Category Archives: recruitment

….assumptions

twice this week, I had comments from people that involves their “assumptions.” One, was from a candidate I placed about six weeks ago who found out that the assumptions she made about the financial condition of the company she went to work for were totally wrong. The second situation came from the other side of the desk. A regional vice president whom we placed a senior salesperson with called to say that after six months of employment the company became aware that the candidate/employee had nowhere near the capabilities or experience that they had assumed he had. And he is failing miserably. (We’re going to replace the guy for no additional fee.)

Now, we are all subject to making assumptions. We have to assume that people are telling us the truth. We have to assume things are the way they look to be. If we spend our whole lives questioning and doubting people and situations we would succumb to paralysis by analysis.

In the first case, it would’ve been very easy for our candidate to ask a few deeper questions of a few more people in the interviewing process. A quick check of the company’s credit rating would have given us all a better indication of their financial situation. She is going to try to work through the issues, but the shock of finding out what the company’s financial problems were have caused her to emotionally back up a little bit. She is also now worried about what other things they may not have told her. She admits that she made an assumption that would’ve been very easy to confirm. Other than that she absolutely loves the job and the people.

We preach and advised people all the time that there are always going to be some surprises in a new job. The wise and/or experienced professional expects these kind of surprises. Things from the inside are never quite the way they appear from the outside…sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. (I got a call just yesterday from a candidate I placed who started his new job last Monday. He called to tell me that he is absolutely overwhelmed and afraid that he may not be able to up to the expectations of the people that who him. I laughed! I told him that the last three people that I placed with that company over the last four years called me and said exactly the same thing. I told him he had to expect that drinking through a firehose was going to be very overwhelming. I told him to relax, let the game come to him and give it at least six weeks.)

The second situation is a little more difficult. Candidates/new employees are very much like companies, they may appear to be one thing on the outside but when they get inside they are different. Any employer with any experience hiring knows this. Any hiring authority who claims the candidate they hired is exactly what the expected Is lying. Again, sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised by what we find in a new employee and, sometimes, a bit disappointed.

Most of the issues on both sides of the desk are reasonable enough that most people can work through them and everything will work out just fine. Unfortunately, sometimes the issues are so overwhelmingly negative, a change has to be made, as in the second situation. It is very unfortunate because both parties are really good people but the assumptions our client made about the candidate and his ability to do the job and some of the detailed knowledge the candidate needs to possess to be successful Just aren’t there. We can’t even be sure that this was a mistake of assuming. But, our client believes it is.

Now, again, there’s no way that a candidate can know everything about a prospective job nor can a prospective employer know everything about the possible new employee. But, the answer to this problem is very simple. Each party should sit down and think, “what assumptions am I’m making?” Then write out those assumptions and confirm them or deny them by asking lots of questions of either the candidate, his or her previous employers, his or her references or, in the case of the candidate, asking deeper questions of the prospective employer and/or the people who work at the company being interviewed with.

I know, it’s easy to sit there and say, “will everybody knows that!” But remember the old adage that “when you ass-ume you make an ass of me an ass of you.” Whatever your assumptions are, verify them. It’s really easy.

….your potential employer… doubt uncertainty and fear

Every candidate looking for a job should be aware of just how darned afraid of making a mistake companies are… especially if they’ve had problems with a particular position they are trying to replace.

One of our clients is a $200 million services firm… not real big not real small… over the last two years they had two very, very unsuccessful first line managers in their Dallas office… the first one was a local guy who was hurriedly hired by a regional director who, in hindsight, was leaving the company and didn’t really care who he hired… after that guy failed, the new regional director, out of California, tried to hire a new manager using his own “network” … we spoke to the regional director a year ago, he claimed that his company was so good that they didn’t need to pay a fee to our organization and they had plenty of excellent candidates for the job… they ended up hiring a candidate who they moved from the West Coast because,  they told us, “there are no real good managers in Texas”…(oh,brother)

Unfortunately, the poor new manager who moved here from California wasn’t given much time to turn the Dallas district around… he knew nothing about North Texas… didn’t even know where LBJ was and probably didn’t even know who LBJ was… companies don’t really know how treacherous it is to move a manager here, who has no idea about the area and expect results quickly… needless to say, it didn’t work out.

The regional director out of California was so “desperate” to find a good candidate this time, he not only used his own “network”  but  allowed us to refer a number of very qualified candidates…along with saying that he was so surprised that we could come up with such quality candidates who were not in his “network”… (duh!… I mean, we are here and he is in California… if we couldn’t come up with better candidates than he would know, being from California, we wouldn’t have survived since 1952…)

We found them an absolutely stellar candidate and… and this is important to know… since they had  made such a poor decisions over the last two years they decided that to make sure this was the “right”  candidate they would put him through a number of interviews… and this is where it gets so rather absurd.

Keep in mind this is a first level managers job… certainly an important job and one that would usually require one, two or maybe even three people to interview the candidate… but the past hires had been such debacles they decided they wanted to be “sure”… so after two interviews with the regional director they flew the candidate to the home office… he spent all day interviewing with CEO, the vice president of human resources, the vice president of services, the vice president of marketing, and another vice president of operations who even stated to the candidate that he didn’t know why he was interviewing a candidate, but since he was asked he would oblige… and, oh yeah there was another interview with another vice president whose role the candidate still isn’t quite sure of… at any rate, he went through eight hours of interviewing with six senior managers.

They all seem to think that the candidate is excellent so noooooooooooooooow they are going to send him to California next week for one last interview with another VP … all this for a first line managers job… crazy!

When companies make mistakes in hiring they do all kinds of things to protect themselves the next time around… this gross number of interviews for one candidate really isn’t going to make their decision any better… it’s absurd… but saying so isn’t going to change their approach… if you’re a candidate looking for a job you need to be aware that the people who are interviewing you… especially if they have made a number of mistakes… are going to do everything including a proctology exam to be sure they don’t make the mistake… it isn’t going to do any good to complain about this… it isn’t going to change… fortunately our candidate has been very understanding and is rather amused by the whole thing… he’s a good natured guy and is going to make them a hell of a manager.

Doubt, uncertainty and fear!

…..Sad, unfortunate reasons for not hiring good candidates… Hiring managers!!! please listen up!!

Some of you are going to read this and think, “Tony, you are all wet..these are perfectly good reasons NOT to hire someone. They are a reflection of how the candidate will do in the job.”

Just this week we had candidates eliminated at the initial interview for these reasons: (these were not kids… They were pretty senior, experienced professionals)

  • He put his phone on the desk next to him and even though it was turned to silent, it kept vibrating.
  • The candidate was 20 minutes late to the interview, even though it was raining and she was given the wrong suite number
  • The candidate’s phone goes off in her purse during the interview
  • The candidate couldn’t remember what he earned five years ago
  • The (engineering candidate) wrote a very poor resume

Well, there were probably a lot of these kinds of things with lots of other candidates. Unfortunately, interviewing and hiring authorities have a tendency to come to conclusions about candidates and their abilities to be good employees based on very small and often, very few things. Each one of these candidates was eliminated because of these things they did.

Most of these folks were experienced professionals. Okay, maybe they are not real good at interviewing, or they simply make mistakes. I submit to you that these are not good reasons for

them to get eliminated as candidates. Maybe their interviewing capabilities aren’t so good, but we are trying to hire professionals that are going to help us run our business. We aren’t hiring professional interviewers.

I know these kinds of things will annoy most people that are doing the interviewing. They annoy me when I’m interviewing. But it isn’t smart to judge the candidate’s ability to do a job or their track record based on mistakes like these. In most all of these cases, the interviewing/hiring authority totally dismissed the candidate after these things happened.

Maybe our guard should be up when things like this happen. But to totally dismiss the candidate because of these kinds of things is not only unfair, it’s just not smart. So, let’s all give candidates the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like this. Let’s analyze their track record, find out how they have performed in the past. Let’s all dig deep into their background, find out their successes and failures, what they can or can’t do for us.

(The engineer graduated from A&M with a 4.0 average in engineering. He had 10 solid years of experience with one firm and had been promoted three times. So, in the eyes of one person he’s a lousy resume writer, but an excellent engineer.)

 

….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.

… 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

…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.

….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.

….Hiring the “overqualified candidate”

If I don’t hear this daily, I hear it at least three times a week, “We don’t want to hire anybody overqualified, because they leave us when they first get the chance.” Being overqualified, admittedly, is a relative term. It probably isn’t wise to hire an experienced controller who has been making $150,000 for an entry-level accounting job at $55,000. Nor, is it probably a good idea to hire a sales person in a job where they are capped at earning $100,000 when they have earned $250,000 pretty consistently.

But a very strong case needs to be made for considering candidates who have been one, or maybe even two levels above the position an employer might be searching for. There are a number of good reasons for this.

First of all, the job does not “make” the person. The person actually makes the job. It is amazing what quality people can do to make an average job phenomenally creative and bring more value to the company than anyone might have imagined. Because of just the kind of person they are, they make the job better than it was before. Their value becomes greater because the job could become greater. So, secret here is to look at the possibilities of what the job could be rather than what it always has been. My guess is that at least 60% of the jobs out there could be expanded on and enhanced by hiring a person with the right attitude and ability.

Secondly, and I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, if people are relatively happy with what they’re doing and who they are doing it for and who they are doing it with, they don’t simply look for another job on a whim. If people are 70% pleased with what they’re doing and feel they are fairly compensated for what they do (… I didn’t say “overly” compensated, but “fairly” compensated) they don’t go looking for a job even if a recruiter, like myself, calls them.

This attitude of being “pleased” probably has more to do with the environment, the people they are working with and for and most importantly, the feeling that they are growing as a person. This is a difficult aspect of a job to quantify. But again, if people really like what they are doing they aren’t going to “go look for a job” that easily. How do I know this? It’s like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m a recruiter. I call people all of the time and my tagline is, “Are you having fun and making money?” Now, they may ask, “What did you have in mind?” But, no matter how phenomenal an opportunity that I am representing is, unless they are pretty displeased with what’s going on with their job, they tell me they’re not interested. Why? Because looking for a job is a pain in the ass. Nobody really likes looking for a job. It is an emotionally stressful, time-consuming, risky endeavor. And unless a person is pretty damn unhappy with what they’re doing they don’t just “go looking for a job.”

Third, we, as hiring managers, have this fear inside of us that our new hire, especially if he or she appears to be “overqualified” is going to come into our office in six or seven weeks and say something like, “I’m resigning because an opportunity came along that is more commensurate with my experience and my ability and I owe it to my family and myself to accept the job.” And you, as a hiring authority, as well as your superiors are going to say something like, “Well, you dumb ass, you knew that he or she was overqualified for the job to begin with and that  they would keep looking and eventually find a better job, commensurate with their previous skills and money.” You then spend the next few days kicking yourself, and you keep telling yourself, “I’ll never over hire again!”

The vast majority of times, however, the candidate isn’t leaving because they really found a job “more commensurate with their skills and ability.” They are leaving because they either don’t like you, don’t like the people they’re working with, don’t like what they are doing, or all of the above. They just don’t want to tell you that. They want to get out of where they are as fast as possible, as well as, as gracefully as possible. So, they tell you how wonderful you are, how wonderful the company is, how much they appreciate the opportunity, etc. but, “Gee whiz, this is such a great opportunity that I’m leaving for, I can’t pass it up.” They don’t have the guts to say, “You suck, the people here suck, this job sucks and his company sucks…so, I’m outta here.” They just want out as fast and as easily as possible.

For most professionals, the intrinsic value of their job overrides most everything else. Provided the compensation is reasonable, people want to feel like they are growing personally in what they do. If they genuinely like what they do and they feel like they are becoming a better person in the process of doing it, i.e. challenged and satisfied with the challenge, as well as liking the people they work with and for, they don’t look for a job just because some recruiter like me calls them.

The bottom line to all of this is that if you have the kind of job where a person can grow, if the working environment is good and if the people are great, hiring a candidate who is “overqualified” may be one of the best things you can do.

…getting “Yogi’ed”

For those of you that are not local or Dallas Mavericks basketball fans, the recent development is that Yogi Ferrell, who signed a 10 day contract with the Mavs in January 2017, not only got to stick around but was named NBA all rookie second team after that season. He averaged 10.2 points, three rebounds and 2.5 assists a game and was the only Maverick to play all 82 games last season. The reason he made the news this last week was that after signing a two-year, $5.3 million contract with the Mavs, he suddenly changed his mind and agreed to a two-year deal with Sacramento for $6.2 million. In other words, Yogi, after accepting a job and agreeing to a start date, etc. reneged and took another job. The Mavs got “Yogi’ed.”

How often does this happen? A lot! Very few people really want to talk about it. Job candidates who do this kind of thing justify it for all kinds of reasons… Yogi’s was $900,000 more money. I’m sure that just about everyone would agree that this is a real significant reason, especially considering the “shelf life” of a professional athlete. When most people do this kind of thing, however, the reasons are nowhere near as great. However, they do justify them to as great an extent.

If you’re an employer that this kind of thing has happened to either last week or 10 years ago, you remember it. It is an indelible memory. You hired a candidate, made a big announcement about it, told everyone in the world, proudly bragged about your excellent business decision and then had egg all over your face when your new hire (… the second coming of Willie Mays who is going to revolutionize your company) “Yogi’ed” you by taking another job. You and your company are embarrassed and downright pissed off.

The same kind of thing can happen even after your new employee shows up, works for three or four weeks or even a month or two and then comes in to your office and announces that he or she got an offer from a company they had been interviewing with before they came to work for you and they are going to leave. They will give you all kinds of rational reasons as to why they did this…even things like, “I got a $50,000 raise in salary,” (which is always a lie). No matter how devastated you are, they don’t care and are leaving anyhow.

It does absolutely no good to curse the fact that this kind of thing happens or is going to happen. If it hasn’t happened to you, you either haven’t hired very many people or it’s going to. So, here are some of the things you can do to minimize the damage.

First, whenever you hire someone, give yourself a percentage probability that your new “hero” will renege at the last moment. In other words, not only should you be prepared for it, but you should try to figure what probability there is of it happening. You certainly would be more confident at a 10% probability then you would be a 50% probability. What is the “Yogi probability?”

Secondly, make sure you ask a candidate when you hire them what other kinds of opportunities they are considering and how those opportunities stack up with yours and, especially, why they chose your opportunity over the others. If the candidate says something like, “Well I haven’t heard from one of the opportunities that I was really hoping for,” or “The other guys I was talking with were just plain too slow,” or anything of this nature give a higher percentage of being “Yogi’ed” than if you hear, “This is the only offer that I’m seriously considering and you are the best opportunity available,” or “I love the opportunity with you better than anyone else I have spoken with and I see a great future there.”

Third, be prepared for this kind of thing and don’t stop interviewing for the job until you have two, or ideally, three solid candidates that you could consider if you get “Yogi’ed.” There’s no harm in telling a candidate that they came in second and that if something should happen to the first candidate that you’d like to hire, you will call them. About 30% of the job offers made are turned down anyhow. ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP!!!

Fourth, set a start date for as soon as possible. Even though a candidate will mentally, emotionally and physically “stop” looking for a job, the longer he or she goes without starting your new job, the more possibility there is of someone who they’ve been interviewing with, that they might have dismissed as an opportunity, will call them  and offer them a job. Most candidates…at least 85% of the time will turn down any job offers once they have started a new job. (Unless of course there is something like a $900,000 difference in salary!) Starting a new job is an emotionally difficult thing to do and most people don’t like doing it. Once they have begun to settle into a new job one of the last things they really want to do is to start another. They have already mentally and emotionally as well as physically made a commitment and really don’t want to go through it again.

Whatever the hiring authority does, they should not, in my opinion ask the potential employee or the new employee, “What can we do to get you to change your mind?” If a candidate is going to do this kind of thing before they even start a new job or after they’ve started a new job, they are going to feel like they have the upper hand in the relationship. That’s not good. This same psychological issue applies to having counteroffers accepted. When a candidate or recent employee has mentally and emotionally decided to do something else, whatever an employer can do to get them to either recommit our stick around, is temporary. The good feeling that earning more money provides wears off after a while and for whatever reasons the candidate or new employee got distracted from your job are still going to be there.

Being “Yogi’ed” is a fact of business life. Being prepared for it is high business acumen.

Although I’m sure the Mavs ain’t happy…most of us can understand a $900,000 ‘raise.’