Basic Training conjures up many images for people who served in the military. Unbelievable, comical, weird, and life changing experiences are all interwoven in the fabric of your military memories. One recruit, as the story goes, enmeshed in basic training decided that army life was not for him. He began to go to every formation, every mess hall line, every drill on an imaginary motorcycle. Countless times during the day you would see him release the kick stand, hear the vroooomm, vroooomm of his imaginary motorcycle, watch as he tested the invisible brakes and steered the handlebars. He and his ‘bike’ quickly captured everyone’s imagination and became the topic of conversation throughout the training regiment. After three weeks of this, he and his motorcycle were summoned to a meeting with the company commander. You could hear him coming throughout the company area as he drove his ‘bike’ full speed into the orderly room.
The young recruit jumped off his ‘bike,’ smartly saluted the captain, and stood at rigid attention. After the commanding officer gave him his discharge papers, he turned and began to walk out the door. “Hey,” the CO shouted, “You forgot your ‘bike.'” The smiling, soon-to-be civilian, retorted: “Thank you, sir. I won’t need it any more.”
After basic comes Advanced Individual Training. Last month our focus was the telephone, recruiting, and candidates. This month we will look at clients, marketing, sales calls, and changes in the industry, new skills, and the impact of the Internet.
I am writing this on a beautiful Sunday morning on the Labor Day weekend. Beautiful for many reasons: it is a spectacular late summer day, the Red Sox have a sizzling winning streak going, and I am going to see the Bosox-Rangers game this afternoon. However a very disconcerting, menacing event took place earlier this morning at church. The priest, a notorious Yankee fan and therefore obviously disturbed, posed and answered this question at the end of mass: “Where can you get a great hotdog and watch a ball game in mid-October?” “Yankee Stadium.”
Company slogans sometimes last for generations:
I want YOU for the US Army World War I and II
I love New York 1977
Where’s the beef? Wendy Restaurants, 1984
It’s the real thing Coca Cola, 1941
The pause that refreshes Coca Cola, 1929
…another shrimp on the Barbie … Australian Tourist Commission, 1984
Day-Timer’s slogan: “It’s all about you,” sets the stage for this article on advanced individual training. You can be as effective and successful in this business as you want to be “It’s all about you.”
People in our industry are bombarded with literature, e-mails, and telephone calls touting the importance of marketing and effective sales presentations. I’m going to look at sales and marketing from two different vantage points: relationship building and listening to clients. It’s all about you and your ability to forge, strengthen, and grow mutually beneficial business relationships. Practitioners who focus on maintaining lasting relationships with the clients, in good times and in bad, have many things in common: they are still in business, they know their clients, they listen to their clients, they get repeat business, they do favors for their clients, they get referrals, and they get respect.
Let’s hear from some experts in the field about listening to clients. Two senior human resources executives, Frank Miklavic (Boston) and Ron Andrews (Prudential, New Jersey), and Greg Page, an executive search professional had a lot to say about listening. Here’s a recap:
Work at getting the job description and profile right, especially with the hiring manager and VP. Often they don’t really know what they want and the process of tweaking the description; skill set; intangibles; work; values; etc., helps everyone get on the same page and enhances a successful placement. Find out who the decision maker really is.
Learn about the company, its products, and its “success model.”
On a senior level search especially, interview the candidate over the phone or in person if local, but meet the person live before you present the candidate. No surprises on interview day!
Try to set your own and your client’s expectations realistically so that everyone has a good chance of success.
Do more for your clients than they expect. This may be through faster work, better documentation, providing more quality references, referring a junior candidate for free etc.
Make your client’s job easier by being well prepared and organized for discussions and making the interview processes go smoothly (never waste their time).
Don’t rely on the easy recruiting methods too much do your homework.
Ask your best clients for referrals to possible new clients.
Ron Andrews was very direct:
Pursue what I ask for, not what you think I need
Deliver on your promises
Keep me abreast of what’s happening on a search at all times
Give me insight on how the candidate market views the firm
Show me that you understand our needs (technical and behavioral) by the talent you bring.
In person sales calls still make a difference. Sure, time is a factor, the telephone and e-mails are quicker, and maybe companies don’t want to be bothered. I truly believe that building the kind of relationships that last must be done face to face. Don’t call them sales calls. You don’t have to sell every time you see a client or prospective client. How about relationship calls? Whatever you choose to call them, visit your clients.
Whenever a colleague tells me that they haven’t done much business lately with an old client, I always ask: “When is the last time you saw them or had lunch with them?” One search person, who has been in business for over thirty years, makes three in person sales calls every week, tracks them and records the information gathered on his database. He started doing this in the early seventies and is still going strong. This is a discipline that has rewards.
Many veterans in the recruiting industry attest to the dynamic change that has taken place in the human resources profession in the last twenty-five years. In the old days third party recruiters would go around the Personnel Manager and build their relationships with line managers. To do so now would be fatal. Today, human resources professionals are respected partners who know their business and influence policy. The lessons for recruiting industry practitioners are obvious:
? Know all facets of recruiting; be open and receptive to new ideas; embrace change and the daily evolution of novel recruiting tools and creative ways of attracting the best candidate pool.
? Be comfortable with emerging technologies; brainstorm with others and spearhead new approaches for 21st century recruiting.
? Have the courage to step away from the trite business as usual mentality; stay current by constantly learning new skills and upgrading old skills.
? Constantly evaluate your recruiting processes and sources of finding and developing prospective candidates.
? Find out your candidate’s hot buttons and decision-making criteria. Train recruiters to focus on the difficult-to-find candidates.
? Have someone audit your interviewing skills and those of your recruiters. Demand the best in interviewing skills. Be aware of the nuances and behaviors of cultural differences. Focus on the competencies of candidates.
? Know and be able to describe the culture of your client’s organization.
Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves:
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How do our recruiters, procedures, and operations stack up to our competitors? What feedback do we get from our clients about our services compared to our competitors? What’s missing?
What would make this operation a world recruiting organization?
Are we doing business as usual – the same way we did it ten years ago? Are we out of touch?
Do we go beyond the predictable candidate slate? Do we settle for candidates who are actively on the job market? How can we expand our reach?
Are we missing out on top candidates by not getting in tune with their goals and objectives?
Glenn Gutmacher, the founder of Advanced Online Recruiting Techniques (firstname.lastname@example.org), proclaims far and wide the benefits and impact of recruiting on the Internet, Here’s a lengthy quote from one of his articles:
A search guru I respect, Shally Steckerl, recommends twelve steps for a successful Internet candidate search (www.jobmachine.net/bookmarklets/12step.htm):
1. Gather search keywords
2. Broadcast the job
3. Search internal databases
4. Use current contacts
5. Search resume boards
6. Find general industry information
7. Identify and locate competitors
8. Search for candidates from competitors
9. Search for resumes on the Web
10. Search for people on the Web
11. Communicate with new found contacts
12. If these steps yield no results, start over from step 1 using more narrow keywords and a refined message to your contacts.
Unless you’ve been under a rock since the late ’90s, you know that the major job boards have made a major impact on how companies find candidates, at least for entry to mid-level positions. However, if every recruiter spends their time on thebig three (Monster.com, still far ahead of Yahoo’s HotJobs.com and CareerBuilder.com), the same desirable candidates will be pursued repeatedly by other recruiters, and, may not be receptive to you.
This is why I advocate investigating the niche job boards. These are specific to industry, function, level, geography, diversity and more. Major boards noticed their growing success and started to create “channels” on their sites, e.g., Monster.com’s Chief Monster for executive-level candidates.
Not only do the niche job boards have some good candidates who are not on the major boards, they charge a lot less. More than likely they will let you do a trial job posting or two and/or a day or so of unlimited resume search for free, if you ask. They want you to sign on, tell others, and help them to gain some marketplace traction.
Niche job boards have much smaller databases but the candidates using them are specialized. And since you probably don’t need to put more than a few good candidates in front of the hiring manager, it may be enough. To find such sites, I recommend that you buy a comprehensive directory with site reviews, such as CareerXRoads by Gerry Crispin andMark Mehler (MMR Publishing; www.careerxroads.com); or an even larger free access job board directory from AIRS, (www.airsdirectory.com/directories/job_boards).
Next month we will discuss various recruiting tools, the use of e-mails in recruiting, candidate research, and the keys to diversity recruiting.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned the Red Sox vs. Rangers game. Curt Schilling had his 18th win (10 strikeouts) and the Sox are only 2.5 games behind the Yankees. Mirabile dictum wonderful to relate!