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Best Candidate May Already Work Here

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You already know what you are looking for in the best candidate to fill your open job. You know what to look for in the interview and what to watch for in their answers to the interview questions. You know just exactly who you are looking to hire. The position has been approved by HR and the salary approved by the CFO. All you have to do now is find that perfect person.

Finding The Perfect Employee

First of all, the person who will be perfect in the new job does not exist. The job description you wrote is an unrealistic wish list. And that's okay. It gives you a starting point. Just recognize that that person does not exist and, even if you could find someone with all those skills and experiences, you couldn't afford the salary they would require. So adjust your focus and remember that you are looking for the candidate that is the best fit, not the perfect fit.

Where To Find The Best Employee

In large categories, your choices are either posting the opening and letting candidates come to you or searching for the candidates. The recommended approach is usually a combination.

You can post the opening on job boards like Monster or Dice. You should also post it on your company's own website (and if you don't have one, you should). And if you have an intranet (and again, you should have one) be sure to post the opening there so you can attract internal candidates.

You can search for candidates by sharing the opening with contingency search firms, who only get paid if they find a candidate you hire, or a retained search firm who gets paid just for the effort of looking for a candidate regardless of whether or not you hire that person. Another good way to search is to create an employee referral program and let your employees find candidate that they can vouch for. While this internal referral method usually generates the best leads, it does not have the same "reach" as the other methods because your employees may simply not know someone with the right qualifications.

Evaluating the Candidates

Let's assume you are fortunate enough to find several candidates whose skills and experience nearly match what you are looking for. You will want to have a scoring system to rank all the candidates on the attributes you consider important in your (non-existent) perfect candidate and one that weights more heavily those attributes that are the most important. You will want to verify the information they provide in their application and/or resume and you will want to interview the top candidates to test further and for intangible characteristics.

If one candidate clearly scores better than the rest and excels at the interview and your gut tells you that this is the right choice, go ahead and make an offer. But if several candidates are close in score, take an extra look at the internal candidate(s).

Why Inside Candidates Are Better

There are several reasons to not overlook internal candidates. Performance, cost, and morale are the biggest factors.

Performance - Internal candidates know the company, its people, its culture, its tools and procedures. They are almost immediately productive and it can take an outside candidate about three years to catch up to the performance level of the internal hire.

Cost - The salary needed to recruit an external candidate is about fifteen percent more than what is needed for an internal promotion. It takes seven years for an internal candidate to "catch up" to the salary paid to an external candidate.

Morale - Promoting internally will increase morale. Hiring from outside will usually decrease morale. The other employees seeing one of their own, as it were, get promoted are encouraged that there may be an opportunity for them to be promoted too. They are more apt to stick around, which lowers turnover and makes the hiring manage look good. And there is always at least a little resentment to the outsider being brought in.

Bottom Line

You always want to hire the best possible candidate when you have a job to fill. Whether you post the opening, search for the candidates or both, you need to rigorously evaluate, validate, and compare the candidates. When looking for the perfect candidate among all the external candidates, don't overlook the internal candidates. They can be a better hiring choice for reasons of cost, performance, and morale.
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