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How to Compete for the Best Job Candidates

With the job market improving, finding the right candidates is crucial for pet businesses.


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In the buyer’s market of recent years, it might have been easy for you to attract top-notch job candidates. Not so much today. With new job creation healthier than expected in 2017, and further increases this year, finding and hiring the best candidates for your business will no longer be a slam dunk, and you might already be feeling the pinch.

In today’s improving job market, the very best job candidates—the ones that would satisfy your strictest requirements—can afford to be picky when it comes to applying for a job. That’s why you need to be at your best when it comes to recruiting and screening candidates. Here are seven techniques that will help to establish your store as the goal for first-rate candidates in your area:

1. Make Your Business Worth Working For

Obviously, competitive salaries and benefits are the foundation for attracting job candidates, but it takes more than that to be a magnet for the most desirable talent.
A work environment that respects and provides recognition for a job well done will promote positive word-of-mouth that spreads quickly in the community’s employment pool.

2. Sharpen Your Image

Businesses recognized as “good citizens” are attractive to candidates who are good citizens themselves. You can greatly enhance your store’s image by participation in local activities such as holiday food drives, fundraising efforts for local charities and animal welfare efforts.

Participation in any worthwhile community or charitable events will help to establish your business as a workplace where concern for others is a fundamental philosophy.

Use your website to promote your dedication to good citizenship and solid business principles. Consider using video clips of employees who are proud to be associated with you. This will send a powerful message to potential job applicants as well as to potential clients.

3. Fine-tune Your Job Descriptions

Using written job descriptions sends an important message to job candidates. It signals the kind of well-organized and stable work environment that will be attractive to the most desirable candidates.

If you don’t have someone in your organization with strong writing and grammatical skills, consider using an outside writer. Job descriptions must be clear and easy to understand. They should be devoid of unnecessary jargon that makes it difficult to understand what qualifications are necessary and exactly what you expect of the candidate.

Job descriptions written in first person can be a powerful attraction to top candidates. One that takes the form of a personal note from you to the candidate you are seeking will be difficult for the best candidates to ignore.

Ask yourself: Why would the type of candidate you are seeking want the job you are offering? Then make sure that your job description answers that question.

4. Become a Skilled Interviewer

Keep in mind when interviewing prime job candidates that they will be interviewing you as you are interviewing them. Failing to stick to appropriate interviewing techniques such as giving the candidate an opportunity to ask questions will turn off strong candidates.

“Most interviewers talk too much,” said Emory Mulling, chairperson of The Mulling Companies, a talent management solutions company in Atlanta. “The interviewer’s role is to get information from the candidate. Too often, interviewers spend too much time talking about the job and not enough time asking relevant questions of the candidate.”

Human resources professionals agree that talking too much during an interview is a common mistake. Remember, your job during a pre-employment interview is to obtain as much meaningful information from the potential employee as possible. You can’t listen when you’re talking. 

It’s important to keep the interview on track. As with any conversation, a pre-employment interview can stray far off its proper path if not carefully controlled.

“Ask only those job-related questions that you need to ask to make a lawful hiring decision,” said labor attorney John C. Romeo. “Pay close attention to the direction the conversation takes during the interview. It can easily turn into a conversation about family, religion or national origin. If you see the conversation going in this direction, you should make a concerted effort to stop and switch gears—get the conversation onto a proper and legal topic.”

If you feel the need to have someone else interview candidates as well, be sure to limit it to only one other person. Avoid having a candidate run a gamut of interviewers.

5. Use Your Website to Attract Job Candidates

Consider adding a “Join Our Team” section to your website. It can be one of your most effective recruiting tools for appealing to the high-potential candidates that you want to attract. It provides a low-cost means to sell potential employees on your company’s mission, culture and other characteristics that make it attractive to top candidates.

Use this section of your website as a way to express your commitment to the quality of the products you sell, to your customers and to your employees. Photos of your workplace and employees can provide a strong visual element.

In addition, avoid dry job descriptions of available or possible future positions. If this section discusses open positions, it’s important to provide an easy way for candidates to submit résumés for consideration.

Another powerful recruitment tool is a “Talk to the Owner” link. This is a way to provide a personal touch and allow potential candidates to ask questions that aren’t answered on the website.

6. Make Full Use of Social Media

The days of relying solely on classified ads for recruiting job candidates are long gone. In order to reach the widest possible audience, it is now necessary to establish a presence on social media sites. Even if you don’t think of yourself as tech oriented, you or your staff can easily put social media to work in your recruiting efforts.

With a dozen or more social media platforms now up and running, getting started might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but one or more is all you need to start putting social media to work for your business.

The biggest and arguably most important of all social media platforms is Facebook, which has more than 2 billion monthly active users. Getting started on Facebook couldn’t be easier. Just log on to facebook.com and follow the directions to open your free account. Next in size is Twitter. 

While learning to use social media for business purposes requires some effort, it will help to place you and your operation in the mainstream of modern business communications.

Remember that the whole idea behind a social media campaign is to allow two-way communication between you, your customers, prospects and potential job candidates.

7. Consider Using a Professional Recruiter

Sometimes, especially when you need to fill a job quickly, it can be worthwhile to use a professional recruiter or employment placement firm. The best of these firms already have done much of the legwork in developing a wide candidate pool. 

Of course, there will be a significant cost if you decide to use a third-party firm to help in your search. Expect to pay about 25 percent of the new recruit’s annual salary if the firm finds a candidate that you hire. While this is a substantial sum, it could be worth avoiding the time and expense of a failed search to find the person right for you. 

The best firms will have already done the basic interviewing, conducted background checks and work history research, drug use screening, etc. The final hiring decision will always be left up to you, and with most firms, there is no fee if you don’t hire an employee recommended by them. 

To get the most value from local recruitment firms, invite them to visit your store. This will help them to understand your operation and its culture, and how best to sell it to potential candidates.

Techniques for recruiting the best candidates are almost endless, but the time and effort that you put into the job are worth it. The earlier you adopt these practices and others that you develop on your own and the more consistently you apply them, the better your organization will do in the ongoing competition for the kind of talent you need to make your business a leader in the world of pet retail.

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