Thursday, July 30, 2009

Employment Center


In these tough economic times, you’ve likely found the talent pool much richer than in years past. Former VPs are applying for barista positions at Starbucks, Sales Managers are hoping for the opportunity to “tote bags” – you know the story. But don’t be seduced by titles: even though these applicants have great experiences in other domains, they may not be the best fit for the way your agency hires. So, how do you determine which applicant is a great find and which is a pass?

It’s all about the fit.
When you think about a successful employee, what comes to mind? Assertive, detailed, outgoing? These responses differ according to which position you had in mind. An astute eye for detail isn’t as critical to success for an agency President as it is for an accountant; assertiveness isn’t always needed for an individual contributor role. When it comes to selecting your employees, it’s just as important to know the role as it is to know the person applying for the role.

Job. Understanding a job includes knowing the tasks an employee would have to complete, how important these tasks are to success in the job, and what kind of person would be successful in the job. It’s no longer just about the job description; it’s about the intricacies of the job itself. People in the role now often find it quite difficult to identify such details, especially if they’ve been doing it for a while. It’s not unlike driving a car…once you’ve done it long enough, you forget each step you take to start the car, get it going, stopping, etc. With that said, it’s often helpful to have an objective, outside source help you identify the specifics down to the amount of time a person spends doing each task. An outsider has no preconceived notions about the job requirements and can ask the questions you might take for granted, gathering the answers that will lead to the creation of a profile of the most successful incumbent.

Person. Now that you have a better understanding of the model, you can compare candidates to the profile of one who will be successful in this position. Remember the old adage, “it’s takes a special person to be a ___ ?” It’s true! It takes a special person to be an agency President, to be a Collector, to be an HR Manager, etc. The trick is knowing what “special” means in each of these roles. Each person has a unique personal style that describes how he/she approaches leadership, how he/she gets the job done, relates to others, and processes information.

The missing link in successful hiring is between the tasks that need to be done and the individual with the personal style best suited to do these tasks well. To effectively and accurately gather information on an individual’s style, you’ll need a scientifically valid tool (i.e., defensible in court) to assess each applicant for fit to the position. You’ll then have all of the pieces you need to screen through the talent pool and find the applicants who will best fit your agency’s needs.

by Christina Adkins Ph.D, Organizational Consultant, ATG

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