….the cost of not using a recruiter..

 

I guess all people businesses can tell some strange stories. Just this week I spoke to a friend of mine who has been a hiring authority over the past 15 years, as well as a great manager. He moved to a new company about a year ago and has been needing to hire a salesperson for nine months. I called him two or three times since he had gone to his new firm but never had the chance to speak with him.

He’s one of the most successful managers that I’ve dealt with in all the years I’ve been in this business. He hasn’t hired all that many people, but the ones he has have absolutely loved him because he’s helped them make more money than they ever have. Once I got them on the phone and found out he had been looking for a salesperson for nine months, I asked him why he didn’t call me. He explained that his corporate “recruiting department” won’t allow him to pay a fee and that they are supposed to be getting him good candidates. I asked him how many candidates you’d seen in nine months. (It’s not surprising that he may not have hired someone, because he’s very picky and very careful.) He told me that in nine months he had only seen three candidates.

He admitted that he was phenomenally frustrated. He was not going to hit his numbers this year because he was one salesperson short and since he was covering the vacant territory, he couldn’t help the other five salespeople that he had. Each salesperson’s quota is right at $1 million, and the vacant territory he was covering had only sold $450,000 with three weeks left in the year.

So, his company doesn’t want him to pay a $20,000 fee and yet they are willing to let a very experienced…expensive… first-line manager trying to manage five salespeople forfeit close to $450,000 in sales as well as become very, very, very frustrated with his company. He told me that he had told his boss that he absolutely had to find a salesperson before the new year began. He told his boss that he just didn’t think he could go on like this.

I often wonder how many managers out there go through this kind of frustration. My friend’s corporate recruiting function is in New York. There is absolutely no way…short of a miracle…that they would ever be able to find the same quality of candidate in Dallas as we could. I interview two to three candidates a day…and have for 45 years. I have more than 100,000 candidates in the database that I’ve interviewed face-to-face. How are three twenty-something year old recruiters in New York going to find a better candidate in Dallas then I would even though my client is very picky. I know that I can find him what he needs. Can you imagine how much money this is really costing them?

If my hiring authority has to go through the same agonizing experience at the beginning of the year, I imagine that I will have another excellent sales manager as a candidate. The cost of not paying a fee can be very high.

…the difference between the #1 manager and the #4 manager

One of our clients has six managers around the country. Two of them reside in Dallas. One of them manages Dallas and an eastern part of the United States and another manages part of Dallas and some of the Western part of the United States.. Other managers managed  1/6 of the country each.  It’s really interesting to see the comparison between the two managers here in Dallas…the #1 rankied manager in the country and the#4 ranked manager in the country.

Now I’m quite sure that there are probably lots of differences between these two people, but one of them became very clear last week. It turns out that the difference in the revenue production of the #1 manager’s team is almost $7 million a year more than the #4 managers team. each of them manage six people and, interestingly enough the #4 ranked manager has been with the company for years longer than her #1 ranked peer.

But here is one, very interesting observation. We have an excellent candidate referred to us who works in the space that both of these managers and their company do. As we do on a daily basis, will we get an excellent candidate, we call managers we’ve worked with before, inform them of a particular candidate’s availability and encourage them to interview the candidate. It just so happened that we contacted the #4 ranked manager in the country about this stellar candidate and she says, “well, I don’t really have an opening in the company, so I wouldn’t be interested in interviewing him.”

we then call the #1 ranked manager in the country about the same candidate, and he says, “I make it a practice to interview any good candidate at any time. I never know when I’m going to have an opening and if the candidate is strong enough I can always replace my weakest link.”

our candidate starts work for the #1 ranked manager in the country on January 2. The candidate was so good the hiring manageer fired his weakest link (… the guy had been underperforming for at least one quarter) and hired our candidate.

Now you know  one of the different ways of doing things a #1 ranked manager does that other managers don’t. This guy interviews any great candidate we have when they come along. He’s been doing it that way for the last  six years that we’ve worked with him and this is the first time that he has  hired anybody this way. He doesn’t make it a habit of  indiscriminately firing people, but he knows he should be interviewing excellent candidates whenever they come along. It ain’t hard and it ain’t complicated. sometimes he spends 15 or 20 minutes with the candidate and sometimes he hires them.

 

….”the guy is wonderful”…”the guy is a slug”

One of  the most mysterious… sometimes wonderful and sometimes not…aspects of my calling is that I deal with just about every and in the spectrum of people. One of the most glaring oddities of working with folks happened this last week.

I had a candidate referred to me who had been in his most recent job for two years and the job before that for 15 years. In interviewing him, he not only seemed like a reasonable guy, but had a really solid track record to go along with the stability.

He’s been involved in a fairly small, narrow sector of business but also a very dynamic one. I know a number of managers in that sector, so I began to call the managers I knew to see who would be interested in speaking with him.

He was leaving his present position for “cultural differences.” I knew exactly what those cultural differences were because his new boss was an old client of mine and saw the world in a rather driving, bombastic manner. This style was certainly not what my new candidate possessed and I could see why they would part ways. Everybody agreed to “play nice in the sandbox.” My candidate agreed not to say anything disparaging about the company or his boss who he was leaving and those folks agreed not to say anything negative about him. I could tell by just reading between the lines that this was an agreed to compromise to let everybody go about their separate ways with dignity and no negative comments. They gave him more than a reasonable severance with the understanding that everyone would be gracious about what they say about each other.

It was clear that the guy was a performer, but his style was certainly not that of the new boss he was leaving.

I called for clients in the vertical that this fellow had worked in. One of the clients said that he knew the candidate and that the candidate was nothing but a “slug.” This hiring authority claimed that my candidate was successful where he was only because he had been working for people who protected him and liked him and made sure that he was taken care of. This particular hiring authority made it very clear that he would never hire my candidate.

The fourth guy that I called said that he knew the candidate and thought the guy was absolutely wonderful. He agreed to meet with him and since their meeting, the interviewing authority is having my candidate talk to his boss this week and they would like to make him an offer as soon as possible.

Now, this is about as interesting as it gets. One hiring authority says he knows the guy and says he’s a slug and the other guy says he knows him and thinks she’s absolutely wonderful… top performer, etc.

I know this may come as strange to a lot of people who aren’t in the recruiting business and, truth be told, it is strange. Having done this since 1973, I don’t think I ever will understand how people can see things so differently. I’ll probably never be able to figure it out.

 

 

… Always court two or three candidates at the same time

all hiring authorities need to be aware that they should never focus on one great candidate to hire and not also keep at least two other candidates in the process.

This came to light…again… This week when after a whole six weeks of interviewing the one candidate they narrowed it down to our client made an offer, only to have the candidate turn the job down. Our client was so darn sure that the candidate would take the job, she quit interviewing our other candidates.

The number one candidate they were looking for gave them every reason in the world believe that he was going to take the job. We kept telling the VP that she should keep interviewing as well as keep the other two very well-qualified candidates in the process. We kept reinforcing our experience that it’s best to keep two or three candidates in the queue while pursuing a first choice. The VP said that she knew that’s what she ought to do… But didn’t do it.

The process, which was only supposed to take two weeks, had dragged on so long the best candidate, the one VP tried to hire, decided the company didn’t really know how to make a decision.The VP kept giving us all kinds of excuses as to why she could move faster, Including her one week of vacation, and that she was so darn busy, she knew she needed to move faster but just couldn’t. She didn’t even have time to call the other candidates and let them know that she was going to do her best to make a decision and that they were still in the running. In fact, she wouldn’t even give them the time of day, return their calls or their emails. She was just so darn sure her first choice was gonna take the job. There just didn’t seem to be a need to keep the of the other candidates hopeful.

We even told the VP that our (her) number one candidate was actively interviewing and other companiesso…me of ours and a couple of once he had found on his own. She gave us lipservice that she understood that but was just so busy she get to it when she could..

When she made the offer, the candidate hadn’t heard from her in a whole week. He wasn’t feeling loved or a high priority of the VP. When he turned it down he explained to her that she just simply hadn’t been in touch with him nor made him feel needed or wanted and felt like he needed to go to work for someone else.

Instead of being apologetic, she got mad. She couldn’t believe that he had “strung her along” by implying that he wanted the job and then didn’t take it. The candidate called us to explain that his gut was certainly right and that she showed her true colors. She was not somebody he really wanted to go to work for.

Although the VP was very frustrated and downright mad, she called us and wanted to get two of the other candidates she had interviewed back in the queue. One of these candidates couldn’t believe that she was calling him six weeks later to see if she would be interested in the job so she turned it down and the other candidate had gotten promoted where he was so decided to stay with his company.

The VP was so mad that she had to start all over that she was literally yelling at us for not keeping the other two candidates available. (Like we had control of that…right!). Yesterday, the VP got fired. She claimed that the CEO let her go because she bungled the interviewing and hiring of our candidate. We really doubt that that’s the only reason that she got fired. But, I’ll bet everything I own that she probably managed everything else she was responsible for the same way that she went about hiring and probably botched that stuff up too.

Regardless of her competency as a manager, the lesson is, that it’s always good to keep two or three candidates in the queue until you actually hire someone.

….hey…you all that are hiring…lisssen up!

Three times this week, I had three hiring managers literally yell at me because they were pissed. The candidate they thought they were going to hire from us took other jobs. And I’m just one guy of 20 recruiters. Five of my other associates claimed the same thing. The hiring authorities were actually mad at us because the candidates decided to take other positions.

One of these outfits literally interviews the candidate over a four-week period of time putting her through a “gauntlet” of all kinds of hoops like having her make a presentation to a group of people in their company (in spite of the fact that she had literally a 20 year track record of outstanding experience with all kinds of awards and promotions. And they want to see how she presents? ErrrVey!). “Well, we have to do that with all of our candidates!”, the VP told me. While they were evaluating her presentation skills, one of our other clients interviewed her three times and hired her in a matter of two days. The first client was mad as hell.

We got another one of our candidates’ three offers and he took the one he thought was best for him. One of the clients we presented him to was furious when the candidate took one of the other offers. He literally told us that he thought we should have presented the candidate to him and waited until he made a decision about the candidate before we presented the candidate to anyone else. He was serious.

I understand back during the recession when folks weren’t hiring very many people and hiring organizations really had nothing else to do but to come up with some kinds of cockamamie processes and procedures to make sure that they “don’t make a mistake” in hiring. The blunt truth is that all of those procedures really don’t keep a company from making a mistake in hiring. I’ve seen just as many hiring “mistakes” made with very short one or two interview processes as I have with ones that carry-on for three or four weeks and involve a whole bunch of people. The number of people involved in the interviewing process does not protect anyone from making a mistake in hiring.

The market is hot! We’re having a harder time finding good quality candidates and we have to assume that every time we get a candidate an offer here she is going to get two or three others. I know our clients think that when we tell them they need to move the hiring process along as fast as they can, that what we say is just “recruiter pressure” and “recruiter speak” just so we can get them to decide on hiring our candidate. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of those clients that my associates and I had been upset with thought the same thing… “pushy recruiters. All they want to do is get someone hired. Well, they won’t push me around. We will hire on our own sweet time, because we have a p-r-o-c-e-s-e-s-s…And our process is very important.”

For your own good, if you are looking for quality candidates, everyone else is also. Please, do yourself a favor and make your hiring process short, efficient, and mindful. Please don’t yell at us when the candidate you want to hire takes another job. We’re trying to w

…i didn’t cause it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it

this is one of the many mantras of Alcoholics Anonymous and it applies to many of the aspects of, especially, a job seekers emotional reaction to much of the rejection and refusal they receive in their quest. It’s so important to remember this mantra, because it reminds the job seeker what they can and can’t control.

Here are some of the things they don’t cause, they can’t change and they can’t cure:

  • Knowing that they are very qualified to perform on a job… If they can get the interview.
  • Not being able to get their resume read by people who would really understand.
  • Not being able to get an interview, even though they tried everything they can.
  • Not hearing anything From a prospective employer after applying.
  • Being told they would get in an interview and then never hearing from the company
  • being told they are a “great” candidate and then never hearing from the company
  • being told that they are “in strong consideration,” and never hearing anymore
  • being told they would be brought back as a “finalist” and then hearing nothing
  • being told they would receive an offer and then never hearing anything from the firm

Remember, as a job seeker you can only control your actions and your emotions. If you do your best to get lots of interviews and try to get into as many interviewing cycles as you possibly can, you won’t have to worry about what you can’t control or influence. Focus on the things that you can cause that you can change And that you can cure.

 

….”but you called me”

My candidate is a guy that I’ve known for almost 20 years. He’s been both a client of mine as well as a candidate. He has a decent opportunity where he is. But the first line management job he’s got Isn’t really ever going to go anywhere and the company he’s with doesn’t wish to grow.

When opportunities come along that are better than what he’s got, he and I discuss them. An opportunity came along for him to be able to do what he’s doing now but expand his span of control to two other offices. So, he decides it would be a good idea to interview with the client.

I reminded him that it is a management job and that I don’t see many of them during the year and he should do his best. He has a low keyed style to begin with, but he is really good at what he does. I warned him that there are two other candidates like him interviewing and that he needs to sell himself harder than he thinks (…he knows he is good).

He does a good enough job to make it through the first interview and the VP who interviewed him decides that he should take the candidate to the next interview. The guy’s track record is stellar, but he’s interviewing style is relatively placid. I can’t seem to get him to understand that getting a job and doing a job are two different things. He might be the most qualified of the three (and he is) but he still has to sell himself and let the employer know what he can do for them that the other candidates can’t.

In spite of all of my coaching, teaching and cajoling he goes into the second interview and even says to the hiring authority, “what you see is what you get. My track record speaks for itself.” And that’s the extent that he sold himself.

What’s amazing about this whole thing is that his track record is absolutely excellent and it’s better than any of the other candidates. But just because he tells the hiring authority that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t prove it with numbers and examples. He doesn’t. He gets around to explaining how successful he has been, but he doesn’t do it with a lot of enthusiasm, fervor or passion. He tells the hiring authority, literally, “what you see is what you get.”

The hiring authority understood exactly what our candidate was saying. But the reason the hiring authority was looking to hire someone is that he just fired the last branch manager because he wasn’t very passionate or enthusiastic. The previous manager did an okay job but never really felt passionate or communicated enthusiasm to those he managed.

Our client passed on our candidate. When I explained to our candidate that he just didn’t really sell himself very hard even though he was the most qualified. Frankly, it was rather painful to tell him, because the job was really a good one and even though they would probably hire one of our other candidates, we really wanted to see the guy get the opportunity, because he was good and deserved a great opportunity.

In his frustration of listening to what I was saying and that he wasn’t going to get a chance to move further, he said, “Tony, remember, you called me!” I reminded him that when he was hiring candidates, he looked for candidates who would actually sell themselves and do it enthusiastically. He kept saying that it was different with him, because “he wasn’t looking for a job. I called him!”

Obviously, the lesson here is that if you’re going to interview, it doesn’t matter whether I or any other recruiter “calls you.” The person that’s doing the hiring is comparing you with any other candidate and how or why you got there, doesn’t matter. If you don’t sell yourself because you think it makes a difference who called you you’re grossly mistaken. You have to sell yourself as though you were actively looking for a job

 

…the ‘other side of the crazy coin’

Last week I wrote about some of the crazy instances of what people do from both the candidate as well as the hiring authority situations. There are lots of folks that also do it right:

  • The candidate who presented a 30 – 60 – 90 day plan of what he would do in the first three months of the job if he got it.
  • The candidate that had called the competitors, dealers and customers of the company he was interviewing with. He also called previous employees as well as some present employees.  He had taken excellent notes and offered a “report” to the hiring authority. (The hiring authority said it was so well done that he sent it two levels up in his company.)
  • The candidate who sold his features, advantages and benefits so clearly that the hiring authority said it was the best presentation that he had ever seen.
  • The candidate who ended the interview by asking the employer, “Have I made it clear about my experience and abilities… Do you have any questions that I might need to clarify? How do I stack up with the other candidates you’ve interviewed?…and ..What do I need to do to get the job?” (he got hired!)
  • The candidate who was persistent enough with the hiring authority that, even though he was told that he came in third in the initial interviewing process, kept calling the hiring authority, sending him emails as to why he was the best candidate they could hire. The hiring authority got tired of the first two candidates putting him off and not being enthusiastic about the job, picked up the phone and simply hired the candidate who wanted it most.

And a few hiring authorities who also do it right:

  • The hiring authority who interviewed for candidates on Monday, had two candidates back on Wednesday to go through a number of interviews in the company and hired one on Friday.
  • The hiring company whose managers who did the interviewing (all four of them) asked the same questions of all of the candidates (all four of them) making it very easy for all of them to compare the quality of the candidates and have a clear system of hiring and everyone knew.
  • The vice president who called every candidate back, exactly as she said she would. She gave them excellent feedback on how they interviewed and, for the ones she was not going to pursue, let them down gracefully. She kept the door open for two of the candidates on down the line.
  • The hiring authority who admitted that he wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking for and admitted it. He simply asked us to send him the five best candidates we had and he will interview them, relying on our judgment, since we see so many candidates and have a better comparison than most any hiring authority.

People might be crazy, but sometimes they overcome their own craziness and manage their business competently.

…”God is great…beer is good…and people are crazy!” …Billy Currinngton

I love this song and I find myself humming it or singing it quite often. It expresses to a T the kind of things that we see on a weekly basis in our company. Candidates want to know why they don’t get hired… Just this week we had in our organization:

  • a female candidate use the F bomb in an interview
  • the candidate showed up 20 minutes late for an interview, and never apologized or even acknowledged it
  • a candidate who overwhelmed the client we sent him to with his cologne
  • a candidate immediately sat down at the interview with a notebook, and before the employer could say anything started asking a series of questions like: “How much does this job pay… What are the hours… Can you describe the benefits…and can I work from home?” And when we asked him after the interview where he came up with these questions, he said that he read it in an interviewing book.
  • a candidate who, after seven minutes of waiting, announced to the admin that she was tired of waiting and left the interview
  • a candidate who stood up in the middle of an interview with the hiring authority and stated that he was “overqualified” for the job and walked out
  • the candidate who claims that he just didn’t have time to look on the internet to look up the company and he really knew nothing about them

Now, please remember that not all of our candidates are really this challenged. Our company gets close to 100 people a week an interview. So, when you consider the low ratio of stupid things that people do, these things may not have that much of an impact. But it’s just that these kinds of ridiculous things happen daily and it keeps candidates from getting hired.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions that it’s always the candidate who screws up the interview, let me share with you some of the things that employers did this week in interviewing some of our candidates:

  • One of our illustrious clients asked the candidate, “Just exactly what are you interviewing for?”
  • Another one spent 10 minutes telling the candidate why you would want to work at the company
  • Another hiring authority told one of our candidates that he was the 15th candidate that he and interviewed and that his company really didn’t know what they were looking for
  • One hiring authority asked the candidate how old she was
  • Another hiring authority told the candidate he was just too old to be working in a place like that…that he wouldn’t fit in culturally.
  • Another hiring authority was 45 minutes late for the interview and told the candidate that he (the employer) had “a hard stop in 10 minutes.”

People are crazy!

 

 

….the “team interview”…(for the employer)…”if you were an animal, what would you be

“Well, Tony, we’d like to have your candidate in for the ‘team interview.’ We always have the ‘team’ interview the candidate we think we’d like to hire to make sure that everybody will get along.”… kumbaya!

Unequivocally and indubitably, this is the biggest crock of crap that I hear as a recruiter. What this really says is, “I really don’t have the guts or the courage to make a decision on my own, by myself, as an intelligent, wise businessperson or leader. I need to rely on the opinions of other people to help make a decision that I ought to be making by myself.”

Now the truth is, I really never hear this above statement. What I hear is, “Well, we like the group to help out here, because, you know, they all have to get along, you know, they all have to be together, you know, so, we think it’s a good idea that the ‘team’ get a chance to decide whether or not they like them and whether or not they can live with them.” It’s the most exorbitant form of passing the buck that there is in business. It provides a hiring authority the chance to spread the decision around the company so that if the decision to hire someone doesn’t work out, the hiring authority can always claim that the ‘team’ helped make the decision and they were just as poor at the decision as I was.”

Now, don’t let me be taken totally out of context. It is not a bad idea to have one or more people in the company interview a candidate. I’ve always recommended, however, that it should never be more than three people (including the hiring authority) and those people should only be folks whose livelihood depends on the performance of the person being hired. But I do not recommend a group.

The major problem with the group interview setting is that all of the people in the group are just as concerned about being “impressive” with the peers in the group as they are in trying to qualify the candidate. The interview becomes political. People are more concerned about how they appear to each other than they are about the qualifications of the candidate. This puts a candidate in even more of an awkward position. There are two levels of conversations going on.

The group interview becomes a “popularity” contest rather than its purpose of qualifying a candidate’s ability to do a job. If you’d like to find out what all of the people or any of the people in your organization might think of the candidate (which is again, kind of silly unless their livelihood depends on this person) set up one-on-one meetings with the candidate and all of the individuals you wish them to speak with. It’s really simple.

Twice last week our organization referred two excellent candidates to two clients with very hard-to-fill opportunities. One of these organizations has been trying to find the right person for almost four months. The hiring manager in the “four months old” situation was absolutely thrilled with the candidate. He told us that his search was over and he was absolutely thrilled with the candidate we had referred to him. But, he explained that he had to follow company protocol and have the candidate interview with “the team.” The team couldn’t convene for a one-week period of time. When “the team” finally got together to meet the candidate, one of the members’ cell phones went off three times during the interview and one of the team members had to leave the meeting with the candidate early. The feedback to the hiring authority was that “the team” just wasn’t quite sure of the candidate. As of Friday, the hiring authority was so frustrated he couldn’t see straight.

The second situation involved a candidate who is a 20 year veteran of her profession. Again, the hiring manager was absolutely thrilled with her, but “the team” had to meet with her. “The team” consisted of two relatively senior people and one millennial. According to the candidate, the interview went reasonably well until the millennial, addressing a 20 year veteran, asked her, “If you were an animal, what would you be?” The candidate was so surprised, she started to laugh and said she just didn’t know what to say. After a long pause, she said she just couldn’t think of anything. Needless to say, our candidate didn’t pass the test with “the team.” The hiring manager just didn’t know what to do, so he did nothing at all.

These thoughts probably won’t make any difference with organizations that think “the team” interview is really important. I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’m absolutely certain that the relegation of a hiring decision to “a team” does not make a better hire.