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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Talent for Entry Level Jobs

Like many of our clients, Guidant Financial is growing, and that means hiring has been a focus for us. Finding the right people for entry level jobs is one of the most important investments we can make for our future. With unemployment rates at historical lows, there’s increased competition for hiring entry level talent, especially in the Seattle-area where our headquarters are located. We’ve made a few mistakes when it comes to filling entry-level jobs, but we’ve learned from them. Here are the things we stopped doing to get recruiting right:

1. Waiting until a role is open before putting a recruiting plan in place.

We’ve all been there before: you need to hire someone to start yesterday, and now you’re under pressure to fill the position. When you wait until there is a need, you’ll be tempted to rush through the hiring process. To avoid this, here are a few steps you should take on a regular basis:

  • Update your job description regularly.
  • Create interview questions that will uncover the skills you need before you have candidates in mind.
  • Pay attention to your employer brand both formally (how your company shows up online) and informally (what employees say to their friends about their job over happy hour).

By thinking ahead, you’ll attract candidates before you need them.

2. Looking for the perfect candidate.

This may seem counterintuitive, but at Guidant we “screen in” versus screen candidates out. When you identify key skills a role requires ahead of time, you’ll know how to distinguish what you need from what you can take a risk on. While you never want to settle, looking for a unicorn can result in rejecting candidates with great potential. Some of our best employees were candidates who did not check every box, but we made sure they had the right attitude and aptitude.

3. Sugarcoating the job.

The best way to sell a job is to share the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. New hires shouldn’t experience a bait-and-switch. This is especially important when hiring entry level candidates because they don’t have prior experience that shape their expectations. We learned this the hard way when someone quit after their first week because it wasn’t what they signed up for. Since then, we started to focus on our purpose and culture and to highlight growth potential while being open about what makes the job tough. To balance the challenging aspects of a job, emphasize what a candidate will learn from taking the role. This helps candidates see their first job out of college as more than a pit stop.

4. Neglecting the candidate experience.

Candidates are often interviewing for multiple companies at once, and their interview experience will determine whether they’ll accept an offer. A mistake we’ve made is failing to communicate in a timely manner. It’s important to let candidates know where you are in the process every step of the way. People will want to hear back quickly or they will move on. Another mistake that’s often made is focusing solely on screening vs. their interview experience. Meeting a candidate in person is your chance to show them your culture and values. We give office tours and try to include a brief job shadow where they can interact with future team members. Lastly, how you reject candidates says a lot about you. Let every candidate who interviews know you’ve filled the position, and stay in touch with candidates who may be suitable for other positions down the road.

5. Forgetting to check references.

When you’re hiring someone fresh out of college, you’re hiring for potential over relevant experience. Getting perspective from others who have worked with them can reduce your risk. Be sure to ask for a manager reference if available and tell them what the role entails. Ask questions like: What feedback was communicated to the candidate and how did she or he respond? What else should we take into consideration before extending an offer? These calls may only take 10 minutes but they can save a lot of time and heartache down the road.

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