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Casting about for good creative talent can be daunting. Here's how to ensure that the employees you hire will be stable, talented, long-term catches for your company. The first and most difficult step is determining who you need to hire. To best do this, reassess company goals and strategically evaluate present staff and future hires, envisioning an optimal team to meet these goals. Once you've identified the hole in your roster, write a well-defined job description, detailing clear-cut areas of responsibility. Include information about salary range and departmental structure. Then, list the qualities you value in your best employees (work ethics and habits, interpersonal styles, etc.) and make those priority criteria for your search.
Casting A Recruiting Net
The most effective way to recruit is by word-of-mouth. Ask your best employees and industry contacts for referrals. Web recruiting through industry-targeted job-posting and trade organization sites (including www.coroflot.com) also yields quality candidates, even more so than print ads. If your ongoing hiring efforts keep turning up the same batch of candidates, consider enlisting a professional "headhunter." A recruiting firm can help when you don't have time to search for candidates yourself, or you're filling a specialized or technical position. A good recruiter taps into a wider pool of more advanced talent, wades through masses of applicants and presents a qualified selection that precisely meets your criteria. In the end, recruiters supply higher-end talent quickly; the savings in time and money often offsets any fees.
Evaluating A Potential Catch
When you're filling a design position, your focus lies mainly on the quality and style of a candidate's aesthetic, rather than the accumulation of experience over time. The resume is a key indicator of these elements. Graphically, an applicant's resume is your first clue to whether a prospect's design sensibility would blend well with that of your firm. In terms of content, the resume should, at minimum, outline the candidate's previous employment, projects and schooling. If a prospect's resume impresses you on these levels, immediately set up an interview. During the interview, go through each piece in the applicant's portfolio and inquire about her specific involvement and the process leading to the final outcome. As follow-up, ask to see sketches of design solutions that were not produced in many cases, as these reflect the candidate's best work and reveal her creative thinking. Compare the unpublished sketches to the finished pieces to ascertain how much other people may have polished her portfolio work. You'll also want insight into her goals, work style, influences and performance. Find out why she's considering leaving her current job; what she wants from a new position; how she would define her style of working with clients, colleagues and managers; what she sees as her particular strengths and weaknesses; what publications she reads on a regular basis; what her passions and outside interests are; and how she'd describe her ideal work situation.
Hooking A New Hire
When you've found the person who meets the criteria you've established, extend a job offer over the phone and in writing. Be sure to elaborate about benefits, stock options, bonuses and other perks to give the candidate a picture of the complete package. Never lowball a candidate; start the salary negotiation at the high end of her low range. (For example if a candidate requires $40,000-$50,000, offer $43,000.) If you're limited by budget, offer periodic merit/salary reviews, additional vacation, paid transportation and other creative incentives to improve the offer.
Once the candidate accepts your offer, don't assume the courtship is over. Make your new hire at home by planning a week filled with orientation and lunches with managers, colleagues and subordinates. Assign a point person to act as your new employee's buddy to introduce and show her around, and allow her to sit in on meetings for informational purposes. Thereafter, staying in close touch and building a strong rapport with your new hire during the first several months of employment-and beyond-will ensure she has the best chance possible at becoming a valuable, long-term member of your team.
Note: This article was originally written by Adriane Lee Schwartz
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