I meet with Hiring Managers who describe the person they want to hire. They describe someone who has experience in exactly what they do and who could add value the minute they walk in the door. In some cases, it works. In the majority of cases though, it does not.
Let’s face it – most people were not born with the experience they have – they learn it! So, what should Hiring Manager truly be looking for? They should be looking for candidates with current/relevant experience in what they need in order to accomplish the short and longer term goals.
Example: You need to hire a Controller for a technology company. Someone who understands how software licensing works. What do you truly need; someone average who has the EXACT experience or a superstar who has been a Controller and who has been successful in multiple industries?
You need the superstar!
When you set out to find someone, you THINK you need the one with your specific industry experience, but in fact, you don’t. And in limiting your search, you are more than likely missing out on some excellent talent.
Cast a wide net – find the best of the best – the candidates who have appropriate experience and have had enjoyed ongoing success throughout their career. These candidates will add value – they have proven they can do it!
Not once, but twice in the past year, I saw employers pull job offers from candidates.
In both cases, the candidates played hard ball while negotiating their compensation and the employer did not like what they were seeing.
I am sure this has happened many times, but I had never seen it before. While I was appropriately taken aback the first time, I was just stunned the second time! Lesson learned.
If you are in the market, while you should not take a deal that you think is unfair,
consider at what point you would be sorry to see the offer retracted,
and guide your negotiations accordingly.
Both candidates were blind-sided by losing their offer. They both went from being ‘tough negotiator’ to being quite humble. Would they play it differently today if they were to go back? I’m not sure, but my instinct tells me they would. Both were keen to join their respective new employer and both were well qualified for their position. Alas, we will never know, but what we do know is it makes good sense to know when to stop negotiating and accept the offer. You never know…
Candidates like to tell me what they cannot do.
I hear it all the time;
Lori: “Do you speak French”
Candidate: (cue the apologetic tone) “…well, I am not fluent and my written is weak….I prefer an English environment”
Lori: “Do you speak French today in your job and do you communicate in French through email”?
I have this conversation repeatedly – replace “Do you speak French” with “Have you ever implemented an ERP system” or “Have you ever sold widgets”? It doesn’t matter what I ask, even if the candidate DOES DO, or has done, what I’m asking, but it deviates ever so slightly, they apologetically tell me that they really don’t do it.
As a candidate, you don’t want to limit yourself and prospective opportunities, you want to do just the opposite. You want to take a hard look at your accomplishments and translate them in to your complete skill set, and recognize what are your transferable skills. Once you have done this, you may see that you have more to offer than you give yourself credit for. Don’t sell yourself short! If you speak French but cannot write a business letter in French, then you do speak French! You will tell your perspective employer that you cannot write business documents in French but that you are fine with basic email correspondence, for example.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
As I say (and believe!) we are all on track to live to 100, and as such, we will be working for a long time.
Don’t be drab and inflexible – Yes, you CAN!
Take a look at the job descriptions your business is posting. Are they interesting? Would someone who is not actively looking for a job possibly submit their candidacy?
Some businesses have awesome job descriptions.
Most have dull job descriptions.
We know we want to attract the best candidates.
We know we want to be perceived as an employer of choice.
So why would we write dull job descriptions?
We use Uber, not taxis. We stay at AirBnB, not hotels. We rely on the general public to post news versus waiting for the news networks. We stare at the home phone when it rings wondering who could possibly be calling on it…and we make a mental note to have it disconnected all together.
In many ways, we are very 2015.
And then we have our job descriptions. Not very 2015. Stuck in the past.
Take a look at your job descriptions. Am I right? Are you drawn to the positions and can you see people pouncing on the opportunities? If not, change you strategy….write job descriptions that reflect the realities of today’s market. You will attract better candidates.
- Be specific about what the job entails – mention the short term priorities and longer term goals
- Show prospective candidates what they would gain by being successful in the role
- Unless absolutely required, don’t include number of years of experience or a specific degree. It limits the pool of prospective candidates and puts up a barrier between you, and possibly, the best candidates
- Consider why someone might leave their current role for the position, then write the job description that would entice them
When recruiting, we are looking for the best candidates. Often these candidates are not looking for work. In order to entice them to consider the position, start by defining it as something compelling.
We tell candidates to write CVs to show they are ‘current’, not dated.
Employers have to write job descriptions that show the business is ‘current’, not dated.
If we write job descriptions the way they have been written for decades, which many businesses do, we are suggesting to prospective candidates that we are not current. Clearly not the intent.
This is an easy fix. Try it. You will see results.
The market tells us (IN FACT IT IS SCREAMING AT US) that anyone you hire will stay somewhere around 2-3 years (there will be exceptions, of course). Regardless of the years of seniority or level. If you are still fighting this, I urge you to reconsider your stance and to recognize why it isn’t a problem;
When you bring someone on board, you should be doing so with specific goals in mind. None of us know what is coming down the road, so why pretend we know what we need from the new hire long term? What you do know is what is needed now and the foreseeable future and this is where you need the new hire to be successful.
Hire resources on a “TOUR OF DUTY“. It is a win/win! This entails hiring someone as an employee of the company, taking on full responsibilities (P&L, resources, etc) but there are specific goals to be met, for example, developing a product, developing new business, selecting and implementing a new ERP, building a new department, and so on. These goals will define the TOUR. At the end of the tour, if there is another tour and both you and the candidate agree for more – go for it! And if not, you shake hands. They walk away with more experience and a successful story to bring to their next position and you have achieved your goals and can replace them (if you need to at all) with someone who meets the next set of goals.
To continue hiring with the awkward words nobody speaks upon signing an employment agreement, which are “this will be great until one of us doesn’t need the other any longer”, makes no practical sense. Be up front. You will have a better chance of retaining the employee for what you need them for versus having to worry about them leaving before the goals have been achieved. Pretty much everyone like to have a win, and the ones who don’t or who don’t care, are not the ones you want working for you. If you are upfront in defining the circumstances, the employee knows exactly what they are signing up for and what they will walk away with once they have completed the work. On the employer’s side, you will have better success in meeting your business objectives. Win/win. The end.
Here are the positions we have been working on recently;
- Senior VP of IT
- VP of Finance
- Director of Finance
- VP of Human Resources
- Director of Human Resources
- VP of Services
- Project Manager
- Executive Assistant
- Inside Sales
- QA Specialist
- Assistant Controller
- General Consulting
In addition to recruiting, we are helping business incorporate PERFORMANCE BASED HIRING and TOURS OF DUTY in to their recruiting/hiring practices. Traditional hiring practices are no longer relevant and businesses have to adjust in order to stay current and ensure they can attract the people they need. Outdated hiring practices will attract outdated candidates.
Who are you hiring? Let’s talk.
Recently, as a guest on CJAD’s Gang of Four, we discussed people’s commute to work. Given I am a stickler for ‘fit’ as it pertains to candidates and positions, the commute is one of those things I consider when looking at a candidate’s potential fit for a position. If a candidate lives too far, I won’t consider them for the position. While they might think the commute ‘is not an issue’, it will become an issue when another position becomes available closer to home, there is an especially difficult winter or a muti-year road work project is annouced, for example.
Employers: Consider how accessible your location is to the candidates you want to attract. Distance and public transportation options matter. I have clients with offices that are remote and as a result, recruiting is tougher than it needs to be. If you have an office which is tough to get to, you may have to pay higher salaries or let people do some work from home to make opportunities more attractive.
Candidates: It doesn’t matter to the employer where you live. Where you choose to live is your decision but when deciding, factor in commute relative to where you might be working – is public transit available for days where your car is in for repair or there is bad weather? Perhaps you might want to save on fuel costs and get caught up on reading from time to time?
Hiring Managers should avoid hiring someone who lives too far and candidates should avoid jobs that are simply too difficult to get to. From what I have seen, the long commute is not sustainable and if it comes with no financial or ‘work from home’ incentive, it becomes very unattractive.
Based on experience, here’s some advice: Be nice to the people with whom you work (and everyone else for that matter)! You never know when a prospective employer might ask them about you without you knowing. It is just SO EASY to find people you might know in common, so let’s face it, why would a prospective employer not do it?
If you are in the job market, whoever is reading your CV might know people in common with you which means they might take the liberty to contact these people to ask about you. If this happens, it may well be a determining factor as to whether or not the employer ever meets with you. I have seen this happen several times. Recently I submitted a candidate’s profile to an employer. In my interview with the candidate, he told me, (with conviction!) that his references were stellar. Imagine my surprise when the employer would not meet with the candidate because they had “…called some people they know in common and the feedback was negative”. Well that was the end of that for the candidate. There was no interview, no ‘let’s see if there is a fit and if we can work together’. Zero. Nothing. The candidate’s stellar references were ultimately irrelevant. He never even got an interview let alone the opportunity to present his (hand picked) stellar references.
Reference checking starts at any point during the hiring process. Providing references to a prospective employer is definitely still one of the steps of a traditional hiring process, but it is less and less meaningful since employers really have access to the unedited list. If they feel they know someone well enough, best to assume they will contact that person.
Candidates should know what the person who likes them the least might say about them.
One question I ask in every interview is “if I speak to someone who would not want to work with you again, why would that be”? Often the candidate has to think about it, which is perfectly fine. I can see they are digging deep to find the words to tell me they can be aggressive, competitive or disorganized, for example. I also ask them what words, in general, people would use to describe them. Note that I don’t ask about their “weakness” (what does that even mean…really…what a lousy question. My weakness is Finance. Why people would not want to work with me again has nothing to do with Finance). I want to hear how people believe they are perceived and then I match that up with what I hear from the references I contact.
If you are in the market, be prepared. You are not able to control who speaks to who. What you can control is having a clear sense of who you are, especially to the people with whom you work so the feedback a prospective employer gets will align with how you describe and present yourself.
Sometimes you read a job posting and think “I can do that”. In most cases, you are probably right. However, if you don’t have the experience required, it is nearly impossible that a hiring manager will consider your candidacy.
We receive resumes on an ongoing basis, from candidates who do not have the appropriate qualifications for the positions we are recruiting. Some of these candidates are very impressive – they are senior and accomplished. But I find it curious that they would apply for a position for which they are not qualified. And unfortunately, at least in my opinion, it find it a lack of judgement on their part which I have to assume is not their intent.
Applying for a position takes time and effort. As such, apply for a position to which you are best suited versus one you think you can do. Skills are definitely transferable, but within reason. A hiring manager will almost certainly reject your candidacy if you are not an obvious contender. Why would they engage with a candidate who does not offer the experience to support what is needed for the position?
Stay focused on your search. Apply to the right opportunities and put the effort in to preparing the best application possible, including a cover letter.