HUMAN RESOURCES

How to Hire Awesome Employees

Almost half of new hires fail within 18 months. Here's how to find people who will excel.
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When recruiting for open positions, employers look for candidates with the skills, experience, and demeanor they believe will benefit their organizations. The qualifications for positions can vary widely among organizations and from job to job, but employers tend to look for reliable, hard-working people who they believe will impact their organizations positively and with consistent, high-quality work.

That said, it’s not always so easy to tell which candidates will be "just okay" employees, and which will be awesome employees. Research shows that approximately 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months. And while 11 percent of these failures are due to a lack of skill, 89 percent of the failures are due to attitudinal reasons, such as low levels of motivation and a lack of coachability.

The good news: There are certain characteristics that awesome employees share in common. Here’s what to look for when you recruit for your next job opening.

Great Work Ethic

Terrific employees are people who work very hard. They consistently put forth their best effort in everything they undertake. Employees who consistently perform at a high level take pride in what they do. They want to do their jobs well, as they view their work as a reflection of their character, and they want to be successful and a make a positive impact.

Positive Attitude

It's key to hire people who have positive attitudes about their companies, their jobs, and their life in general. Their demeanor is pleasant, and they help foster cooperative and productive environments. Friendly and outgoing, they take the initiative to seek out and learn new skills and persevere when challenged. Supportive and concerned for others, they work well on teams. In some cases, they succeed in positions beyond their abilities, overcoming their lack of experience with their drive and enthusiasm.

Excellent Communication Skills

People who communicate well are appreciated and valued in any organization. Good communicators readily ask questions, and they are easy to talk to. Their writing is easy to read and concise, their presentations relevant. Good communicators positively impact any organization as they, by example, encourage interaction among their peers and coworkers. Their contributions can help organizations avoid misunderstandings, and steer away from exclusive groups, duplicated efforts, and unproductive time.

Deep Experience

Hard-working, skilled people are worth their weight in gold. Experienced candidates have an advantage when seeking employment, as their skillsets often fill a particular demand required within an organization. They can fit in quickly and impact situations almost immediately with little or no training. Experienced candidates come to the job proving that they are team players, and their skillsets benefit the entire organization, not just one position.

Being Prepared

Outstanding candidates do their homework before interviews by researching and seeking out information about the hiring organization. In interviews, they discuss confidently and in detail the particulars of their desired job and demonstrate with examples how they are the perfect fit for the position; they have a desired salary range in mind. Their resumes and cover letters list their achievements and show specifically how they will immediately and positively impact the organization.

Loyal People

Desirable candidates show an interest in making long-term careers with their employers, and they do not constantly move from job to job. Making a career with an organization in today’s fast-paced business climate can be hard to do. As customer needs and business strategies constantly change, organizations are forced to change rapidly with them, which at times results in personnel reorganizations and down-sizing. Despite these trends, outstanding employees tend to remain with their employers out of loyalty.

Stable and Reliable

The best employees are consistent, stable, and reliable--they learn to thrive in dynamic environments and can be counted on. Organizations depend on their employees to perform predictably and consistently over sustained periods. Great effort in one area, or on one project, and average or sub-par performance on another, is not helpful. Outstanding employees demonstrate consistent, outstanding performance when challenged. They adjust to change.

You may have to recruit and interview many job candidates before you find just the right person for your company. People who have all these characteristics are not common, but they do exist. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t measure up just to fill an empty chair--you’ll regret it when the employee doesn’t perform. Take time to recruit and interview the right people, and then hire only the very best. You can’t afford to do anything less.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 18, 2013

PETER ECONOMY

While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.




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