Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates From Walking Away

Every hiring manager has experienced challenges in keeping qualified candidates engaged. In the time it can take to consider all applicants, narrow the field, and prepare an offer, it’s not uncommon for the once-interested front-runner to have moved on to another opportunity. Here are some tips you can implement to keep your best candidates engaged throughout your hiring process.

Prepare for success

Always look for ways that you can take an active seat in the hiring process and drive it forward. From the start, make sure your interview team is on the same page regarding what a successful candidate looks like for the role in terms of skill set, personality, leadership style, past experience, etc. Ensure that the team will be asking the right questions, both culturally and technically. Setting a timeline with action items not only helps the team make a timely decision, but lets the candidate know where they are in the process and approximately when they can expect a decision. Putting these measures in place upfront will help set the stage to be able to move towards a decision quicker.

Find the obstacles in your process and address them

Does your talent acquisition process take four weeks or more? If it does, many of your applicants may grow frustrated and ultimately move on. The following are a few common obstacles to a smooth and timely process:

  • Are quality applications trickling in too slowly? Try increasing your visibility by getting your opportunity out through new channels, such as job boards, professional recruiters, LinkedIn connections, networking, etc.
  • Are you spending too much time on in-person interviews? Try narrowing down the field with less time-intensive methods such as phone or video conferencing interviews. In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need your entire department to interview each candidate. Determine who has the most valuable insight and trim out the rest.
  • Are there long delays in getting interview feedback? Scheduling a follow-up meeting or hard deadline for feedback will keep the timeline on track for all parties involved, including the candidate.

Consider what the candidates may want

Your interview process – for better or worse – defines how your company will be perceived as a whole. If you make the interview process all about your organization’s wants and needs, your candidates may think working for you will be very one-sided. Make sure you provide ample time to turn the tables and allow the candidates to ask questions.

It’s also important to give them real-life examples of your company culture and what they might expect. What are the best aspects of the role and the team? What aspects may cause frustration? Being honest will keep the candidates that are a good fit for your culture more engaged – and allow for the ones that aren’t to self-select out of the process.

Increase the frequency and transparency of your communication

Check in with your candidates weekly, and not just through email, regardless of whether you have an update for them. A simple, personal reminder that they’re still being considered is enough to keep most job seekers engaged. In fact, 81% of job seekers say employers continuously communicating status updates to them would greatly improve the overall experience.

Using automation tools to set reminders for following-up will ensure that you don’t have any long lapses in communication. Too much time between the interview and feedback on next steps can make candidates anxious, which may cause them to feel that the company is disinterested or raise concerns about the corporate culture of decision making.

In the event that you do not have a concrete update, you could share the following:

  • Update them on where you are in the interview process (conducting additional interviews, coordinating in-person interviews, etc.).
  • Explain extended gaps between interviews (be sure to admit if travel, a company transition, or any other unexpected event has temporarily put the process on hold).
  • Share any significant company news or information that gives them more insight into the company culture.
  • Inform candidates how they can prepare for the next steps.

Create continued interest in the role

Every interaction with the candidate is an opportunity to engage them with the company and get them excited about the role.

  • Include office and/or plant tours either in person or virtually to show off the best parts of working in your facility.
  • Ask the hiring manager to reach out to the candidate(s) directly to keep the level of engagement high, especially if the interview process is taking longer than expected.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer early on

A highly qualified candidate will look just as enticing to your competitors as they do to you. If that person checks off all your boxes, don’t hesitate to aggressively pursue them. Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.

Be willing to negotiate

Salary negotiations should almost never be the reason a top candidate walks away. You’ve put the time and energy into getting them this far along in the process, so don’t throw that all away with an unwillingness to negotiate. If you set expectations up front, you can transform this stage into more of a painless formality than a hostile contest.

Having an experienced recruiter on your side can make this process even easier. A recruiter can discuss salary details on your behalf, provide reference checks, and offer negotiation assistance in the event that any counter-offer situations arise.

Partner with a premier search firm

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought business challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen. Many companies—and even entire industries—have been temporarily put on the back burner, while others have been asked to do everything they can to meet demand.

While there is much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing is certain: business must go on—and that includes the hiring process. In order to avoid losing your employment momentum, you need to make certain adjustments. Here are some tips for how to prepare your hiring process during a dramatic change in the business landscape.

Keep your candidates engaged

People are more unsure about the future now than ever before. Don’t give your candidates any reason to doubt the fate of your business or the position they’re applying for. Reassure them by remaining in frequent contact—even if you don’t have any significant updates to report.

Some topics to consider:

  • Hiring status and timelines to let the candidates know where you’re at in the process.
  • Company updates that showcase your current successes in difficult times.
  • COVID-19 precautions your company is taking.

In a time of limited social interaction, it’s far better to err on the side of over-communication and transparency than to allow your top prospects to lose interest and walk away.

Continue to move the pipeline forward

No doubt you have countless other pressing things to attend to, but you can’t let your hiring process become a casualty of this pandemic. Many companies—big and small—have already put their talent acquisition operations on hold. Don’t make this same mistake.

Keep your pipeline moving forward by continuing to look for qualified candidates, conducting video calls with various members of the interview team, and negotiating terms with frontrunners. By doing as much as you can at this stage, you will be in a better position to make an offer when the time is right.

Make sure your video conference technology is in order

With social distancing being strongly encouraged, you’re going to need to find a good alternative to your in-person meetings. Phone interviews might still be your first point of contact, but virtual face-to-face interviews are going to be the next best option. With a video call, you’ll be able to pick up on many of the same social skills, confidence levels, and overall chemistry that an in-person interview provides.

If you haven’t ventured into this realm before, here are some of the most popular video conferencing services:

Whatever service you end up using, make sure that you test it thoroughly before your first scheduled interview.

Be patient and flexible

As a large portion of the population adjusts to working remotely from home, there are naturally going to be some complications. You may not get responses as quickly as you’re used to, and that’s okay. It may also be more difficult to find a good time for a quiet, uninterrupted interview as families are forced to balance the demands of young kids, pets, and shared internet bandwidth.

The key takeaway here is that if you’re understanding of their situation, they are far more likely to be understanding of yours. This will reflect well on your company and make them more likely to want to continue with the hiring process.

Find a search partner you can trust

We are all under greater strain than ever before. Partnering with an executive search firm can ease your hiring burden. They can do the work that you are unable to, usually in a fraction of the time as they have a direct line to the top talent your organization needs. Recruiters are still working hard every day to guide their clients through this challenging situation.

Remember, even though the hiring process itself may feel different at this time, the outcome should still be the same: finding a highly skilled employee and a valuable addition to your team.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we  partner with our clients to find top talent and fill critical roles. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

How to Refresh and Reenergize Your Resume

As a full-service executive search firm, we’ve been helping food industry job seekers polish and perfect their resumes for over a decade, so we know what works and what definitely doesn’t. We’ve also pulled together some surprising statistics from a 2018 CareerBuilder survey of over 1,100 hiring managers.

With that said, here are eight areas we believe you should focus on when refreshing and reenergizing your resume.

Feature the right keywords

It should come as no surprise that most hiring managers don’t look at every single resume that comes their way. Depending on the demand for the company and position, they can be easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants. This is where computer-assisted filtering comes into play.

A good hiring manager knows exactly what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate and will be narrowing down the field based on a set of specific keywords. When drafting your resume, be sure to prominently include these terms.

But how do you know what they’re looking for? That’s easy—the vast majority of the keywords are listed right there in the job description!

Don’t exaggerate

Speaking of keywords, don’t just copy and paste them right from the job description to your resume—especially if they’re not true of your personal experience. At its core, your resume is a marketing document. You want it to represent what you’ve done in the past, but also show future employers what you are capable of.

Instead of focusing on a job title or proficiency you are lacking, it’s important to highlight the areas you do excel at. Oftentimes employers are willing to hire someone who has a less impressive title or skillset but shows promise in other areas and is willing to train and learn on the job.

Tailor it to the position

At least 18% of hiring managers can tell a generic application when they see one. Fortunately, you don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch for every new application. It could be as simple as bringing different skills to the top of the page for jobs that specifically mention them. Basically, if your resume checks off the majority of their requirement boxes, then you’re much more likely to be contacted.

Consider your audience

Another way to tailor your resume to a specific position is to take the actual recipient into consideration. An application for a grocery retail position and one in foodservice are going to read differently when it comes to tone and word choice. Do your research and try to get a feel for the environment of the organization. And when in doubt, err on the side of professional.

One area all employers agree on though—use a professional email address! Over 35% of hiring managers will pass you over if they have to reach out to an email address that you thought was funny in college.

Make sure their are no tpyos

If you didn’t catch the two errors in the subheading above (it should be “there” and “typos” for the record), then you need to pay special attention to this advice. Hiring managers are especially adept at catching even the smallest of errors that you overlooked when crafting your resume.

Before you send it out, proofread it several times. An estimated 77% of hiring managers toss out resumes at the first sight of a grammatical error or typo. If you’ve been working on it for hours, take a break and come back with a clear head. It also helps to read the whole thing out loud. Even if everything is spelled correctly, this will help highlight any awkward grammar and sentence structure.

Speaking of grammar, don’t rely on your computer’s spellchecker for that (they’re good, but nowhere near perfect). Even with the help of a computer, you’re always your own worst editor. Have a friend, family member, or trusted professional provide a second set of eyes for anything you may have missed.

Keep it clear and concise

Whether you’ve been in the work force for five weeks or fifty years, you need to keep your resume clear and concise. It’s perfectly acceptable to go over one page, but make sure you are only using the space you absolutely need.

While you’ll want to list every job you’ve held for at least the last ten years, you only need to elaborate on the ones that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you still have too much information, start removing skills and qualifications that aren’t as pertinent.

The opposite is true as well, unfortunately. Too much blank space on your resume will make you look woefully inexperienced. Even if your work history is sparse, this leaves you more room to elaborate on your specific accomplishments.

Be sure to include hard numbers and actionable results to showcase the organizational impact you made in your current and previous roles. Depending on your previous roles, this may include any of the following:

  • How many people did you lead?
  • What was the size of your business unit/company?
  • What metrics you improved?
  • What was your sales responsibility and what was the top line sales growth?
  • What was the gross margin improvement?
  • How did you reduce customer complaints?
  • What specific systems (FSMA, SQF/BRC, ERP, SAP, etc.) did you implement?

Make it visually appealing

In addition to keeping it brief, you want your resume to be as eye-catching and readable as possible. Studies show that nearly 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute looking at each resume. This means that if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next one.

Unless you’re applying to be a graphic designer, you should avoid any groundbreaking layouts and stick to the tried and true templates. Make it easy to scan by avoiding large chunks of text and including plenty of bullet points and spacing between sections.

You should also avoid any fancy fonts and overusing italics and boldface. They’re still okay for the truly important stuff, but remember: if you highlight everything, you highlight nothing.

Consider hiring a resume writer or career coach

Arguably the best way to refresh and reenergize your non-performing resume is to hire a professional. Many resume writers have at least some experience on the hiring side, so they know what interviewers are looking for. They also have a trained eye to spot poor grammar and other inconsistencies that may have been affecting your resume for years.

You might be hesitant to spend the extra money (especially if you’re currently in between jobs), but they’re almost always worth the price. A few hours of their time can end up saving you weeks—if not months—of job searching. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, we highly recommend  Carol Pitz Consulting.

Now you’re ready to apply

If you’ve followed these tips, then your resume should be ready to impress. If you’re looking for a position in the food or beverage industries, then check out our job board for plenty of great opportunities in sales, marketing, operations, food safety, and product development.

And when your new and improved resume does open up a conversation with the hiring team, be sure to read these 5 recruiter-proven strategies to prepare you for a job interview.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

5 Recruiter-Proven Strategies to Prepare You for a Job Interview

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve most likely secured an interview. First off, congratulations! Getting to this point in the application process is a huge step and deserves to be celebrated.

The big question now is: what next?

No doubt you’ve already looked up some commonly asked interview questions. While having a handful of good answers prepared ahead of time is helpful, what a lot of people forget is that there’s far more to an interview than a series of questions.

Here are five recruiter-approved tips to help prepare you for your upcoming interview.

1.  Reread the job description

Of course, you’ve probably already read through the job listing at least once. Though chances are this wasn’t the only one you were applying for at the time, so it’s a good idea to refresh yourself a bit. If something was important enough to include in the job description, it will be important enough to ask you about in person.

Try to narrow your focus to the top five bullet points, especially if it’s a particularly long and detailed description. For each one, come up with concrete examples of how you have demonstrated that qualification in the past.

Try to frame your answer into an SBO (Situation>Behavior>Outcome) or STAR (Situation>Task>Action>Result) format so that the hiring manager can easily follow along. Be as specific as you can and use actual numbers if possible.

2.  Do your research

You should never go into an interview without first learning everything you can about both the company and the individuals you’ll be meeting.

Know the company

  • When researching the company, make sure you have a firm grasp on the specifics of their services/products offered, their target audience(s), and a brief overview of their company history. Don’t limit yourself to what’s on their website either. Glassdoor, the Better Business Bureau, and a Google search or two are your friends here.
  • Be prepared to talk about what drew you to the company and why you’re excited to work there. Try to be as honest as possible here, unless the real reason was the perks, location, or pay. It’s also a big no-no to say it was because a recruiter called you. You may think this makes you seem noncommittal and therefore a catch, but trust us, it’s usually a major turnoff.

Know the interviewers

  • When researching your interviewer(s), make sure you’re aware of their place in the company and its relation to your position, as well as their more recent professional history.
  • In almost every single interview, there comes a time when you’re asked to turn the tables with some questions of your own. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! You can even take it a step further by writing specific questions for each person in the room. For instance, you should direct general questions to HR, company goals and outlook to senior executives, and day to day specifics and success metrics to the manager.

3.  Review your own history

Your past experience and education were obviously enough to get you this far, but don’t think they won’t want any further clarification. You may think you already know everything there is to know about yourself, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget certain details when you’re put on the spot.

Unless this is your first job out of school, you’re not likely to be asked about your education, so there’s no need to dig up those old GPAs and valedictorian certificates. You will, however, want to brush up on your job history a bit.

Make sure you have answers prepared for why you left each position, as well as explanations for gaps in employment, if any. For each job, go over a list of all your responsibilities, as well as any accomplishments and awards you received so you’re not struggling to remember them in the moment.

You should also be prepared to talk about how you made a difference at each organization. Did you make/save the company money? Did you change/improve a particular process? Again, know your numbers and have those concrete SBO or STAR examples ready to go if you want to really shine.

4.  Know your worth

In addition to knowing what you bring to the table, it’s important to have a good idea of what your market value is. While it’s easier for those who’ve held multiple jobs in a particular industry, even newer recruits should do a little research to see what the industry average is for their desired position.

Have a specific number in mind and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s also equally important to know the lowest offer you’d be willing to accept, should it come to that. While many hiring managers are reluctant to discuss specifics in the first interview, it pays to be prepared, just in case.

5.  Ready your outfit and belongings ahead of time

Everybody knows it’s bad to be late to an interview. So, why not give yourself every advantage possible to be on time (or a bit early) by preparing all your things ahead of time?

Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear the night before (and stick with them). You’d be surprised how many job seekers are late because they went through a last-minute wardrobe change.

Speaking of attire, we recommend dressing to impress, unless they specifically say otherwise. Even if it’s only a phone interview, you will feel more alert and confident in business casual than you will in pajamas.

You should never arrive at an interview empty handed either, so be sure to bring a professional binder/bag with a copy (or two) of your resume, references, and questions to ask. It’s also wise to have a pen and paper handy for taking notes.

You’ve prepared yourself well. Now it’s time to impress.

Get plenty of rest, eat a good meal, and try not to worry—you got this! If you’ve followed these five strategies, then you’ve done all you can, and you’re sure to do great.

If you haven’t taken advantage of a professional recruitment service yet, now is a great time to do so. Landing a good interview is difficult, and a recruiter can help ensure you don’t have to go back to square one.

Working with a recruiter

You probably don’t interview every day—but recruiters do! They can offer you specific advice on what to wear, what to bring, and what to do to make the best first impression. A good recruiter, especially one that knows your industry well, can give you a big leg up by providing you with specific advice about what your particular interviewer wants to hear, which can’t always be found on the internet.

While they can’t possibly know everything about you, they do know the right questions to ask and can help determine what’s worth highlighting and what’s not. You will also have an experienced partner to help you dial in the perfect examples that are sure to please even the shrewdest of interviewers.

A recruiter will also cover any salary discussions upfront and share that information with the employer, so everyone is on the same page. And unless you’re significantly over or underpaid, they can often secure you a 10-15% pay increase (assuming you’re currently employed).

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.