Purpose, Goals and Alignment: How to hire the best person for the job

Nov 19, 2020 • JOHN WALTON

The brains behind SaucedIT and Real Time Australia join forces to share with other Small-Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) their tricks of the trade developed in order to ensure the best employee for the job is attracted to the business.

This week on Hiring and Firing our hosts (SaucedIt’s John Walton, and Derek Reilly - founder of Surf Europe, and co-founder of Stab magazine) were joined by Real Time Australia’s Ellis Taylor, eager to provide other businesses with insight that they have spent years developing (30 years to be precise for Real Time Australia).

Any small business will understand the difficulty of trying to compete with the grandeur and success of bigger branches (think Google/Apple giants of the enterprise world), particularly when trying to attract and actually retain the right people to roles (whether it be in IT recruitment, all the way to Executive recruitment).

One of the best pieces of advice that Ellis provided to SMEs was to not waste time and money trying to compete with the big guns of the game, but rather being wholly self-focused. “Knowing your product brand, and from this, your target customer, will save resources rather than targeting every possible client,” he states.

This all comes with separating the employer brand from the product brand. Without the front facade of a big business, ensuring clarity of purpose, goals, values, principles of culture becomes the essential aspect to SME success in hiring. Defining these five areas is an expression of what the business wants to put out to the world, and so will essentially act as bait for potential, like minded employees.

So whilst the development of logos and visual appeal might express the business’ personality, creating precise goals speaks directly to the function of the business; drilling into stakeholders what the business stands for, its reasons for existence - what it wants to become, achieve and create. Alignment enables the attraction of people with common goals.

In addition to these tips, the podcast further warns about the danger of product brand in the light of social media. If the brand of the business is damaged by a potential employee this could be devastating for an up-and-coming business. This comes back to the importance of finding employees suited to the job who align with core values of the company, and a way of ensuring this is naming the job title correctly.

Creating a suitable job description is a skill in itself, and will affect who applies. It should promote the culture of the workplace, with the sets of behaviours and attitudes it promotes, especially as culture is the social order of the organisation. Real Time has devised four statements of culture (an example of which is being results driven - to enable continued relevance in their field).

But, how can a business best attract people when the workplace is going virtual?

In the pre-Covid times, a candidate would be able to pick up the culture as soon as they walked into the offices. More than just understanding the workplace policies and procedures, culture can still be recreated by incorporating team members into a video about why they are there, what they are excited about and why they joined the company. Just a short introductory video can simply express this to a potential candidate about why they might want to work with your company.

Another possible way is the classic (and sorely missed during these times) ‘water cooler chats’ within the interview process. With a myriad of different functions (such as the Zoom breakout room), during a second-stage interview bringing other employees into a virtual meeting can enable the candidate to ask questions about company life - which also gives the potential candidate an employee profile of their potential team members.

Once culture (alongside policies and procedures of course) has been clarified, purpose - the big ‘why’ question - is the next step.

This should come into the advertisement stage of hiring. Ellis warns about the dangers of reusing advertisements through copy and pasting. Rather, it should come back to the process of org design; outlining project design and team design. What exact gap in your company, should this potential employee’s profile be filling? What are they being hired to do? What are they being hired to achieve?

Ultimately, just because someone can do the job, does not mean they are the best person to be doing it. By starting with the org design and process design it will significantly alter the way in which companies can identify these employees. It is also incredibly useful for the applicant to understand the purposes and outcomes they need to achieve - what is expected of them (i.e. years of experience). Also including details such as the relevance of a university degree to the job. Interestingly, the Hiring and Firing squad agreed that there are many clients out there (particularly in the tech world) that don’t want people with degrees who ‘follow the herd’ rather people that have self-learned with their own innovative problem solving abilities, particularly in IT recruitment (perhaps without actual degrees).

Furthermore, with the changing sphere of technology, and development of algorithms for assessing the best possible candidates, the Hiring and Firing team agree that although this might be useful for large-scale enterprise hiring, it removes the human aspect to candidate searching. Make it more human by picking up the phone.

Other final notes included the ‘resume’ problem. This billion dollar question is subject to differing opinions, and changes from job to job. There should not be a template, but generally, no more than one page which speaks into the job in question (though remember, one size does not fit all when it comes to resumes).

To ensure that the candidate is not only writing what wants to be heard, the team reiterates that picking up the phone and having a detailed discussion with the candidate, delving into who they are - expressing the purpose and values of the company, will ensure the most successes in hiring.

Ultimately, to stand out as an SME, it comes back to attracting the right people. Expressing what drives company culture, mission statements that are driven by human behaviour are all essential components to this.

The nexus of the world of recruitment is alignment as ultimately, a successful company is an aligned company.