Losing a Top Candidate – Perception is The Only Reality. Lessons learned from 20 years on the front lines of the talent wars.

You rarely lose a top candidate at the end of the hiring process. It’s usually in steps taken along the way. In this case the client made a series of seemingly small mistakes that resulted in the candidate declining to go forward. It started simply by the hiring manager keeping the candidate waiting 30 minutes, then, he compounded the problem by not being prepared for the interview. “He didn’t seem to remember much about my background”, the candidate later confided in me. Despite the rocky start, the candidate returned for a series of additional interviews with other members of the management team. All went well, but the last interview was to be with a senior manager who was on a sales trip in Europe. No problem, we would arrange a phone interview. Week one resulted in no interview being arranged. It wasn’t until week two that the senior executive could “make room on his calendar” to call the candidate. The executive was 30 minutes late making the call and it lasted only 30 minutes. (Eight or nine time zones difference and he couldn’t find 30 minutes on his calendar for two weeks?) Finally, the client told me that all of the executives were very excited about the candidate and they wanted to move forward with an offer. I was told to inform the candidate that an offer would be sent to him “in a week or so”, as soon as the hiring manager could get all of the required approvals. At this point the candidate declined to continue. “To me, a hiring process is a reflection of how a company operates and makes decisions. I didn’t like what I saw.” The candidate took a job with a much larger company which had moved faster and more efficiently than this client.

Lesson learned: The best window any candidate has into the culture of an organization is the way it goes about the hiring process. If your process isn’t tight, professional, organized and strategic, top quartile candidates will go elsewhere, and they may tell their friends about their experience. One bad hiring process can equal two problems, the loss of a top candidate and a bad public relations moment.

Check your culture by downloading our Cultural Assessment. CLICK HERE to download a free assessment.

Is your hiring process effective at attracting top talent? Our 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your hiring process. CLICK HERE to download a free scorecard.

Mike is the founder of Hagerthy & Co, an executive search, training and consulting firm. For information on how to arrange for their complimentary Hiring Process Assessment go to: www.hagnco.com/page13.html#HiringProcess.

Can’t Find People? They Are Hiding In Plain Sight – 3 Examples

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.

Download our Hiring Process Self Assessment Scorecard and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your hiring system. CLICK HERE to get your assessment.

Get our most popular chapter “Sourcing Top Talent” from our best selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired” which is available for Free to download. CLICK HERE to get the chapter.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Finding Top Talent in a Down Economy: It’s Still Hard Work

Just because the haystack is bigger, it doesn’t mean that there are more needles in it. There’s a misconception in the market now that finding good people is suddenly easy.

HR people, hiring managers, and the general public believe that when unemployment is high, recruiters just have to run an ad and tons of top-notch, unemployed candidates will flood your email box. Well, they are half right. The inbox does get flooded on occasion, but not with top quartile talent, and not with the candidate who has the specific accomplishments I need for my client’s position. Despite the high unemployment, the bell shaped curve hasn’t suddenly changed to create more top quartile talent. If anything, it’s harder to find the right talent for the position because there are so many more people looking.

Consider:
• When companies downsize, they don’t let their top performers go first. They let the average to below average players go first, so the pool of available talent out there consists of far more average players than top quartile players. If you want to hire top quartile players you have to have a process in place to find and attract them.

• The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. In general, it's harder to get top candidates to change companies right now. With the economy still uncertain, the perceived risk of making a move increases. A top candidate may not be happy where they are, but unless you can provide a very compelling marketing statement about your company and your position, inertia will keep the candidate where they are.

• “Experience” does not equal qualified for your position. There really are a lot of experienced people out there, but just because they are experienced doesn’t mean they know how to do the specific things you need done. HR departments and hiring managers are easily blinded by a flood of resumes from “experienced” people, but experienced at what? Have they managed the switch from one Chinese ODM to another that you need done in the next three months? Have they opened new distribution channels in the EU? Just because they worked for a company that outsourced manufacturing to China, or sold into Europe, doesn’t mean they have done what you need accomplished.
In real estate, it’s “location, location, location”. In recruiting it’s “process, process, process”. If you don’t have a basic hiring process in place that every hiring manager understands and uses, the odds of making a bad hire increases significantly. The basics of a good hiring process are:

• Put the destination in the nav system. Create a job spec that defines, specifically, what needs to be accomplished in the next 12-18 months. Ask the question, “What does success look like for this position a year from now?” Spell it out and quantify it if possible.

• Don’t expect to catch a tuna in a trout pond. If you want to hire top quartile talent, you have to go after passive candidates, not just aggressive ones looking for a job. You will need a compelling marketing statement that will convince the top quartile candidate to look at your opportunity.

• Interviewing 101. Despite hiring being one of the most important processes in any company, few companies train their hiring managers on how to interview candidates. Learn the “who, what, where, when and why” of interviewing.

• Get on the same page. Your hiring team needs to agree on what you are all looking for in a candidate. What are the specific accomplishments you want in their background and what are the qualities that will predict future success for the candidate? If you’re not looking for the same things, you might as well be comparing apples, oranges and cherries.

Don’t let the glut of available people fool you. Recruiting top talent still takes a lot of work.

Mike Hagerthy

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Mike Hagerthy is an executive recruiter and President of  Hagerthy and Company in Southern California and a Certified Strategic Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions. To learn more about Hagerthy and Company CLICK HERE.

Why Passive Candidates Require Special Handling. A True Story.

I asked a candidate after an interview, “How did the meeting go with the CEO?”

The candidate sarcastically replied, “Remind me again, why would I want to leave my current position and go to work there?”

Not exactly the sort of answer I was searching for.

He was what we refer to as a, “passive candidate.”  Meaning, he wasn’t actively on the job market. He wasn’t in any hurry to make a job change. He was open to exploring opportunities and seriously evaluating them, but would only make a change if all aspects of the position were beneficial to him and his career. He had to have good chemistry with the CEO, understand the company’s vision, and his role in helping achieve the vision. Basically, he wasn’t going to just make a move.

In the same way, the stars have to align for the company to want him. They also had to align for him to want them. A new concept for many companies to really comprehend at a deep level.

Yes, the hiring process is a two way street.

Needless to say, I wanted to understand what happened. As the candidate explained it, “I have now been out to the company three times and spent approximately 4 to 5 hours interviewing. I first met for an hour and  a half with HR going over my background. I then met with the person leaving the position. Once again we spent roughly an hour plus going over my background. Both gave me an overview of the position and about 10 minutes to ask questions. Then comes the CEO. Both previous interviewers spent time explaining how the company was reinventing itself and how this role was critical to helping in that process. I expected when I met with the CEO that we would discuss some of those issues, his plan for the reinventing, how my background would add value, and that I would finally have time to ask some of my questions.”

Sounded right and reasonable so far. As he continued to explain the problem, “After taking the morning off work for the 9 AM interview, I waited in the lobby for 25 minutes for the CEO. I was ready to leave when the assistant came to get me. The CEO explained he has to leave for a plane by 10:30, so I’m thinking why are doing this? There isn’t enough time to discuss any of the issues in any depth. Instead of discussing any of the issues, he proceeded to go through my background now for the third time. Don’t these people communicate? By the time he finished it was about 10:20 and he asked if I had any questions. I indicated that I did, but there wasn’t enough time to discuss them, and would it be possible to schedule another meeting, which we did.”

My conversation ended with the candidate asking me to cancel the meeting they scheduled, as he wasn’t really that interested, so why waste the time.  Is it any wonder?

The company was surprised the candidate wasn’t interested. Even after I relayed the above story to them. This had never happened before.

  • A candidate turning them down?
  • A candidate canceling a meeting with the CEO?
  • A candidate that doesn’t want our job?
  • A candidate that doesn’t understand waiting 25 minutes in the lobby for an interview?
  • A candidate that isn’t desperate for our position?

They didn’t respect the candidate, his time, his position, and didn’t take any time to build rapport. They didn’t give him any time to address what was on his mind.

Why would a passive candidate be interested?

So I recommended the following changes:

  1. All candidates must be met in the lobby at the designated time, the same way a customer would be met.
  2. Spend some time marketing the position.
  3. Learn about the candidate’s motivations and interests.
  4. The candidates meet the CEO on the first interview. This demonstrates the importance of the position to the candidate and starts the rapport building process which is critical to passive candidates.
  5. It is an interview, not an interrogation. Make it a discussion.
  6. Every candidate is given ample time to ask questions and interact. The interviewer will learn more from the candidate’s questions than from the answers they give.
  7. More time to explain the position, the importance this role will play, the impact on the organization and time to build rapport with the candidate.

These simple changes would have made all the difference with the candidate. Instead, they lost a great candidate for not treating the person as an executive and a person.

Every interview is a PR event. It is doubtful this candidate will have much good to say about the company should he encounter another candidate considering employment at the company.

Which is a shame as it really is a good company with good people.

Our “Cost Of A Bad Hire” calculator is available to help you get a handle on your total cost of hiring. Download for free worksheet. http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com/index.php/cost-of-hire

Culture is one of the biggest reasons a good hire goes bad. Find out what your culture is, and how people in your organization define it.  Click here to downloand your Culture Assessment.

Can Your Company Save Thousands Through HR Outsourcing?

Listen to our podcast from our Live Internet Radio Show on LATALKRADIO.com regarding HR Outsourcing.

Can your company save thousands by outsourcing HR.  Jeff Stinson, President of Global Human Resources Outsourcing (GHRO), discusses all the reasons if you are a CEO you should consider this option. HR is becoming more and more complex. The legal fees companies are paying can often be eliminated with a littler prevention. Jeff  has been a VPHR for a Fortune 500 company and he brings that expertise and knowledge to this show. Investing 50 minutes to listen can save you thousands.

To hear our podcast on the advantages of HR Outsourcing by our Expert Guest, Jeff Stinson, you can either listen immediately to the radio show or download it from our FREE Hire and Retain Top Talent Audio Library.