Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for June, 2012

How Come Recruiter’s Never Call Me Back? CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT – IT’S YOU!

Posted by sweens on June 5, 2012

Posted by Dan Levine on June 1, 2012 at 9:38am

What Recruiters Are Looking For When They Contact You

Most successful recruiters do not waste a lot time with anyone who is not a fit for their clients. You were called (or emailed) initially for a very specific reason, either:

1.  You have the skills or experience required for a job

2.  You work for a client competitor

3.  Someone gave your name as a reference, or

4.  Your LinkedIn profile insinuates that you may be a good match.

That’s about it. Other than a few one-offs, these are the reasons you are being contacted in the first place.

When a recruiter calls you, they generally have a structured way of seeking the answers they need:

1.  Does the candidate’s core competencies fit the client’s needs?

2.  Are they successful?

3.  Do they have any motivation to make a change?

What many candidates are not realizing is that everything you do and say and how you do and say it is being calculated: Here are some examples:

1. A Recruiter calls or emails you about a position and you immediately ask, “Who is the client?” because you’re too busy to speak.

What you should do: Set a better time to speak with the recruiter later that day. Tell them whether you are open or not to making a change and look forward to the next conversation if there should be one. If you have zero interest in making a career change, tell them this upfront, but let them know what type of opportunities you may be interested in down the road and a time frame to follow up. For example, “Thank you for thinking of me, but at this time I am on pace to make quota and have lots of irons in the fire and a great pipeline. However if you do come across an opening in Senior Management, I’d be willing to listen, but not until September when our fiscal year ends.”


2.  A Recruiter emails you a description of a job opening and you reply only with…………..“What’s the comp package?” 90% of the time, the recruiter will not reply back with the figures. You’ve just told the recruiter that money is your only motivator and you only will give them your time if you know what the compensation package is first.

What you should do: If money is the biggest factor in making career decisions, you’ve probably moved around a lot or haven’t had much tenure in one place. It’s OK to be money motivated, we all are, but remember a recruiter needs to know certain things first before talking about compensation. Most clients give recruiters a fair range of base salary, commission structure, sign-on bonus, equity, etc. There is no way to determine what the actual package will be if the recruiter doesn’t get the information they need. If you are the ideal type of “A Player” that the client is looking for, this usually means you are paid higher than an average person in a similar role. Discussing your current salary and on-target earnings (with the recruiter) can only help you obtain the dollar amount you would need to make a change. And always remember to have your quotas and performance clearly stated on your resume, so it’s easy to refer back to them.

Retained search firms train recruiters to look for these signs and use their time wisely. It is important that you build a mutual trust and respect with a recruiter. This comes solely from good communication. Pick up the phone and call instead of sending one-line emails, you should know that you’re not the only person being contacted. Call back when you say you’re going to call back. Send your resume when you say you’re going to send it. And finally, if you want to show your ultimate respect to a good recruiter, give them a solid referral if you’re not interested in the opportunity personally. By doing this, you become a valuable partner to the recruiter and most likely will be put to the top of their list to contact should something open that fits what your looking for.

So think twice about how you respond to the recruiter next time she calls– it might be the call that can change your life!

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Seven “Non-Negotiables” to Prevent a Bad Hire

Posted by sweens on June 1, 2012

by David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott

The costs of a bad hire are staggering. A recent survey by Career Builder reports more than two-thirds of employers were affected by a bad hire last year, according to AOL Jobs. Of nearly 2,700 employers surveyed, 41% estimate a single bad hire cost $25,000; a quarter estimate a bad choice cost $50,000 or more — not to mention the demoralizing effect of the issue on other employees and on the new hire. Losing a job is one of the most stressful events a human can experience.

To avoid that, when we make hires, we screen candidates using a list of personal characteristics we call the Non-Negotiables. First there were four. Ultimately, we’ve expanded the list to seven. These are the characteristics that have become the primary criteria for hiring decisions — things we value even more than skills and background. When we add people to our nearly 100-person company, these criteria are non-negotiable.

The seven Non-Negotiables are Respect, Belief, Loyalty, Commitment, Trust, Courage and Gratitude.

Ideal hires bring traditional and job-specific capabilities and high proficiencies in these seven core traits. However, in many cases, the Non-Negotiables have led us to make what others would consider “unusual hires.” The result, for our company, has been near-zero turnover — and many employees express the desire and willingness to stay with us for life.

It took us a few years before we fully embraced the concept of the Non-Negotiables as an explicit hiring goal. We always sought individuals with high character strengths and strong work ethics. In HR parlance, we looked for “athletes,” and we talked about assessing the right fit through a strong “gut feeling.” Since January 2011, we’ve gone further: We’ve now articulated these traits as full and formal requirements for the people we hire. Granted, it is more difficult to identify and assess character traits than concrete skills — however, the strategy we are using thus far seems to be meeting success. We ask potential candidates to tell us about situations where they have exemplified each of the non-negotiable traits. Because each candidate is interviewed by multiple leaders, we compare assessments on each of the traits. Later on, we may also move to an actual scoring system as well.

We also ask the same questions of the individual’s references — not the references they list on their resume, but of their former co-workers, associates and bosses that we identify independently, and who are in a position to speak open and candidly about the candidate’s strengths (or weaknesses) in exhibiting these traits. Clearly, it’s not an exact science — but we are finding the ways to become more precise as we grow.

At times focusing on this non-traditional hiring criteria leads us to hire people with unusual backgrounds. When Kevin Batchelor — now one of our two VP’s of Engineering — came to work here, he was not a programmer at all; his degrees were in theater and anthropology. Now, eight years later, his software designs are winning awards. John David King — now our EVP of Sales and Marketing — had no prior background in leading a sales organization. He had heart, spirit, and character, coupled with a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in communications.

We’ve filled our developer ranks largely through a partnership with Utah Valley University. We started by looking for interns — the right people with the right characteristics who wanted to learn how to code. One of them was a firefighter, one an electrician, and one was in the culinary program. Some were programmers by training, but only interested (or so they thought) in programming Internet games.

We have a strong community focus — of our near 100 employees, 40 are or have been interns working on flexible schedules to allow them to finish their degrees.

Our approach is contradictory to most conventional management wisdom, which suggests that hiring managers focus on relevant skills and experience. But it is working for us.

Our company has no shortage of talent because we’ve trained the people we bring in with care. Our employees are respectful of each other, and as a company we strive to be respectful of others as well. In a competitive $1 billion software market we are collegial — we list our competitors’ offerings along with our own products on our Facebook page, and we applaud their successes along with our own.

Our hiring strategy has built a loyal base of employees during a time when the typical career path is to “keep the options open” and to be at least periodically shopping around. Our strategy will continue to be the right one for us. Perhaps it could work for other organizations as well. We look forward to your opinions and thoughts.

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