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Step 1 – Clarify the role

Work out what you want the manager to do in your absence. Will they be required to do exactly what you do or will some parts of the job be left out? Either way, clarify what is needed in a detailed description of the job duties, along with a list of the competencies the successful candidate will need to have to be successful in the job. Once you have done this, you have created a good foundation for the assignment.

Step 2 – Type of candidate

As you now have the job duties sorted out, the next step is to decide what type of person you are looking for. How much experience do they need to have? Do they need specific qualifications? What personality and work behaviour characteristics are important?

Step 3 – Internal team opportunity

Look within your organisation to see if you have someone who fits the specification or comes close to it. Maybe, with a little training and support, the right person could already be a member of your team and been overlooked — possibly because they are too useful to you in the role they currently perform.

Step 4 – Selecting a recruiter

If there is no one suitable internally, it’s time to start looking outside. Decide whether you want to do this yourself or want to hand the assignment to a professional. Consulting fees can be expensive and will vary from recruiter to recruiter. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest option.

As the saying goes, you usually get what you pay for and whilst the cheapest will have less impact on your finances, you won’t necessarily get the quality of service you really need. Choose carefully, get testimonials or speak to previous users of the recruiter you intend using. Whilst this won’t guarantee your success, it’s a good start.

Step 5 – The recruitment process

If done properly, it is a rigorous and detailed process — as it should be — to ensure no details are overlooked. If you have chosen to go it alone then make sure you have a clear idea of what you need to do with supporting procedures and documentation.

For the inexperienced recruiter there are pitfalls that range from breaching privacy legislation through to omitting reference checking or verifying candidate qualifications.

Be wary: some candidates deliberately lie; some won’t give you the full story and hope the matter won’t be discussed or raised; partly completed qualifications are a typical example.

This is also an indication of the person’s trustworthiness. Is this type of person likely to disguise the truth when working for you? It will be a test of your ability to probe and establish the truth.

Step 6 – Beware: the time can whiz past

It may all look fairly straight forward; you simply prepare an ad and place it on the internet or in the newspaper, interview a handful of candidates and make your selection. Certainly you could go this way and you may find just who you are looking for without too much effort.

But in a marketplace where there are candidate shortages, it’s not that easy. You could find yourself short of options and wonder where to turn next.

At this point employers often turn to recruiters to pick up the pieces and help them find the candidate they want. By then six to eight weeks may have passed by.

Step 7 – Advertising media

Whether you or a recruiter handles the assignment, you will need to decide whether you will do a search or advertise through the internet or the press.

It will perhaps prove difficult for you personally to do the search — particularly if you want someone who works in your industry.

Step 8 – Search anonymity

Poaching directly from a competitor will be viewed dimly. It’s easier for a recruiter. They can preserve your confidentiality until you get face-to-face with short-listed candidates.

Keep in mind that candidates who are approached as part of a search exercise can sometimes become too money-focused and may use this as an opportunity to push up the salary and benefits they already receive. Employers will often breach their salary scales to keep their best staff.

Step 9 – Advertisement style

Advertising in the press is expensive so you may choose to start with one of the internet employment sites. If you eventually do need to use press and want good positioning for your ad, you will need to book space one to two weeks in advance.

Preparing your ad will take time and careful thought. You will need to decide whether you want to mention your company name or not. The ad should be eye-catching and informative and designed to attract a suitably qualified and experienced group of candidates, while filtering out the unsuitable. Many ads use colour to make them more eye-catching.

Step 10 – Handling applicants

Applications will need to be acknowledged and reviewed so an interview schedule can be drawn up. Candidates should be assessed against the critical experience and qualification requirements and then selected for interview.

Step 11 – Interviewing

If you have little or no experience as an interviewer you will need to familiarise yourself with the process and techniques. Many managers are not good interviewers and their interviews lack structure. At best, train and practice before you try it. At worst, buy a book on interview techniques and skills.

Using an external consultant will save you considerable screening time and will provide any needed support in the final stages of the interview process. It’s a tendency to recruit people for their technical skills but fire them for behavioural faults. The trick is to identify those faults during the interview and in subsequent personality testing.

Step 12 – Shortlisting

Let’s assume that you have narrowed down your shortlist to a couple of preferred candidates. Now is the time to thoroughly check their referees and verify qualifications.

Step 13 – Negotiating and agreeing to terms & conditions of employment

Hopefully at least one of the final candidates will be the person you want; then the negotiation of employment terms and conditions can begin. Working through a consultant can often make this much easier.

Step 14 – Completion

Once you have done the deal and you have a signed acceptance of your offer, advise the other candidates that they have been unsuccessful. It’s important to do this as diplomatically as possible.

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