Over the years it seems like one of the questions I am asked most frequently pertains to finding the keys to hiring the ideal recruiter. Questions regarding ideal background, behavioral traits, intellectual capabilities, etc., are good, but in my opinion, they are not nearly as important as how to start up a new recruiter.
My premise is that recruiters with great potential can start in areas with poor preparation and fail or languish, while average potential recruiters can achieve greatness with effective preparation.
Many times people start by expending their hard work on activities that are simply low gain or no gain. Their frustration then causes a fight or flight mentality. In the case of flight, the recruiter will quit because he/she does not see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel of hard work or will take the form of mediocrity by doing just enough to not get fired. In the case of fight, the recruiter will press on and work even harder, eventually having enough quantity and energy to find the quality ultimately leading to success. It will come at a price, and that is their potential feeling that their success was in spite of you rather than inspired by you. Their loyalty will begin to deteriorate while their independence accelerates, leading to the day when they decide to “go out on their own.” The odds of a successful hire and subsequent retention dramatically increase when you make their initial climb easier. With this in mind, let me share with you a checklist of the key areas of importance related to starting someone and maximizing their odds of success.
1. Database. Several hundred companies AND the relevant contacts in each firm should already be downloaded into whatever system you use prior to their start date. This can be done with many different online content providers. You can also, at times, purchase a directory on CD-Rom and download it into your system. If these aren’t available, you will need to hire an outside research company to help with this. There are some overseas firms that can do it for $6 to $8 an hour. Having new recruiters surfing Google and Hoover’s all day trying to find companies to call that they first must enter into your database is poor utilization of their time. So, make the additional up-front investment to ensure that they can “hit the ground running.”
2. Marketing materials. A new person is more likely to be asked for his marketing materials, website, business cards, etc., than a veteran. However, many times, neither the website nor the marketing materials talk specifically about his market. Business cards may not even be ordered for some time. What is your reaction when you go somewhere and someone hands you her card and the name on it is handwritten? How about rookie, newbie! What do you think she’s thinking? Maybe something like “My company believes in me so little that they don’t even want to spend $50 on some business cards.” Effective marketing materials may not close deals, but they can help rookies significantly when they are impressive. They are sometimes just the “ante” that is necessary to get in the game. They are also part of the long-term value proposition of the person remaining with your firm.
3. Training. Some firms have great foundational training programs, but others rely on the old system of “just get out there and do it” and then occasionally throw in an old VHS/DVD by the trainer du jour. The old system did work in some cases, but so did the abacus before the calculator was invented. Our industry has evolved in the caliber of talent we can attract, and that talent expects a professional training program to help them. The training should include a blend of teaching, watching select DVDs, deskside evaluation, role playing, practice, and demonstration. New hires should be handed a schedule for their first 30 to 60 days with the activities that they should be following. For example, perhaps one day it is teaching MPC marketing for an hour. Then they watch a DVD on marketing (try NLRT module #5!). Then they must write their own presentation for someone to review and correct. Then they must make 10 new marketing presentations or 70 attempts (whichever comes first). If they get a possible JO, they should let the hiring manager know that they would like to schedule a time to review it in greater detail with their team leader (You). Then there would be a review of what transpired with a discussion about what to keep doing, what to change, and what to stop doing. The coming and going time should also be realistically laid out. The key is to create a formal program designed to teach them the fundamentals of being a successful recruiter. Training is critical to retention, and it is what spurred the theme “train to retain.”
4. Coaching and mentoring. This is different from recruiting training. This is teaching them about their market, if necessary, and holding them accountable to specific performance metrics. A good plan focuses on what they want and then builds a program of requisite activities and energy to achieve them. Meetings should be held daily and should spend equal amounts of time on market-place education, numeric analysis, and specific coaching around any areas of need that are identified. Marketplace training is critical in ensuring that the recruiter can talk “shop” as rapidly as possible, in addition to being able to talk about recruiting issues. There should also be some specific collaborative activities in their start-up. Perhaps the coach will participate in the first five job orders, first 10 closings, first 10 presentations of candidates to clients, etc. This way the recruiter can learn by observation and co-participation. The recruiter will also respect the organization for putting his career first and helping him put some deals together faster than he otherwise could have.
5. Physical space. Not much needs to be written here other than to make sure that the person has the necessary supplies, technological equipment, and furniture. The physical surroundings are a reflection of who you are. Do yours convey who you are or want to be?
6. Quality job order and potentially quality candidate. Some start people only recruiting and others teach both from day one. However, in either case the new recruiter should start by working on a job order or with a candidate that has been prequalified by someone at the firm. The odds of an early success are increased, and the recruiter will get an early opportunity to know what a good candidate/job order looks like for the future.
7. Cultural assimilation. De-pending on your size, it is always good to make sure that the new person feels at home. Giving her a buddy to show her “the ropes” is a good way in larger environments. In smaller ones, it should be some orientation about the firm’s vision, mission, and values. It should focus on why the organization exists. Are you in business to earn a profit, or do you earn profit to be in business? If it is only the former, then that is all this person will ever care about. If it is the latter, then this is the time to enroll this person in something bigger than a job and a paycheck and instill a sense of meaning in pursuing the firm’s purpose.
Some of these you/your firm may already do well. Some you may not need to do. The main message here is that spending quality time preparing a new recruiter for success is as critical as the caliber of the person hired, and it will impact the individual’s subsequent attitude and work ethic. A great tool is a checklist, much like the one NASA uses to launch a mission; only after the checklist is completed does the “takeoff” or the mission move forward!
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This month’s top producer’s tip comes from Christine Alan. She has been with Kaye/Bassman since 1989. In those 18+ years, Christine has not only billed millions of dollars and been named a managing partner but has also had a profoundly positive impact in developing many others, as well as the overall face of Kaye/Bassman. In 2006, she billed $420,000 as a solo producer and is currently pacing to do the same this year, all the while battling and beating breast cancer and raising her son and daughter.
The Power of Reaching Out
Never underestimate the power of communication between a candidate and his/her future boss. There often comes a time in the negotiation process when we as recruiters need to step out of the way and let magic happen. I would hope that we are all in the common practice of having candidates follow up directly with their new employer to confirm acceptance of an offer that we have extended on behalf of our client. The latter is a simple courtesy whereby a candidate calls to thank his/her new boss for the offer and for the faith they have shown in the candidate.
Then there are times when we extend offers that are not immediately accepted. It hap-pens to the best of us. In a case like this, a simple follow-up call from the hiring manager to the candidate can help keep the romance alive. More important, it is a forum whereby any issues that are delaying the candidate’s acceptance can be addressed and resolved.
For example: I recently had a situation where my candidate went from being 100% in love with the client and the opportunity to practically talking herself out of the job after receiving a good offer. As it turned out, she was admittedly the recipient of some negative third-hand information, and bad advice in general. This resulted in making the candidate “conflicted and confused” about accepting my client’s offer versus another company’s offer that was on the table. It was a classic case of “fear” (false expectations appearing real). What’s the solution? I had the client reach out to the candidate to discuss the newly surfaced “issues” head-on. The result was a candidate who felt great relief after talking things through with her future boss, and an acceptance of the offer that same day.
Another example is that of a candidate who gave a verbal acceptance of an offer I extended on behalf of my client. He even confirmed his acceptance by reaching out and calling his new boss, as I had suggested. However, when he received the written offer, panic set in. The company has a policy of including the job summary in the written offer letter. The summary was actually more comprehensive than any written job description that had been previously shared with the candidate, causing him to second-guess his decision and wonder if he was being set up for failure. The remedy was for me to direct the candidate to reach out to his new boss and get clarity and comfort directly from him. After all, there is no better time than the present for a person to get in the habit of open and direct communication with his/her new boss. The result was a message from the candidate stating that he had talked with his new boss. In the message he said, “We worked through the issues to my satisfaction and everything is fine.” I then took my own advice and reached out to both the candidate and client to confirm!
Jeff Kaye is president and CEO of Kaye/ Bassman International and Next Level Recruiting Training. This former Management Recruiter National Recruiter of the year has helped build the largest single-site search firm in the country, with annual search revenue in excess of $18 million. His firm has won national awards for philanthropy and workplace flexibility and also was named the best company to work for in the state of Texas in 2006 and 2007. Kaye/Bassman has retained over 30 search professionals whose annual production exceeds $400,000. The same training that helped build this successful firm is now available through Next Level Recruiting Training. They are making a series of DVDs for training. The first series was on the candidate side, and the four hours were dedicated to marketing. The new series, on the client side, is dedicated to marketing, effective search assignments, and fee clearing. It is over seven hours in length. To learn how to take your practice and business to the NEXT LEVEL, please visit www.nlr training.com to view their product and service offerings. You can also email Jeff a thought or question at firstname.lastname@example.org.