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Making a List and Checking it Twice: Gearing Up to Hire in the New Year

The holidays have arrived. What a wonderful time of year! Lately, I have been reflecting on the meaning of the old verse “for everything there is a season.” This oft-quoted saying reminds me that our lives are driven by a constant flow of change. I find that the key to my happiness and the health of my business can best be characterized as “going with the flow,” vs. attempting to rigorously control the flow. Recruiting is like everything else – there is a cycle, a rhythm, a process – and the same principles apply: successful, forward-looking companies know how to take advantage of both the ebbs and the flows.

Historically, hiring slows down around this time of year. Clients tell us: We have already hired the staff we need to cover any holiday surge; we are starting to think about the outlook for 2016, but may be still finalizing our budgets. In the fast-moving world of talent acquisition, it is not necessarily a bad thing to plan for a breather, but knowing how to use that time effectively is key to a fast ramp in the new year.

So how can you make the most of your breather? Why not take a page from Old St. Nick’s playbook? Make a list . . . and, of course, check it twice!

1. Take stock of staff. Now is the time to make your hiring wish list. Take a critical look at the past year. Were you ready for the surges that you experienced? How can you better fill-in the gaps? Are there reasons to think hiring patterns and needs in 2016 will look different from 2015? Use predictive metrics to help prepare for next year by knowing what types of talent your firm will need in order to meet business needs. Also, identify employees who have shown leadership potential for internal promotion opportunities.

2. Evaluate your candidate quality and turnover. Let’s start with “what is your turnover rate”? If you lost some key talent, consider whether you are reaching the right candidate pool. Were the candidates who left really the right fit for the position? Or are there other changes you should make to retain valuable employees in the future? Forecasting possible turnover and alerting managers before employees get serious about quitting can improve retention.

3. Think about your process. Ask yourself what parts of your hiring process work well and what parts could be improved. You don’t want to miss out on talent in the future because the hiring process didn’t go smoothly. Recent hires can be an especially good source of feedback here. Survey your new hires specifically asking them about which arguments or sales approaches were effective and which ones had no major impact on their decision to accept your offer.

4. Gear up for hiring. Take a look at your job descriptions now before you are feeling the pressure to advertise the position. Are you turning off potential candidates with boring or poorly written job descriptions? Check for their accuracy too. Misleading job descriptions can increase turnover among new hires. Remember that with the drop in unemployment, the most innovative people will likely have options. They will expect you to sell them on your company and the position. Take the time now to consider what you have to offer.

Taking advantage of ANY marketplace lull in hiring to reflect on your process and goals will help you prepare for EVERY surge. Plus, think how relaxed you’ll feel taking time off this holiday season knowing that you have a strategy in place to handle the next hiring upswing.

Bring on 2016!

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