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Hiring the Right Person: Getting The Job “On the Street”

Hiring the Right Person: Getting The Job “On the Street”

This post is the third in MRSC's series on the hiring process: Hiring the Right Person.

You are a busy manager with an important vacancy to fill. Busy as you are, you’ve been reading our hiring series, so you took time to evaluate the vacancy to ensure the job description is accurate and up-to-date and to identify an ideal candidate profile. You’ve familiarized yourself with your organization’s process requirements and you’ve identified key stakeholders to include in the hiring process. You are ready to actively begin your recruitment process.

Here are a series of questions to help you focus the recruitment:

Who . . .

  • Should conduct the search? In most cases, the answer will be someone within your organization—it may be HR or it may be you as the hiring manager. But at times you may want to contract with an outside search firm. If the position is a top level manager or is difficult to recruit, you may choose to use a head hunter to obtain a strong candidate. Although use of a search firm is rare, it can be very useful in special cases.

What . . .

  • Are the process requirements? Since there are no federal or state requirements for advertising or posting a job, the focus here is on your organization’s internal process requirements.  Are you required to post or to first open the position internally? What advertising is required or expected? Be sure you comply with these requirements.
  • Information will you provide to applicants? You need to provide a brief, accurate description of the job and a clear statement of any minimum qualifications.  Often you will want to provide information about employee benefits and the organization as well.  For a higher profile or difficult-to-recruit job, consider providing more detailed information, such as a recruitment brochure.
  • Materials will you require applicants to submit? At a minimum, require submittal of your standard application form. Other possible requirements: cover letter, resume, writing sample, answers to supplemental questions. Focus on the specific vacancy and ask yourself: Does an option make sense based on the essential functions of this job? Will this information be useful to me during the screening phase of this process? Don’t ask for additional materials unless you are confident the information will add value to your process.

Where . . .

  • Are you going to search? Issues to consider:
    • Internally or externally? — if there is no requirement to open the job internally, are there reasons to voluntarily do so with this job? An example: a vacancy with multiple, qualified, competent, current employees who are interested in competing for the position. If you don’t have clear, articulable reasons for opening the job internally, your best course is to open the job to outside candidates.  If internal candidates are interested, they are free to apply and compete.
    • Is advertising needed? If you simply post the job on your website, are you likely to attract a sizeable, qualified applicant pool? For example, in some labor markets a website posting of an entry level administrative support or field position might easily attract 50 – 100 applications in a week. In this situation, spending time or money on an ad is not likely to add value to your process.
      • Where will you advertise? You should have a standard list of advertising sites.  Examples include: Association of Washington Cities JobNet, local newspapers or blogs, Craig’s List. Use these. 
      • Are there additional sites specific to this job? For many professional jobs, there are association websites that post vacant jobs. For top management positions consider broadening your search outside of your area orstate.  Consider national associations or out-of-state newspapers/websites (for example, the Oregon League of Cities).

When . . .

  • Are application materials due? It is good practice to set a closing date for submittal of applications. A deadline informs candidates about timing of the selection process and acts as a catalyst to busy candidates to get that application submitted.  The easier to attract qualified candidates, the shorter the application period needed.  If you are uncomfortable with a hard deadline—or if you anticipate difficulty attracting applicants—an alternative is an “open until filled” recruitment with a “first review” date.  This latter approach gives notice to candidates of a key date in your process while avoiding the need to re-open the position if you initially have an insufficient candidate pool.

By answering these questions, you should have a good idea of how to frame your recruitment and should be able to easily formulate your recruitment plan. Once you develop the materials identified in your plan, you are ready to publicize the job to potential applicants and get your recruitment underway. 

Stay tuned for future posts in our Hiring the Right Person series, where we will explore the basic components of a selection process, including a few ideas about how to make your processes more successful and more creative. Are there specific questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Karen.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Marci Wright

Marci Wright writes for MRSC as a guest author.

Marci Wright retired in 2014 after over 16 years as the City of Shoreline’s first Human Resources Director. Previously, she worked for Thurston County as Director of Employee and Administrative Services (1987 - 1997) and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (1980 - 1987). Currently volunteering for MRSC she continues to be interested in the full range of human resource issues, especially training, facilitation and problem resolution.

The views expressed in guest author columns represent the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MRSC.