Ask the experts: How do I effectively recruit top-quality employees?

Finding top talent requires employers to canvass many information sources

David Labistour: CEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op

To attract qualified candidates at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) it is necessary to understand our business needs and what skills and behaviours will be successful.

One thing is certain: no single source can provide all the information needed to make a good hiring decision. Successfully attracting the right people involves using multiple sources of information.

We cast a wide net when recruiting, using various means: job postings on MEC's intranet, employee referrals, social media, online job boards, e-card campaigns, the mec.ca/jobs portal and job fairs in MEC stores.

Here are some suggestions for your process:

  • Develop and use precise job descriptions that reflect a true understanding of the role, the skills needed to succeed and the personality best suited to the culture.

  • Know the key differentiators that inspire the good talent to reach full potential. It's also important to understand the strengths of existing teams and how they can be improved by adding new skill sets.

  • Spread the word by posting job openings internally and externally.

  • Shortlist the best candidates from all the resumés received, matching education, skills, experience and personality with the needs of the job and team.

  • Phone-screen select applicants with questions that quickly identify the individuals who might fit.

  • Conduct face-to-face interviews (ideally with one or two colleagues and human resources at the table) with the top candidates using a standard set of questions.

  • Select the candidate who best matches the job description and meets the needs of the team. References can help inform the final decision.

Kael Campbell: President and lead recruiter, Red Seal Recruiting Solutions

Finding committed, qualified employees is the cornerstone of every business and what better place to start than with current employees?

According to the Society of Human Resource Professionals, employee referral programs are the No. 1 source of hires. When individuals are thinking about finding a new job they think about who they know and where their friends and contacts work to seek out a new employer.

Good referrals from current employees are not only the top source for finding and recruiting employees, they will also help you retain them. Their ability to give a realistic overview of your workplace and support the new employee will be key in successful retention. Another advantage of using employee referral programs is the opportunity to recruit the 80% of the working population that is not actively looking for work.

The keys to an employee referral program include:

  • ensuring your employees have the opportunity to find great referrals such as networking events or giving them access to LinkedIn;

  • giving them incentives to refer top employees with immediate financial rewards or recognition; and

  • continually promoting the program through newsletters or during team meetings.

Following these steps will ensure finding top talent is at the top of employee's minds. We have found most of our top-quality candidates at professional education and networking events.

Think creatively with your team to ensure they can find referral candidates not only from their personal networks but also from trade shows, alumni and student events or even at the dog park in the summer.

Simon Wood: President, Swim Recruiting

If you have a legal problem you hire a lawyer, if you have a medical issue you go to see a doctor and when you have a hiring need you should go to see a recruitment specialist. In the above cases you would go and see the experts in those fields and even though you will have to pay to use their services, it is usually better than attempting to remedy issues on your own.

By partnering with a great recruitment firm, the hiring process is quicker, a better-qualified candidate is found and, as a hiring manager, less of your very valuable time is used on the process. A win-win-win situation.

It is likely that a specialist recruiter will be better networked, have connections to people who may not be actively looking but would move for the right opportunity and the recruiter will definitely have access to many specialized advertising and networking media.

Once you have found a great recruiting firm, there are several things you should do to ensure the recruiter can find your company a top-quality employee:

  • Make sure that the consultant understands the culture of your company. A very wise person once said, "A person is hired on their resumé and fired on fit."

  • Understand exactly what this person will be doing and draft a very detailed job description.

  • Set a realistic salary range. Your recruiter will have a finger on the pulse of the market and know competitive salary ranges.

  • Ensure you have enough time to interview thoroughly, ideally back to back so you can compare candidates.

  • Ask your recruiter to check references and to really dig into any relevant areas of concern.

  • Work with your recruiter with urgency as top talent gets snapped up quickly!

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