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Hiring Practices for a Competitive Job Market

Jeffrey C. Garr is Chief Executive Officer of HR Knowledge Inc.

Although many experts believe that the US economic recovery is underway, unemployment rates remain alarmingly high. With so many people out of work, there is intense competition for every job opening, and it is challenging for small business owners to identify the ideal job candidate amid the tsunami of job applicants and resumes.

We all know that hiring the wrong employee is costly and time-consuming, and can be damaging to an organization's morale, reputation and productivity. Conversely, hiring the right employee has a positive impact on your total work environment — from corporate culture to the company's bottom line.

Here are four tips to keep you on track for sourcing, evaluating and hiring the right employee in today's competitive job market.

Conduct a thorough job analysis that defines the duties, responsibilities, necessary skills, outcomes and work environment of a particular job. Involve all the stakeholders who will interact with or be impacted by the hire, so there is consensus on the job function from the start. Draft a well-crafted job description based on the results of your analysis. Use a checklist to track the progress of your recruiting initiative and to keep all constituencies updated, interested and engaged.

Begin forging and nurturing relationships with potential candidates before you actually need them. The more qualified candidates you can vet early during the recruiting process, the easier it will be to find the right employee when you need to hire. Job fairs, social media and traditional networking are effective ways to build and maintain a talent pool for your company. When you are ready to fill an open position, you can prescreen potential candidate against your job description, so you can weed out non-qualified candidates, and spend time with only the most qualified ones.

First, screen candidates by phone to save precious time, and advance only a select group to the in-person interview phase. Although the job interview is the key tool employers utilize in hiring, the process is imperfect if you don't ask the right questions. Develop specific interview questions that will help you align the qualifications, skills, experience and characteristics of the interviewee with the profile of the ideal employee based on the job analysis that was conducted for that particular position. Arrange for other stakeholders to interview the top-tier candidates, collect feedback and conduct a final evaluation to determine the best person for the job.

Once you've identified the right job candidate and made a job offer, it is imperative that you conduct a background check. You will want to inform the prospective new hire that you will be doing a background check and that the job applicant will need to sign a release to allow you to do this. Rely on the background check to verify the candidate's credentials, skills and experience. The background check should include work references (former supervisors, peers and direct reports), education credentials, employment references and actual jobs held, as well as criminal/civil history. Depending upon the position being hired you will want to include a credit check, driver's license history, lawsuit/litigation history and workers compensation history.

You might want to ask the candidate the following question after you have offered him/her the job: "Will there be anything in the report that might alarm us as the employer? It is better if you tell us now so we are not surprised when we find out."

At this point, the candidate will likely indicate that there is nothing noteworthy, will disclose a particular issue, or may even remove him/herself as a candidate if there is an issue. This simple question can save you the time and money necessary for a background check.

Remember, the people you employ are your most important asset. Know exactly what skills, talents and qualities you need, then hire people who are smart, hardworking, ambitious and nice to be around.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.

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