So Many Good Options

Kennedy Services received some positive news this week. We have been checking in with you periodically throughout this pandemic, and several of you have begun to work your way back to “normal” operations. Governor Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery is giving the Kennedy family hope for a brighter future. We are ready to slingshot out of this pandemic too.

The discussions this week made me think of the once in a lifetime opportunity that we have now as hiring managers. It’s no secret that the unemployment rate is high. That means the talent pool is rich. Many skilled professionals are sitting on the sidelines, reevaluating their future. Some of this talent will use this time to change industries or professions, and others will look for new opportunities. That means that your next great hire is out there searching for you. It also means that your openings will receive more attention than usual. I may get in trouble for spilling some of the family recipes, but I want to see you find the person that is going to take your business to the next level.

It may not sound like much in isolation, but every step you save adds to the time you can apply to other areas of your business. The first step is to automate because you are way too busy to sort through and evaluate the number of resumes you will receive. What if you lookover the perfect candidate? What if you take too long and your competitor finds them first. Familiarize yourself with Lean and Kaizen principles. My favorite part of this is the pursuit of perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect, but if you continuously strive for perfection, you will always get better. Fun fact, Kaizen means continuous improvement.

In the spirit of this, you need to automate as much as possible. One way we automate is by creating email templates for responding to applicants. For example, “Hey! We want to further the conversation,” or “Hi, we appreciate your interest, but we have selected someone else.” I often compare interviewing to dating, without the romance, of course. The beauty of dating apps is automation. Think of it as swiping right to the candidates you find attractive, and swiping left to the ones you do not. Interacting with a prospective candidate should be that simple and efficient.

Another way of automation involves scheduling. Respond with emails to set times to speak or meet. We recommend preliminary phone screens, but they should be scheduled to prevent the game of phone tag. If a prospective candidate misses a phone meeting, at least you did not block off a longer part of your schedule. You can use these phone conversations to see if your goals and values match. People will apply because they want a job, but not all apply for the same reasons. It is important to make sure they are looking for YOUR job. You owe yourself to take five minutes to find out what motivates them, and make sure that your job is their dream job.

In 2013, Kennedy Services was a key contributor to staffing the implementation of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Early on, the training classes consisted of about 40 people, and they were occurring every other week. We were inundated with resumes of applicants with a diverse set of skills and experience. It’s not like there was an entire group of experienced call center professionals sitting on the sideline.

To identify who was the best fit for the call center, we decided to create a skills profile for the environment. It is a method commonly known as behavior-based interviewing, which is used to identify the potential for a candidate to succeed in the new job by providing specific examples of how they handled similar situations in their past. For the call center, a critical behavior we wanted to identify was the ability of a candidate to solve problems. We developed a series of questions that required applicants to describe different types of problems and how they solved them. HINT, a good answer involves spending more time on the solution and the takeaway, than the actual problem itself. I can’t give away all of our trade secrets, but the development of these skill profiles allowed us to outperform our competitors in staffing this project. Building your skill profiles will become your most significant tool in finding the candidate that not only can do the job, but fits your company’s culture.

Matt Sarant is a proud member of the Kennedy Services family. Kennedy Services is one of Maryland’s oldest independent, woman-owned staffing services, located in the heart of Baltimore City. Hiring mistakes can prove costly. The above tips are just a few of the carefully developed strategies that Kennedy deploys to place the “right employee,” not just an “employee now.”