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The Recruiting Paradox
21.02.2018 00:00

Would your company send a customer service representative to close a deal with an important new client? Of course not. You'd send your top salesperson, perhaps along with a company executive and maybe even an engineer from the team that builds the product you want the prospect to buy.

So, why do you send a $30,000-a-year personnel clerk to interview a top candidate you're trying to hire for a $125,000-a-year job? It's not so much the difference in those salaries that should signal a huge risk to you; it's the irrelevance of the discussion that would ensue. What does a personnel jockey (even a smart, well-intentioned one) have to say to a busy technical manager who wants to talk shop?

Is this how you really want to establish your first substantive contact with a desirable job candidate? That's the recruiting paradox.

Don't send a clerk to do a manager's job.
Every day, leading-edge companies send clerks to impress leading-edge candidates in screening interviews. Clerks who then must wait to get on the hiring manager's agenda to review the candiate, while the candidate cools his heels. Guess what? Such candidates don't cool their heels. They smell bureaucracy and walk away.

If your management team is too busy to get personally involved in the recruiting and hiring process, your company will lose the very candidates it wants most. The best candidates are in demand, and while you're trying to put them through your administrative process, a headhunter like me will steal them.

Put your managers in the game from the start.
No matter how you identify the candidates you want to pursue, never let anyone make first contact except the manager who would hire them. It tells the candidate you're serious. It puts you ahead of other employers who send in the clowns first.

Make the candidate feel as important as the job you want him to fill. Never allow hiring to be represented as an "administrative process". This turns good candidates right off. No one wants to think he was invited for an interview because the personnel department dragged his resume out of a heap. The candidate wants to know that something specific triggered the company's interest. Preferably, someone the candidate knows recommended him, and a manager -- not a process -- stimulated this encounter.

Make recruitment personal, make it important, make it a carefully orchestrated courtship designed to make the candidate feel special. You get one chance to create a first impression.

Deliver value to the candidate.
This is advice I always give to job hunters: the very first time you talk with the hiring manager, offer something useful that proves your value. Why do employers think they can do any less when they are recruiting a candidate? You are not filling a job; you're trying to change someone's life. Make sure it's for the better.

Never forget that you initiated this courtship. Plan a meal in the executive dining room or at a good restaurant. Don't just make your meeting informative; make it intriguing and satisfying. Show the candidate -- in your first encounter -- how your technology, your products and your other employees will impact her life. Show her what she stands to gain from working with you. If the value isn't there in that first encounter, the candidate won't be back for a second meeting.

Too often, companies relegate hiring to the personnel department, where candidates are to be scrubbed and washed before they can be presented to management. Imagine trying that with a sales prospect.

You already know that one of the two most important people in your business is the customer. Now, start acting like you know the job candidate is the other. Don't let your company be an example of The Recruiting Paradox.