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There are two types of positions we normally deal with - temporary contract positions and permanent positions.  In each case the selection process is a little different.

Contractors and temporary staff are required to be able to deliver results immediately.  They are chosen because they have an excellent track record in their field around specialist skills.  Usually they are the ready-made product to deliver a technical outcome.  Their role tends to be around once off projects, short to medium term developments or even flexible staff support services.

Permanent staff may or may not have highly specialised technical skills, however, they a brought into the organisation for the long term.  The goal is to help create corporate wealth through the expertise that they have already and augment this through the company’s own intellectual property or specific business requirements.

The process of hiring and recruiting is broadly the same but recruiting for permanent staff has a different edge.

The best process for selecting staff is an objective evidence based approach around a performance based job specification. 

It is important to understand the role for which you are selecting the person.  This means defining the role in terms of required achievements as well as the tasks, skills and experience as a first step.  It is necessary to understand what results are desired at the end of year one and beyond.  It is also necessary to create a profile of the type of person that could fit into the organisation.  This covers culture and personality style and traits which would allow the person to fit into the company or team and feel comfortable.

Based on the job specification it becomes easier to define the type of person that you need and what results you want to see in their work history. 

The search process is normally a mixture of targeted advertising, specialised network search and discovery and industry networking.

To attract the right potential candidates the company must have a strong value proposition.  There must be an attraction beyond salary and direct benefits.  If the discussion starts at this point it is unlikely that you are dealing with the right candidate.

Growing companies, divisions, departments, technical or commercial challenges that have to be overcome, new technology, career development  or more responsibility are all areas that may be important to the right candidate.  Understanding the individual's drivers helps in candidate selection.  Many companies have lost good candidates because they failed to understand individual needs and drivers.  Most good people do work they are passionate about and love to do.  If that need isn't satisfied then the rest does not keep people working in the long run.

The final selection and evaluation must be rigorous and objective.  The fact finding approach must delve into the successes and failures, the results and achievements and the relationship with the people and teams in their work history.  Detailed confirmation on facts through referee, ex-colleagues and subordinates is essential.  The best people have a lot of support from colleagues and their staff. 

High performers will tend to have many more questions around the role and requirements than non-performers.  They need to ensure that they are making the right decision and not just making a lateral move.  It is important to welcome the scrutiny of the company by candidates.  Poor candidates are less likely to be inquisitive.  This maybe a sign that they are looking for a pay packet and a lateral move, not a career enhancing move.

Based on the Job Specification, the individual profile and the candidate evaluation an objective comparison needs to be made that includes relative strength between the candidates but also that they passed minimum standards.  By structuring the evaluation process formally it is more likely that you select the right person and do so dispassionately with the candidate feeling he has been evaluated appropriately.  Good candidates expect a professional approach and proper processes and will shy away from an organisation that does not demonstrate this.

In summary the following steps need to be taken:

  • Develop a performance based role description
  • Develop an ideal candidate profile
  • Establish a flexible and meaningful candidate value proposition
  • Search in the right places as defined by the description and profile
  • Establish an objective evaluation and fact finding process
  • Ensure that there is a rigorous reference checking process
  • Negotiate in a spirit of mutual future benefits.