers and some Gen X’ers are in charge of screening and recruitment (unless they have made some paradigm shifts). They post a position on job boards and with recruitment firms. They write job descriptions that focus on the important skill sets they want candidates to have. They receive resumes and sift through them They set up interviews with promising candidates, discuss their backgrounds, see if they can discover any flaws or lies, and ultimately make a selection. The attitude is that they are in charge and wield the power. The New Recruitment Environment The first shift in thinking has to come with the realization that you are being interviewed as much as you are interviewing. If you want to retain new hires, those individuals have to know exactly who you are before they accept a position. A cultural “fit” is critical. Beyond that, here are 7 strategies that should refine the process and get your percentage of turnover far lower than the national average. #1. Broaden Your Recruitment Efforts It is no longer enough to post a position everywhere and with recruiters. You have to take a more active role in finding candidates such as when you are hiring a personal assistant. And that means going after passive candidates (those already working). Get referrals and introductions from people you trust; search through social media sites such as LinkedIn and career-specific sites and blogs. “Poaching” is pretty common practice these days, especially when many positions go unfilled because of the lack of qualified candidates. #2. Make Personality and Attitude Your Top Priority, not Skills and Experience When you focus the job description and your interview questions solely on the candidate’s skill set and employment experience, you are leaving out the key ingredient – cultural fit. Remember, you can always enhance skills through training. There is no training program that will change a personality. Given that the individual has been employed in the career field, you can assume that s/he has some skills. Your job now is to ask those questions that reveal personality and attitude. #3. Ensure that the Right People are Applying for the Position Millennials are the largest job-seeking group today. And Millennials are “plugged in” all the time. Before they send you a resume, they will be checking you out online. Be certain that our corporate culture is well-defined on your website. Be certain that all of your social media pages are continually updated with information about you and your employees, as well as company activities. Here’s the thing about Millennials – they want authenticity and they want to work for companies that take social responsibility by giving back to their communities. They are not lazy, but they do want to be assessed on what they accomplish rather than how many hours they are at their desks. #4. Make the Recruitment Process a Multi-Step One The process may begin with reviewing applicant paperwork. Understand, however, that most applicants have had professional assistance in the preparation of those compelling cover letters and resumes, so do not think that you will learn a lot from them. And one or two interviews, which are largely contrived situations anyway, will not give either you or a candidate a “feel” for one another. In addition to those phone and face-to-face interviews, take the time to meet for lunch or dinner. Invite others from the team or department to join you. These situations reveal much more. #5. Develop the Attitude that You are a Candidate Too It will be crucial for you to be honest with the candidate about the company, its visions, its expectations, and its climate. Are you a more contemporary “project-based” organization or are you still steeped in an “hours-on-the-job” focus. What leadership style characterizes your company? What community-based activities does the company support? Does the company value socializing and play as a way to develop teamwork? Are employees intimately involved in developing shared goals and visions? Give examples of all of these things to prove your authenticity. #6. Close the Deal Quickly If you have found who you believe to be the best “fit,” do not waste any time. Research shows that really great candidates are usually employed within two-three weeks of the beginning of their job searches. And if you have to offer a bit more in salary or benefits, do it. It will be far more expensive to be declined and to have to begin again, perhaps settling for second-best this next round. The old attitude of “let them stew a bit” is archaic and, frankly, stupid in this job environment. #7. Ensure Rapid Acclimation and Comfort Once your new hire is on board, it will be critical that you take an active role in that person’s quick assimilation into the culture and the team members with which s/he has become a member. If you are not the direct supervisor, then make sure that person is taking care of this. Making someone feel “at home” right away goes far toward retention. Planning a social activity early on will help; frequent meetings between the hire and his/her supervisor in the beginning will help; making sure s/he is invited to lunch with team members will help. Sincerely embrace that person as a member of the family. You will never hit a 100% success rate in the recruitment and employment process. You can, however, embrace the strategies that are proven to work in this new work environment, and certainly improve that success rate substantially. 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