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Management: Recruit your own team members

Recruit and recruit often

Q: Why should you recruit your own staff members?

A: You want to recruit your own staff members because you are the one who will be stuck with them if things don’t work out.

If at all possible, put in the time and effort to recruit and hire your own staff, always. It’s worth the effort.

First of all, you are uniquely qualified to know exactly the type of person who will fit in with your team, and the kind of talent and skills the position requires.

It’s also likely that you are the person who knows exactly where to look for the talent you are expecting, and you will also know where to advertise your open position.

You will be able to provide the best first impression possible when the candidates learn about your company and your staff. If all goes well, the person you hire will be excited and proud to be part of your staff because of the image you project.

You are the best person to explain the requirements of the position and to judge whether or not a candidate meets those requirements. You are also the best person to create and issue a skill test for the open position, and to evaluate the results.

Team Dynamic

Most important, you will get to gauge each candidate’s personality and decide whether or not he or she will be a solid addition to your team.

Team dynamic is critical. But there are those who will disagree. In their opinion, a candidate with a quality portfolio, a solid degree from a quality institution and reasonable amount of experience will qualify. They will say, “If they look good on paper, then they must be good. Plus, if they communicate intelligently, they probably are intelligent. In addition, they will reason, if you are a good manager, you can handle a person who might be a little difficult, but the payoff measured in talent and performance will be worth your effort. You are a strong manager, right?”

Sorry. Those who agree with that type of reasoning probably have not had to supervise a difficult employee. I have personally had to deal with a handful of very talented, well-educated employees who have also been extremely high-strung and have not fit in with the other team members. It’s a nightmare. Your biggest problem as a manger will be caused by a personality conflict. It will cause a lack of sleep and you will pray for the day that one difficult employee will either leave or be fired.

What if HR insists on using its own recruiter?

What if your company has a human resources department and company policy dictates that department’s recruiter always brings in the candidates? Fine, but get involved in the process in every way you can, starting with job description, qualifications, places to search and any other input you deem necessary. Try to diplomatically offer your input right from the beginning.

In such cases, it’s likely the recruiter will send you a group of resumes from candidates they consider qualified for the position, and you will be allowed to select candidates to be interviewed from that group. It’s not perfect because you never know whom the recruiter missed in the initial screening process, but at least you will have input regarding the final selection.

The worst-case scenario is that your input is ignored and an unqualified or unmanageable new employee is dumped on you by someone else.

I’m especially leery of allowing recruiters to select candidates. For one thing, I have had a very successful record of recruiting and hiring outstanding people for my teams. Besides, I consider myself the only one who truly knows the type of person I’m seeking for my team. But my biggest reason is that I had a bad experience at a large newspaper in which the company’s recruiter brought in a stack of resumes from sub-par candidates.

You would think that a big company with all that experience would know what it is doing, right? Wrong. My first clue was that the recruiter was probably the most inexperienced member of the HR staff.

I did my best to get involved in the process, but my hands were tied by company policies. When I requested another round of postings for that particular job, I was told that the recruiter did not have time and there was not a budget for another round. Normally I would continue recruiting until I found a qualified candidate.

In this case I was forced to settle for one of the candidates from the recruiter’s list. Then, one week later, I discovered that one of my seasoned reporters would be leaving, and I would have to select another replacement from the same list of sub-par candidates. Within a period of three weeks my team went from a professional, respected team to an unbalanced, wobbly crew with a couple of reporters needing constant attention. One of the new reporters was a very nice person, but sadly inexperienced and lacking in talent. The other had years of experience; experience in cutting corners and failing to check facts.

Unfortunately, budget cuts hit within a week of this episode, and the possibility of replacing these unqualified employees and rebuilding my team was erased. If I wanted to fire someone, I would not be allowed to replace them; that position would be eliminated.

Where to recruit

Some managers and recruiters will place postings on national trade websites, digital job boards and trade journals. That’s all good and well if you have a budget to fly candidates to your location from all over the country for interviews, and if you have the time to sort through all kinds of resumes from all over the nation. It’s okay if you are conducting a national search and provide moving expenses. But most job openings these days really are for candidates who can interview on relatively short notice and are available within a matter of weeks, not months.

Your posting needs to state these aforementioned details or you will be wasting your time. You need to do everything from the beginning of the process to narrow down your candidate search. If you are going to list a job on a national site, and you need someone to be ready for employment rather quickly, definitely include the fact that only local candidates will be considered. Otherwise, limit your postings to local job boards and local publications.

Recruit often

If your company will allow it, maintain a regular schedule of recruiting for freelance, fill-in or part-time employees. Even if you don’t have a need for part-timers or freelancers, try to keep up a recruitment program.

You shouldn’t conduct the program in such a way that your permanent employees feel threatened, but put out the word any way you can. Use your professional networking events, or be part of university career days, or develop an ongoing internship program to develop possible candidates for the future.

You don’t want to get caught flat-footed should one of your employees announce they are moving on. It’s also good to have a list of possible candidates in case you are having a little trouble with one of your full-time people.

Never flaunt the fact that talented individuals are lining up and available, but you should try to quietly develop a list of such individuals just in case they will be needed some day. Should word leak out that a handful of eager candidates are interested in joining your staff, spin it in a positive way: Your employees have helped build such a reputation for their department that emerging talent seeks to be part of their team.

There is nothing wrong with being known as a boss who not only recruits and hires talented people, but also teaches and develops those individuals to such a degree that they are able to advance their careers. Your program can become known as a showcase for awesome talent.

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