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Use Job Satisfaction to Increase Your Placement Rate

Aug 29, 2008

I’ve always used a multi-factor approach to ensure candidates evaluate career opportunities across multiple factors, both short and long term. These typically included things like job stretch, impact, growth opportunities, learning, benefits, and compensation.

The idea here was to increase the likelihood the candidate would not overvalue compensation as the primary decision criteria when selecting one job over another. Since compensation was rarely ideal, broadening the selection criteria this way was a very effective recruiting and negotiating tactic. This week I learned how to make it even better – have candidates rank order the criteria when you first meet them.

As I began to consider this and try it out, I ran across a study prepared by WFD Consulting in a consortium with some major U.S. corporations. Their findings revealed that employees and candidates have varying needs that change over time depending on where they are in their career and family life-cycles. While many companies have addressed these issues in terms of retention, few have incorporated them directly into the recruiting process.

To test this process, give your candidates the following list consisting of these standard job satisfaction factors. After a quick review, have them rank-order the list in order of importance to them:

  • Type of work being performed.
  • Importance of work being performed, recognition, and impact on the company.
  • Career growth and advancement opportunities.
  • Hiring manager and ability to be mentored.
  • Quality of associates and team members from a professional and personal standpoint.
  • Current compensation.
  • Benefits.
  • Overall job security.
  • Long-term compensation.
  • Company and culture.
  • Company-sponsored learning opportunities.
  • Work/life balance, commute.

In the past, I tended to assume a ranking with growth opportunity, the chance to make an impact, the job match, and the hiring manager at the top of the list. For those on the fast track this seemed to hold true over the past 20-plus years, but as the population ages and employee needs differ, it seems important to customize this ranking based on each candidate’s specific needs.

Here are the steps I would follow in using this type of job satisfaction ranking system in the recruiting and closing process:

  • Step 1: Once some level of interest is shown in the job, ask the candidate to self-rank the factors. Early-on, if the candidate wants to focus on compensation, suggest that she should look at job satisfaction from multiple perspectives. This is a good way to introduce this multi-factor decision form. Ask the candidate to evaluate her current job on this basis and then ask her to evaluate the best job she’s ever had the same way. This will typically show a striking difference. Then go on to say that she should evaluate your job in this same multi-factor fashion. This alone will allow you to get more candidates interested in what you have to offer. Discuss the order on the list with your candidate from two perspectives. First, make sure the candidate has correctly understood what you’re looking for and is satisfied with the ranking. Next, ask them to justify their rankings. This will help you understand what’s motivating them to look and if you even have a chance of hiring the candidate to fill one of your open positions.
  • Step 2: During the interview process have the candidate rank your job on each of these factors. Using this rank-ordered list as guide, provide the candidate the appropriate information in each category. This way, the candidate will have all of the information needed to make a thorough evaluation of your job opening. You might also be able to modify some aspects of the job, if possible, to match your opening to the candidate’s motivating needs. This will go a long way to increase your close rate.
  • Step 3: Ask the candidate to compare your job opening to others the candidate is considering using this same ranking scale. Include the candidate’s current job in this comparison. This will help you better understand why the candidate is leaving her current position and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood the person will accept your offer. This information will help you fend off the competition and minimize the chance of a counter-offer.
  • Step 4: During the final offer process determine where your company stands in comparison to the competition. As part of the negotiating process, don’t just focus on compensation when putting an offer together. Make sure the candidate considers all aspects of the offer in balance. This type of rank-ordered selection criteria not only makes good sense from the candidate’s perspective when evaluating different job opportunities, it also gives you and your company a head-start by addressing these needs in proactive fashion.

Over the next several months, we’ll be putting together a survey of recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates to better understand how different demographics affect this selection criteria. This will not only help in improving the hiring decision, but it can also be used for onboarding, performance management, and retention.

If you’d like to be part of this, sign-up for my Recruiters Roundtable discussion group. Feel free to comment regarding any factors that have been omitted from the above list and what you’ve discovered as the primary criteria your candidates use when making their acceptance decisions.

While this is somewhat of an experiment, my sense is that it will uncover a new recruiting process that will allow you to better match your job requirements with the candidate’s true motivating needs. In the process, you’ll probably improve quality of hire and make the negotiation less about compensation and more about opportunity, career growth, and work/life balance.

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