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.
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.
Historically, it has been called the “cover letter”. Whether it is a formal letter or a brief introduction in the body of an email with the attachment of your resume, in my opinion, it is important and will set you apart from other candidates, provided it is done correctly. If you are applying for a position, it should be because you truly see yourself as a fit. As such, you want the hiring manager to see the same thing. Explain this in the cover;
- Refer to the position specifically
- Pick highlights of the position description and state what relevant experience you have – stay high level (the CV will provide more detail and the interview even more…)
- Make it obvious that you are a suitable candidate
- Keep it brief
Don’t make the cover letter about you, make it about the position and reference the experience you have relative to what the employer is looking for.
If you prepare a proper cover/introduction, you will increase your chances of getting the attention of the hiring manager. While it won’t guarantee an interview, it adds value to your profile. Your competition is not doing it – although they should be – so in the meantime, take advantage and run with it.
Whether you are hiring or looking to be hired, throughout the process, watch for red flags.
A red flag will be some type of irritant or some type of “huh?” moment in your discussions with a candidate or potential employer that makes you feel uncomfortable. Did you meet with a candidate who had the PERFECT, hard-to-find skill set but who had an arrogance about them that you could not get passed? You won’t like that arrogance any better if they work for you. Didn’t like the commute to the interview? You won’t like it any better when you start working there.
It is easy to overlook red flags. If we really want something to work, we are more likely to convince ourselves the issue is not that bad.
Throughout the hiring process, if there is a red flag(s) , do everyone a favour and walk away. The likelihood is, it simply will not work. You will either resent your new hire from the moment they start, or your new boss from the moment you are shown your new desk. When you are in the process, it might seem that the easiest thing to do is hire the candidate or take the job despite the red flag(s), but in the end, it is not worth it and the time wasted on hiring the wrong candidate or accepting the wrong position could have been better spent finding the right one.
When you ask someone how they are, do you ever hear “busy” or “swamped”? Is it something you might say too? I hear it all the time. We are all so ‘busy’…it is as if suggesting we are not busy, might lead others to think we are not successful, not contributing or, even worse…not needed! Naturally, I am referring to day-to-day life versus times when life throws us a curve ball.
Who isn’t busy? What does busy mean? If we really are that busy, it likely means we have over-extended ourselves and admitting it, rather than making us look good, actually makes us look bad…at the very least, it makes us look disorganized and suggests we are not in control.
Candidates contact me on a regular basis. I ask if they have a CV, or in what state their LinkedIn profile is…I also ask if they have kept up with their professional network. I hear the same thing over and over again; that they know they really should have a CV and that they should have a proper LinkedIn profile and should have kept up with their professional network, overall skills and with the job market in general. But…they haven’t. They have been too busy. The downside? Missed opportunities and becoming (or perhaps already have become) outdated to the market.
Keeping up with your profile, network, and skills is important if you want to be relevant to the market. Playing catch-up is not fun. Assume the people you would compete with for your next position have their CV, profile, skills and professional network up-to-date at all times. And if you don’t think this needs to be a priority because your job is secure, based on the calls I get, this is not the right assumption. Many (too many, in my opinion) people I speak to did not expect to be contacting me.
Let’s agree that everyone is busy. Students are busy, parents are busy, employees are busy, business owners are busy…we get it. Do yourself a favour and don’t drop the ball when it comes to nurturing yourself professionally.