If you’re first to present a job offer, does that ensure you’ll snag the candidate?

Hiring Managers Losing Job Search Candidates Who Reject Offers

I read a recent article posted by Matt Deutsch on PRWEB. Matt is the Chief Content Officer for Top Echelon, a recruiter job sharing network. He suggested in this article titled, Top Echelon Recruiter Survey: Why Candidates Turn Down Job Offers  , that the first company to make an offer will usually be the one who gets the candidate.  After 30 years of executive search, I've got to look at this comment as being wrong. It has nothing to do with candidate motivation or why people take jobs.

I'll take a 180 degree different perspective on this blog post by Matt Deutsch – which is tough since we share a common last name.

 

Maybe desperate candidates who are long-term unemployed jump at the first job offer due to desperation. In 30 years of executive search, over 1000 search assignments, and interviews with over 250,000 candidates, I have NEVER believed that good candidates take jobs based on the order in which they are presented.

 

For most candidates, particularly top talent, the sequence of job offers – first, middle, or last – has nothing to do with the acceptance rate.

 

The real issues of whether good candidates take jobs is not different today than it was over half a century ago when Maslow published the “Hierarchy of Needs”. Top caliber candidates take jobs based on principles of self-actualization.

 

In our hiring methodology, we call this the LIB curve – what am I going to learn in this job, what impact will I have, and what will I become for having been in this job for a period of time. When hiring managers fail to address these specific issues, candidates decline or ignore their job offers.

 

Since most hiring managers and HR professionals do a TERRIBLE job of discussing the LIB factors in an interview, they typically struggle to hire the best talent. It's the same issue for compensation, most top caliber candidates will sacrifice some portion of compensation if they feel the learning, impact, and becoming will put them on a steeper curve of success.

 

Recruiters don't lose deals because their clients can't move fast enough – which is the underlying message in this post by a recruiter network. Recruiters lose deals because they don't know how to help their clients convey the value of a job offer beyond compensation. They lose their candidates to competitors who do a much better job of showing candidates the learning, impact, and becoming elements of a new job.

 

Peter Cappelli makes a convincing case for what hiring managers should do in terms of considering long-term unemployed candidates. He frames it with the need to demonstrate social responsibility.

 

I've been conducting executive search for almost 30 years. In that time I've worked on over 1,000 executive searches, and between my parrtners and myself, probably interviewed over 250,000 managerial and executive candidates.

 

The hiring manager perspective on long-term unemployed candidates has not changed much in those 30 years. Most hiring managers have a prejuidice against unemployed candidates – considering them “damaged goods”. The unstated thinking is that if they were any good, they wouldn't be long-term unemployed – in fact, they wouldn't be unemployed ever.

 

Perhaps this thinking is misguided and inappropriate. That's not the issue. The real issue is that the perspective on long-term unemployed candidates is a tribal hiring element. For example, I learned to be biased from my boss, who learned a generation ago to be biased from their boss.

 

Until we break this tribal hiring paradigm of employed/unemployed candidates, NOTHING will change. One way to break the paradigm is to train hiring managers to be more objective and rational in their decision making process. Until training, coaching, guidance lowers, eliminates, or changes our long-term bias against unemployed candidates, there is no hope that the perspective will evolve through the next recession or the next 10 recessions.

 

What is your organization doing right now to help hiring managers learn how to assess, interview, and measure candidates from a rational and objective approach to overcome the bias of unemployed vs. employed?

Barry Deutsch

Are You a Coach or a Tyrant?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead others and how this gets measured in the interview process.

Two recent things have caused me to really ponder this issue about leading/managing/coaching a group of people.

First, I am high school girls basketball coach. In my first 5-6 years of coaching at the high school level I obtained mediocre results. The last couple of years, I’ve obtained extraordinary results. The quality of the kids coming into our program is no different in the last few years that it was 5-6 years ago.

So, if player quality is essentially the same, what’s the factor that accounts for the performance difference. I believe it’s my understanding of how to coach a high performing team. How do I extract a level of results from a team or group that exceeds their individual capability – the SUM is greater than the individual parts? It took me 5-6 years to get to that place.

Layered on top of those epiphanies of how to lead high performing teams comes a burning desire to “sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey called it when he wrote his book on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am a life-long passionate learner. I can’t go to enough workshops, seminars, conferences about leading and coaching. I can’t read enough books, blogs, and magazine articles about leadership.

My current leadership focus is on teaching mental toughness. I just finished the book Jay Bilas, the ESPN commentator, wrote on the same subject. I am continually watching, observing, and documenting what other coaches and leaders do. I reading everything I can on resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and challenges, and handle criticism and negativity. I want to MASTER the process of teaching my team mental toughness. I’ve actually put a plan together of how I’m going to teach mental toughness to me team this coming season.

Completely different perspective: My son is taking an AP World History class in high school. We’ve been having lots of discussions about leadership styles since reading about all the failures of dictators and autocratic rulers. Suddenly, it set me to thinking about all the CEOs and “C” level executives I’ve worked with over the past 30 years. What’s their dominant style: are they passive, dictatorial, or coaches of outstanding teams?

Take these two divergent areas of thought, and I’m re-thinking: how do we measure great leaders of teams in the interview process? What do the very best leaders DO that the average and mediocre leaders DON’T do? How can translate that understanding into specific interview questions that yield strong, quantifiable, rich, detailed, and specific examples?

I’ll be sharing some of these personal observations –  from the basketball court to the executive suite – over the course of the next few months.

Here’s what I would like to hear from the readers of our blog:

When was the last time you became deeply introspective about your style of leadership?

How much time do you spend “sharpening the saw” for your own capability and impact? What grade would you give yourself in the leadership department?

What’s the ONE thing you could be better at as a leader – more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Your capability to hire and retain a great team is directly correlated to your capability as a leader. Average leadership capability yields an average team.

Let’s work together in the framework of this blog to wrap our arms around the issue of measuring “real leadership” in the interview process.

Barry Deutsch

“She Seemed Perfect For The Position.” What Went Wrong?

These are the exact words of a CEO I was recently talking with about a search to replace a candidate they had hired six months earlier and wasn't performing.  The CEO explained how they had spent a lot of time with the candidate, she had multiple interviews, she completed a DISC assessment, and simply put, “We all loved her for the position.” Yet, after all of this effort the person wasn't able to perform.  It all seemed very perplexing.

My partner, Barry Deutsch, and I have heard this same story many times in our  collective 50 years+ as recruiters and in our hiring best practices workshops. One thing we can all agree on is that something went wrong. Although no hiring process in the world will get 100% results, it is possible to raise the hiring accuracy to  the 80% level.  That is pretty good considering studies have shown that traditional hiring methods produce candidates that meet or exceed the hiring manager's expectations around 56% of the time. This shows that something is going wrong with hiring in many companies.

I started by asking two questions to better understand how they went about hiring this “perfect” candidate.

  1. I asked if she would email me the job description. It was very traditional. It was mostly focused on the candidate's background and experience, not the job. In reality it was a people description, not a job description. It had great detail about all of the experience they wanted the person to have, education, years of experience, all the behavioral traits, a very comprehensive list of duties, tasks, and responsibilities, and requirements for management and leadership. Over all it was well thought out and I know they spent a lot of time developing it.
  2. The next thing I asked her was, “Have you audited, not co-interviewed, but audited whether the people in the hiring process are even competent interviewers?” She said, “No.” So another classic problem reared its ugly head. What if just one wasn't competent at interviewing? Interviewing is only as good as the worst interviewer on the hiring team. People often assume that just because a person has hired in the past they must be good interviewers. This is just not true.

It was easy now to identify why this person, that everybody loved, may not have worked out.

  1. The job description didn't really define the real job. It defined a person everyone expected  or thought could do the job, because they had done it before. Not true. Just because someone has done the job before it may make them a great X, but it doesn't make them the right X for your position. This is positively the number one biggest hiring mistake.
  2. The people doing the interviews were not trained and since the job description didn't describe the real job, most just conducted a generic interview. They asked the same questions they were asked in interviews. They assumed what the real job was and asked if the person had ever done these tasks before. Which of course they had, as it was obvious from the resume.  Add to that the likability factor and is it any wonder why this hire went wrong?

If she wants to hire a successful person, the first step is defining success in the role. Few job descriptions actually do this. Most define a person's background and experience along with the very basic duties and tasks. Neither of which define success. If the person only performed the listed duties and tasks most would not consider this a top talent hire. She had to define outcomes. What level of performance is this person going to be held accountable to? Even the basic duties have an expected level of high performance. For example, process X number of invoices per hour, make X number of sales call per week, receive a score of X or higher on customer feedback forms, respond to all customers within 24 hours, and so on. Now this defines performance and success.

Then she had to develop interviewing questions that determine the person's ability to deliver this level of success. Now the people interviewing are actually interviewing with a purpose. Not just a free for all. Everyone understands what  the goals are and what questions to ask. It is not random. The people interviewing are now focused on determining the candidate's ability to deliver these results.

Finally, the candidate also knows what will be expected of them when they come on board. In some cases this will scare off those good solid below average performers. Once they know what is expected of them they may not want the job. This is a good thing.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, You’re NOT The Person I Hired. Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad

 

Four Things Companies Do To Shoot Themselves In The Foot When Hiring – Part 2

I recently asked over one hundred CEOs and their key executives, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprising that everyone replied “Yes.” Not simply important, but critical. So then I asked,”If it is critical, then how many of you spend time each month focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprising, only three people raised their hand.

WOW, something that is critical to the success of the organization, gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need. Is that the way most critical issues are handled in your company? No strategic planning. No thought or action discussed or taken until the problem arises? Only once the problem arises is it dealt with it. Until then it is that famous management strategy, “Out of sight, out of mind?” or “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

I believe this management style only happens with hiring. Most other critical issues are regularly discussed, on-going programs such as, cost reductions, product development, increasing sales or market share, customer service, improving operational efficiencies are all constantly discussed and often major components of the company's strategic plan. In fact, I have seen many strategic plans that all have great plans for growth. Yet few ever include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. Strategic hiring is rarely part of a strategic plan.

I believe companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four major land mines when hiring:

1) Untrained Managers – Discussed in part 1.

2) Poorly Defined Job – Discussed in part 1.

3) Finding candidates – This is one of the biggest problems faced by companies. This happens as a result of number two. Most companies search for the least qualified to start with. Then they complain that all they are seeing is unqualified candidates.

The other issue causing this problem is that most companies start the hiring process too late. They wait until they absolutely need someone. Then they expect that when they are ready to hire someone, at that moment in time, top talent will also magically appear on the market, find them, and be so compelled after reading the minimum job description to update their resume, and respond. YEAH and a multimillion dollar customer will also magically call too.

Reactive hiring is a thing of the past. Hiring top talent requires proactive hiring. This means your hiring managers must be in the market engaging people all the time. They should be connecting with people on LinkedIn, involved in professional associations, and commit at least an hour or two a month to hiring. Few managers spend any time engaging potential candidates when they aren't actively hiring. In fact, many even discard resumes as they come in if they aren't hiring. Finding top talent doesn't take a lot of time each month, but it does take a consistent monthly effort of an hour or two.

4) Disrespecting the Candidates – Top talent, especially those candidates who are working and in no hurry to make a job change (referred to as passive candidates) will walk away from a manager or company if they aren't respected in the interviewing process.

Some common complaints that left candidates feeling disrespected include:

  • The hiring manager being late for the interview. Few managers would accept it if the candidate was late, so why should it be OK for the manager?
  • Lack of  preparation by the interviewer. Again, if the candidate came in unprepared would that be acceptable?
  • Taking calls during the interview.
  • Finally, telling the candidate that if they have any further questions to call them. Then ignoring the calls. If managers don't respect the candidate during the hiring process, it isn't going to get any better once they are hired.

The interview is a PR event. These candidates will make sure others know how they were treated. They may post it on a website or hear about a person they know is interviewing and ask them about their experience. Bad PR is never a good thing. This is an easy thing to fix. It only takes treating candidates the same way you would treat a customer.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired. Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad

Four Things Companies Do To Shoot Themselves In The Foot When Hiring – Part 1

I recently asked over one hundred CEOs and their key executives, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprising everyone replied “Yes.” Not simply important, but critical. So then I asked,”If it is critical, then how many of you spend time each month focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprising, only three people raised their hand.

WOW, something that is critical to the success of the organization, gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need. Is that the way most critical issues are handled in your company? No strategic planning. No thought or action discussed or taken until the problem arises? Only once the problem arises is it dealt with it. Until then it is that famous management strategy, “Out of sight, out of mind?” or “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

I believe this management style only happens with hiring. Most other critical issues are regularly discussed, on-going programs such as, cost reductions, product development, increasing sales or market share, customer service, improving operational efficiencies are all constantly discussed and often major components of the company's strategic plan. In fact, I have seen many strategic plans that all have great plans for growth. Yet few ever include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. Strategic hiring is rarely part of a strategic plan.

I believe companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four major land mines when hiring:

1) Untrained Managers – Hands down the number one reason hiring fails. This is the biggest problem with hiring in most companies. Few managers are actually properly trained on how to hire. Most managers have never even attended one course or read a book on hiring. For the few that have had training, it is usually limited to interviewing training. Granted this is better than nothing, but interviewing is only one step in an effective hiring process. If you aren't finding qualified candidates, all interviewing training will do is validate they aren't qualified. If the job isn't properly defined then where you look for candidates may not be the right place, resulting in unqualified candidates.

The fact is the vast majority of managers use the “Tribal Hiring Training” program. Too often a person learns to hire from the person that hired them. And the person that hired them learned from the person that hired then, and so it goes all the way back to Moses. All this really does is perpetuate hiring mistakes from one generation to another. It doesn't resolve the problem.

If companies are serious about improving hiring, step one is to develop an effective hiring process and then training their managers in all aspects of the process.

2) Poorly Defined Job – This mistake results in the search going sideways before it even starts. Traditional job descriptions for the most part aren't job descriptions at all. Most describe a person. Does this read like your job descriptions; Minimum 5 years experience, minimum BA degree, then a list of minimum skills/knowledge and certifications, and let's not forget the endless list of behaviors the candidate must have, team player, high energy, self-starter, strategic thinker, good communicator, BLAH BLAH BLAH. Of course there is also the list of the basic duties, tasks and responsibilities. These are really important, but as a person with 5 years of experience, who doesn't know these already? This traditional job description defines a minimally qualified person, not the job. So before the search starts it is all about finding the least qualified person. Any wonder why the least qualified person shows up at your door?

Instead of defining the least qualified person, start by defining superior performance in the role or the results expected to be achieved once the person is on board. For example, Improve customer service feedback scores from X to Y. Reduce turnover from X% to Y% within the next twelve months. Implement a sales forecasting process that includes a rolling six month forecast that is accurate within X% of actual sales. Now this is the real job. It defines expectations, not some vague terms or minimum requirements. For every job there are usually at least four of these results required. The job is being defined by performance. In order for the person to be able to achieve these results they must have the right experience. Maybe it is five years, maybe three or maybe ten, it doesn't matter. If they can do these it is enough. Now go find a person that can explain how they will deliver these once on board and you have the right person.

3) Finding candidates – See part 2

4) Disrespecting the Candidates – See part 2

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad