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One in hand vs. Two in the Bush

I am sure we are all familiar with the old story/proverb of the value of having one of something vs. the potential of having two or more of the same “something.” In many countries this is known as A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush.  Essentially, the lesson learned is that having something in your grasp or in fact, something that is “yours” is far more valuable than the potential of having more things but with the risk of having to give up what you already have.

bird-in-handI have found this proverb to be very applicable to modern day recruiting and dealing with hiring managers. You see, at the end of the day, hiring managers are always looking at the value of two in the bush. Meaning, while they may have a candidate presented to them by you as the recruiter that meets a significant portion of the job requirements, many of them are always keeping an eye out for that other potential candidate that meets all of the requirements, requires no training, is a superstar, comes from an identical industry and doesn’t mind working 40 hours of overtime a week with no extra compensation. I am being a bit facetious here, but you get the point.

This is a constant struggle for recruiters – managing hiring managers – and the acceptance of a highly qualified candidate is probably at the top of the list. I know we have all felt the frustration of a hiring manager’s indecision. You source, recruit and present a great slate of candidates. The hiring manager interviews and is impressed, especially with one in particular and indicates to you that they would be a great hire, but…they want to wait “to see what else is out there.” WTH? It is at that point in time the recruiter snaps and wants to put the hiring manager in the rear naked choke hold .

How can recruiters avoid this scenario from happening? Well, the tough answer is that generally speaking, you can’t. Hiring managers often suffer from decision-making paralysis. They have been brought up thinking that there is a “right” hiring decision to be made and all other decisions are wrong. They have been led to believe there is a perfect candidate out there and they want to wait (for you) to find that candidate, because, well you know, they EXIST (yeah right).

How can you minimize this from happening? Well, this is the good news. You can control this a bit.   A lot of this occurs at the intake meeting. Make sure you get a hiring commitment up front from the hiring manager – this works best when it is in writing (can be as simple as an email). You want the hiring manager’s commitment/agreement on:

  1. Providing you with an accurate performance profile: what a person in the job needs to be able to do (this is different form a job description). The reason this is key is because if a hiring manager gives you a job description, it will simply be a laundry list of wishes of things they want in the perfect candidate. Don’t fall for this trap.
  2. Their availability – get a commitment up front as to when they will be interviewing for the role, because well, you WILL find them good candidates. If possible, schedule some dates in advance. This way, you can progress with your screening and your hiring manager has to review potential candidates efficiently as they already have interview times set up.
  3. Agree in writing as to what constitutes a good candidate vs. a great one and get commitment on hiring any “great” candidates. This should be done before the interview and scored immediately after the interview. That way, if a hiring manager agrees that a score of 4+ overall is a “great” score, anyone that scores a 4+ will be made an offer.

Point number 3 is a key one because you are getting the buy in before you meet candidates. This will help you avoid the scenario where you have a candidate interview, they get scored a 4.5, and the manager (despite loving the candidate) still defers and wants to see more candidates. You then need to ask the manager: “So, Bob, you agreed going into the interview process that anyone that scored a 4+ would be considered a GREAT candidate based on the performance profile. Therefore, we were looking for 4+’s during the selection process. We have found you a 4.5 – which is better than the 4+ considered to be great…why would we not be hiring this person? Has the selection criteria changed? Is a 4+ not great? Have the expectations/standards changed? What have we missed here?” It is at this point in time you have to remind them of one in hand vs. two in the bush. “Bob, we can certainly continue to source for you. It may take us another 2-6 weeks to present more candidates that may or may not be as good as this one. In the interim, it is highly likely you will lose the candidate you scored a 4.5. Are you willing to take that risk? This means your job will have been open for over 2.5 months? If you are willing to take the risk, we are willing to continue to source for you.”

Above all, you need to get the manager to understand that THEY were the ones who identified what they were looking for and what GREAT looked like. They have found GREAT and now GREAT is no longer GREAT. What has changed? At the end of the day, the pre-commitment approach will work with many managers. There are still others (who shouldn’t be managing or hiring) that will want to look at other candidates regardless. My advice, if you are an agency recruiter – work closest to the money. If you are in-house, you will need to focus on other clients reqs. if you have them. If you don’t, you still have to suck up the hit to your time to fill metric and soldier on…or move into HR. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Photo courtesy of Pezibear/Pixabay.com

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Know your Recruiting ABP-C’s

No, that isn’t a typo – I didn’t mean to put ABC’s! Indulge me for a minute and I will tell you why. Back in January 2013, I blogged about what the key attributes are that exceptional recruiters possess. One of those attributes was the ability to effectively downstream candidates through the proverbial recruiting funnel. What I mean when I refer to “downstreaming” is the recruiters’ ability to pre-qualify a candidate by removing potential obstacles/barriers that would prevent the recruiter from actually closing the candidate with their client. The logic here is that by asking the right questions and removing obstacles (to closing), the recruiter then knows what they are up against from a timeline perspective and can also properly educate their clients if they are dragging their feet during the decision-making and offer process.

ABC BlockFor purposes of this post, I wanted to take this concept of downstreaming a bit further and hone in on one aspect of it that I feel is of utmost importance. Most of us are familiar with the (somewhat) famous scene from Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin tries to “motivate” a sales team by getting them to focus on the concept of ABC – Always Be Closing (Warning – language alert if you choose to play this clip). The same applies to recruiters as well; however, I wanted to add one more letter to that acronym – a P. In this case, the “P” stands for “pre”, as in Always Be Pre- Closing. In the recruiting downstream funnel, it is of utmost importance that recruiters are always pre closing their candidates. In other words, recruiters need to be pre-closing during the downstream process vs. the actual offer process. The act of extending the offer should be merely a formality as it simply recaps all the previous discussions in a written and formal format. An effectively pre-closed candidate receives an offer with a response akin to “this is as we discussed, where do I sign?”

So the real key to not experiencing offer rejection is the discussion during theLetter P downstream process. As a recruiter, you cannot wait until your client (whether you are an in-house or agency recruiter) comes up with a formal written offer before presenting the terms to your candidate. You need to be discussing these items during the downstream process so that when you advise/work with you client to prepare the actual offer, it is reflective of what the candidate has discussed with you (and your client). A big part of your role as the recruiter is working with your candidate and client on the back and forth of potential terms so that the final offer is realistic (for both parties) and all the major stumbling blocks have been covered. So the real question is, what sorts of items should the recruiter be “pre-closing” their candidate on? Here is a simple checklist to keep you on track:

  1. Salary and other compensation – always one of the most important items but best to deal with it up front. You need to get a feel from your candidate what they are looking for and understand what your client is able to pay.  You need to find out what your candidate’s current comp is and work upward from there, especially if the job you are presenting to them represents some upward career movement and/or added responsibilities.  If the position involves a bonus structure, this should be discussed and pre-closed on too – i.e. What is the ceiling amount? How is it earned? How is it paid out?   You should also pre-close your candidate on overtime compensation for the position. i.e. Is there any? When does it kick in? Last but not least, if there is relocation compensation as part of the offer, this too needs to be discussed and your candidate pre-closed on how this will look (terms) in the offer.
  2. Overall benefits package – this is important to look at in terms of how it relates to the salary as well. Are there disability plans (short term/long term) as part of the package? Who pays for them? Is there a pension plan? Is there a matching RRSP program? All of these items can represent value as part of the offer – you just need to understand what is important to your candidate (and what your client can offer) and the pre-close accordingly.
  3. Title – this sounds silly but can be a stumbling block. It should be clear as to what the position title is going to be and at what level, organizationally speaking, it slots in at. Is it a Manager level job? Director? Other? Understand what is being offered so that there is no surprise in the written offer. I have seen far too many cases of everything else lining up but the actual title in the offer is off and it throws the entire process off track.
  4. Vacation allowance – this is a key element to be aware of both in terms of knowing what the candidate currently has vs. what your client may offer. It is hard for any candidate to take less vacation than they currently have. So know what your candidate has now and know what your client can offer. Often companies can’t/won’t move on salary (budget) but can/do move on vacation allowance.
  5. Professional development – what is being covered here? What needs to be covered? This can be anything from professional dues, tuition, conference fees, etc. but often are items of great importance to the candidate.
  6. Start date – another obvious but critical element. You need to understand when your candidate is able to leave their current job (what notice period they have to/want to provide) and when they can start the position you will ultimately offer them. Do they have vacation time they are looking to take /do they have a previously booked trip? Ask the questions and make sure that the start date in the offer is a start date that the candidate is comfortable with. You don’t want to get into a back and forth with the candidate and your client on start date – this is one of those items that can go off the rails pretty quickly.
  7. Spouse – while this has nothing to do directly with the offer, it has everything to do with offer rejection! Good recruiters always pre-close candidates with their spouses. That is, they make sure the candidate has discussed things with their husband/wife/partner to make sure that they are onboard with a potential change. Often the spouse is the true decision maker (i.e. household budgeter) and they need to be comfortable with what the offer will include. This factor is 10x more important when any offer involves relocation. If need be, get on the phone with the candidate and their spouse and pre-close them both together.

By taking the time to effectively pre-close candidates on these seven areas, your actual offer review/acceptance process will become a mere formality. In fact, by pre-closing on these key areas, your overall offer acceptance rate should dramatically increase and there will very few of those “surprise” offer rejections you may be seeing now. What about you? What other areas do you feel you need to pre-close candidates on? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Block image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Letter P image courtesy of screations/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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