Recruiting In 3D

Found Your Ideal Candidate? Good. Make a Good Offer.

One thing I never understand is why companies have a habit of making low-ball offers. As recruiters, we go through painstaking processes in order to source, attract, screen and move candidates through the hiring process. In many cases, a full write up is sent to hiring managers (or other KDM’s) and the vetting begins.

So why is it with so many apparent QC checks in place, that companies still tend to make offers that are clearly so far below candidate expectations? I know that the market is bad, and the sky is falling – this too shall pass – but that doesn’t mean we should not be planning for the future, with the hires we make in the present.

I said to Jessica Lee the other day, when she was pondering taking the SPHR exam, that the more bullets you have in your gun (i.e. the more training and depth you have) the longer you stay in the gunfight. Couldn’t then, the same be said for making an offer to a candidate that is compelling and fiscally savvy? If you know what the candidate makes and have spent the time making a a point to know what they want, and you know what the budget can handle, why would you then not make your most compelling offer up front, getting the candidate to accept quickly, and instilling an immediate sense of excitement that this is the right opportunity for them. You may also be DRASTICALLY reducing the rate of counteroffers as well, since if they feel wanted and satiated in their comp needs, then they may be less likely to even consider a counter offer.

Know the facts up front, hit the offer head-on, and make your organization one that is not pigeon-holed into being “one of those “low-ball” shops. Candidates will appreciate the candor, hiring managers will love knowing that you can close the deal, and they can get their 1st choice candidate.


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Why that interview DIDN’T get you a second date.

I’m always concerned about making first impressions, whether it is in my personal life or professional settings. They say you get one shot at it, and you’d better make it count. Recently a few situations have come to light that really make me wonder if first impressions are a lost art.

When you think about it, going for a job interview is a lot like going on a date. You may have been introduced to or made aware of one another by a mutual acquaintance. Additionally, with all of the tools we’ve got available to us these days, the likelihood is increasing that the connection was made blindly on a website – be it Monster or AshleyMadison.com (I’ll leave finding out what the heck the latter is to all you Howard Stern fans.

Think of all the things you do when preparing to go on a first date – you (hopefully) shower, shave, potentially buy new clothes, etc. Nowadays, it’s also likely probable that you use Google, Facebook, MySpace or some other form of research on your date prior to going out. Let’s be real, it’s a kooky world out there, and people want to know if they are going for Sake at Nobu with the next Ted Bundy. People will go to great lengths to find out as much as they possibly can on the other party before going on these dates.

What is AMAZING to me then, is that a vast majority of these folks do none of this before interviewing for a job! Sure, dating someone could lead to some life-changing events, but are any of them likely going to be as impactful as the next job that can change the entire scope and direction of your life. True story, about 3 months ago, I spoke with a candidate over the phone, who was referred blindly to me by a former colleague who knew his skill set would be perfect for our company. (It was spot on, and my recruiter “Giggity Meter” immediately went off the charts.) I pretty much dropped off whatever wasn’t an offer for the next few minutes so I could schedule time to talk to this candidate. I knew going into this that all the standard needs for us were there: deep knowledge of and visible footprint in the industry, pedigree school, all the right contacts, and innovations we would look for. Right now you are thinking, “whoa…perfect slam-dunk hire”, right? WRONG. We set up time to talk later that week, since I’m big on having people’s undivided attention when trying to change their life, and can’t expect they are always ready to take my call. Here’s where it all went wrong:

About 20 minutes into the conversation after all the normal who/what/when/where/why’s were exchanged, things went awry.

Me:So how familiar are you with us (company name not disclosed, as always)?
Candidate: Not at all actually. You guys are one of those companies that puts mailers in the newspaper right?

    (This is about as far off as me being a Harvard-Trained Astrophysicist with a post-grad degree in Swahili)

Me: Pardon?
Candidate: Yeah, you know, insert mailers.
Me: Actually, no…………(deep, deep breath). We actually do Market Research for the Web (I went on in more detail, yadda yadda).
Candidate: Oh how about that. Well, I guess I could be interested in that too.
Me: Have you seen our website, or any other material out there, like out Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube pages?
Candidate: No, plus I think the Twitter thing, I’m not on it. Frankly, I don’t know if it’ll last.

This was really where I knew things went downhill. I work for an incredibly progressive web company, and if you aren’t in tune with the web, why would you passionate about working here? But the thing that got me most, was the complete lack of any research at all. I would have completely given a pass if it was a “cold call” and the candidate had no time to prepare. The person had an EMAIL from me, stating the day and time we were talking, and the role I wanted to discuss. But, instead I was so turned off by the utter lack of preparation and disinterest shown, that I politely ended the call and said we’d be in touch if anything came to light matching the background. After having ended the call, I realized that it may have been beneficial to the candidate to mention doing some prep work in the future, but there is just no helping some people. I suppose I would have been more inclined to do this if it were a recent grad, as opposed to a 7-10 year vet who should have known better in my book.

In the end, with all of the tools available to candidates to do all sorts of extensive research on a company – down to where the hiring manager graduated from and what they majored in – why are people seemingly doing LESS research now. We’ve got LinkedIn, Google, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Plaxo, and I could go on, but too many people do a quick scan through the mission statement and benefits pages without really researching things that help them to stand out from the crowd. If a candidate was able to tell me about the two newest products we released to the market, or the new acquisition a company has made in our industry, or a new promotion from a press release, that would impress me.

My point is, people do more research for a cheap steak and margarita than they do for a potential six-figure job. You can do endless things to make yourself a more appealing mate, why not apply that to your career?

Don't be THAT guy

Don't be THAT guy


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Job Board Leopards Changing Their Spots………… Again

I’ve taken some notice lately of the current trends in the job board marketplace lately. It seems that many of the boards are looking to transition from the old model of “post & pray” to more of an Ad Network-centric approach.

Update & Disclaimer: I’m not an Ad Network or job board employee, so I won’t try to define the industry, but I realized I neglected to define an Ad Network. So, here it is as Wikipedia defines it. Mea Culpa, I digress, and we move on.

What we’re seeing in the marketplace is a dramatic shift from what the bread an butter of the job board business model has been since the mid-90’s. It started with the ability to post your open positions, and have people fax a resume in (because, really who was using e-mail in a widespread format in 1995?), then progressed to overwhelmed in-boxes (which is/was/will be every recruiters nightmare), and then finally to the redirection to the career site. All of this still amounts to a theory of putting it out there and seeing what happens.

We then experienced the Sourcing Revolution, where it became commonplace for (good) recruiters to actively source candidates. we saw user groups, technical forums, LinkedIn and professional sites become the chum tank for the sharks. If you were out there, you could be found. This too, still applies today, but has gotten vastly more mature in the approach and technical style, thanks to blogs, and training seminars, like AIRS, using available techniques like Boolean searching.

Now, with the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, we’re starting to see more of the job boards move toward sponsored ads, and impressions that (allegedly) drive traffic back to your site, and ultimately drive people to your postings, assuming it will lead to more candidate flow for you. Having done an impression campaign in the past, I’m not yet convinced it will work the way it is intended. I mean, I see tons of trailers online and on TV for movies – I’m AWARE of them, but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to see it more. The hope here for job boards (we think) is that they will be able to capitalze on the market of people who are actively using the social media sites, and other popular avenues, and can cash in based on the recrutiing departments metrics tally that they are getting traffic from Ad Network related content. But isn’t that really the same as ye ol’ “post & pray”? Perhaps the only difference is that someone on the job board side is posting it, and you as the recruiter, are not.

But the folks who dream up the next big thing at the job board headquarters know what they are doing. They see that so many of these corporate and TPR clients are cutting, slashing and burning external costs at an alarming rate – both because of the economy, but because of better trained recruiters. That means less money year on year, in total contract value (CV). If the CV decreases, so does the revenue and ultimately the stock prices. NOT GOOD, if you are waiting on that bonus. Now, they can provide a “value-add” (and I challenge anyone to tell me that the job board sales rep did NOT use that term when they tried to see this to you – it’s their go-to hot button) service with the Ad Network. A colleague of mine was able to just cut 5k off of his most recent contract with one of the larger job boards. He declined the Ad Network package, and impressions, because his company has a strong social media presence, and strong brand. Had he taken it, he’d be paying 3-5k more than his old contract. So the brass at the job boards has struck some more gold to keep revenue at least where it is at, if not higher.

My question is will they stick with this, can they sell it widely, and will they be able to truly prove the worth of this, or will the Ad Network model go the way of the dodo bird and “post & pray”?

The end of boards as we know them?

The end of boards as we know them?

What are you seeing?


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Are You Rolling The Dice With College Recruiting?

This is probably the ideal location for me to go on some rant about how great “The Hangover” was this summer, but I’ll do my best to refrain – no guarantees. What I really want to touch on is how your college recruiting program can look a lot like the tables in Vegas. I’m inclined to write about this because: A. I just came back from a trip to Sin City in the last few weeks, where I surprisingly did a minute amount of gambling and B. College Recruiting has begun anew for the 09-10 school year. So, bonus points for me and my circular relevancy.

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

So here’s how a great deal of college recruiting goes: Company signs up for fair. Company goes to fair, yaks up company, collects resumes. Company holds PowerPoint slide show, branding extravaganza (Also known as Information Session).Company parses through resumes, and selects on-campus interviews. Company selects 2nd round (maybe 3rd round, as well) interviews. Company makes offer, student accepts (some decline). Company hires candidate.

What has the company gotten? Well, potentially a dud. Maybe someone who does not work out, who perhaps interviewed well. But potentially they get a rock star, a motivated, and successful hire. Hopefully more of the latter, but all of those people have a common trait. They came to the company – all of them. Not Vice Versa. So I liken this to gambling because you aren’t you really playing the odds every time you go through the process like this? Wouldn’t you be better served going after more students aggressively? Certainly, there is still going to be a cross-section of candidates who came to you, but why not reduce the need for relying on chance?

Equate this to another scenario: Plan and pay for Vegas trip. Get to Vegas, yak up dealers, friends, and anyone willing to listen. Spend money to play cards, dice or vice of choice. Spend more money if you lose. Potentially come home with a bit more cash or much less than you went with. Same Same.

There are many things that a company can do in order to make their brand better known, and to reach students before they even hit a job fair, and to be on the top of their mind.

  • Career Services gets a bad rap as a place where you don’t get much accomplished in trying to get connected to academia, or getting directly to students. And really, that’s not the primary function of their job at all universities. But if they are used correctly, as more of a conduit, than the end game. They can provide you with information about student groups, and groups, clubs or societies that are part of a major/school. They can provide information for you, and generally are happy to do so, if you are not walking in there and asking for a list of students that “are looking for jobs”.
  • You can contact many of the groups etc. and find out when they have events that you can sponsor. This might be a dinner, or awards event, or even guest speaker. These students are happy to help. The money they may or may not get donated helps. But hey, this is college recruiting, and it takes money to make money, right? They are also going to help you with finding out about small-scale fairs for students in their disciplines. These typically have fewer, but more targeted attendees.
  • You must kill the information session. In fact, it’s already dead, so you’ve saved time. Whatever is going to be provided in the “branding extravaganza” they can get in 15 minutes online, and…they like it that way. In this regard, faculty can be helpful. They want to get exposure for their students. Their students getting jobs is good business for them. But you’ve got to have something compelling to go in with that isn’t a “Rah-Rah” speech. If you can get candidates interested in your industry, you can get them interested in you. Remember that, and you’ll have some interesting stuff to deliver to them.
  • Finally, and most importantly, you have to stick to what you say you’ll do. There’s a big reason most students are mistrusting of the current process as it stands – many in our profession don’t keep their word. When we say that we want to stay in touch with them through the year (maybe they are a junior who already has an internship, or a sophomore we cannot use just yet) we need to do so. When we say that we’ll be contacting candidates back in 2-3 weeks, we need to do so. Or at the very least, let them know that you’ll be contacting back students who were selected, by “x” date. At least they know, that if “x” date comes and there is no word from you, then they have their answer.

Now, I will say that there are exceptions to these rules – we all know that there are certain……let’s call them Big Boys, who can just show up, and people will flock, they have all the connections they need at the school to get the best 5-10 candidates from each discipline (again, money helps A LOT with these issues). And they can just play the same old notes and get what they need, what with all their cool t-shirts and all (They actually are quite witty, to be frank). But let’s face it, we’re not all companies the size of a 3rd world country, and aren’t all afforded that luxury.

So, are you going to be the active hunter, trying to seek out the people you want at your company, or do you want to roll the dice, and see if your number eventually comes up?

PS – I couldn’t resist. The Hangover WAS a great movie. I’m sure many a bachelor party was scratched due to it’s release, and many a reminiscent moment was had around the country. Go see it, or get it on that Netflix queue.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.


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Summer’s End and the Communication Gap

It has been a bit since my last entry here, but I have all the right reasons…..Vacation, work, fantasy football and “Honey-Do” lists….. and vacation. Seeing as I need to use up some vacation time and day care was closed for a week, it was the perfect time to squeeze in some of those last minute, end of summer jaunts (Like a relaxing few days at the beach with the family and the Vegas trip with the boys). That, coinciding with the perpetually anticipated return of fantasy football, made for a few hectic weeks when you factor in work and the long awaited finishing of our basement. (My wife thanks for you bearing with my lack of updates while I finished this project) 🙂

But I digress, as its high time I got back to writing about what goes on in our industry. After a few conversations with colleagues the last two or three weeks, something kept coming up repeatedly: Why do hiring managers have such a hard time partnering with recruiting teams. Most of the people these conversations came up with are on the corporate recruiting side, so I’m going to focus there. (Sorry TPR’s, we can always come back to the topic of your end of the desk later, there’s no shortage of topic there). Based on those conversations, here’s what I can gather is seen out there, with also some of my own opinion and experience thrown in.

One of the main gripes that corporate recruiters have typically is that they are not seen as true hiring partners, but yet, more as “order takers” and administrative necessities. Recruiters see themselves as hunters, the seeker and finder of all skill sets hidden, providing an invaluable service in a specialized field, just as a statistician, or business development manager might. They feel like they have to pull teeth in order to get the information they need, and have to spend more time clarifying and re-clarifying information, and subsequently rejecting candidates they felt were on target. All this takes time away from sourcing and sending over “home run” candidates

On the other side of the coin, hiring managers tend to see them as a part of the machine that needs to be paid the minimal attention to, in order to get the job filled. They feel that their job is to find as many resumes as quickly as possible (which shouldn’t be hard, it’s a recession, right?), and to make sure each candidate has 110% of their wish list.

So where is the breakdown? As with all things, the truth resides somewhere in the middle. In this case, we’re going to name our friend truth, and call him “Communication”. Communication between the hiring managers and the recruiters really needs to be first and foremost, or neither side is going to get what they need/want. Here’s a couple of things each party should be asking themselves each time a new role is being opened.

Recruiter:

• What is the position, how does it fit into the organization, and what is the project(s) that the candidate will be working on? If they can’t understand the work being done, they can’t sell the opportunity to the candidate
• What technology is most important, and do they understand what each of these “gotta have” technologies do, at least at a surface level? If not, then it’s just keyword recruiting, and that never ends well for anyone.
• What is the budget and career progression track for the candidate/employee? Again, you should be selling the opportunity, and the career opportunities, or it doesn’t ring as a truly GREAT opportunity for someone. Plus, you want to know how flexible the budget is – can you stretch 5k for the ‘perfect’ candidate, or is it a hard budget? Save yourself time by having the hard money discussions with the manager up front.
• Ask the manager to describe the role, and “sell” YOU on the role. You’ll get some good feedback into what the role is in their eyes, and how excited they can get when they talk to a candidate. Make sure to tap into their “Love to have’s” and the soft things that drive them crazy about a candidate, so you can make sure that it all matches up later – some managers like all candidates to wear a suit, they want a degree, they want people who have not been lifetime contractors, etc.
• Did I set parameters for feedback, timelines, and overall interview process? DO you know the next steps and the contingencies in the absence of the manager? Time kills all deals, know where to turn when the manager is out.

If you can take that information and walk away knowing what you need, you will likely be successful in your hiring ventures.

Manager:

• Have you been open and honest with your recruiter and given them the information needed to succeed? Have you divulged what the projects are, both in the immediate and long term?
• Does the recruiter have a good idea of what success for this person looks like at 30,60,90 days and beyond? Have you discussed with the recruiter what career path this person could take?
• Did you discuss with the recruiter the skills that are needed for this role, and frame those around why they are important and what additional skills can be taught or built up.
• Do you have an approved salary for this role? Nothing can be more frustrating than a manager who “assumes” they will get the budget. Recruiting is a COD business, no IOU’s here.
• Did you set parameters with the recruiter for feedback, etc.? This is a two way street.

If you can find a way to bridge the gap with your manager or recruiter, you’ll both be more successful in the long term. The open, honest dialogue from both sides really is the key for making it work for you and ultimately your company. Process without communication with just guesswork.

How have you rectified the communication gap in your organization?

Coming next, the ever-popular sport of College Recruiting!


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