Employers, Stop Scaring Away the Best Talent!!!

The amount of exceptional employees capable of making a significant difference is finite. There are only so many people out there who are capable of coming in and single-handedly moving the needle. Or, to put it how Lou Adler might, there is a talent scarcity. If you have ever been responsible for hiring, we can probably agree on this right? Before we really dive into the issue and the solution I want to share with you real example that will ultimately illustrate my point and frame the solution nicely.

Several years back I was working as a corporate recruiter and one of the groups that I supported needed to hire some people… A lot of people actually. If my memory serves me correctly, they wanted to hire 35 engineers over a 6-month time span. These were not easy fills. These were computer science grads with 4 to 7 years’ experience doing something very specific. The point I am getting here is that it was a significant undertaking. However, with my role I had some very key advantages. The company I worked for was a great company. Fortune 500 with competitive salary, benefits and in the area it was a marquee employer.

So it should have been no problem right? I should have been tripping over the candidates with the bottleneck being having too many interviews that my hiring manager’s calendars were overbooked. If that was for the case this wouldn’t have made for a very relevant story. What actually ended up happening is we had a decent amount of candidates. Not as many as we would have liked but realistically I was pretty happy with the volume. Those were tough roles, the fact that I wasn’t having to source everybody was a pretty positive outcome for me.

However, this story doesn’t end there. We were constantly interviewing and while we were making some successful offers, something else happened. We were experiencing turn downs. Candidates who went through our entire process (which for this role was long), receiving an offer and then saying no thanks. Now the fact of the matter is turn downs happen. Candidates get counter offers (for my thoughts on that check out this post, 3 Powerful Reasons to Never Accept a Counter Offer) or they expected more compensation or they simply get cold feet. If you extend offers, at some point you are going to experience a turn down or two. However, this wasn’t one or two. This was more than that and it started to get a little concerning.

At one point my manager and I had our bi-weekly meeting and these searches came up. She asked me how they were coming along and I told her. I let her know that while we were making progress, the fact of the matter was we weren’t making the kind of progress all parties involved found to be acceptable. So we came up with an idea, we decided I was to call every candidate who turned down our offer and talk with them about it. The goal wasn’t to get them to reconsider but rather to find out why? After all, it was a lot of work to get an offer. We are talking two phone interviews, an onsite interview and a technical assessment. So after all that timer, why turn down a competitive offer with an industry leader that just so happens to be headquartered where you live?

The Problem

So I came up with a series of questions and called every single one. On occasion it was a little bit of work to get them to talk with me but I think I ended up talking to all but one. I tend to be a pretty conversational interviewer and that combined with the relationship I had established with the candidates allowed me to get some pretty candid feedback. Throughout all my conversations there was one consistent theme. Our interviews were not pleasant. Not only was out process long but once candidates made it onsite they were subjected to rigorous testing, tough questions and intimidating panel interviews.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know there is a significant negative impact to making bad hire. It is costly and it can carry far reaching implications. So yes, sometimes, the testing and the intense interviews are necessary. However, if you find yourself in the position of interviewing some of the top talent in your industry, you sure as hell better spend some of that time selling them on why this opportunity is a great one. The conclusion was we had intimidating interviews and we weren’t doing the opportunity justice when it came to selling how great it really was.

Along the way another thing happened. We looked at some of the government data we had access to and we found out that we had some stiff competition. For every one of these engineers in our market there were over 6 job openings. When you don’t sell your opportunity, have intimidating interviews and are located in an area where a candidate is able to compare a multitude of opportunities, you are going to run into some heartache, regardless of how great a company you are.

The Solution

So what did we do? Well a few things. We worked to shorten up our process to get from starting line to finish line faster. We also diversified our interview panel. Not just ethnicity and gender but also with tenure. We wanted to give perspective diversity in story told by the people they were meeting. Lastly we highly encouraged the people interviewing candidates to talk about why this opportunity was awesome. After all, it really was. I mean you were working with the newest technology, surrounded by other really smart people and you were making an impact in products that were global industry leaders. While you might be thinking “Well Ben, that should sell itself”. Maybe. But I am of the opinion that you should never stop selling how great your opportunity it is. When you are talking about the type of talent that can make the type of impact your business needs, maybe should not be good enough, not even close.

Selling the candidate becomes even more important when they aren’t someone who applied but rather, someone your recruited pursued and engaged for this one specific role or a “passive candidate”. With passive candidates you have less margin for error when it comes to have an unwelcoming process. Because they aren’t really looking to make a move they are going to be more willing to walk away when they run into something they don’t like. I am acutely aware of this because I work for a company that only works with passive candidates. A few roles ago I was a headhunter for a fortune 500 company and guess what, if you engaged us to work on one of your jobs we posted it. We posted it to a lot of places and sometimes the candidates who got the role applied and then we sent them over. That’s just how most 3rd party agencies work. However, in my current role, even if I wanted to post a role I wouldn’t have the ability. Every single candidate is passive. They wouldn’t apply to your job if you posted it you wouldn’t find their resume online. If that seemed like a small commercial, it was! If you are a company and want help finding the best passive talent at a fraction of the cost of a typical head hunting agency find my email on this page Work with Ben, email me and let’s chat so I can tell you about my organizations unique process.

If you made it this far thank you so much for reading. Remember, your job isn’t done when you find the candidate. Interviews aren’t just figuring out if they are right for you. Candidates are doing the exact same thing, so make sure you help nudge them in the right direction. If you liked this post, please feel free to share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

1 Question You Need to Ask Every Candidate: My Take On a Lou Adler Tip

Do you guys see that above pic? Yes, that is a real picture and that is a recruiting legend….and Lou Adler. Just kidding that is a picture of me and recruiting legend Lou Adler. I had a full day of training with Lou and then saw him speak at a Titus Talent event thrown in downtown Milwaukee. Over the next few weeks or so I plan on sharing some of the information I learned from Lou with all of you. The following post is for anyone who will at some point in the future need to sell a candidate to a hiring manager. If you don’t feel you ever need to do that, feel free to read on anyway because it’s a good skill to have and you never know when you might benefit from having acquired this skill.

Part 1

Now while this question is directed to the candidate, to properly execute it, it actually starts way before the interview. It starts with your conversation with the hiring manager. In order to do this correctly you need to find the pain point. What is this hiring manager hoping this person will come in to do. There are several ways to get this information. Sometimes it will be blatantly obvious. The hiring manager will state over and over again that they are staying late, working long hours to accomplish a task this person is typically responsible for. If that’s the case, part one has been made easy for you. If not there are questions you can ask to find it out but for this to work, you absolutely must find it out. One of the things you can ask your hiring manager (or client if you are an agency recruiter) is “What project or deliverable will this person have right out of the gate, the first 90 days on the job?”

Typically, if you ask this question the hiring manager will reveal the pain point they are dealing with. So you ask the question and in return they say “well yes, this person is going to involved in an inter-plant relocation. That is going to be a big, high impact project that they will be expected to co tribute to right away.” If they say that well guess what, they have just made your job a lot easier. Ok, so you have that crucial piece of information, let’s move onto part two.

Quick break! Last week I finally published my FREE Interview Prep Guide, go check it out now… or after you are done with the post!

Part 2

Part two is you take that deliverable and you turn that into a question you will ask the candidate. In this specific case you would ask the candidate “Have you ever been a part of inter-plant relocation?” Now an inter-plant relocation is when you move the insides of a facility around in order to create efficiencies. For example, in a manufacturing facility, if there is an area of manufacturing and an area of assembly that are in different areas and you could eliminate waste by moving them closer together, then you might want to move them closer together. Thank you for bearing with me during that explanation, I have a business degree, not an industrial engineering degree. So you ask that question and that candidate says yes. You then follow that up with a bunch of follow yup questions. “What was your contribution to that project?” “You said you managed people on this project, how many people were under your direct management?” “What was the budget for this move?” “Who’s idea was this move?” “What efficiencies were created by implementing this change?”

Basically, you ask as many questions as you need to until you have as full of an understanding as you are capable of having. Now that you have this information, what can you use it for? The answer is simple, you use it to sell the candidate to the hiring manager. I had a boss who once told me that recruiting is all about just creating a conversation between two people. You make those conversations happen and good things will happen. Many times I have submitted a candidate I felt great about just to have the hiring manager look at their resume and say something like “Yea, I am not sure about this candidate, I don’t see enough ABC”. If you are able to arm yourself with the information you can get from asking these questions than you have positioned yourself to be able to sell your candidate on a level you haven’t been able to do before. Not only that but you have positioned yourself to be more consultative. You have unearthed the core reason for the need and then provided candidates who have previous examples of filling these gaps in talent and presented them to your hiring manager. If the manager waffles about having that initial phone screen, as long as the example they provide is impactful and similar to what they will need to do in this new role, then you have armed yourself with the ammunition that in most cases should be more than enough.

So what did you think? Was that helpful? Do you think you will be able to use it? Do you have any other tips that you have used in the past to sell candidates? If so, I would love to hear it below. Also if you liked this post, please share it with your social media networks. Thanks again for reading and have a great day!

3 Powerful Reasons to Never Accept a Counter Offer

If you like your job and you like your boss, giving your notice can be an extremely difficult conversation to have. You might find yourself dreading having the conversation and even experiencing anxiety over the conversation. I have given my notice several times and in my experience it is always a hard conversation to have. In fact, the first time I did it I was nervous the entire week leading up to it. You combine that with the fear of change and comfort of familiarity and sometimes people end up accepting a counter offer. I mean, at first glance it seems like a great idea. You might love your company, enjoy the cafeteria and love your team…but, you don’t think advancement opportunities are there for you. Perhaps everything is great but you feel you are underpaid. Both of those reasons are good reasons to look if you feel so inclined.

But then you go to your boss and tell them you are leaving. They hear your reasons and they say “why didn’t you tell me you felt this way, tell you what, let me see if I can match he salary the new company is offering you. Will you stay then? As a recruiter I have been witness to this plenty of times. And frankly I get it, if everything is great but one thing and then your current employer fixes that one thing, isn’t that best case scenario? The answer is a resounding no! Below I will give you three reasons why you need to stick to your guns and move on.

 

The Math

As a recruiter, when I have a candidate call me and tell me that they think they are going to take a counter offer my advice to them is simple, Google it. They know I have a horse in the race and want them to take my role so anything that I say to them they are going to discard. I get that and it makes sense. SO I tell them look it up themselves, often that’s enough. The data is overwhelming. According to US News, it’s between 70-80% of workers who accept a counter who end not working for their current company within the year. Think about that, if five people accept a counter offer, 4 of them will not belong to that company by the end of the year. Do you like those odds? I wouldn’t. The nice thing about math is it takes the emotion of the decision out of it. If you can look at it and say mathematically this is the decision that’s best for me and my family, it’s a big help in what can be a highly emotional situation.

 

The impact on the relationship

This reason is the interpersonal reason why you never accept a counter offer. Let’s walk through this logically. You tell your boss that you are leaving. The fact of the matter is that even though some days it might not feel like it, what you do for your company is extremely valuable. They pay you a salary because there is some task the organization can’t go without. When you leave, you leave a void productivity. So something important doesn’t get done or they need to shift resources so that the task gets done. Whatever the case you have made life more difficult for many people when you leave and frankly you have made your company less efficient or less productive or both. So as a boss, you think to yourself, “I can’t let this person leave…maybe if I give them more money to change their mind.” Make no mistake, this is a short term fix. You are a leaky pipe and that extra whatever it is they are going to give you is duct tape. Imagine yourself as a manager and imagine someone vital to the success of your organization is leaving. Imagine you’re are able to throw 15k their way in order to keep them from leaving and putting you in a bind. Now you have done that and they are doing the same work for you but making a lot more money. Now imagine six months down the road you have to make a cut. Imagine you have four people to choose from who all do the same thing. They are all equally skilled and there don’t happen to be any differentiators to speak of in terms of making this decision.  Now imagine one of those people makes 15k more than the other three and six months ago was ready to leave. Now not every manager will think this way but you are kidding yourself to think that in no cases will this be a factor.

 

Everything doesn’t improve overnight

The last reason you need to consider is the fact that just because they change one thing, doesn’t mean that everything wrong with the situation has been remedied. Typically, when you have made the decision to move on from a situation, it’s for a multitude of reasons. Its usually the culmination of many disheartening events over the course of your time at the employer. When they give you a bunch of money, hoping that will sway you to stay, they haven’t fixed the host of other things about the company you probably wish you could fix if you were able to. They have fixed just one factor of many. So even if you discount the first two, which I would say you definitely shouldn’t, the fact of the matter is the same reasons you made the decision to look elsewhere in the first place still exist.

 

For these three reasons, my advice is to never take a counter offer. When you walk into your boss’s office, make up your mind that regardless of what they say you are going to stick with the course of action you have decided on. Go in there knowing there is no going back and regardless of what happens in that conversation you have already charted a new course. Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. If you have any counter offer stories or resignation stories, please share them below! I love hearing them! Also please check out these two exciting new sections of my site! Check out my FREE Interview Prep Guide here and if you want to work with me, either as a candidate or as an HR Professional, check me out here Work with Ben!

Telling the Right Story with Your Resume

Recently I was talking with a candidate who was concerned about how taking his next job might impact the way his resume is perceived by potential future employers. I thought to myself, what a great thought to have. Fortunately for this candidate, I don’t think the move does anything to adversely impact his resume. However it does beg the questions, is taking this job allowing me to tell the right story of my career on my resume? It’s a question I don’t think people ask themselves enough and it’s a question I believe you need to ask yourself before you ever accept a new role.

Whether you like it or not, when you accept a new role it becomes part of what future employers will look at for the rest of your life. It becomes an indelible mark on your life’s work and in virtually every interview moving forward you are going to have to answer questions about it. Why did you leave ABC company to go to XYZ company? I see you used to be a (insert role) but then you took a job as a (insert newer role), why did you do that. Questions like these and more are standard components to early phone screens with the people who decide whether or not you get further in the process and therefor you have to be able to answer these questions.

Whenever I consider a role I think to myself, how can I paint this move in a positive light to future employers? If the answer doesn’t sound right, you really have to consider the ripples it will have moving forward. For example if you are in a senior role or a people manager role  currently and you take a role that is neither senior nor managing people, you better believe every recruiter in the world who sees your resume is going to wonder why you did that. Were you laid off? Could you not handle the responsibility and therefor decided to take a step back? These are all logical questions really, if you think about it. What is unfortunate is that not only can it be hard to explain and answer these questions, but for certain roles it will also keep you from getting that first interview. Recruiters and hiring managers alike will look at your resume and make their own assumptions and perhaps pass on you as a candidate.

The takeaway here is to think about the story you tell with your resume. Too often people consider the company, the salary or the benefits but don’t realize the other impacts their decisions may have. There are indeed times when this makes sense, perhaps it’s a great company or it’s working for a manager you are dying to work with. In those cases maybe you make the move anyway but make sure you consider the consequences. Another thing to consider is that perhaps the company would be willing to offer you the title that makes more sense for you. Maybe you apply for a Mechanical Engineer role but the title you really want is Senior Mechanical Engineer because you already hold the title Mechanical Engineer at your current company. This is something you might be able to negotiate. Perhaps you let them know that while you are very interested and feel like you would be able to make a measurable impact right away, you have decided that in order to move you would need for the role to be in a Senior or Lead capacity.  Have any of you ever been in this position or took a role that you later regretted because it was hard to explain your rational?

5 Steps to Succeeding in Phone Interviews

This post is about the five things you have to do before every phone interview. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more than five things that you should do. But this post is about the five things you absolutely have to do in order to succeed (in my opinion). So lets take a look!

  1. Research the Company

It is vitally important that you know a lot about the company. I have worked with recruiters who start the interview by saying “So, tell me what you know about ABC Company?” Now if you can’t answer that question reasonably well, how do you think the rest of the interview is going to go? If that happens and you can’t speak to what a company does intelligently you might as well hang up the phone and save you both some time. In addition to that it will save you the embarrassment of asking things like “so what does your company do?” You would be surprised how many times I have been asked that question and every single time I am absolutely shocked. So spend some time on the website, browsing products and recent news articles. Maybe go to YouTube, most companies have an account there and they have a lot of neat videos. Sometimes those videos even tour the facilities you might end up interviewing at in the future. At a bare minimum you should be prepared to answer that question. If they ask you what you know about the company and you don’t feel confident saying a few lines about their business then it is back to the drawing board.

  1. Chronicle your accomplishments

I trick I like to employ is I like to look at each of my last three jobs and write down one or two examples of things I did there that went above and beyond. What you will find is that when you do this you will easily be able to answer the questions where they ask for different examples and scenarios because these examples will be applicable. During most interviews they will ask you to walk them through your experience and it’s great to be able to give an example or two of how you made an impact.

  1. Prepare questions

At some point most recruiters will ask you if you have any questions.  This might be at the beginning or it might be at the end of the interview. Either way, you want to make sure that you have a few to ask. This should be easy because frankly, you should have questions. Accepting a job is a big decision, you would be crazy not to wonder about why the job is open or what you will be doing. But let’s say, for the arguments sake you didn’t have any questions. You still need to prepare questions to ask because it’s not all about you. Having questions prepared shows the person interviewing you that not only did you prepare but you are a thoughtful person who is calculated in their approach to big decisions. A few examples are; Why is the role open? What characteristics or traits have made people in this role successful in the past? What is the biggest challenge you foresee the person who comes into this role will have? Etc.

  1. Research Interviewer

If nothing else it is important to do this just so you don’t say something stupid. For example let’s say this person worked at a ABC Company. Knowing that will keep you from saying something like I wanted to interview at ABC Company but I heard that the people who work there aren’t very motivated (really you should avoid saying anything negative in your interview). Or perhaps they graduated from a university and you say you opted to attend the university you attended because the other local universities programs weren’t strong enough. In addition maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up in the interview, perhaps you both have a similar background. The fact of the matter is the more information you have the better. So do a little bit of research here.

  1. Review your resume

This is kind of a small point but I do think its overlooked. You want to be able to speak to what you have done in your career. You also want to be prepared to walk them through your resume, in most interviews you will have to do something like that. You don’t want to have a whole bunch of ums and pauses as you do this. So take a few minutes and read through your resume aloud and reflect on these roles. You also should be prepared to discuss any gaps in employment and why you left certain roles. It helps to print out your resume and write notes. That way when they ask for that information you have it available to you.

So that’s it. There is my list of the five things you have to do. Did I leave any out? Perhaps you disagree with a point. I welcome any discussion. Thanks!

About this site

I would like to thank you for visiting my website and I would like to strongly encourage you to ask questions and comment on any post you take the time to read. The purpose of this site is to provide useful information for anyone looking for a new job or is considering making a career change. I am hoping to provide content that will empower my readers and help them be successful in their careers. With six years of hands on experience in interviewing and hiring for a multitude of organizations I have been able to learn the hiring process from the inside. I hope to not only answer the questions or my readers but also provide the answers to the questions they don’t know that they should be asking.

As a head hunter I gained valuable experience with many different clients in many different industries and as a corporate recruiter I learned what it is a company is looking for and what the process consist of from the inside. This experience has given me a very unique perspective to understand the hiring process from multiple perspectives. My hope is to pass some of that knowledge to those who can benefit from it most. I welcome all questions, inquiries and feedback.

Video Interviews (Why Companies Use them & How You Beat Them)

As a recruiter the type of interview I get the most push back on is video interviewing. People hate doing them. Some people don’t like the way they look on their computer and some people don’t like the feeling of talking to a computer screen. The advice I would give to those people is that you better get used to it. More and more companies are utilizing video interviews because of the cost saving ramifications and the convenience they afford the hiring team.

Types of Video Interview

So when most people think about video interviews they think about your standard video interview in which you are speaking with someone live, usually via Skype of some other video service. And while yes, currently this is the most used, some companies are using another format of video interviewing where you are answering prerecorded questions. At my last company we had implemented this for most of the technical roles we were recruiting for. These interviews would usually have about 5-10 questions, a mix of standard interview questions and technical questions, usually determined by the hiring manager and the recruiter.

So why do companies use these?

The main reason companies use interviews like these is that they expedite the process. For example a typical hiring process is a recruiter interview followed by a hiring manager (these first two done over the phone) followed by a final onsite interview where you might end up meeting with several people. The problem with that is that process can take a really long time. So if a company was to substitute the 2nd round with a prerecorded interview you can have all the hiring managers questions answered and save a lot of time.

Instead of worrying about scheduling another phone interview, the recruiter simply sends you a link that can be completed at your discretion. Often that means completing it that very same day which can remove one to two weeks from the process. In addition to that, most people can get a better sense of if the person is going to be a fit when they watch them as opposed to just listen to them.

How to Beat them

While video interviews can be intimidating I have a few simple guidelines I recommend so that you can make sure that you come out on top.

  1. Make sure you prepare as you would for any other interview. The video specific tips aren’g going to help at all if you aren’t ready to answer the questions asked of you.
  2. Make sure that you practice using the software or platform beforehand. If you need an account make sure to register well in advance. If its as simple as logging, try to log on early so that the beginning of your interview isn’t fixing technical issues.
  3. Make sure that the area is well lit and you are visible. Don’t be too far away or too close. Make sure that you it is easy for the hiring manager to see you.
  4. Have a clear wall behind you for the interview. Perhaps you are the worlds greatest Backstreet Boys fan, that’s great, but nobody wants to see their poster on your wall behind you while u=you explain how you are capable of contributing to an organization. WIndows are bad as well, they can be an unnecessary distraction.
  5. Dress as if it was an onsite interview. Just because you are in your home doesn’t mean you get to wear your pajamas. Dress to impress, they can see you after all.
  6. Be confident. People sometimes get nervous seeing themselves or even just because its something they haven’t done before. Don’t let it throw you off your game. Know that it is weird for some of the managers doing it as well and put your best foot forward. Speak loudly, clearly and be sure of yourself and your accomplishments.

So there you have it. You know why companies use them and you now know how to beat them! Good luck!