Finding employees the easy(er) way

By Beacon Staff

Advertising for and selecting your staff is one of those areas where you can get plenty of “learn by doing wrong” experience, but it’s not a good place to make a lot of mistakes.

The first time I placed an ad for programmer, silly me used the word “assembler” in the ad. Everyone and their mom who had ever put two pieces of anything together in a manufacturing environment was calling, faxing etc. Outside of the geek world, “assembler” means “someone who puts things together”. Whodathunkit?

A few years later, an older presumably smarter me was looking for a new tech support person. I had a weird idea and figured I’d give it a shot. Instead of putting a bunch of detail in a newspaper ad and having to filter through all the folks who weren’t qualified, I took a different tack: I’d let them filter themselves.

I put a one line ad in the paper: “Windows technical support person wanted for Columbia Falls software company. Email MS Word resume as attachment to myemailaddress@whatever.com”.

I included no phone number. No address. No company name. Anyone paying attention could get all of that information from the domain name used in the email address. Anyone who didn’t get that really wasn’t qualified for the job.

I got 43 inquiries in 2 weeks, from places as far away as Austria, from an ad in the CFalls paper.

Let’s break it down.

First: “Windows technical support person wanted for Columbia Falls software company” – this says you need to know Windows, you need to know how to do tech support, you’ll be working for a software company and the job is in Columbia Falls (well, mostly).

The point of this is to eliminate as many people as possible while attracting the right candidates. People with Windows experience who understand what tech support is for a software company. The rest is details at this point. Get rid of anyone who is scared of those words, cuz they aren’t a good fit.

Next: “Email MS Word resume as attachment to some email address”.

This gets rid of a lot of people without me having to do anything. It also tells me whether or not they can follow instructions. First of all, anyone who can’t understand what I just asked is not likely to apply, or not likely to be able to apply. Which is just what I want.

Specifically:
* If they don’t use or have access to Word, I’m not interested.
* If they can’t send an email, I’m not interested.
* If they don’t know what an attachment is, I’m not interested.

Results? Found the best employee I’ve had from that ad.

But, we got a lot of inquiries from unqualified folks, ie: Lots of wasted time.

Next time around, we fixed that: “Windows tech support person wanted. For details, see www.website.com/job”

On the web page were details about the job, the expectations the candidate should have for us as well as the expectations we had for them. I suspect the SHRM-trained human resource folks would flip when they read the anonymous version of the ad (http://www.rescuemarketing.com/blog/hireme.htm), but it was what it was.

As before, you were not to call, you were to email a MS Word resume as an attachment to so-and-so@me.com. Anyone who didn’t follow instructions, even Bill Gates, was not considered.

It also eliminated a lot of the issues, plus I could easily address workplace, people, karma, qualifications, and anything else I wanted on the webpage. I used the page to not only attract the right candidates, but also to make sure to get rid of / scare away the people I wasn’t interested in.

We hired two people from that ad. One worked out, one didn’t.

So what’s the next step? Video want ads, as seen in the Wall Street Journal’s “Independent Street” this week. It’s more personal than the website, while accomplishing the same things. I like it.

How do you make it easier to find great new employees? I’d like to hear your best tip.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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