Reflections of 2018 | Right Recruiting
Like many people, I often use the end of the year to reflect on accomplishments and failures from the year and draw some conclusions that might help me make the next year a better year. Also like many people, this is done over a beer, glass of wine or scotch, which often leads to the task of deciphering illegible notes made the night before.
Either my memories or notes were clearer this year because there were strong memories of some of the people that we helped in 2018. I think when you start your career in any business, you often evaluate your success by numbers; sales dollars, units shipped, profit generated, etc. At some point though, you shift to problems solved instead of numbers. Since our business is very people-centric, those problems solved are almost always about people.
I would like to share some of these stories with you. They are nice stories on their own but, from a self-interested standpoint, might click with you if you have similar problems. Here we go:
Stress Removing For HR
I remember an email from a HR client down South. She had been referred to us by a new executive in her company. Her employer had been bought by a growth oriented company, which resulted in new positions to fill. She was overwhelmed. They were challenging jobs. The email came as we were in the process of filling the 3rd position for her in 2 months. I know she was dubious in our first conversation when I said we could fill her jobs in 2 months at less than 15% fee but she took a risk, urged on by her CFO who knew us from her prior employer.
As we moved towards filling that 3rd job, she sent an email thanking me for our team’s hard work and told me how much stress Right Recruiting had removed from her daily work life. It was a perfect example of an HR person seeing a good vendor as an asset and not a competitor. Sadly, that last attitude is still too common at some companies today.
Personally, that email meant more than any check I received from them.
Advice to an Ex-Client
Early this year, I got a call from an ex-client. This was a fellow who I first started working with in 2004 and helped him grow his business, with 25 placements from COO down to sales in 12 years. He sold his company a few years ago and I hadn’t spoken to him since.
His son was graduating college and was unsure of where to start his career. Can I give him some advice about his options? Of course, I tried to do the best I could. Maybe it helped.
This reminded me that we have built our business on giving objective advice rather than selling a candidate. Over the 12 years we worked together, the advice he got gave him the confidence that any advice for his son would have substance.
I made a note to always remember that we sell good advice that leads to good transactions. The transaction is not the end. It is the beginning. Good transactions are revealed over time, as the individual hired contributes and thrives at the new employer. That’s how you get repeat business.
Help From a CEO
I am not a very aggressive fellow, which may surprise you coming from a recruiter. We like to state our case and let the recipient draw conclusions, hopefully in our favor.
We’ve had this one client for 12 years. They are a $35 billion dollar a year European manufacturing firm. They are unusual in that each division has a high degree of autonomy, with its own HR function and its own CEO. Our work with them has included projects in New Jersey, New York, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. They were all divisions organized under a group. The group was about $2 billion per year.
The only division in the group we had never worked with is actually located 10 miles from our office here in PA. We had tried to contact them a few times, but had been ignored. It was always frustrating when I saw them run the same employment ads over and over again with no apparent success. Arrrgh!
One day I decided to take action. The group CEO had actually been the Engineering Manager on our first project for them and, as he moved up the ladder, I had heard from their VP HR that he liked the work we did for them. I emailed him asking for advice. I asked “can you give me some advice on who to contact at your PA group? I want to work with them as I’ve been working with your other groups these past 12 years.” Candidly, I was hoping he would remember me. I saw it as a long shot.
I got a return email 5 minutes later. It said “Jeff, good to hear from you. I usually don’t get involved at that granular level but let me see what I can do.” I was very appreciative.
I was even more appreciative when, 5 minutes later, the division’s VP HR called to introduce himself and talk about my firm’s capabilities. We worked to develop a relationship.
That stuck with me as a good memory. Why? Not because I am self-important because I emailed a $2 billion dollar a year CEO and got results. Basically, it reinforced my belief that if I focus on doing a good job, it will be remembered. We believe competence comes first. A fancy sales pitch with nothing behind it is just an oil slick for a client to slip on.
Watching a Plan Come Together
In the summer we were contacted by a small company with big ideas. They were a regional player in a specific industry and the owner had come up with a concept that would literally revolutionize a significant segment of his industry. Over 3 hours of meetings, he explained to me the business, his concept and his plans to take it national. I understood the plan and, more importantly, once I understood the numbers, I saw the opportunity.
The challenges were numerous:
1) Grow a business from 15 people in one location to 100 people nationally in 2 years.
2) Bring in people who skills do not exist at that moment in the company
3) For 30 of those slots, from Seattle to Miami, we needed to create a candidate spec for a job that does not exist ANYWHERE else. In other words, create a function that does not exist at any other company.
We had to come up with a plan. Besides our normal recruitment process, we needed to add a few steps.
1) Explain the business model itself to candidates. If you work for General Motors, a recruiter doesn’t have to explain what Ford does. This was different since we represented an unknown. That’s been interesting because, as the explanation unfolds, we’ve seen the candidate go from skeptical to enthused in 30 minutes.
2) Help a company with no HR function come up with an interview process that enabled them to track multiple candidates for multiple jobs simultaneously.
3) Do all of this in a way that is affordable for them now. So far, you can do the math on this- $950,000 in salaries (6 jobs filled so far) and $106,000 in fees. Basically, a structure that led to an 11% fee. If you are in HR you know that’s a good deal. That percentage will actually drop as the volume increases.
Our client will have field people starting in a few days in key East Coast locations and interviews are now in process for 4 more regions. I remember when, after laying out the magnitude of what he was asking us to do, the owner asked, “can you do this?” With no hesitation I looked him straight in the eye and said “Yes, and it will be fun.” So far, we are right on track.
Hopefully, you’ve had similar memories of 2018 and I hope we both will have good ones of 2019. Of course, if there is anything that we can do for you, please contact me directly to discuss your situation and see if we can help.
Lastly, this will be the last email like this you will get from us. Over the holidays, I became annoyed with the thousands of solicitation emails that I get from possible suppliers and became frustrated with how that has increased in just one year. I also became horrified when I realized that by sending out these White Papers I actually contribute to the problem. Ouch.
If you are interested in staying on our list, simply connect with me or any one of our staff on LinkedIn or follow us on social media. As always, thanks for getting this far and have a good 2019.