Feb 06, 2019 | 3
Minute Read

Self-Selection: A Better Hiring Strategy for Reducing Turnover

girl arms open looking relaxed

Turnover is expensive – everyone knows that. That cost is measured not only in dollars but in time spent onboarding and training the departed individual. Add in non-productivity from the open position and you start to get an idea of the total cost associated with a bad hire.

What if your organization could reduce turnover by 1%, or increase retention by 1%? What if, with a little patience, you were able to hire the right person the first time? Companies that implement a practice of self-selection tend to attract candidates that are a better fit with the company’s objectives and culture. Because of this, they tend to have lower turnover rates because the candidates and the company are aligned.


Losing Sleep

CEOs and HR Directors losing sleep at night because of turnover need to take action to ensure they are hiring the right people. It’s no longer just about a candidate’s skills. Today’s tight job market makes the importance of strategies such as branding, using metrics, and candidate outreach even more important. There is another, lesser known, strategy that can provide a better night’s rest.


The Stress Reducing Strategy

Self-selection provides a strategy to help reduce turnover costs, lower stress and eliminate sleepless nights. Personnel Today provides a definition for this relatively new hiring strategy. "Self-selection is the process where a job seeker is given information about the negative aspects of a vacancy and the employer, as well as the good points, to better enable them to make an informed decision about whether or not to apply for a job."

The magazine goes on to suggest that only 10% of organizations use self-selection in the hiring process. In his book The Employee Retention Handbook, Stephen Taylor argues that self-selection does reduce turnover and keeps candidates who are not a good fit from even applying, saving companies time and money.


How Self-Selection Strategy Works

The strategy of self-selection begins long before an organization makes a job posting public or any candidate applies. Self-selection is all about how a company brands itself; it boils down to good marketing. It is a well-known fact that humans enjoy storytelling. Storytelling or branding is what helps attract candidates to your organization.

A company needs to be clear about what it does. A company’s marketing platform should clearly describe its culture, what it expects from its employees and what candidates should expect if they join the team. Will employees be expected to work in teams, collaborating on projects or working alone? What values does the company stand for and expect from its employees?

At one time, only small groups of people were able to hear our stories. Today, thanks to social media sites such as Glassdoor, many more job seekers can read stories about the good, the bad - and sometimes even the ugly – of an organization. Why is this important?


Cultural Fit

An employee who is a poor cultural fit can be toxic for your organization. Regardless of how much experience someone brings to the table, if they aren’t a cultural fit, productivity will suffer and turnover will increase. If they themselves don’t leave, others may who don’t enjoy working alongside this person.

Therefore, the story of your culture must be part of the recruiting process to attract only the talent that will be a cultural fit. Once a potential candidate becomes familiar with your culture through the branding process, the candidate can then self-select whether or not to apply. Self-selection may yield less overall candidates, but the candidates that it does yield should be more aligned with a company’s vision and culture, likely lessening turnover down the road.


Too Much of a Good Thing

The halo effect occurs when people hire others like themselves. A leader may consider their own personal attributes desirable and seek to find others wired similarly. It’s important to remember that having diversity of thought and differences in drivers and behaviors is good for a workforce. We all have unique skills we bring to the table. For example, having a self-starting visionary on the staff along with a detail-oriented analyzer will ensure a project not only gets started, but it also gets finished.

Therefore, it’s important to use self-selection exclusively for the purpose of cultural fit. Good self-selection processes and talent management ensures diversity. Diversity promotes better decision making, innovation, and helps organizations realize higher profits along with other business advantages. As with every tool, care should be taken to reduce bias in every way.

When it comes to hiring, time and money are on the line. Hiring the wrong candidate can negatively affect both. Clearly promoting who your company is and what it stands for can put the concept of self-selection into action, yielding more qualified candidates for your next open position.


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Diane Bogino