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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.