Marketing to the ‘best and brightest’

Employment experts share recruiting tips and what they look for in a prospective employee

Labor Works

In pursuit of the ‘best and brightest’ employees in today’s job marketplace, questions abound. How does an employer go about finding the right fit for their company? Should they advertise and make sure that have a presence on social media? Where do they seek the best candidates?

On the flip side, finding a job in today’s market has become a little easier as it is an employee’s market. There are many jobs out there and job seekers are discovering that they have options. Knowing what a company is looking for is ‘key’ in preparing for any job hunt, but how can a perspective applicant put their best foot forward and ensure an employer sees the best they have to offer?

Local business executives who specialize in human resources weighed in on how they look for the ‘best and brightest,’ offering some advice, information and lots of ways potential job candidates can make themselves stand out.

“Companies need to be honest about the job, the qualifications they are looking for and what the benefits are,” said Mike Zahniser, LaborWorks Industrial Staffing Specialists’ district manager for Oregon and Southwest Washington. “Applicants need to know what the job pays and what they are worth to a company. How is that company going to invest in them?”

LaborWorks, which has an office in Vancouver, specializes in staffing for part-time, seasonal and permanent entry-level jobs in industries such as hospitality, retail, production and manufacturing. Zahniser said that by utilizing a staffing company, there are advantages for both the employer and the employee as they have the benefit of a ‘test drive.’

“An employer gets to see how the new hire fits in with their business, if they have potential and are trainable,” he explained. “The company can decide if they want to invest in them. The potential to make a position full-time is always a possibility. For the new hire, they have the luxury of deciding if they want to continue to work for a company. They get a sort of outsider’s perspective coming in as a seasonal or part-time hire. Is this a place they feel valued and want to work?”

Teamwork, attention to detail and willingness to learn are what Monique Rice, operations manager at Effective Web Solutions in Washougal, looks for in a potential job candidate.

“We use a variety of different methods when recruiting such as Facebook, LinkedIn, college campus postings and occasionally Craigslist, depending on the type of position and qualifications we are looking for,” said Rice. “We like to see someone who can work independently, but who is also a team player; someone who can contribute, get along with others and adapt to changes. Being open and flexible and always learning is what we consider our corporate culture.”

Joy Collier, talent acquisition manager at AHA!, looks for creativity in a resume, for starters.

“I like to see something that stands out,” she said. “Since we are a creative business we like to see what they can do with their resume to make it pop. Changing up the typical style of bullet points, using color and different fonts will allow it to stand out from the rest and show a little personality.

“Having a portfolio and writing samples ready and available allows us to see what a potential candidate has done and can do,” Collier added. “Experience is just as important as education when it comes to a job in the marketing and communications industry.”

When it comes to marketing themselves as a company, Collier said Aha! utilizes a career page on their website to recruit talent. Additionally, the strategic communication and marketing firm uses job sites like Macs List, and LinkedIn, as well as referrals from clients and inquiries from the company blog and Facebook page.

“We are always interviewing prospective candidates who reach out to us and whose resumes may be a good fit for our company in the future,” noted Collier. “The informational interview helps us get to know them and helps them put themselves out there. Candidates really need to be their own ‘marketer’ in today’s competitive job market.”

What about salary? After all, salary matters. Benefits matter. For those seeking work, knowing what a job pays hourly or what the rate is for a seasoned salaried professional will help in any job search. However, this seems to be the one area that is not always clearly spelled out.

Zahniser knows that people work for a paycheck, but said he often sees people hold out for and extra $.50 an hour.

“They (job seekers) are not always looking at the benefits and how that $20 per hour really translates to $32 an hour with what the company is investing in them,” he said. “Asking themselves ‘what are they worth to the company?’ is often overlooked…

“Companies need to spell out how much their employees are worth to them,” Zahniser advised. “They are investing in them and in turn they are looking for workers who want to work and are trainable.”

Many companies ask for salary requirements during the interviewing process as a way of knowing what the potential candidate expects.

“We like to see what their experience is and try to leave salary open-ended as we will spend more on experience,” said Collier.

When asked about using social media as a way to research a prospective employee, Rice and Collier agreed that it can be helpful, especially if it turns out the LinkedIn profile does not match the resume or there are unaccounted for gaps in employment.

“Lots of jobs in a short amount of time can be a red flag,” said Rice. “If there are gaps of time they should be prepared to share what they were doing during that time. We occasionally look at Twitter and Facebook as that does show the type of personality we are hiring.”

Marketing a job: 15 tips for employers
1. Know what you are looking for in a job candidate
2. Give clear, easy-to-understand job descriptions
3. Talk about salary upfront
4. Keep online job application systems to a minimum
5. Focus on questions related to the job
6. Let candidates know what the company is willing to invest in them
7. Tell them about the benefits
8. Don’t glorify the position – be honest
9. Talk about advancement and reasons employees stay with the company
10. Remember interviewing is a two-way street and candidates have options