The natural products industry is growing rapidly, and with this growth comes hiring opportunities for companies that are expanding. Searching for the right candidate for the job is far from easy though, and requires time and strategy. Companies looking to hire the right candidate for a position may find the journey for that precise fit can be taxing, especially when hiring managers are looking for candidates with technical skills more advanced than their own.
The first step for any employer is to create a job description focused on the key traits and duties of the position. Ginni Garner, managing director for Sanford Rose Associates, stressed the importance of tailoring the job description toward the person most suitable for hiring. "A good job description will include three to four significant projects the role will be responsible for completing in the first six to 12 months of the job," Garner said.
Finding the Right Candidates
Many people use LinkedIn, which some consider to be the professional form of Facebook. However, instead of a newsfeed and status updates to share with friends, people are viewing each other’s resumes and forming connections on a professional level. It can be difficult to find the right candidate for the job, though, because there is a small pool of talent available for employers to choose from, and looking for that right fit takes effort. “Job boards and LinkedIn can seem like the quickest way to find potential candidates if you are in a rush. However, high-level people with the best credentials rarely use job boards, and LinkedIn is geared toward those who want to let people know that they are looking—not to those who want and need to keep it quiet," said Michael Schlager, talent discovery specialist at Hiring Solutions Group.
Schlager warned that using LinkedIn can only give a brief look into someone's resume, whereas hiring a recruiter helps with a more thorough search. Schlager also cautioned that using LinkedIn allows anyone to see changes that are made to a profile, and sometimes it is important to be more conspicuous with those changes.
To help with the technical aspect of the hiring process, Schlager developed a program called Real World Technical Interviewers (RWTI). The premise of the program focuses on two sides of recruiting—behavioral and technical. Schlager works with clients who typically use an 85/15 rule, where 85 percent is focused on behavioral, and 15 percent on technical. However, RWTI reverses that model by focusing 85 percent on technical and 15 percent on behavioral. Schlager explained it can be difficult for recruiters to hire candidates in highly technical fields, especially with the number of positions out requiring in-depth knowledge of tasks that are highly technical. This is why they fill the gap by partnering with professionals who currently work in those technical fields, and match candidates with them so they can conduct their own technical interview. "They know what kinds of questions to ask better than anyone, and they know how to evaluate the answers better, too. The RWTI feedback becomes part of how we vet and present the best possible candidates to the client," Schlager said.
Working with recruiters, or more specifically finding the right recruiter, can be a challenge if the recruiter is not properly trained in looking for the appropriate skill set for the position to be filled. “Having worked with recruiters from both sides of the desk, often there was something missing, and it was that intimacy with the work of the job description," said Risa Schulman, Ph.D., a real world technical interviewer for Hiring Solutions Group. “Recruiters ended up sending people for interviews who may or may not have been truly qualified for the position, and left it up to the hiring manager to puzzle it out (or not). For companies with limited time and focus, this can delay getting to the end game, or can result in hiring someone that everyone hopes can really do the job on the ground, but aren’t quite sure. The RWTI concept shortens the length of the process and makes it more accurate. It’s a rare form."
Garner added that working with a recruiter can be difficult if an employer cannot find one to trust, noting that finding a reputable recruiter can be a whole other battle. In addition, there is usually a fee once a recruiter is found. “They charge a fee for their services—usually an amount that is 25 percent of the base salary of the position that you are looking to fill," said Garner.
However, recruiters can be helpful if an employer is having difficulty finding the right talent the job boards are simply not producing. Garner said recruiters can be useful if a company requires a difficult skill set that is challenging to find, especially one that is in high demand or low supply in the market. Ultimately, it is important to stay focused on the goals of the business. “Spend some time determining what the goal is for the position you’re hiring for and how this person will impact long-term success in your organization," Schlager said.
Finally, when looking to hire a candidate whose technical skills are more advanced than the hiring manager's, both Garner and Schlager offered their advice in hiring an outside technical expert—cautioning to ensure they know which important questions to ask. "It’s ideal to have someone who has done something hundreds of times or at least many more times than you," Schlager said.
“The internal process could also be guided and monitored by an outside expert, and the company will learn well what they need to know. It's essential to long-term success to have a guide, at the very least initially."
An interviewing technique that can be useful is taking three to four key points from the job description and asking the candidate to relate them to a similar experience they had. Garner suggested, “During the interview, you can ask each candidate to elaborate on significant accomplishments—similar experiences they have had to the three to four critical projects listed in the job. For example, if one of the requirements for the role is to lead new product development from an idea through commercialization, the interviewer can ask, ‘Explain a situation when you were instrumental in a product development project? What was your role? Who was on the team? How long did it take? Was the project successful—why or why not?’"