Playing the Hiring Game

Three new hires share what their organizations did right

by Joseph D. Conklin

When organizations conduct job searches and look for new employees to fill open positions, it’s now common for hiring personnel feel the job market is in the company’s favor and that there are plenty of job candidates looking for positions.

Companies do, however, have occasions when they want to improve their odds in the hiring process. Employers need to create attractive opportunities and appeal to the best and brightest job candidates.

My organization, a Department of Energy division, succeeded in acquiring great new employees when three people joined us within a six-month period. The timing was perfect, as some employees had recently retired. A full staff in the face of an increasing workload is much easier for managers.

After the new hires—Amos, Rose and Mercedes—had a chance to find their desks and learn the basics of their jobs, they shared with me what went right in the hiring process for them.

Conklin: What were you doing when you applied for your current job?

Amos: I was wrapping up my graduate degree at a West Coast college. I had also recently married, and a job was something I had to land. Taking time off to see the world or do volunteer work would not have been the best step for me.

Rose: I worked in the organization as a contractor for five years doing similar work to the job I applied for. I liked the people and challenges enough to desire a more permanent place in the organization.

Mercedes: I used to work here four years ago. After that, I spent time as a research analyst for a nonprofit, helping measure corporate and marketing performance. I kept in touch with people I knew back here, and they let me know about the opening. 

Conklin: Why did you apply for this particular job?

Amos: I saw the chance to apply my skills toward an important subject and one that garners lots of public interest.

Rose: I started thinking about it when my old workgroup was transferred to this location. After seeing what the organization did in a more detailed way, I thought the prospects for advancement were better here.

Mercedes: I liked the experience when I worked here as a contractor. Compared to the job I had at the time, I thought the environment here was friendlier and more interesting.

Conklin: Why did you choose this job offer over other alternatives?

Amos: The job sounded like it offered the potential for a significant degree of creativity and independence. And this area of the country offers many cultural and entertainment attractions I find appealing.

Rose: This job seemed like the best option for what I was looking for.

Mercedes: There weren’t really any other alternatives. This was the only option I seriously considered.

Conklin: What did the organization do right that encouraged you to take its offer?

Amos: There were several administrative delays before I finally received an offer. The supervisor stayed in regular touch the whole time. He seemed genuinely interested in hiring me.

Rose: They were willing to consider a greater variety of backgrounds compared to my old company in deciding whether applicants met the basic qualifications. They were also more willing to count education toward the experience requirements.

Mercedes: The family-friendly work schedule options make it easier to balance work and personal commitments. The job security, health coverage and similar benefits were very attractive.

Conklin: How can organizations be more attractive to job seekers like you?

Amos: Focus on the most qualified candidates and give them individual attention through the hiring process.

Rose: Flexible work schedules and decent benefits are great selling points for me.

Mercedes: Here, you can have your own office instead of being confined to a cubicle farm. That is a nice plus.

Conklin: Why should other people consider working for this organization?

Amos: It is the ideal spot to begin a career if being on the cutting edge of addressing important national problems matters to you.

Rose: The organization’s culture supports professional development. The co-workers are professional, polite, knowledgeable and supportive. The work is interesting and challenging.

Mercedes: It helps that the organization’s mission touches on topics of significant public interest.

Key takeaways

While Amos, Rose and Mercedes each have their own story, their words offer common lessons for organizations wanting to secure sound new hires. The lessons boil down to whether employees are treated as an asset or an expense.

In general, employees looking for a new job can tell the difference. For organizations desiring to stand out, they should think about how to combine expectations for long-term performance with attempts at securing long-term commitment from their employees.

Joseph D. Conklin is a mathematical statistician at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree in statistics from Virginia Tech and is a senior member of ASQ. Conklin is an ASQ certified quality manager, engineer, auditor and reliability engineer.

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