This article originally appeared in Small Biz Daily.
Just like you, I have a busy schedule. Work, meetings, emails, exercising, spending time with my family, the list goes on. Now that my two daughters are teenagers, much of my time spent outside of the office is with them – well, not exactly with them, but attending their various sporting events.
Recently, I was sitting in the stands of my daughter’s high school volleyball match and noticed a camera out of the corner of my eye. I looked around and noticed another and then another. I then started to see various individuals in the crowd with clipboards and notebooks, scribbling notes and stats with furious intention. All of a sudden, I realized these were college coaches and they were here with a purpose: to recruit these young athletes, some who were barely old enough to earn their driver’s license.
At first, I was taken aback, but then I realized the genius of their system. If a school wants to have an award-winning volleyball team, it can’t rely on the same players and the same talent year after year after year – it has to constantly search for the best and brightest youngsters, who will be ready to step in when the other players inevitably get hurt, phase out of the sport mid-way through college or graduate. It was then that I realized an essential business principle while sitting in those bleachers. Unlike some businesses, colleges realize that they need to recruit before they need the talent.
For business leaders, this principle is often flip-flopped. Companies often wait until an employee suddenly quits or business picks up before starting the process to fill the role. At that point, they’re already behind, falling victim to panic and filling the role as quickly as possible. They get a warm body versus the right fit for the job.
Here are three ways for leaders to keep the hiring door open:
21 percent of millennials changed jobs within the past year, according to a 2019 Gallup survey. Doesn’t sound like much? Well, that number is three times more than non-millennials. Now consider how many millennials you employ and if you have a plan in place to survive without them if they left tomorrow.
The good news is it’s not your fault! Preferences, goals and personal situations change. Your company is made up of living, breathing human beings, which means these changes (and more!) will inevitably occur in their lives, and that can cause them to move on from their current job at your company. It’s essential that you’re aware and prepared for this fact of life before it catches you by surprise.
At Petra Coach, we encourage businesses to build one-year, two-year and even three-year hiring roadmaps by asking questions like “What position do you need filled at all times to be successful?” and “What attributes are most important to you in an employee?”
It often helps if businesses will actually draw out an organization chart, with each employee, title and role responsibilities listed out. This serves two purposes: First, it’s easy to overlook essential employee contributions in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day. Realizing that Julie oversees the entire internship program allows you to realize that whoever takes her place (whether because she leaves or is promoted) must have the ability to manage and lead. Secondly, this chart shows business leaders what roles need to be filled to achieve long-term goals, allowing hiring managers to attract the right prospects and keep people pre-qualified and ready to go, should the opportunity arise.
Just like professional basketball and football teams don’t expect their star players to be on the field forever, you shouldn’t expect yours to be in your office forever, either. Using your organizational chart, begin to build your roster of potential employees that you can pull in when the time is right.
Of course, you won’t actually keep qualified applicants on hold, but the point is to always keep the door open to them. Continue to stay in touch, both so you are aware of where they stand and so they are clear about your continued interest in them. Maybe the time will be right to hire the perfect applicant, but if not, you can always reach back out in the future, knowing they have already been vetted and qualified to join your team.
Just like in sports, proper preparation will ensure propelled performance. Think ahead, make a plan and recruit excellent team members before you need them in order to get a leg up on the competition.