We spend a lot of time with CEOs and hiring authorities helping them find, identify and hire top talent.  I’m surprised at the lack of an executable plan for the interview process within companies both large and small.  It would appear as if hiring managers believe that everyone in the company knows how to interview, understands the ideal profile they are interviewing for and is actively interested in making a great hire.  Think again…

As a hiring manager you’ve taken the time to build a comprehensive (and exhaustive) list of requirements, qualifications and responsibilities for each open position and have a very clear mental picture of the person you are looking for.  Then, you dutifully deliver this document to the HR department so that they can do their job. 

Have you met with your internal recruiting team or HR department to describe your vision for the absolutely amazing candidate in detail?

You’ve announced to your department that you are hiring a new person and expect them to help during the interview process.  You’ve selected your top guys to help interview and told HR to schedule time for qualified candidates to meet with these people because they are doing a similar job and will be able to help technically qualify folks.

Did you meet with your interview team to whiteboard the ideal qualifications and prioritize exactly what is important for a person to be successful in THIS particular role?

Interviews are scheduled, and everyone on the team seems to have a different understanding of the candidates, their qualifications and whether or not they would make a good hire.  Each individual applied their own interpretation of the meaning of “interview” to the process

Have you trained your team on HOW to interview effectively for YOUR company?

Fact #1 – Candidates in today’s market are better at interviewing than you are – they get more practice

Fact #2 – Interviewing for the whole person is critical – Competency AND 

Fact #3 – Most companies practice accidental interviewing 

The New CRM…

August 9, 2009

Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) for Talent Acquisition

You might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about? If you are hiring today, even a single position, you are probably buried in resumes and submissions for unqualified, overqualified and yes, a few ideally qualified applicants. I’m in the business of sourcing, screening and qualifying candidates and even I’m having a tough time keeping up. If you are wondering why the quality of your job posting response is dropping I’ll give you a few insights. Job board activity is frustrating for candidates – so the smart ones are taking action. They aren’t spending time on the boards any longer.

Your method of finding and attracting great talent is going to change in the next 203 years. Top Talent knows how to find great positions with great companies – and it’s not on the job boards.

Have you begun defining a strategy for tapping into the Talent you need to be successful?

Applicant Tracking Systems are (generally) unfriendly, impersonal, and difficult for users to navigate. These systems were put in place to ensure compliance and track activity. They have absolutely nothing to do with attracting Talent and fostering relationships with future employees.

Do you EVER contact or re-connect with qualified candidates who have applied for positions in the past?

Your success as a hiring manager is dependent on your ability to identify, attract and retain the very best team. One bad hire can derail your momentum and cost you money, employees, customers and – your job.

Do you really take your role as a Manager of Talent seriously?

Fact #1 – Smart People look for Smart Companies to work for

Fact #2 – Communities of Talent are already out there and your competition knows where they are

Fact #3 – New Applicant activity on job boards is down 40% this year

Hire Responsibly

June 22, 2009

Testing and backgrounds don’t necessarily reveal CHARACTER

Although skill-based testing and background checks can help you determine baseline qualifications and keep your company out of the courtroom, these methods don’t help you determine the true character of the person you’re hiring. I’m surprised at how many companies don’t do even the most rudimentary reference checking prior to hiring someone who can have a deep and long lasting impact on your business – and your customers.

The human factor, especially in early stage companies, is critical to maintaining a high level of productive energy in your company. Candidates who spend time with members of their future team, and members of other functional areas will have a much better idea of what your culture is all about. As well, you’ll get a broader understanding of the candidates if each interviewer focused on a different functional area of responsibility = marketing looks for different things in a hire than QA or engineering. I call it ‘checking blindspots.’

Do you have several team members interview each candidate?

Multi-dimensional interviews are always a good idea. Most companies conduct interviews in a vacuum. This is probably because they want to ensure a fair and lawful process however, if you are too clinical about your interviewing, or not detailed enough you may miss some very important information. Interviewing should in a manner that is relevant to the role. Consider modifying the approach.

Do you phone interview candidates who will be working directly with your customers?

Hiring managers are increasingly busy. As a result, the interview process tends to be an exercise in going through the motions to see if there is anything that would keep you from hiring rather than finding the reason TO hire. There is a definite lack of ‘thought provoking’ and interesting discussion during the selection process. An example: “what are your weaknesses,’ is boring and the candidate is prepared for the answer. “If I were to speak with your former manager, what would he/she say are the 2 things that you need to further develop in order to move to the next level?” is interesting, and the candidate is not prepared for the answer, so they have to give it some thought – and you’ll get a gut level response.

Are you REALLY engaged in making the BEST hire?

Fact #1 – Hiring Managers RARELY check references on their recruits

Fact #2 – Most hiring mistakes could have been avoided

Fact #3 – Job seekers are better prepared for the interview than you are

Job Board post post disappointing scores

I’m talking with more companies that are voicing their frustration with the results of their recruiting efforts related to job board postings. Dollars are tight in the Human Resources category these days so it’s important to make sure that every dollar spent nets maximum return. Let’s focus on some alternatives

Your recruiting efforts should be focused on replicating the very best talent that you have internally. Your current employees, especially the Gen Y employees, are networked. They have friends, former co-workers and professional associates who are looking to grow their careers and work with the very talented folks they know, respect and admire.

Do you promote an employee referral bonus program – LOUDLY?

Savvy job seekers (the ones you want to hire) are not spending their precious time trying to navigate job boards these days. They are networking! Instead of visiting job boards they are visiting company websites to try and find interesting positions with companies who share their personal ideals.

Is your career site indexed so that aggregators (and search engines) can find you?

The top guns out there are serious about their careers. They participate actively in professional organizations; know what’s going on in the community (related to their career) and watch for trends, announcements and news. User Groups, meetups and associations are a great place to find future talent.

Are you hanging out in public?

Fact #1 – Job Boards are going in the direction of classified ads

Fact #2 – Competition for Top Talent is fierce

Fact #3 – Google is the job seekers tool of choice

Unemployment is up which makes hiring a bit of a challenge …

A larger pool of unemployed people out there tends to make some feel that they really don’t need to put effort into talent acquisition. The position descriptions aren’t as interesting, the interview process starts to slide a bit. Follow up with candidates isn’t quite as immediate as in the past because they aren’t really going anywhere.

Are you creating a future problem for yourself through lazy hiring practices?

In a downturn I tend to see greater volume of resumes, but a lower quality of applicants. This is a result of really great people who are employed deciding that they had better table their search and stay the course rather than risk transitioning to a new position now. As a hiring manager your task becomes harder. Outbound sourcing, especially for those hard-to-hire skillsets becomes even more important.

Are you making it easy for qualified applicants to find you?

Yep, you’re busy. Your budget has been cut; you have more work to do because you’ve lost headcount. All those unemployed people out there are just adding to your workload. You really don’t have to respond to people who aren’t qualified for positions at your company; it’s not a good use of your time.

Are you treating people who contact your company about employment with the same compassion you would hope for if you were in their shoes?

Fact #1 – Scrutiny and care during the hiring process is MORE critical in a soft market

Fact #2 – The economy will rebound

Fact #3 – We all can have a positive impact on getting America back to work

What happens to the recruiting process in this unsettled economic cycle?

Companies tighten their belts. So do candidates. Those really talented people that may have been sniffing around last year have stopped their search or have pulled back significantly. This means that if you are in a hiring mode (and many companies still are) you can’t simply rely on job boards to provide you a flow of good candidates. Yes, there are qualified folks out there and you will be able to find them; so will your competitors. An unstable employment market creates a lot of noise for candidates with solid skills so you will have to differentiate your opportunities from others. Salary will play a role, but so will company financial stability, perks, culture, growth and the other smart people you already have on board.

Candidates who are unemployed will begin broadening their search by applying for any and all positions available. Your volume of applicant responses will go up, but your quality will go down. You may be thinking that this is a great time to hire, there are plenty of people to choose from. Well, that may be true, but as a business executive, if you have to cut 10% of your team, will you layoff your high performers or the under performers? Guess who is on the market right now? You’re best course of action when your applicant volume begins to swell, is to make sure that you automate and delegate. Have a simple auto-reply in place so that applicants know you’ve received their information (to reduce the follow up emails and calls). Engage your future leaders (in the applicant review process. These are the individuals who you’ve identified as having real potential in your company. It’s a great way to get them involved, keep them engaged and make sure that someone is seeing every applicant who responds to your open positions.

Protectionism kicks in. Those current employees who have been a tremendous source of referrals will begin protecting themselves. The good news is they will do their very best at work; the bad news is that they may not be as externally focused as in the past. Now is when you NEED those internal referrals. Great people know other great people, so consider INCREASING your referral bonus program as both a retention effort for your current people and a recruiting/pipeline engine for future talent.

Overqualified candidates are bountiful. This is a mid-manager business cycle. The last time we experienced these characteristics was in the mid-90s. Middle managers were laid off, and as a result sought staff level positions. They may be a great hire for you today. They are talented, experienced and not asking a market salary. Hire with caution though. Making an overqualified hire is fine as long as you go into it realistically. If your company has a career path program then immediately make progression part of the candidate’s performance plan. If you are a small company and don’t have career planning in place then understand that you will only keep them around for a year or two. Make the best use of their experience as possible and gracefully congratulate them when it’s time for them to move on.

The past few years have been ‘consuming’ years for business. Money was easy to come by and relatively cheap. Many organizations took advantage of additional cash to invest in capital projects. Now the coffers are drying up and you need to spend wisely. It takes strength of character to manage through tough times.

Does your executive team have the courage to get you through?

You’ve heard this before…you’re only as good as your weakest link. 2009 holds a lot of promise for companies who know their market, know their customers and take time to assess/adjust/attack. Now is the time to evaluate your leadership team to make sure that your weakest link will carry you through the coming year.

Do you have the right people doing the right jobs?

Democracy is a beautiful thing. Every four years our country has the opportunity to make dramatic shifts in policy, process and people. Generally speaking, high performers and problem solvers who believe in the new direction may get to stay. Everyone else is replaced with those who will help set a new course and execute on the administration’s strategy.

If an election were held in your organization today who would still have a job?

Fact #1 – When revenue decreases, excuses will increase where there are weak leaders

Fact #2 – Ignoring a trouble spot will NOT make it go away

Fact #3 – Rewarding mediocrity simply reinforces the behavior