What Can An Animated Squirrel Teach You About Hiring?

April 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment


By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

 

If You Have a Minute-and-a-Half…

 

What you just witnessed was Scrat, from Ice Age 2, working his tail off to get his prized acorn…he came SO close, but in the end he failed.  

How many times have you come SO close to hiring the right candidate, but in the end you were not able to “seal the deal” ?  In breaking down this video we can dissect how his mission is very similar to yours as a hiring manager, human resources professional, or recruiter in the civil engineering industry attempting to seek out the perfect candidate and what can occur if the proper steps are not taken.

The Hunt 

The same way Scrat has pulled out all the stops in reaching his goal, you have exhausted your candidate database, your batteries in your electronic Rolodex have gone dead, you’ve dangled a boat load of “benjamins”  in front of your employees encouraging referrals, you have scoured the job boards and resume databases, you have mined your way through the Internet, you have blasted through your contacts on LinkedIn to no avail…in one last ditch effort you have even discovered how to “tweet”, and as a result, you have found your acorn…errrrr, your perfect candidate!

The Capture  

Visible and within reach, you loosen up the candidate with an introductory phone call that progresses nicely. At the end of the conversation you invite the candidate in for an interview…SWEET!  The candidate goes through a multi-interview process and the outlook is positive, from where you are standing anyway. You feel awesome, you reeled ’em in hook, line and sinker, he’s yours, sign him up.

The Fall Off

Wait, you told everyone in the office,  you  had the announcement ready for your next company newsletter, you had the press release prepared…what happened?  You had your candidate right at your doorstep but he never stepped over the threshhold.  Now you’ve lost the candidate and you have fallen back into the depths of the same search where you found yourself not so long ago.  How could this possibly happen?

Failure To Plug The Holes 

You had your candidate the same way Scrat had his acorn.  The pipes began to burst, you duct taped the holes temporarily and juggled the candidate as long as you could.   But in the end, he accepted a position with your nemesis two exits down off the expressway.   

Unfortunately I have witnessed this scenario all too often in my career as a search consultant.  The goal of course is not to learn how to plug the holes (because you saw what happened to Scrat when he tried to do so), but rather how to prevent those unexpected bursts from happening altogether.

  • Be On Time.  The same way you expect a candidate to arrive on time for their interview, make sure you are on time as well.  Prior to the interview make sure you exchange cell phone numbers in the event that something arises that is going to cause you to run late or have to reschedule.  Last week on our LinkedIn discussion board we learned of a candidate that arrived to his interview on time, but was made to wait thirty minutes before the hiring executive was able to invite him back for the interview.  Once the interview begins the candidate may be pre-occupied with the fact that he had to wait thirty minutes.  And even if he does get over it and the interview goes well, that thirty minutes of unjustified monotony sitting in the lobby has created a seed of doubt in that candidate’s head as to how you or the company may operate…as if they do not care about people.
  • Don’t Skimp. If the interview was scheduled before lunch or before dinner, and it is going well and you see it carrying over for some time, take the candidate out for a meal.  Not only is this a memorable gesture, but as always it gives you the opportunity to evaluate their demeanor in a public setting.  And if the IHOP is the closest restaurant to your office…you might want to try the NEXT closest restaurant.
  • Get Off The Fence. Make a decision.  Once the interview(s) are complete, your ability to get off the fence and make a decision is crucial.  Don’t let the engineer in you be the cause of losing the candidate.  The longer you sit in a deep contemplative state analyzing the potential hire the less interested the candidate becomes and the more likely he is to be scooped up by another firm.  Even if it’s a no-go, communicate this to the candidate.  Your failure to communicate even the decision not to hire the candidate will be remembered, and you never know when you may need to call upon that candidate down the road.
  • Avoid The Low Ball.  Evaluate your current salary structure and make nearly the best, if not the best offer you can, right off the bat.  This shows you are serious. If the candidate is considering other offers on the table, even though you make it known you are open to negotiation,  the first impression of you attempting to short change them more-often-than-not leaves a sour taste in the candidates mouth.  
  • Remember Magnum, P.I. Make sure you,  your human resources staff or your recruiter conducts a full and comprehensive investigation.  By understanding all the details of the candidates compensation (and I mean ALL the details) and benefits you will limit the sneak attack the can often occur at the end of the process.  You know, the sneak attack when the candidate has all but officially accepted and then he drops the bomb that he is declining your offer to accept another?  Make sure your understand their current and desired title and responsibilities.  You could make a fantastic offer,  but “if the shoe don’t fit” then you have wasted your time.  Uncover their hot issues.  Why are they looking to leave?  What was the initial appeal to your firm?  Speak to references to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses so you can be prepare to offer an opportunity that will improve their weak points and tone up their strengths.  And finally, know what they are up to.  This may be a little tricky without utilizing a seasoned search consultant, but you need to find out what other firms they are meeting with and what the details are of any other offers they may be considering.
  • Make Sure The Fat Lady Sings.  The old saying holds true during the hiring process.  You must continue to close the deal with the candidate until the day they walk through your door.  There are a number of things that you can do to minimize the chances of them accepting another offer from another firm, or a counter offer from their existing employer.  
  1. Require them to provide their current employer with no longer than a three week notice, though a two week notice is even better; any longer and that leaves a large window of opportunity for them to change their mind.
  2. Have them sign an offer letter.  The psychology behind having a candidate sign and return an offer letter to you is huge.  It shows another level of commitment beyond the verbal acceptance and holds them more accountable.
  3. Meet with them once a week for lunch until they start in order to discuss their office set up, their technology requirements (blackberry, lap top, etc)  and to prepare them for the projects that they will be working on.  This mentally pulls them in closer to you and further away from their current employer or any other firms that may be dangling a last minute carrot.  
  4. And finally, have Human Resources invite them into the office to fill out the hiring documents so they can hit the ground running on their start date.  

By following some of these simple steps you will find that your ability to bring on top talent will be sure to improve, and you will be able to have your acorn…and eat it too.

 

civil engineering  jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

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Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues, Corporate Recruiters, Employee Retention, Headhunters, Human Resources, Interviewing, Recruiting, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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