More than three-quarters (82 percent) of The Zweig Letter Hot Firm leaders cite hiring and retaining qualified employees as their top operational challenge in managing their firms rapid growth, according to ZweigWhite’s 2007 AEC Industry Outlook. "By making several small, mindful recruiting changes, firms can avoid the pitfalls that kept them from being a competitive recruiter in the past," says Jennifer Hu, an associate with ZweigWhite who specializes in human resources advisory services.
Following are a few of Hu’s best practices for firm leaders who want to improve their recruiting results:
Recruit continually. Set aside time each week to review resumes, interview candidates, and meet with your HR manager to discuss the state of the marketplace. Create a formal process to plan for long-term hiring needs, maintain a central database of candidates, stay in touch with potential employees, and leverage employee referrals so you can move quickly when a position opens.
Streamline the hiring process. Shorten the firms recruiting process by limiting the number of people needed to craft the job description, interview the candidate, draft the offer letter, and approve the hire. Firms lose great candidates when they take too long for interviewers to convene, discuss feedback, and make a decision.
Write effective offer letters. Offer letters should always include a firm response date, start date, direct supervisors name, and role within the company. Personalize the offer letter to indicate how excited you are to get the candidate on board, and require a signature, which reinforces that this is a contract.
Provide competitive benefits and salaries. Benchmark the salaries your firm offers against the benefits of firms of similar sizes, types, specialties, and geographic location. Market the differentiating factors (unusual benefits, perks of workplace environment) that may give your firm the edge to prospective candidates.