Melanie Spring thinks most employers desperately need to update their hiring practices. The CIO of Sisarina Inc., a Washington D.C.-based marketing and branding firm, advocates for companies to truly understand their own purpose and mission and stop relying just on resumes when they seek to hire new employees. Spring will speak on the topic at an event on April 19 hosted by Entrepreneur’s Organization and Start Garden.
Why is it so important for companies to modernize their hiring practices?
If you change up the hiring practice, you can find amazing humans. It's how we changed our hiring practice and how we can help you change your hiring practice, or how you can rethink the hiring practice that someone built in 1942. It doesn't need to be that way anymore.
As you look at this, what are the key aspects that employers should be looking at when revamping their HR practices?
How can you think about hiring people without resumes? How are you thinking about how you're getting resumes? Instead of going through 150 resumes, maybe you can whittle it down to 20 really great applications instead of resumes, so then you can rule out the people who just apply automatically. They probably don't know anything about you, and why are you reviewing all that stuff when they didn't take any effort. It's kind of like dating. You're trying to clear out all of the noise so you can get just the right people to show up.
What are companies telling you about their current hiring and recruiting challenges?
Most of the people I end up talking to, typically it’s that they’re getting a lot of great resumes, but no one who really fits who they are. What we’re trying to tell people is how to apply. It’s not necessarily that they need to update their brand, it’s that they need to make sure their brand matches from beginning to end through the whole hiring process.
What does that mean?
Usually HR is left out of the marketing talks. HR and marketing are so very similar and they have to be able to work together to make sure they're marketing the position correctly.
So as you're working with companies, how are you helping them to identify their brand that you say enables them to hire appropriately?
You have to understand what you stand for and who you're looking for to make sure they fit the culture. You can hire people for skills all day long, but if they don't fit the culture, they're not going to help you grow. So if you can hire for personality and make sure they fit the personality first, and then look at the skills and see how you can grow them, that's how it's going to work. But if you don't know what your brand is and what your culture looks like, you can't do that.
What do you see as the best way to help companies break their traditional hiring mindset?
Instead of just sending a resume, (potential employees should) have to answer questions or add something to their resume or cover letter that will … help (employers) know they read the job description and know a little bit about the company before they even try and walk through the door.
What does your company do?
We say, ‘Do not send us your resume or we'll snicker behind your back.’ (Instead), send us four answers to these four questions in any way, shape or form. Someone sent us a whole section of videos. We had somebody else create a Yelp ad. We have someone who's been here a year now, she fit the culture so perfectly.
How did she impress you?
She sent a six-minute infomercial on why we needed to hire her, which was amazing. She stood out compared to everyone else. We got to know her before she ever walked through our doors. That's what I look for, how do you change your hiring practice to fit who you are. Find a way to make (the hiring practice) more you as a company. If you're more conservative, stay conservative. That's okay. But make sure there's questions that will help you understand if they're the right fit. Otherwise, you're just wasting money and time.
What are some key elements companies should keep in mind as they modernize their hiring practices?
The new millennial generation isn’t getting hired just for the money. They want to make an impact. Yes, they want to make money, but they also want to make an impact. So you can't be offering an $80,000 salary but you're terrible and a boring company. (People) don't want to work for you. Or they'll work for you for a year and save up and disappear.
So it’s as much about retention as attraction?
You can get people in the door, but if you can't keep them then what's the point? You can change your hiring practices all day long, but if you still suck as a company, they're not going to stay with you.
Interview conducted and condensed by Nick Manes.