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Employers: Tell Us About Yourself

"Why do you want this job?" It's a bad cliché of the interview process. By now, every candidate should know "I need money" isn't the best way to answer that question. Most hiring managers would be quick to disqualify someone based on that response. What if a candidate asks you, "why should I want this job?" What would you say? Are you able to make a compelling case without mentioning compensation?

No one wants to hire an employee desperate for any job, but if we can't clearly articulate who we are and why our work is important we have no chance of engaging recruits on a deeper level. We expect candidates to flatter us with unique and meaningful reasons why our jobs would be the best thing to ever happen to them. Can we impress them in the same way?

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Employees need money, but they want purpose. While "answering phones" is technically a purpose, it's not a very inspiring one. How does answering phones help the organization? What's the organization's mission? How does that make the world better or help others? We typically don't have deep conversations around these questions during the interview and recruitment process. No wonder employee engagement is consistently so low; we're barely engaging them from the beginning!

In order to attract the best employees, we need to communicate beyond the economics of exchanging labor for money.

Know Yourself

Clearly articulating who you are is not a simple or easy task. It's hard enough for individuals, and seemingly impossible for organizations. Many business have a half-baked mission statement hanging on posters throughout the office. This mission is generally outdated, unrelatable, and severely disconnected from organizations' day-to-day operations. How many employees can repeat it verbatim, or even hit all of the main points, without cheating? A manager once told me, "you don't need to know our mission, you just need to be able to find it in case an auditor asks." How strong their culture was?

Most companies advertise jobs with some boilerplate organizational summary that wouldn't hold up if the author were sworn to tell the whole truth. There's a place for good marketing, but employees won't stay if the job isn't what they expected. In order for you both to make good decisions, recruits need a complete and accurate picture of the organization (like what you'd ask of them). A well-articulated culture, vision, and mission helps guide us internally and explain ourselves externally.

Know The Job

Job descriptions are almost universally criticized for being unrealistic, unrepresentative, overreaching, and just plain bad. When the typical advice is to apply if you meet 60% of the criteria listed, we're doing something wrong. Being overzealous won't elevate the quality of applications you receive, but it might scare away applicants who are self-aware and truthful about their shortcomings.

There's probably no field with worse habits than information technology. It's common to load up even specialized job descriptions with the whole kitchen sink of required expertise and software experience. If you are lucky enough to find an applicant who meets the all of these unnecessary requirements, they'll probably laugh in your face when you make them an offer based on a much lower set of expectations (and budget).

When it comes to job descriptions, less is more. The clearer job advertisements are, the better chance you'll have of attracting candidates that are interested in the work and qualified to perform it. Explain the job in plainly, set realistic expectations how time in the job will be spent and which skills are most necessary.

Know Your Applicants

Just as a refined customer experience can increase revenue and reduced cost to serve, a refined applicant experience can increase effectiveness and reduce costs of employment. How applicants feel throughout the process can affect their performance in interviews, their interest in working for the organization, and the likelihood and salary at which they will accept extended job offers. We can all think of better ways to use our resources, so anything you can do to streamline recruiting helps.

If you're hiring a lot of employees on a regular basis, it may be appropriate to survey them along different points in the journey. This could expose confusion, anxiety, and inefficiencies that make the process less effective. For small organizations, a simple phone conversation or invitation by email can elicit helpful insights into the candidates' perspective of the process. While respondents might be a little biased by the outcome, it shows respect to listen to their perspective and there are still opportunities to learn.

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