Most of the people receiving this are either in HR or senior management and you all know how challenging recruiting has become in recent years.
In earlier White Papers, we’ve discussed corporate recruitment models and a vendor selection methodology to help you choose your recruiting partner. In this White Paper, we will give you some practical advice to help your team do a better job of landing candidates.
Let’s begin with three premises:
1) Candidates extrapolate how they will be treated as employees from how they are treated in the employment process.
2) If they are good employees, their current employer will probably try to keep them.
3) Emotion and ego are parts of the candidate’s decision calculus. It is never just about money.
I truly believe that there is no one in the US who has personally filled more jobs, in more disciplines, at more different levels than me. No matter what the job, be it executive or professional, I know that there is one thing that bugs candidates a lot. And it happens in the beginning of the process.
First interviews are first impressions. Employers draw conclusions about candidates, but they sometimes forget that candidates draw conclusions about them, as well. The scheduling of the first interview is often mishandled by employers. Someone looks at the Manager’s schedule and suggests interviews at any open managerial availabilities. The candidate then hears that the Manager can be available for a 1-2 hour meeting at 11 AM or 1 PM on certain days, for example.
Here is what the candidate thinks but is often too polite to say – “Geez, I have to take a full day off to meet this person for an hour or two! Do I really want to waste a personal day on this?” Scheduling mid-day first interviews is awkward for candidates because it means they must commit to a formal day off, rather than just a few hours in the morning or afternoon. Depending on the location of their home, current employer and interview location, back and forth travel time can be 1-2 hours each way plus the interview time. Considering that this is a speculative meeting designed to help both sides get to know each other, this is starting out on the wrong foot. An 8 AM or 4 PM meeting can accomplish the same thing with less disruption in the candidate’s current work situation. It also sends a message of respect to them and for their time. I’ve seen that sign of courtesy carry itself through the process in the candidate’s mind. This small change can create a positive impression before they even walk in the door.
Many employers think that substituting a phone screen can help with this. That used to be true, but is much less true now. In the past, phone screens were done after work. Cell phones were not common and reception was unpredictable. A call would be scheduled for 7 PM when the candidate would be home and could speak freely. Now, sadly, the phone screen is often done during the work day and is the worst of both worlds. It’s great that the person does not have to take the day off, but instead, the candidate needs to go to a private conference room or sit in their car in the middle of the work day to hold a clandestine conversation. Picture Joe or Jane Candidate trying to have a productive conversation while constantly looking over their shoulder to be sure the call is not being overheard. It is almost impossible to hold a meaningful two-way conversation during working hours in which the candidate is comfortable and focused. Once again, consider their workday – early, lunch or late day calls allows them to present themselves more accurately, which gives you a better impression of them for your team. Your courtesy to them will pay dividends throughout the process.
That’s a word that has gained importance over the last few years, but it’s meaning varies from company to company. Sadly, it is often a fancy word for a mechanical process that schedules physicals and arranges benefit’s information either prior to or immediately after the person starts. To be effective, onboarding should start the minute after the person says yes to your job offer and should be seen as a way to emotionally bond them to your team. Here is why-
Sure, they have accepted your job, but then they still go back to work at their current employer for 2-3 weeks before they become a tangible part of your team. That gives the current employer the last word. That word can be very powerful and you need to expand your concept of onboarding beyond the mechanical issues to protect against an inevitable counteroffer attempt.
Remember earlier when I said that emotions and ego are a part of the candidate’s decision-making tool kit? Those are often the levers that the current employer uses to manipulate your future employee into staying with them. While money is often a part of the counteroffer strategy, it is often meaningless without some attempt to create an emotional tie along with it. People want to be valued beyond money. Those two weeks after acceptance but before the start date are your weakest moments. Your competitor for their services has full access, while you have some administrator who they have never met communicate with the candidate about very routine matters. This strategy puts you on the defensive if a counter-offer is presented.
You have not landed the candidate until they start. In fact, you have not landed the candidate until they are with you for a month or two. A savvy competitor will show a caring, surprised face to the employee when they give notice and will have a scripted exit interview designed to prevent an exit. And, to make things more complicated, if the person does leave, they will check in with them over the first few weeks to lure them back. Your weakest times are both before they start and the first few weeks of initial employment before they have established personal relationships with your team. Those relationships are what will bond the person to your organization. Until then, they are a ship with no port.
Your answer to this is obvious. The person’s new Manager needs to be in constant contact with his or her new employee pre-start date. The person needs to hear that plans are being made and that the team is excited about the new hire. You need to pull them in rather than assume their current employer will push them away. Reinforce the positive image that they got in the interview or it will evaporate over time. Obviously, this needs to happen post start date, as well.
I know enough to know that most counter-offers are not effective over the long term. I know enough to know that most are just cynical attempts to prevent having to staff a position over the short term and have no real substance beyond 6 months. I know enough to know that most people regret accepting them a year later.
I also know that does you no good. Being right in the long term doesn’t help you today. You have a job that needs doing and have gone through what is usually an extensive interview process that led you to a finalist who you want on your team. Don’t waste that effort by ignoring your potential new team member for 2 to 3 weeks before they start. No one wants to be taken for granted. While the other side is wooing them to stay, you need to be reinforcing the new reality for them that you created in the interview.
So, there are two very easy things to do to maximize your employment process. Taken together, these will help improve both your acceptance and start metrics. Our philosophy on employment is that there is no certainty but there is probability. Multiple small improvements can dramatically improve your overall probability of success.
Of course, thanks for getting this far and contact me directly to see how we can help you in other ways.
As ever, Jeff –