Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Understanding what matters to the candidate

This is the first in a series of posts of a 'how to' nature - in this instance how to get a better understanding of what matters both to your staff and your candidates.

Let me start by again discussing the job. I like (well some would say am obsessed by) the comparison between a product and a job, and as such your firm has many 'products' that it sells to candidates, some which will appeal, others less so. Just like any product there are many factors, some of which will matter more to some people than others. You will get a great fit if what your 'product' (the job) offers matches what your 'customers' (the candidate) wants.

But how do you do this? Well it is relatively simple, though will take some time. I assure you the results are worth the effort.

First you need to define what the factors you want to measure. I have always found that a mixture of gut instinct and a few workshops is a good way of defining these. You will have factors and subfactors - eg a factor could be 'non salary package benefits' and subfactors could include 'car scheme' or 'health club membership'. Getting these right is important. Get lots of colleagues to 'stress test' it - have you missed anything.

Next you need to survey people. I might be tempted to speak to someone in marketing about this as it is a complex issue. You want to get people to rate each factor on a scale in their ideal job. I will come onto this again later after I have shown you what you are going to do with the data.

Usually you arrange these items in what is described as a comb chart. I have used some factors as examples (this is not based on data or any other analysis - it's for example only) an example is illustrated below

Back to more data that you'll want. Next you want to understand what they think of you - you are going to compare the two. You might be able to ask candidates this, however you may get a good result by asking them on their first few days with the firm (before they're influenced by reality.) Here you could ask 'before you came to interview what was your view of us'. I would also suggest getting some who have been with the firm 3, 6 and 12 months to complete this as well.

From this you will get the following:

What you can see is that for some factors what they want (the blue) is higher than the yellow (what they feel you offer), and for other factors it's the reverse. For those elements with high scores these are the things that they really want and therefore you want to sell on. For those (like international travel on this example) you have sold this one, but they don't care about it (for this one you might want to look at the opposite also, like how they view you on work / life balance). Publicising or promoting such items will be unproductive.

You can use this analysis for a whole range of things:

* Redesigning your 'product' - changing the package, what the work involves etc
* focusing your recruitment advertising to things that will be influencers (get these factors reiterated at all stages of the recruitment processes)

There are some more ways you might want to look at the data:

* You should look at this by segments in your workforce - hey it will even help you identify these. What do high performers value that others don't (clue, look at their desire for strong leadership & organisational success compared to importance of the job). You could then sell those factors that will attract the high performers
* Looking at staff views later on will give you an understanding of the differences in views from when they started to after they have found out what you really offer. If they think you are great in one area, it's important to them and after they have spent time with you they think you are weak in this area you probably have identified a reason that they leave.
* Finally, you might want to ask them what they think of your competitors. This will enable you to get a view of your comparative strengths as perceived in the market. Again great information for making a great pitch. Wouldn't it be great to give the interviewer information such as 'they come from A & we have found that we are stronger at x, y and z so you might want to mention our great programmes in these areas'.

This has been a pretty basic overview but I hope it gets you thinking.