3 Guarantees To Recruiter-Proof Your Best Talent

As recruiters for more than 30 years, my partner Barry Deutsch and I have intuitively known why every now and then a potential candidate we try to recruit says to us, “Thanks for the call, but I really like my position.”  Until last year though, we have never actually validated those reasons. Last year I decided to start keeping a list of the reasons these candidates indicate they are so happy. Usually, we just say, “OK” and make another call. Last year I probed a little further. I started asking , “Why” or “What makes your position so enjoyable that you won't consider something else?”

You will have to read to bottom of the article to find out  the most interesting and yet obvious aspect of the informal survey.

First some background. Since most of our executive search practice tends to be at relatively senior levels, most of the comments are not from entry level or manager level people. Although having recruited at these levels for many years, I believe the same reasons apply at all levels, including labor, hourly and administration, or non-exempt as well as exempt employees.

I have prioritized these as best I can, however, I doubt that there is that much difference between the rankings, with the first one as the exception. I also firmly believe that the happiest, and therefore the candidates virtually impossible to recruit away, have all three of these in their position.

1) A boss they can respect is far and away the biggest reason for a potential candidate turning down our recruitment efforts. They never use the word respect, that is our word. Respecting their boss is not the same as liking their boss. I'm not suggesting they don't like their boss, just that you shouldn't interchange the two. Although the majority do have some sort of personal relationship with their boss, many tell us their boss is hard to work with, demanding, too direct or blunt, not a people person, and other words similar to these. So what is respect? It means that their boss takes an interest in them and their career. It is more than just approving of their work. Their boss ensures that they are continually challenged (see Success Factors below), they often referred to their boss as a mentor,  they are growing and becoming better, their job doesn't fit easily into a predetermined job description, they know each other on a personal level, and their boss actually seems to care about them and their career succeeding to put it simply. They are not taken for granted. Their position isn't one of we are doing you a favor letting you work here. Rather both receive value from the relationship.

Their fear in leaving is that they know that few bosses are this way and they don't want to risk leaving a good to great boss. They are not just there to do a job, they are a person that wants to feel good about their job when they get up everyday to go to work and their boss contributes to this.

Do the people you manage feel this way about you or the managers in your company?

2) The candidates are learning and growing. They see positive change in themselves and their careers as they look back on each year. This is why Success Factors are so important. This is the tool by which they measure their growth. A Success Factor includes time based  measurable goals, often stretch goals for the person to achieve. Top talent and your best people like challenges and want to be stretched. It gives them a sense of fulfillment when they achieve the goals coupled with a sense of purpose. Achieving the Success Factors is often the excitement that gets them up each morning and coming to work. It also demonstrates their boss's interest in them. Success Factors send a clear signal that as their boss your role is to help them improve and find purpose in their job. This isn't just a job where you come to work to do the same routine duties and tasks everyday and then go home. Average to below average talent want this. Top talent will grow and become something better by working for this boss.

Do your people have measurable Success Factors? Every position in an organization from the CEO to the janitor should have measurable Success Factors.

3) They are making an impact. This doesn't have to be a significant life changing impact. Any impact is better than just doing a job. We believe it is this impact that makes them really enjoy their job. Everything else contributes to the enjoyment of their job, but feeling like one is positively impacting the business makes an employee feel like they are part of the team. It gives them purpose in the job. They are now directly linked to the company's success and  its profits. They take great  pride in this. They know that regardless of how small a role they played, they did play a role. When the CEO stands up and thanks the employees for the successful year, they feel the CEO is personally thanking them.

Are your people impacting your organization? Do they feel a sense of purpose that their job is important and contributes to the success of the organization?

Here is the most interesting and yet obvious thing that came out of this informal survey. We validated why certain employees enjoy their job and even a recruiter can't pull them out. Inadvertently, we also validated that these same reasons apply as to why someone  wants to leave an organization. When these things aren't present, the employee is likely to start looking for something better. A position that includes all three rarely has turnover.

You can take an easy assessment of your hiring process with our free Hiring Methodology 8-Point Scorecard. Find the strengths and weaknesses of your hiring process. CLICK HERE to download.

If you struggle with finding people, you can download the chapter from our best-selling book “You're NOT The Person I Hired” on sourcing top talent. It is free and one of our most downloaded items. Simply CLICK HERE to get your free chapter.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. If you liked this article please pass it along to others and post it on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Brad Remillard

If you’re looking for a job – don’t apply here.

One of the things I've noticed when working with successful business owners and executive leaders in large corporations is that they know who to hire. They look for certain characteristics in the person they put on the team. One of the first things they try to determine (once the skills are out of the way) is whether or not the person is hunting for a job or a position of responsibility.

If the candidate is looking for a job, they don't go any further with the interview. If the candidate indicates that what motivates them and gets them up every day is a position with responsibility for which they are held accountable, then the interview continues in earnest, with success factors and lots of questions. The open ended questions will focus on how to figure out if the candidate takes responsibility for the consequences of her/his decisions. “What was the single biggest failure you've experienced professionally and what did you learn?” “Can you provide an example of  how you made an uniformed decision and then went back to correct it to take the project down a new path?” “Give me an example of how you allowed hard data analysis to override your instinct when making a business decision.” The candidate had better be prepared to give substantial examples that can be verified.

As you might guess, the person asking these questions isn't looking for someone who is simply wanting to come in, do what s/he is told, let others take responsibility and go home at five. Nor is the hiring manager looking for someone who always sees outside forces or internal bureaucracy as getting in the way or causing failure. No, this manager or executive is not hiring someone for a job. Instead, they are looking for a person who takes responsibility; one who analyzes situations and is willing to look at data with fresh eyes. This manager is likely building a team that isn't afraid of admitting mistakes, pointing out areas for improvement, or being the bearer of “bad news.” They are looking for a professional.

Let's look at the other side. If I am a candidate who thrives on being in a position of responsibility, believe in being held accountable, and believe in being “data driven,” then I would want an interview to proceed as outlined above. If the hiring manager isn't asking questions that lead me to believe they are looking for a professional, then I might take the initiative to ask some of the questions myself. I'd be very tempted to ask, “How will you know that the candidate you hire is successful?” What would you expect to be accomplished in the first three months and how will you measure it?” “How would you describe the culture of accountability in your organization?” If the manager fumbles the answers to these questions, this is not a cultural match for me and I may want to move on. That's a very difficult decision, especially in these times. However, to settle for a job when you are looking for responsibility and a career position is going to hurt you in the long run.

Readers of this blog will not find too much surprising in this post. Yet, I see hiring managers make the same mistakes over and over again. I also see senior executives taking jobs in a panic – they have bills to pay and a family to support. Here is where I see the problem manifest most often – hiring a salesperson or sales manager. Sales people have a built in aversion to accepting responsibility for failure. Now before you fill my in-basket with hate mail, let me admit that I have come up through the sales ranks and managed a multi-channel sales team at several companies. I found myself succumbing to the very mindset that I'm suggesting isn't healthy. There's a simple and understandable explanation for this stereotype of the salesperson (apologies for those of you who have figured this out and grown out of it). A salesperson always faces more rejection in the average day than many people face in a year. They have to build up a thick skin. They have to accept the rejection, BELIEVE that it isn't personal, and move on to the next opportunity. That understandable need tends to create a habit of looking outside of our own actions for the reasons for failure. We have to guard against that eventuality and admit that while understandable, it is not acceptable to ALWAYS assume the failure is not ours. As the hiring manager for a high functioning sales team, I found it very challenging to dig down and get to the point of “when are you accountable for the failure of a sales initiative or forecast”; both for my sales team (including myself) and with prospective candidates for the team. It turns out getting there was crucial for a successful hire.

So back to the beginning statement. If you're looking for a job (no responsibility, just put in the time, collect a paycheck and go home), don't apply here – even if the position is for the assembly line. If you're looking to take responsibility for your actions, hold yourself accountable and are willing to grow, then let's get started on what it will take to be successful. Be ready to give examples of how you've made mistakes, accepted the responsibility for them and learned from them. Be ready to demonstrate how you are open to various views of and conclusions derived from the same data. If you're successful, we will be building a highly functional and exciting team. In my book, that's better than a job any day. Even in this horrible market.

Hiring sales people is difficult for everyone. We just launched our Sales Recruiting Division to help companies with this issue. As the economy turns, good sales people will be harder to find and even harder to identify. CLICK HERE to get a Free Success Factor Snapshot for your sales position.

For more information on hiring top talent, read our best-selling book (0ver 10,000) You're NOT the Person I Hired. CLICK HERE to read reviews.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after business advisor and mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Is Your Organization Going To Make It To 2010 and Beyond? Part 1

If the question above is keeping you up at night, we have some ideas for you to consider and implement so that your organization will not only make it through the current storm but will thrive well into the future!  You’ll know by reading this article if your ship is heading towards the rocks, towards the open sea, or on a clear course to your destination.

Think for a moment about the various components of a boat that are needed in order to keep it afloat and heading in the intended direction.  Observe how they compare to your organization.

Components of a Seafaring Vessel

Hull – Need to have a structure that can endure and thrive in the elements.

Fuel – The energy needed to move the vessel forward and towards its destination.

Crew – The crew will either make sure the ship reaches its destination in a timely manner or cause it to go off course or cause an incident that could result in loss of resources.

The Changing Environment

Water is the most unstable surface on our planet.  No matter how much planning a business does, a rogue wave can come along and cause havoc. This might be changes in the market, unhappy clients, distribution channels, technology, financial, etc.  Preparation can only go so far, yet if your organization has one key ingredient you’ll be able to survive and thrive beyond your wildest dreams.

Key Ingredient to Thrive

The answer always comes back to having the right crew on board.  It all begins with the selection process, mentoring and staff development.  If this is done correctly, or you have the right people with potential for growth, you’ll not only make it through to 2010… you’ll also be ready to ride the wave of 2011 and beyond!  Let’s take a look at how this works.

By having the right crew on board, you’ll have:

  • Contributors – That will help the ship reach its course through innovation, ingenuity, timely fulfillment of tasks, follow through, etc.
  • Happy customers – They’ll keep coming back due to the outstanding service and quality of the product.
  • Happy employees – They’ll go the extra mile for the organization and its customers.  This also leads to positive word of mouth that can attract top talent.
  • Open Minded Culture – Problem solving is the key to anticipate needs, deal with weather changes, being open to adapting to the environment.
  • Profitability – You’ll meet your organization’s goal and objective where everyone is rewarded for doing a great job and your organization will be able to continue to provide services and products with the opportunity to visit other destinations in the future.

An organization can build a sturdy ship, but without the right people behind the scenes it won’t leave port. All of this starts with the captain of the ship and with its officers.  If they select the correct crew up front, they know the job will get done correctly, in a timely manner and the work can be trusted.  Can you trust that your crew will do their job not only correctly but in a timely manner? Do they also contribute ideas for further improvement so you can get the maximum value from each individual?

If the answer is “I’m not sure” then your answer may be reflective of the future survival of your vessel.  Every organization must have all hands on deck with crew members that are excited and grateful to be aboard and have the ability to perform the best they can.

A Whale of a Tale for Teamwork

A manager once had an outstanding team but always told everyone what to do.  This person didn’t listen, didn’t ask questions, demanded a higher level of volume without asking if the organization could handle it and created a closed environment. Over time things started to slip through the cracks, customers were not getting the attention they needed, sales slipped,  people started to leave and the organization began to develop a bad reputation where recruitment became a problem.  Upper management stepped in and started to ask the team members for their feedback.  It turned out that the manager was not a good fit for that position and was transitioned into another department.  When the new manager was selected, it was based not only on experience but also the ability to work with others.  They learned that it is vital to understand a person’s work style and how they interact with others in order to have a high performing team.  If just one person isn’t “playing well in the sandbox” the effects can ruin a brand and effect sales and future growth of an organization. You can gather additional ideas for working with your current and future crew members by reading Cracking The Personality Code. To order this book, go to: www.crackingthepersonalitycode.com.

Is your culture one of team work and does everyone in your company agree? Have them take our Company Cultural Assessment. CLICK HERE to download your assessment.

Is  your hiring methodology designed to attract top talent and weed out those candidates that embellish? You can download our 8 Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard and find out. CLICK HERE to download.

Author's Bio

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC has over 25 years experience in the area of business consulting and helping organizations both nationally and internationally in raising the hiring bar through using in-depth work style assessments.  Dana is a nationally recognized speaker on this topic and has built a well recognized organization that provides expert interpretation of in-depth work style assessments during the hiring process, providing a variety of workshops and assisting those with communication challenges. He is the co-author of the book, “Cracking the Personality Code”.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our Website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth personality assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.