I've spent the last 20 years recruiting top talent for over 500 companies. Here are the 4 most important hiring criteria every company should prioritize.

Jay Rosenzweig

Courtesy of Jay Rosenzweig

Jay Rosenzweig.

  • Jay Rosenzweig is the founder of Rosenzweig & Company. He's an expert in designing, building, and attracting world-class teams.
  • He says that while online services seem like they've changed the hiring process, the keys to finding the right fit haven't changed much.
  • Looking outside of your industry can offer innovation; you want to find candidates who have skills that can work across sectors.
  • Delve into your company's culture to see if a candidate would fit in there. You want someone who will be loyal.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With websites like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed, you'd think it would be easy for companies to find top talent. In 2019, the job search process has been largely digitized, and, seemingly, a lot has changed when it comes to the way hiring is done.

But I've found that for the most senior-level recruitment projects, the keys to success haven't changed all that much. Fundamentally, the real reason you are hiring in the first place is to further your company's mission while prioritizing its people.Advertisement

With all the job boards out there, finding candidates with mediocre fit has never been easier. But it hasn't really gotten any easier when you're hiring for key positions. The difference between the right candidate and the available candidate can still make or break a company's future.

At Rosenzweig & Company, we've helped companies find CEOs that brought them back from the brink. I've spent the last 20 years recruiting and researching top talent. In my experience, it is crucial to prioritize clear and concise hiring criteria to find the right candidate for the right set of circumstances. Here are the four questions to consider when making key hires.

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1. Can your company benefit from an industry outsider?

1. Can your company benefit from an industry outsider?

It can often be beneficial to consider outsiders to your industry. I've noticed that when companies only hire individuals with experience in their industry, innovation can stagnate. I know a recruiter — with a particular industry focus — who only hired from his Rolodex of contacts, which meant hiring incredibly insular and limited teams.

Oftentimes, raw talent is more important than industry expertise. You should be on the lookout for candidates who are dedicated to the position and could potentially bring fresh ideas to the company. This expands your hiring pool from a narrow list of regulars to a new and innovative talent pool that can take your business to new heights.

2. Does the candidate have transferable skills?

2. Does the candidate have transferable skills?

Candidates who bring transferable skills to the table are often the most impactful to your business. The ability to adapt to new and evolving marketplaces and businesses are key in this day and age.

Key skills to look for include: leadership, communication, problem solving, drive, ability to multitask, and — more importantly — creativity, all of which can be cross-applied between positions and different sectors.

When looking at a candidate, it's beneficial to ask them what they see as their transferable skills.

Do they:

  • Like new challenges or prefer steady building?
  • Communicate effectively — whether it's one on one, in meetings, on the phone, or via email?
  • Work well in a group, or prefer to work alone?
  • Manage their time well?
  • Seamlessly juggle two or more tasks at a time?

When candidates have transferable skills, they can often jump the learning curve when it comes to adapting to your company and mission.

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3. How well does the candidate fit into your company culture?

3. How well does the candidate fit into your company culture?

Looking for the right fit requires far more than a checklist of skills and experience. It is important to categorize company culture, and map how candidates do or don't fit within the context of that cultural blueprint. That is a complex and critical process. It requires deep clarity and understanding of your own company culture, a due diligence process to ensure the candidate can fit into that landscape, and benchmarking and keeping track of talented potential hires early in the recruitment process.

Part of prioritizing company culture is integrating diversity (of gender, race, and more) into the hiring equation. Beyond the moral imperative of treating people fairly and giving everyone their best shot, there is a business case to be made for diverse hiring. Study after study shows that the best performing businesses have much diversity in the executive suites and around the boardroom table. And bringing these diverse perspectives to the table and giving everyone a voice will help build a more healthy company culture.

4. How strong is the candidate's work loyalty?

4. How strong is the candidate's work loyalty?

According to Gallup, only 34% of employees are engaged at work, and 13% are "actively disengaged" as of 2018. Though a huge part of engagement is what happens within a workplace, work loyalty is often formed over years of work prior to a candidate applying for a role at your company.

For instance, constantly moving from top company to top company can be a red flag — but also too much time at one company can lead to stagnation or complacency. Loyalty should be measured by a combination of engagement and length of service, but never tenure alone. A loyal employee is engaged. They act as a corporate ambassador by recommending the company to other prospective employees and go the extra mile for clients.

Paying attention to employee engagement can help your company avoid the unnecessary hurdles and costs associated with high churn rates.

Jay Rosenzweig, the founder of Rosenzweig & Company, is an expert in designing, building, and attracting world-class teams and emerging tech advisory, and a long-standing advocate for human rights.

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