….making a job offer – part I (for employers)

You would think that the event of making a job offer to
a prospective candidate would be an easy, logical one.
In fact, you might be surprised to find that we even
have to address the whole idea. Wrong! The fact is that the
actual process of making an offer, once a final candidate has
been identified, can be one of the strangest, riskiest parts of the
hiring process. One would think it should be the simplest part
of the transaction, but it can derail a smooth-running process
very easily. Our sense is that at least 10% of job offers that
should be made and accepted go south because the making
of the offer gets botched, usually by hiring authorities. Very
few hiring authorities will ever admit to messing up a perfectly
good hire because they didn’t give the necessary time and
attention to the job offer.

Just recently, we dealt with a hiring authority who told us
on a Friday that he would make an offer to our candidate the
following Monday. We checked with the candidate, and the
candidate was ready to take the job. By the following Wednesday,
the candidate had gotten an email from the hiring authority
saying that he had gotten distracted by an important project
and just hadn’t gotten around to getting the offer paperwork
together. He stated that his intentions were to still hire the candidate
and the candidate should hear from him in a day or so.
Later on the next Friday afternoon, the hiring authority finally
reached out to the candidate to make him an offer, only to find
out that the candidate had accepted another job the day before.

Our client even had the audacity to be mad at the candidate
for not, “understanding the pressure he was under.” Well, the
candidate was under pressure as well. He actually accepted a
position that wasn’t as good as the one our client was trying to
offer, but the candidate needed to go to work and he felt he was
being strung along by our client.

Time for a commitment

The final step in the hiring process is making an offer. It
can be traumatic for both candidate and employer. This is the
time for people to make commitments. Up to this point, every
interaction between candidate and employer is speculative.
There is minimal risk on each person’s part. True, there has
been a lot of effort on the part of both candidate and employer
to interview each other, but there’s no commitment, therefore
no risk, until an offer is made.

There is a final twinge of fear on the part of the employer
and candidate when contemplating the possibility of an offer.
Employers often become fearful that their offer will be rejected,
that the candidate they’ve courted for weeks and exhaustively
interviewed will refuse their offer. The candidate who has been
pursuing an offer, but also evaluating the firm they are interviewing
with, likewise becomes fearful. They fear that they
won’t get an offer, and if they do, they’re anxious about what
it might be. This step in the process is difficult for everyone.
The offer step in the hiring process should be a simple and
natural progression of the interviewing process, but it gets
confusing when people either lose sight of its importance or
overreact to it. In fact, if the interviewing process is done correctly,
the offer step should be easy.

A pre-offer conversation is a selling opportunity

The most successful hiring authorities have a pre-offer conversation
with a candidate. This can be a face-to-face meeting
or a telephone conversation. The hiring authority explains to
the candidate that he or she would like to discuss what an offer
would look like and also any details about the job that haven’t
been discussed in the interviewing process.
If the hiring authority hasn’t done it already throughout
the interviewing process, this is the time that he or she should
be selling the candidate on the job and the opportunity. This
conversation is the candidate’s opportunity to ask any questions
he or she might have, but it also provides an opportunity
to the hiring authority to find out the answers to any questions
he or she may not have answered. It should be a friendly, calm,
and open conversation.
In this conversation, the best hiring authorities get a good
indication as to whether or not the candidate will accept the
job. In fact, the best hiring authorities actually qualify the candidate
in this conversation. They discuss every aspect of the
job offer. They answer all the candidate’s questions. Then, they
simply ask the hard question of the candidate, “I’m ready to get
together for a formal meeting to offer you the job. Can you see
any reason that you wouldn’t accept it?”
If for some reason the candidate hesitates or gives noncommittal
answers like “Well, when I see the offer in writing, I’ll
know better,” or “I’d have to think about it,” or anything that
isn’t a positive like “I would accept it,” then the best hiring
authorities may rethink making the offer. If they get these
kinds of answers, they simply ask a candidate what they’re
thinking or what might stand in the way in order to find out
why they are hesitant. It never hurts to be blunt and ask, “Why
are you hesitating? I don’t want to make an offer unless I know
it’s going to be accepted.”

And It’s hard to give a blanket strategy for all things that can
come up at this point of the process. The best hiring authorities
are prepared for just about anything and they always have
the salvation of backup candidates. They always have several
other people in the queue in case their #1 candidate falters.

More to come next week…

 

…S-I-M-P-L-E, simple as can be, It’s just that simple, S-I-M-P-L-E

Simple as can be ——Florida Georgia Line

I wish every hiring authority would listen to this song by Florida Georgia Line before every time they interviewed to fill a position.

What brought this to mine this week is that I was speaking to a vice president who said he needed a hire a first-line manager. He said, “you find this the right person and we can do it in three days!” I said, in amazement “…three days!???” He said, “yes, three days.”

“I was in the CIA for a number of years and I know good talent when I see it. I interview the person either in person or over Skype. If I like what I hear I have him or her interview with one other officer of the company (… Either in person or over Skype). I then have them talk to my boss as soon as possible, usually within a day or so and then we either hire them or we don’t… Pending of course reference checks, etc. We can do it all in three days if we have to.”

Of course, I asked this guy to repeat what he said, because I thought he was kidding. He said that he wasn’t kidding. He said that they just do it that way and he has had phenomenal success this way for 20 years. He said, “look, hiring is really simple. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. If you ask the right questions and get the right answers, the candidate is either in or out. Yeah, I’ve hired a few mistakes over 20 years, but for the most part I’ve been very successful doing it this way.”

Now, his interviews can last anywhere from 15 minutes… If he’s not interested… To two hours, if he is. But the point is, he keeps it simple and the candidate is either in or out.

Why don’t most people have enough courage and confidence in themselves to keep it S-I-M-P-L-E.

 

….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.

…CBD oil and your employment drug test

Well, it was bound to happen somewhere along the line. One of our candidates gets a job offer and is told he needs to take a drug test. No problem, he’s 51 years old, three children, one in college, one in high school and one just getting ready to go to high school. He has a stable family, a stable employment background and an excellent track record.

After he takes the drug test, one day later the drug testing company calls him and tells him that he tested positive for a very small minute amount of marijuana. He laughs and tells them that they must have been confused with someone else. They explained to him that it was an extremely minute amount, but nonetheless was there. Then he remembers! He’s been using CBD oil for his sore joints and it has been working very well. He had absolutely no idea that it would show up… or at least a trace of THC…would show up in the test. (CBD oil is derived from hemp and can have very small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC… the same chemical that comes from marijuana.) The drug testing organization explain all this to him.

Now, our client believes him. In fact, even the drug testing organization says that a false positive can result from the use of CBD oil. The hiring authority and even her boss not only researched the issue, but have gone to bat for the candidate at corporate. The problem is that corporate’s HR policy states that the company simply can’t hire someone who has failed a drug test. The reasons don’t seem to matter. The candidate has suggested to them that he take another test with more sophisticated testing tools, but so far, the company is still “thinking” about what they should do. (According to the research, older drug testing equipment doesn’t pick up the different types of things that might appear to be THC, but aren’t.)

We don’t know what’s going to happen. The hiring authority, her boss as well as the candidate, are beside themselves. Corporate, especially HR, probably doesn’t care at all. From what we understand, the RVP is appealing to the CEO to try to allow exceptions to the company policy. (I wonder what this company does when they try to hire candidates in California?)

Unfortunately, this whole thing is a mess. They’ve told the candidate that he can’t start working until they figure the whole thing out. It’s really sad because the candidate passed up two other excellent opportunities to go to work for our client.

There are a number of articles on the Internet about this kind of effect with CBD oil. Companies are going to have to start using the right kind of drug testing contractors but also make allowances for this kind of thing. If you’re a candidate, quit using CBD oil while you are looking for a job. Our candidate was totally shocked by the whole situation and had no idea that any of this could happen.

Learn from the other guy’s experience.

 

….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.

…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.