Finding people is a consistent problem we encounter just about every time we ask CEOs or key executives what their biggest issue is when it comes to hiring. If it isn't in the top three it is always in the top five.
Yet when you ask them what their process is to find top talent most reply in the same way, “We run ads” or “We post it internally.” That is the way 80% of all companies go about finding people.
Below are three real life examples of alternative ways of finding people.
1) In 2007, I was having lunch with a partner from a local CPA firm. During lunch he commented that they had been struggling for six months to find an audit manager. In fact, he commented that they would pay a $10,000 bounty for an employee referral. I didn't add a zero. So I asked, “How many people have you hired?” The reply, “None.” They were doing the usual, running ads and asking current employees. That was their process for finding people.
So as the lunch continued, he mentioned to me that they had just brought on a new client and that he had just had lunch with the new CFO at this same restaurant. I immediately asked the partner, “Did you ask the CFO who was the best audit manager at his current company?” or “Who were some of the best audit managers he had worked with in the past?” He had never even thought of this. I suggested that he could contact all of his CFO clients and ask them. After all, it is in the client's best interest to have good audit managers.
This was such an obvious thing to me and yet he was willing to pay ten grand. For those of you thinking it takes too much time to find good people, I don't think asking these few questions would have extended the lunch that much.
2) Last year I was conducting one of our in-house workshops for a mid-sized technology company in New York. During the workshop, one of the key executives mentioned how difficult it is to hire technical people. I probed a little further and asked about the type of people they hire. She commented that they want people comfortable with technology. People who understand how networks work, people who diagnose a computer problem when a client calls with a problem, install software, and perform basic repairs that clients need right away if something goes wrong. They were willing to train on their specific systems and software. They just wanted someone that was moderately technical and comfortable with technology.
These people were “extremely” hard to find.
I asked if they ever go to Best Buy and engage the Geek Squad. Have they ever taken in a computer and found someone that provides great customer service and demonstrates that they understand technical issues?
She and her team had never thought about these people. I received an email two months after the workshop letting me know they had hired two people from Best Buy.
3) My best friend manages a store for one of the major retail chains. Every time we play golf, I have to listen to him complain about how hard it is to find people willing to work. He complains that his company works people hard and is demanding. The result is a lot of turnover.
So I asked him how often when he or his team is out shopping and they come across a great person in another retail chain do they engage the person, give them a business card and ask the person to call him, or let the person know that if they ever think about leaving to call him.
I mentioned that I go to a coffee shop most mornings when I'm in town for an hour of work. At this coffee shop, every person is probably in their late teens and early twenties. These people run the coffee shop. They open every morning at 6 AM so they have to get there by 5:30, they are friendly, they know customers by name, the coffee shop is clean and they are great employees. So I asked if he ever asked any of them about potentially coming to work a his store.
In both cases he replied no, and that he doesn't even encourage his team leaders to be aware of potential employees when they are out shopping.
Qualified people are all around us. As a recruiter, I always have my antenna up. Most CEOs and hiring managers just walk right by these people. Work with your team and start noticing people hiding in plain sight.
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I welcome your thoughts and comments.