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How job postings and interviews can help you end rampant turnover

Michael D. Brown, Global Recruiters
Michael D. Brown
Michael D. Brown, a veteran human capital strategist and executive recruiter, is senior managing partner of Global Recruiters of Buckhead, an Atlanta-based executive recruiting and leadership consulting firm.

COVID and a tight labor market have dramatically changed the hiring and retention game—as a result, the biggest problem for recruiters now is failure to be honest about the company and what they’re looking for in candidates. Opaqueness doesn’t work anymore, not from applicants or employers. Transparency in every aspect of the hiring process is essential to foster trust from the get-go and reduce turnover down the road.

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In a recent Glassdoor survey, almost 30% of job seekers said they had left a position within 90 days, a clear sign of workplace dissatisfaction. Another shocker of a study by BambooHR found that almost one in four employees quits within the first six months of taking a new job.

That unnecessary instability for employers and new employees alike underscores just how much companies and candidates are speaking past each other—or selling what they wrongly believe the other side wants to buy.

Instead, it’s time to offer specifics, from salary range to personality fit to key deliverables—and ask for them in return. Don’t leave job responsibilities or the corporate culture open to interpretation, either. Communicate all of it clearly, from job title on down. In other words, don’t be aspirational, be informational.

That’s how you draw in the right applicants and root out the wrong ones. The aim for HR and recruiters, after all, is to be on the same page as the person who makes it to that first interview—not to catfish the applicant or get scammed in return.

See also: The economy is transforming recruiting and retention in 2023; here’s how

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There are critical steps to finding the right candidates, wading through them and then making an offer to the one who will work out best. It requires a bit of art and some alchemy, and it starts and ends with an honesty and openness that many employers haven’t traditionally demonstrated when hiring. But the truth costs nothing, and the savings on aggravation and disappointment can be priceless.

Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout your recruiting and interviewing communications:

  • Create a job description that is so up to date it could have been written this morning. Avoid generalizations or stereotypical proclamations. (Where isn’t a great place to work?) Ask the line manager what success for this hire looks like: What do we provide them, and what do we need them to provide us? Convey that. Don’t waste white space.
  • Offer a synopsis of corporate culture and fit. By every measure, real diversity matters to job seekers today, especially younger ones. At the same time, what’s the work pace, and what are the expectations? Again, be specific. Keep in mind some folks want colleagues to feel like family, while others want to do the work and go home. What kind of person thrives in your organization?
  • Have a brand description. Write one for the person you want to hire and the personal brand of the corporate leader to whom they’ll be reporting. What’s their profile? Don’t undersell or oversell. Some workers want hands-on bosses who are invested in coaching and development; others don’t. Some employees want to be told what the task is and to be left alone to achieve it. Keep in mind that one study by McKinsey and Co. found that 34% of employees quit because of an uninspiring work environment or uncaring leaders.
  • Be clear about major goals/deliverables. What do you need done and when? Set out what top performers look like to you and how the organization helps them get there.
  • Show them the money. Provide a reasonable, and real, salary range in the initial job posting. These days, many potential candidates won’t even apply without one. A Grand Canyon-size gap between the low and high ends of the range won’t cut it. This is interpreted as your desire to “hide” the truth. Why not take the opportunity to establish trust from the outset?
  • Join the conversation. Customers, employees, applicants—they’re all on social media checking out your company. Don’t ignore the negative comments about your workplace. Refute it. Take charge of the conversation around you.
  • Enough with the “Tell me about a time when” queries. Instead, use a version of “What can you do for us, and how?” Use your limited time with applicants to explore your brand and the applicants’ personal brand view of themselves. Ask for their game plan that would earn them this salary. What does the perfect workday look like? How does this opportunity allow you to achieve your ideal day and future?
  • Explain the thorns. It’s easy to sell the rose petals or the pretty parts of an organization. Sell the challenges and struggles, too: “We’re looking for this kind of person to take these on. Is that you?”

A well-executed hiring process avoids both buyer and seller remorse. Highlight in the job posting what you’ll want to know and need to hear, and then have a focused conversation in which you’re open to answers and questions.

Top, high-performing talent knows what works for them. They don’t want to come to a place where the kind of person they are gets shut down almost immediately. They want a place where they can learn, grow and contribute. You should want your organization to benefit from the kind of person you hire. Job listings and interviews should give both the employer and potential employee a chance to explore all of that.