Faced with a growing demand for new talent on our projects, LMD is experiencing a hiring surge. We recently posted several new positions on our website, LinkedIn, and Indeed—our usual recruitment methods. But as resumes came in and I began to screen candidates, I realized that the traditional process of scouting potential hires wasn’t working. To find and attract the right candidates, we needed a new approach—one that focused on personal connection.
To build the right team, it’s important to remember that you’re hiring people, not resumes. The team you choose will be the face of your organization, your voice, and your ambassadors. As such, your hiring decisions should be thoughtful and deliberate—and personal. Now more than ever, people are looking for a career that gives them a sense of purpose and the ability to use their skills and knowledge to make a personal impact.
Further, I’ve found that thinking beyond “What can that person do for LMD?” to “What can we do to make a difference in this person’s life?” is critical to finding candidates who are the right fit for the position and our company. Hiring isn’t just about what we get from the employee. It’s also about what we can give to make our organization a place where they want to work now and years into the future.
Hiring is a journey more so than a process—and both the candidate and the company can learn a lot from each other along the way. Here are five things that I’ve learned that can help you hire great additions to your team:
- Choose your words wisely. I was looking for a writer for a project focusing on combating climate change and advertised the position with the title “communications coordinator.” After receiving more than 50 resumes, I realized that each applicant defined that role differently. From the medical office scheduler who speaks frequently with patients and doctors to the home health care worker who takes detailed notes about the people in their care, the applicants were all communications specialists—just not the type I had in mind. I changed the job title to “environmental communicator” and suddenly a wealth of talent surfaced from people with communications skills and the desire to help create a greener, more sustainable environment.
- Keywords are the key to finding the right candidates. If you use LinkedIn to find potential hires, searching on keywords, rather than a job title, can lead you to people with a passion for your project’s mission and reveal some surprising connections. Perhaps you’ll find someone working on their master’s degree in the same topic area or at a nonprofit with a similar focus. If they’re willing to have a conversation with you, you can share the project mission and ask them for ideas on what they would do to expand and grow the project. Show interest in what they’ve accomplished and invite them to share some of their work, such as position papers or videos. Ask them if they would consider working for you if their circumstances change and if they know anyone who’s looking for a new opportunity. It’s the perfect opportunity to get ideas for your own project and build your network.
- Take a “get-to-know-you” approach to interviewing. The interview is a chance to get to know the person, not just their skills. To build a personal connection, ask them what they’re passionate about, how they spend their weekends, or what’s their favorite book or movie. These kinds of questions will give you a better understanding of how they will fit with your team, and how you can better support each other if you move forward with employment. Always make the interview more personal by requiring video if you can’t conduct it in person.
- Enhance your benefits package. Interviews also give you the opportunity to identify opportunities to add to or change your corporate benefits package. It may be as simple as offering team-building events that help people get to know each other—such as volunteering as a group on a community project—or reinstating a benefit that you thought you no longer needed due to the changing demographics of your team. Document these ideas and test them out in future interviews.
- Recognize and celebrate diverse talents and interests. Sharing our talents and interests allows us to get to know each other personally—and makes work more fun and interesting. Just within LMD, we could host a music concert, hike in almost any national park with someone who’s been there, discover the 100 best American movies of all time, learn the best spots to go kayaking or ride horses, and delight in cuisines from around the world. Encourage your new hires to share their passions. Learning about each other helps us understand and support each other better.
The hiring process doesn’t have to be painful. By being attentive, intentional, and personal, you can find candidates who will not only excel in their new position but also mesh perfectly with your team.