Finding the Right Employee

Help wanted ads can be expensive exercises that waste time. Below are ten alternative ways to find employees, which take less time and yield better results:

1. Join an e-mail list. What e-mail lists do people in your industry, or people you are seeking to hire, subscribe to? Notifying the right e-mail list means you are targeting the job vacancy towards the exact pool of applicants you want to hire from, not the population at large. Also, because lists are moderated, they are not associated with lots of garbage, e.g. “get rich quick” schemes or invitations to porno sites. (Posting the same message on a bulletin board is likely to link you with just those kinds of messages.) If you don’t know of any e-mail lists, check with professional organizations, chambers of commerce, and industry organizations. For starters, you can also go to a list web site, such as, or

2. With more people working online, working from home at least one day a week, and email becoming the predominant mode of communication, meeting someone face-to-face has taken on its own sense of importance and heightened emotional connection. Almost every major city has mixers, whether they are hosted by chambers of commerce, industry-specific groups, or professional organizations. For additional oomph, find out from the sponsoring organization whether you can host a mixer at your business. Also, be sure to bring along one or two people who fit into the organization’s focus, e.g. if you are attending a mixer of engineers, bring one or two engineers from your company.

3. Is anyone in your pool of freelancers a potential full-time hire? Many people freelance until they find a company that truly impresses them, while others do so to be free from a 9-to-5 routine. Find out why these people decided to become one-woman or one-man bands, and see if your company has what they are seeking.

4. Does your company host a softball or bowling team? What about your company’s women’s group or minority employee group? Use these groups to publicize what kinds of people you are hoping to add to your company. If you’re a smaller company, check with all of your employees: Who among their friends and acquaintances are looking for jobs? People are more likely to respond to a job opening they hear about word-of-mouth.

5. Chances are, you have tried a recruiting firm at least once – but did you get the most out of the experience? Choose a firm that is willing to let you interview candidates before they come on board, or will ask the person to report for Thursday and Friday, with the option of having them return to work on Monday based on their performance. Also, try to choose recruiting firms which are centrally located, as those tend to attract the broadest pool of applicants.

6. Even in a booming economy, many groups of potential employees struggle to find work. Don’t hesitate to visit senior classes at high schools, college recruiting fairs, welfare-to-work initiatives, middle-aged job-search groups (such as 40-Plus), and other such functions. After all, you need to hire people efficiently; they need to find work quickly. It can be the perfect match.

7. Part of your search should include staying within your own office building. Do you share a building with other offices? How do those people like their jobs? What do they tell you about their work experience when you see them in the hallway, the restroom, the lobby? You get to fill a position quickly, while they continue their current commute arrangements (no small consideration with today’s traffic-packed roads).

8. Are there employees who could do the vacant job, and whose current job would be easier to fill? (Don’t overlook secretarial and other support staff, many of whom are well-educated and under-utilized in their current position.) Their company knowledge will help minimize the amount of time needed for any learning curve.

9. If the job you are seeking to fill is a high-risk/high-reward position, carefully peruse the business news pages of your local newspaper. Who just got promoted? Did someone else apply for the job? Is someone who served as an interim boss now having to make way for a permanent candidate? Who just received a 10 or 20 year award from their company? These people are likely to be seeking new challenges. Many with lengthy tenure at a company desperately want to jump to another firm; they are afraid no one will hire them elsewhere because of their long-term employee status.

10. Contact employers who have announced layoffs, especially if your hiring requirements are large or highly specialized. The company laying off gets help resolving a major issue, their employees get a chance at another job, and you get a pool of applicants eager to be hired.

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