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Friday, July 19, 2013

4 Lessons Employees Should Have Learned During the Resession

According to Wikipedia, The Great Recession started in December 2007 and officially came to an end June 2009. If you take a deeper look at some of the historical data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, unemployment in December of 2006 was 4.4%, and by the end of 2009 this number had reached a high of 9.9%. Since December 2009, this number has continued to fluctuate, but does have a steady trend of decreasing. I do believe we can expect this number to continue to move down towards a healthier unemployment rate. Everything in life is a learning lesson, and the 3 years of this recession is no exception. Some were fortunate enough to keep their jobs, while others were not so fortunate. When looking back at this time, it is important to take away some life lessons.

1.) Never take anything for granted:  It is never a bad idea to plan for a rainy day, and never stop educating yourself. It is very important in this very competitive job market to keep your skill set fresh, and find ways to grow as a professional. There will always be someone waiting to take your job if you are no longer willing to provide the quality work in which you were hired for. This is true at all levels, no matter how much money you make! If you are able to take pride in the work you do, then I can almost guarantee someone will notice and it will pay off in the long run.

2.) It could always be worse: If you are looking at your life and feel you have it pretty bad, you should know there are those who are less fortunate than you. I once heard a fact in church that was pretty eye opening, and it went something like this; If you have a roof over your head, some sort of food in your fridge, and at least $20 to your name then you are better off than 75% of the world population. Can you imagine that? With just that little to your name, you have it better than so many others.  

3.) Find a hobby or passion: Finding something you like to do on the weekends is not only good to explore additional areas of interest, but this is a great way to exercise your soul! I found my hobby in blogging, and it is a way for me to get out my thoughts on paper, and it has also been a great networking tool. I would not say I am an expert blogger, and at the end of the day it is not so much for the audience, but more for me to reflect on everyday learning and fine tune my recruiting skills!

4.) There is no such thing as overkill in networking: When the recession hit, it was very hard for the average person to find a job. When it is all said and done, it will be your skill set that will land you the position, but it never hurts to have a recommendation from a well respected employee within the company for which you have applied to. Many organizations have come to rely on referrals as a candidate source. With technology being where it is, you have so many different ways to network. If you are more of a shy person, then LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and online forms of networking are great. If you are more outgoing, then finding some MeetUp Groups on or other local user groups may be your best option. As a candidate you have many options when it comes to finding a position, and networking is an important piece to that puzzle.

History repeats its self, and we all need to be prepared when another recession hits. If you are able to take lessons from this last recession, you will be more prepared to fight through the next one.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

5 Steps to a Great Candidate Recruiter Relationship

I have come across many blogs that have expressed a distrust as well as a dislike for the recruiting profession. I will admit, we do have some rotten eggs in our industry, but this can be said in any other profession as well. Is it really necessary to put a whole group of people into one category just because of a few bad apples? The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate goes both ways, and I am not oblivious to the fact that FEEDBACK is the key relationship builder for candidates!! This CareerBuilder survey does an excellent job of summing this up.  Feedback in some form is a very simple request, and I know all recruiters will struggle at times to complete this task. On the flip side, we as a recruiting community have a lot more needs when it comes to developing a good solid working relationship.

1.) Have the right skill set for our client: Recruiters will call you because we feel you have the right background for what our client is looking for. I added this into the criteria, because your skill set is what will entice us to call you in the first place. The relationship needs to start somewhere right?

2.) Do not hide information: You know what I'm referring to here! That little piece of information in the back of your mind that you are debating on weather to share it or not...SHARE IT! In most cases we will figure it out anyway, and it is best to be honest up front. Being dishonest in anything will result in distrust, and distrust is not a good foundation for a solid relationship. 

3.) Say what you mean, and mean what you say: If you say you are going to call us a certain time, then call us at that time. If you say you are going to go on the interview with the client, then go on the interview. If you say you will take the job, then follow through and take the job. If you say you will show up for work on your first day, then please show up for work on that day. I think you get the point...

4.) Do not expect us to take on full responsibility of finding you a job: The reality is that we work with a lot of candidates, and we are paid by the clients we work with and work for. I am someone who loves to help someone out, but I will never take full responsibility for finding you a job. This is a partnership, and it needs to be treated as such. Recruiters can make the initial introduction and connection, but it is up to you to land the opportunity.

5.) Do not quit at the first sign of more money: If you are quick to leave for the first job offer with more money, then you will be quick to burn bridges. Those who chase money will eventually lose in the long run.  The local labor communities are small, and you never know when you will need to rely on someone to provide a good reference for you.

Doesn't seem fair right? Candidates just ask for timely feedback, and we recruiters have 5 steps for a good working relationship.  Nothing brings me more satisfaction then helping my fellow human, but it is a two way street.

Quick Thoughts - Micromanagement

I read an article this week by Suzanne Lucas titled "Why Don't Companies Get Rid of Micro-Managers?"(read the full article here).  The first part of my career, I worked under a couple managers who had this type of management style.  Looking back at this time in my career, I do understand the need for a little micromanagement when an employee is new to a company or new to the workforce.  I believe it is truly the good managers who know when it is time to let their employees loose and trust them to make the right decisions.  In my current position, it is my fear of losing my job if I am not keeping up with the tasks assigned to me.  In my opinion, managers who micro-manage their employees are incapable of flexing to meet the needs of their individual employees.

Everyone skips to the beat of their own tune, some of us need the structure of micromanagement while others will not flourish until they are set free and given the ability to fail.  If you are not failing then you are are not learning, if you are not learning then you are not growing, and if you are not growing then what is the point?

Monday, July 8, 2013

At a Glance - June Unemployment

According to the latest numbers put out by The Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in the month of June has continued to hold steady just under 8%.  This after the Private sector added 202,000 jobs in the month of June.  Below are some quick facts about these numbers published on the Department of Labor Website (

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

On this day 237 years ago, the 13 American colonies came together to sign The Declaration of Independence, and thus giving birth to The United States of America. We as a nation have so much to be thankful for on this day! July 4th is not all about the fireworks and the BBQ, but more about the sacrifices that were made on this day in 1776.

I for one feel truly blessed to be apart of such a great country, and have the freedoms I enjoy on a daily  basis. I'm not saying America is perfect, because that is far from the truth, but I do think the people of this nation are lucky to call The United States home. This is not my typical post, but I thought for this one day we can all sit back relax and enjoy the moment. Lets not worry about work, or finding a new job, or even the interview we have first thing in the morning. Today we can enjoy our family, friends, neighbors, and all fellow Americans.

Sometimes we get lost in the pursuit of happiness, but because of the Nation we live in, we can course correct and take another stab at it tomorrow.  Happiness in this life is not guaranteed, but we as Americans all do have the right to pursue it.

I know for me, happiness is much different from the next person, and it comes in the form of my family.  My wife, my daughter, my son, and my third child who is on the way. Today I am not worried about work, but I am feeling blessed to be an American. Pray for me that I don't burn my house down with fireworks!

God Bless America & Happy 4th of July!!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The 10 DO NOT'S for Job Applicants

Looking for a new job is one of the top three things most stressing in life.  The other two being the death of a loved one and moving.  No matter the circumstances of why an individual is looking for a position, it is always an emotional process.  When you are the person going through this process, you want to make sure you are as prepared as possible to nail the interview and impress the people you are speaking with.  Just as important, you want to be mindful of some bad habits that will make you appear to be the less desirable candidate.

Having interviewed thousands of candidates during my career, I thought I would give my top 10 list of things to avoid doing while looking for a new job!

1.) Do not apply for every job opening you see at one company!

  • How do you think it appears to the company you are applying with, if you are applying for both software development as well as project management?  The best practice when you see multiple positions is to make contact with the company, and express your interest in the multiple positions.  When you are speaking to a live person, you will then be able to express your interest, and explain why you feel you would be a good match.

2.) Do not start your conversation with the recruiter by asking salary/pay rate!

  • This is a major turn off to HR professionals as well as recruiters.  The companies we represent have much more to offer than just a salary and/or pay rate.  If you start the conversation with this question, the first thing a recruiter thinks of is that you will jump at the next opportunity offering you a slight increase in salary.  It is best to wait and get some detail about the position before asking this question.  You should also ask it in an appropriate manner such as: "This position seems to be below my current responsibilities.  Can you give me a pay range on this opportunity?"  

3.) Do not list every job you have ever held on your resume!

  • You only need to list positions relevant to the position in which you are applying for.  It is wasted space on a resume if you are listing positions you held when you were in college.  Can you really justify how your experience as a fry cook can help you gain employment as a desktop support engineer?  Resumes do not need fillers!  You need to list most relevant experience, and keep it short a sweet.  The main purpose of a resume is to entice the employer to want to ask more questions.

4.) Do not list every skill you think you have!

  • Of the thousands of interviews I have completed, I would say nearly 40% of them embellish their skill sets in some way to make themselves appear more desirable to the employer.  Have you ever heard of the bait and switch in retail?  This is the same concept, and it will bite you in the end. If you list something on your resume it may be expected that you will utilize this skill set while employed.  If you are unable or incapable of completing this task, there is a strong possibility you will be back where you started looking for another job and trying to explain why you were let go from your previous position.

5.) Do not show up late for an interview!

  • This can go without explanation.  If you are late, you are wasting the time of the employer interviewing you.  I know this can sometimes be a double standard, but at the end of the day it's the company who signs your paychecks.

6.) Do not speak poorly about your previous employer!

  • This is a major turn off for hiring managers.  If you are sitting in an interview speaking negatively about a previous employer, what is stopping you from doing the same with this employer?  Further, no one wants to hear you sob story regarding why you were fired or why you feel like you are not treated properly.  Take ownership of the situation and explain how you have grown and become a better person/employee because of the situation.

7.) Do not sound desperate during the interview!

  • Explaining to an employer how you will lose your home if you do not get the job offer will NOT give you a better chance at landing the opportunity.  This will actually decrease your chances of being hired.  The time spent in the interview needs to be reserved for selling the employer on why you are a great match for the position as well as the company.

8.) Do not follow up with the company every day demanding feedback!

  • If you are following up on a daily basis, then you are showing desperation (see #7)!  Standard rule is to follow up 1 week after the interview. At that time, feel free to ask when it is appropriate for you to follow up again.  If you have not heard anything after 1-2 weeks, most likely, you are no longer in consideration.

9.) Do not forget to thank the interviewing individuals for their time!

  • The thank you note has become a lost art!  This is not another opportunity to sell yourself, but it is exactly what the title of the letter indicates...thanking the interviewers and/or hiring managers for their time...this includes your recruiter!  Two-three sentences is all it takes to accomplish this task.  Do not get carried away with details.  With the fast paced world we live in, it is okay to send an e-mail, but a hand written note is always preferred.

10.) Do not get angry if you do not get the position you interviewed for!

  • Competition today is very tough.  Rarely is the rejection personal when you do not land the position you are interviewing for.  When you receive the feedback from your interview, take it as a learning lesson on how to improve yourself for future interviews.  Also, it is important to take the time to ask the employer what his/her concern was.  This is invaluable information on how to grow your skill set while simultaneously keeping a pulse on the market.
Nobody is perfect...we all make mistakes.  The more you prepare for your interview, the less likely you will be to make some of the more common errors during the interview process.  Best thing to keep in mind is to stay positive, and take everything as a learning lesson. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why I Stay Away from the Job Boards

I will first say that I do see value in job boards, and believe it is a critical tool to become successful as a sourcer/recruiter.  It’s like building a house.  You can not and would not build a house with just one tool.  It takes many tools to build a home.  As a recruiter/sourcer, you need to take the same approach when finding the perfect candidate.  Not only will you be successful, but you will be able to find candidates no one else is working with.  Doesn't it feel good when you get asked how you found a candidate, and you have some great story about the sourcing technique? I believe you can find a lot of value in your internal ATS, while taking advantage of work done by others.
What would you need to start your own staffing company? Answer: Telephone and a subscription to a job board.  However, you will soon realize almost every candidate you speak with has 5 other better opportunities he/she is exploring.  I have always been a believer in if you live by the jobs boards you will die by the job boards…
Let me explain a little for those of you who do spend a lot of time on these boards.  What is the first thing you do when you find a good candidate on the job board?  If you are doing your job you most likely put this candidate into your ATS.  As time goes on, this candidate more than likely has either found another job, or decided to stick it out with his/her current employer thus making him/her a non-active candidate.  Sometimes these candidates realize they have made a bad choice, and would be interested in listening to potential better job opportunities.  BAM! This passive candidate is like gold, and where you want to be spending your time.  Chances are they have not been kept in touch with by other agencies, and at times you are the only one they are speaking to about a new position.  However, you will need to be cautious about working with these candidates.  This can be a double edged sword, and you will need to dig into why they would want to make a switch so soon, or why they have again decided to leave their employer.  Last thing you want or need is a candidate who will again leave your position for another better opportunity. 
I know what you are saying at this point….”I dig through the database, and NO ONE is interested” or “I dig through the database and feel like I leave 1000 voice mails.”  You will have days like these when working through an internal ATS, but I guarantee if you put in the work you will yield great results. Stick with what you are doing, and the numbers will owe you (I always thought this phrase was a bunch of crock, but for some reason it always rang true).
It is no secret, passive candidates are the candidates we all want to be working with.  Working with passive candidates gives us a better opportunity to sell them on the position we have, and gives us a better chance to reduce fall off after an offer has been accepted.  Those who succeed in this business, are the ones who can find and sell to these candidates.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The 4 Things to Expect When You Aren't Expecting....Recruiting Style

By no means is this post meant to be a dig at the recruiting industry, nor a gripe on my career choice.  My purpose of this post is to give some of the newcomers into the industry some sound advice on what to expect.  When I first received the call about working for a staffing company, I had no idea this industry even existed.  It was completely new to me! A company would pay another company to find talent for their organization?  When I was initially contacted about this exciting opportunity as a recruiter, my first thought was "how hard can this be?"  Much to my surprise, staffing turned out to be a HUGE challenge.  In my first 6 months, I thought about walking away several times because the reality of the position did not align with my expectations of the position.

Taking a step back, it would have been nice to have realistic expectations as I entered this new career.  Below are are few of the biggest areas where expectations did not align with reality.

  1. It's not just as easy as finding the right candidate: You are dealing in people, not with a commodity, people/candidates have the gift of freewill.  They will tell you what you want to hear and at times they will fib about their experience.  They may not show up when they said they will show up, and very often will get "lost" on the way to the interview.  You do your best to prohibit these issues, but the reality is you can not predict everything that could possibly go wrong during the recruiting process.  Not everyone will be difficult to work with, but you should always prepare yourself with as much detail as possible to try and avoid the inevitable "bumps in the road."
  2. DO NOT get into the industry because you have been sold on MAKING THE BIG BUCKS: When I was interviewing for my first position in the staffing industry, my future manager told me I had "six figure potential" within the first couple years.  As a recent college grad I said CHA-CHING!!!!  I can tell you that after 7.5 years of recruiting I have never broken the six figure mark.  At this point in my career, I am more motivated by helping people than I am by the earning potential.  If you are someone who is motivated by money, then a different form of sales may be the best option for you.  I am not suggesting it is impossible to make good money in the recruiting industry, but it takes a little luck and some very hard work.  Recruiters can make a lot of money, but more often than not these individuals have dedicated themselves to be the best at what they do.  They become experts in staffing, and provide value to the customer in many different areas.  In some rare cases you will find someone new to the industry who is making decent money, but in my experience these individuals happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  3. Most newcomers fail within the first six months: This is plain and simple.  People go into this industry with false expectations, and will be quick to find a new job when things get tough.  If you do choose to start a career in recruiting, you should know right away, times will get tough.  You will go through many highs and many lows, and these variances can come within days of each other.  It is how you deal with the peaks and valleys that will determine how successful you are in the industry.  The key here is to find a way to make the highs not as high and the lows not as low.  Celebrate the wins, mourn the losses, but in both cases move on quickly. 
  4. Take recruiting for what it is: In my opinion, the best recruiters in the industry are those who are trusted and well respected.  To these individuals it is truly about finding a win-win for all parties involved.  Those who go through their daily recruiting routine with little regard for how they are treating candidates or hiring managers will never be successful in this type of position.  At the end of the day you are working in the relationship business, and you must know how to develop relationships.  If you do a Google Search on "recruiters" you will most likely find a lot more people who hate our profession than you will find people who love us.  This negative image is created by people who do not care who they step on to get to the top, and do not truly care about the well being of the candidate or client.  They have no interest in a win-win scenario.  If you are just in it for the money, you will lose sight of what is really important, TRUST!

I could not have fallen into a better career, and I am very appreciative of all the people I have met along this journey.  I did not have the best first manager/mentor, but in reality I would not be where I am today without him.  If you are one of the fortunate ones to find a career in talent acquisition, be sure to keep in perspective why our industry even exists. Companies spend millions in their budgets to fund talent acquisition as well as third party agencies, and they can easily replace you with another recruiter or agency.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Those Who Can't Do...TEACH

I have heard this saying many times in my life, and recently I have realized this is the reason why I am in the recruiting industry.   One thing at this point in my life I have never been good at is selling myself to a potential employers!  I know for those of you who have trusted me to help find you a new job, this might scare you a little.  Some of you may be saying; "I knew that's why this guy could not find me a job!" The reality is because of this fact, I am MUCH better at my job.  I have done the wrong things in many interviews in the past, and with these interview bloopers, I am able to steer my candidates in the right direction.

PUNCTUAL: One thing I have always been good at, which is crucial to starting an interview on the right foot, is coming to the interview on time.  If you are late, you are wasting the time of the person who has decided to interview you for the open position at the company.  Think about this for a minute, if you are the one who is late for a job interview that is an immediate strike against your application.  If the hiring manager is having a tough time deciding between two or three candidates, then this strike against you will be an easy disqualification and will end you up in the NO pile.

CONFIDENCE: Here is an opportunity to show why you would be the best choice for the position.  You may want to avoid one of my interview answers in the past.  After being asked why I am the best fit for the position:.  My answer: "Well I am definitely not the best recruiter, but I work really hard."  Not really the correct way to answer that question.  My downfall was that I was not prepared for the question, and ever worse I did not show confidence during the interview to back something like that up.  It was a situation where the answer sounded MUCH better in my head, and after I said it I knew immediately it was the wrong thing to say.  If I would have had confidence, and had been prepared for this question, I would have been able to provide a good answer that showcased the confidence in my background.

QUESTIONS:  Be prepared to ask questions to the employees who have used their time to interview you. People love to speak about what they do, and why they are successful in their position.  A simple question such as; "why do you enjoy working here?" or "why do you feel you are successful at your position?"  These are both very simple questions, and it could lead to more dialogue about your background.  These are very simple questions you may want to ask at the least, but you still want to come to the interview prepared to ask questions.  Basing these questions around research you have done about the company is a great way to show your interest in this position.

FOLLOW UP/THANK YOU:  This part of the process does not need to be anything over the top.  A simple Thank you e-mail stating your appreciation for everyone's time is sufficient enough.  In my opinion, a thank you note is NOT another opportunity to sell your skills.  You have had plenty of opportunity to do this, and should not be mentioned again in the follow up/thank you e-mail.  This thank you e-mail should be sent to each individual employee, and should NEVER be grouped together.  During the interview you can ask each person for a business card so you will have contact information.

You should never go into an interview thinking you have the position in the bag.  If everyone was sold on you as the right candidate, then you would have received the offer for the position.  It is not over until you have offer in hand, and this is why it is so important to take the time to prepare as best as possible for your interview.

These four areas above will help ensure you make your application stand out among the other who have applied for the same position.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The 4 Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For

A while back I came across an article regarding interviewing, and how all interviews can be summed up by four main questions.  As a staffing professional, I am very often asked how best to prepare for an interview.  When I am asked this question, I always go back to these four questions.  All four of these will be asked of you during any interview, and it is very important you prepare to answer these.

1.)   Why are you here?

a.     No one is going to ask you this straight out, but it is something good to consider before going in for an interview.  What skill do you have that will allow you to be successful in the position you are applying for?

2.)   What are you able to do for us?

a.     This is very closely related to question #1.  You obviously have a set of skills that have brought you to this interview, and now it is time to speak about how these skills can benefit the company.  In order to prepare for an interview, you need to understand what you are able to do for a company.

3.)   Will you fit in?

a.     No matter the position you are interviewing for, this is a VERY important question to the team and manager. 

b.    You may have all the skills in the world, but you will not get the job if the manager feels you will cause confilct in his/her already producing team.

c.     This can also go the other way.  The interview is a great opportunity for you to look at the team, and ask Will I fit in?

4.)   What makes you better than the other candidates I have interviewed?

a.     This question was very relevant during the great recession, but still holds true today. 

b.    This can be brought back to the small things during an interview; Dressing to impress, good communication, professionalism, following up with a thank you letter, etc…

It’s the smaller things during the interview process that will set you apart from the competition.  You should always show up to the interview over prepared, as this will show your enthusiasm and interest in the company as well as the position.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Best Advice: Live Forever

Linkedin put out a great series this week in which they had leaders, in various industries, explain the best advice they have received during their career (Click HERE to read more about it).  After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to give some advice of my own.

Advice: Integrity must be put before anything else.  This is easier said than done, and I can admit I have stumbled with this a few times in my life (I will not be going into detail on where this has happened).  This is an ongoing lesson for me, and I am motivated to accomplish this by the name I want left behind when I leave this wonderful green earth.

In business, it is so important you own up to the mistakes you make.  As hard as it is to own your mistakes, it will pay dividends in the future when needed.  As a staffing/sales professional it is very easy to overlook details in a candidate that will come back to hurt you later in the hiring life cycle.  It is also very easy to put this blame elsewhere, but I think it takes a true professional to look into the mirror and realize he/she could have done a better job.  This same principal can be applied to any job in any industry.  When you make a mistake, OWN UP TO IT!  Don't try to pass the blame to another person, or try to make excuses for why it happened.  I have found the best response is this; "I did make that mistake, I have learned from it, and I know what I need to do in the future not to make this same mistake."  This was a hard lesson for me to learn in staffing because I never really had a mentor I could rely on.  I believe in the staffing industry the word INTEGRITY is put on the back burner, and it is up to the employee to make sure this is a core value that is used in his/her everyday business.

Within your family, integrity is something that can hold a family together or tear the family apart.  Owning a mistake as a parents is something that has been very hard for me to do, and I can only imagine how much harder it will be as my kids continue to grow.  I don't have a lot of good advice on how to do this, but I can say that if you build an environment with open communication it will be easier for everyone to hold each other accountable for mistakes that have been made.

If you are able to live with integrity in business and in life, I can assure you that you are well on your way to leaving a good lasting legacy.  Leaving this good legacy will in fact make you live forever in the hearts of all those you have impressed upon through your journey!

Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Simple Steps to Gaining Your Employees Trust

How do you gain the respect of your employees? Have you ever heard the saying "respect is earned"? Many companies today are trying to attract and maintain the best talent in the marketplace, and it is my belief that respect should be your foundation for achieving this. All the additional perks of a gym or cafeteria, or even a competitive compensation plan are great, but without respect you will never maintain your top talent. A company is only as good as it's employees, and keeping employees motivated is crucial to your success.

The 23 Million small business in America are in an excellent position to create and maintain an environment built on respect. Below are five easy to follow steps to start gaining your employees trust.

1.) Treat everyone the same: No matter the title or the tenure of the employee, it is so important to treat everyone equally. If you start to treat one class of employees different than others, you will begin to lose respect of all employees working for the company.  

2.) When hiring internal employees you must hire the most qualified and not the most popular: A company needs to reward their top producing employees by giving them opportunity for growth. If you are not able to accomplish this, you run the risk of losing these top producers to your competitors.

3.) Take all HR reports seriously: This is a big one! No matter what the report is you need to have a process in place to address these in a timely manner. Employees need to know their concerns are taken seriously. If you have created a fair and safe environment, and if employees know certain types of behavior are not tolerated, then you will limit the number of complaints your HR department receives.

4.) Live by the values you put in place: As executives in your own company, or as senior managers, it is very important for you to lead by example. Employees will follow your lead, and for the most part will put in the same amount of passion as they see in you. 

5.) Be as transparent as possible with your vision: Having a team of people who believe in your same vision will not only help strengthen your brand, it will also help strengthen your team.

Having a strong reputation in your industry will lead to hiring best-in-class employees, which in turn will lead to being an industry leader.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Survey Says...

Every once in a while in this business you will look at some candidate data, and be surprised by what you see. A colleague of mine, Scott Axel (a diehard Buckeye fan), conducted a survey on LinkedIn asking people their preferred method of unsolicited contact by a recruiter. When I looked at the final results of this survey I was surprised to see that e-mail (InMail, and e-mail) was the preferred method of contact. I had always been trained to think a phone call is the best method of contact for the candidate. I still do see a lot of value in smiling and dialing, but I think sometimes it may be good to contact candidates in a way where they will be more receptive to your unsolicited contact.
Now to share some of the data:
145 total votes:
  • 46% (66 votes): LinkedIn Inmail
  • 38% (55 votes): Person Email
  • 8% (12 votes): Direct Phone Call
  • 6% (8 votes): Work Email
  • 3% (4 votes): Other Social Media (Twitter, Meetup etc)

A few initial thoughts on this data:
  • I would be very interested to see what the data would show in a much larger pool of candidates. Would you still have an overwhelming population of candidates preferring 1.) InMail 2.) E-Mail?
  • I believe once more candidates and recruiters start connecting on Social Media, you will see this method become more and more popular.
  • Even though e-mail is the preferred method, is it the most effective?
  • With the good mix of seniority levels and age, I feel even with the smaller pool it is pretty accurate in how a larger population would answer.
  • 18 out of the 19 females who responded to the survey answered with either InMail or Direct E-mail.
The recruiting industry has changed a ton since I began recruiting in 2006, and I know it will continue to evolve as the years come and go. One constant in our profession is the need to establish relationships, and provide a service not only to our clients but also the candidates we work with. In order to do this, we need to accept change and utilize new methods/tools in recruiting to find and secure the best talent. Mobile devices have become a computer in the palm of our hand, and it has never been easier to access personal e-mail. Candidates, who are employed, may have an easier time responding to an e-mail rather than interrupting their day with a phone call.
I am not suggesting e-mail is the best method of contact, but that utilizing multiple methods of contact is a good practice to get into. Why not leave a message, follow it up with an e-mail, and maybe even throw in a LinkedIn connection request? You need to make yourself noticed by the top candidates, and you never know what method will work best for each individual.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My 3 Most Memorable Candidate Experiences

I know we have all felt it, and I know we have all ignored it. I am referring to the feeling of a candidate we should just walk away from.  We have put in all the work, and put ourselves in a point of no return.  How could I walk away from this person?  He/She will get the job, and everything will turn out fine, right?  Not right!  More often than not, if you have this type of feeling you need to rely on your expertise and walk away from the candidate you are working with.  We are all trained to pick out red flags for a reason, and if you do not walk away from the candidate it will be more trouble than it's worth.

This is a lesson I have learned many times, and with that I thought it may be fun to give you a few great examples from my 7+-years in the recruiting industry.  I have encountered some different circumstances in my career, and they all remind me I should listen to my gut when something does not seem right.  I have changed the names and some of the important information to protect the confidentiality of the candidates.

Candidate #1:
Marco: This was a Sr. Business Analyst on a hard to fill position in Chandler, Arizona.  The red flag on this candidate had not come until the very end of the process, and at that point it is very hard to walk away from someone as they are doing paperwork.  The candidate came into the office to sign paperwork/contract, and as he was going through the pages he kept speaking to himself.  I thought this was a little strange, but did not think much of it because even I, at times, will read out loud to myself as I am signing paperwork.  When this became a red flag was when I tried to make small talk. 

ME: "I can't believe the weather out there today" 
CANDIDATE: "Yeah it has been pretty wet out there"
CANDIDATE (under his breath): "We could get this done faster if you would shut up"

I was caught off guard by this, and tried to convince myself I heard the candidate wrong. I realized I heard the candidate correctly a week after the candidate started his job.

CANDIDATE: "Ryan, I am trying to concentrate at work but they are here and they are trying to put me to sleep"
ME: "Who is trying to put you to sleep?"
CANDIDATE: "The people who put a chip in my brain.  I am trying to attend this meeting, but they are not allowing me"
ME: "Can we back up? I am not sure what you are telling me"

The conversation continued from there, but as you can see he had some medical issues he was dealing with.  Needless to say, we were instructed to come and walk this candidate off site.  During the day at the sign up, I did learn he was speaking to his imaginary friend who was at the sign up with him.

Lesson: This is a tough one because you run a fine line with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  Best result here is speak directly with your HR person on the appropriate way to handle a situation like this.

Candidate #2:
John: A Sr. Java developer who had just moved to the Phoenix area.  If you are in IT staffing, you know a fresh Java developer to your market is like GOLD!  I was able to get on the phone with John, and found he had the correct skill set for a few of the positions we had open.  We were able to submit his resume, and right away received several interview requests.  RED FLAG #1: When confirming the interview request with John, he asked if I would be able to drive him to the interview because he did not have a car...WHAT?  A Java developer making $60/hour W2 did not have a car?  I gave John the benefit of the doubt, and scheduled a time to pick him up.  Fast forward to John receiving an offer, accepting an offer, and then came RED FLAG #2.  A day after accepting his offer he called into the office and asked if he could get an advance on his first paycheck since he was running low on money.  (I know what you are thinking..."I would have walked away right there").  I took this to my manager, and we were both a little concerned but decided to keep a closer eye on him until he started the new position after he of course successfully passed a drug test.  Well, John did not pass his drug test and was not able to go to work at the client.  It turned out this candidate had some other major issues outside of the workplace.

Lesson: You need to dig deep into situations such as this.  If I really would have started to push back on John the very first time I noticed something was wrong, I may have been able to avoid this situation.  My old manager put it best...You need to peel back the onion as much as possible to expose anything that would prohibit the candidate from being a successful placement at the client site.

Candidate #3:
Nancy:  One of those purple squirrels you would do anything to find and place.  Nancy was a CISSP Security Architect, and she was someone I worked extremely hard to get a hold of, and sell on the position I had.  I had accomplished half the battle of getting Nancy on board for the position, and she NAILED the interview.  Now comes the paperwork, and Nancy had an issue with half of the wording inside the contract.  After going back and forth for a couple weeks, we were able to come to terms on how she would sign the contract.  After she started her position, she up and quit after a week of working on site at the client.  She called and said, "I'm leaving, and I am not giving any notice!"  Are you kidding me?

Lesson: Let's go back to the onion analogy.  Why is this person really fighting the contract?  Is she using this position to get something better at her current company?  This is why it is so important to get to know the people you are working with.  If you get to know their real motivations, you may be able to avoid situations such as this. 

There are so many examples of red flags in our industry.  It is best to get as many facts as possible, and not turn a blind eye to something you have a bad feeling about.  You will never catch all the red flags, but if you increase your awareness to possible red flags then you will have more successful hires.