On-the-Spot Hiring

(In this article @ before a name denotes a person’s Twitter name.)

@ValentinoBenito guested on the Recruiting @Animal Radio Show on Wednesday, June 15 and he was regaling the crowd with tales of his past recruiting successes.

Early in the interview he made the broad statement that “Recruiting is pretty straight-forward.”

Uh-oh,” I thought. “He’s going to rile some up in this crowd.”

What I didn’t expect was for him to explain what he meant so succinctly.

Usually, guests who come on the show and blither on and on about how successful they are get ripped to shreds and given low scores in the one half hour AfterShow that @Jerry_Albright hosts.

That didn’t happen with “Tino.”

It seems a ways back he was tasked to hire engineers on an historically large defense project and one of the companies the customer wanted to see lots of engineers out of was Boeing.

The great need meant that he couldn’t be too picky — he was grabbing engineers with generally correct experience by the bushel.

The customer knew the correct experience resided at Boeing.

They were smart because they were competing for people with other firms who were working on the same huge defense project and they recognized that they were in the midst of a war for talent in which speed was essential to beat the competition.

He was given the green light to offer people (from Boeing) jobs ON THE SPOT.

Owning this opportunity gave him a great advantage and made him swift of foot.

He could beat out the competition on any given day.

Few companies allow their recruiters this latitude.

There’s good reason to allow your recruiters to make “on the spot” offers to candidates.

If there are companies you admire — companies who have shown up (time and again) on the resumes of your better employees –it’s a pretty good bet that others who work for these companies would make good employees for you. Especially if you’re hiring in a discipline similarly aligned to theirs, like engineering.

I have often said that, in recruiting, identifying the target companies one sources from is half the battle.

What I mean is if you choose your target companies carefully and you source carefully inside them the people you identify will (most likely) be well suited to fill your open position(s).

It’s not rocket science.

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Companies spend millions of dollars hiring (and training) the right people.

If their philosophy and ambitions align with yours poaching those people from those companies represents no transgression in civil law.

For those of you for whom the word “poaching” raises hackles on your spine let me be clear:

I am not recommending you “poach” with the intention of destroying another company.

If your intention is to hire the best people for your own company then have at it!

There’s a difference.

Commerce is not for the faint-hearted.

Getting back to the hiring-on-the-spot subject of this article:

Arm your recruiters with the ability to offer jobs immediately to candidates out of specific target companies that you admire.

Don’t be afraid to do this.

Recruiting is pretty straight-forward.

*A target company is a company you send a sourcer into to find people on the inside who hold specific titles or who are doing the job you want done for you.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!


36 Comments on “On-the-Spot Hiring

  1. Here we go again Maureen. “Once you’ve got the name – the recruiting work is pretty much done.”

    Yep. Nice try.

    I did not hear Tino say he was making offers to names on an org chart. Perhaps he did. Perhaps I would have choked right after hearing that.

    Identifying a name and title does not finish the job. It only starts the job. You need to interview, evaluate, then ATTRACT the person to the company.

    But I’ll give you a “A” for effort on this one.

  2. Maureen these were special conditions. They got a huge contract and needed many people right away and before the other companies working on the same projects got them.

    It’s diff if you’re looking for a key person in a smaller company to handle a very specific job. Although, if the recruiter understands the role well technically I believe that this could be done.

    The hiring manager wdnt have to be involved at all.

  3. Animal – Not enough companies do this for the technique to be accepted.

    Jerry – It musta’ been while you were off the show takin’ onea’ those important customer calls you get all day /all night at all hours. Next time, stay tuned into the whole show and you won’t miss anything.

    For those who don’t know the history of the agitation ‘tween Jer and myself:

  4. Animal – to suggest the hiring manager “wouldn’t have to be involved at all” almost suggests you don’t really understand the interviewing/hiring process. Please tell me, a loyal fan of your show, that I am misinterpreting this statement…..

  5. Listen Jerreh,

    If you’re an engineer like Steve Levy and you understand the dept and the tech aspects of the job why can’t you take the pressure off the manager and hire the person yourself?

    These doods R2 busy for the hiring process it sure seems to me.

  6. Permission to hire on the spot would benefit the client, the recruiter and the candidate. The candidate would appreciate working with a recruiter who is a decision maker and that the process is moving quickly. The client would appreciate how quickly the requisitions closes, and that they are freed up to work on other mandates. And the recruiter would appreciate having control over the process and closing multiple orders in succession. This practice could strengthen the relationship between the client and the recruiter, and the recruiter and the candidate. Might not be suitable for all roles, but would come in handy for low level volume recruiting like staffing a call centre.

  7. While I appreciate Ani-mule’s platitudes, even then it isn’t easy…

    But first let’s talk about why it isn’t very straightforward; I offer you two very important and critical words – “Hiring Manager.” Having a hiring manager tell you that she wants a Design Engineer out of Boeing is both a blessing and a curse. Any help from a hiring manager beyond the promise to interview candidates and offer feedback within 48 hours is gravy but if all that is offered is a company name and job title you’re going to be on a wild goose chase. You cannot recruit a bushel of engineers from any company without knowing specifics.

    If the HM had enough competitive intelligence to ID a specific department, then at least you’ll know you’re in the ballpark; you just don’t know the right row and seat combo. Now here’s the rub – even with being a retired engineer it’s still a rub…unless the recruiter knows the specific problems the person will be asked to solve once hired, there is no way he can hire on the spot.

    Even more, what hiring manager would want to pass the responsibility of making a hiring decision to someone NOT EVEN IN THE GROUP? Perhaps one one who will point the finger at the recruiter if the employee steals secrets and sells them to the highest foreign bidder?

    The really good recruiter like “Hello, this is Jehr-eee” can and should, with real in-depth knowledge of the role, problems, and fit, whittle down candidates to the point of being darn close to a 1:1 ratio of candidates presented to candidates hired. Anything less than this means there are inefficiencies in the recruiting process.

    Even Chris Havrilla (retired software geek engineer) agrees…

  8. @Maureen:
    Faster, Pussycat! HIRE, HIRE!
    (IMHO, speedy hires are better than slow ones.)

    It would make it much easier if recruiters could hire, but that’s an alternate universe.

  9. So Steve Levy, you’re saying that as an engineer you can’t understand the job well enough to hire.

  10. Yes – I do agree, Steve. And while we are at it, as a candidate, I can’t imagine taking a role without talking to the person to whom I would be reporting. Even if you have the skills or training to do a job, it does not translate to successful performance — nor does it mean the job is (or is not) a good fit for that team, that manager, or that candidate him/herself.

  11. Imagine a company so arrogant in its predjudices that it doesn’t have the person’s possible direct superior participate in the interview process…This is the same company that wanted to hire a Head of Recruiting without a recruitng background.


  12. I recall that when I did the Animal show, I talked on and on about how I failed at this or that…..much better connection with the audience 😉

  13. I’m going to take a vote on the yays and nays on my next show (no show June 22).

    Martin Snydert: When I did the Animal show, I talked on and on about how I failed at this or that

    @MartinSnyder – I don’t remember you being so humble. I’ll have to listen to that show again

  14. Listen Ani-mule, I have no doubt that if I know the real job, the real problems that someone will be tasked with solving – meaning I’ve had the conversation that I wanted to have with the hiring manager, then I’m confident I can make the hire. However, for the hiring managers who don’t have the time to have the talk or really don’t know what they want (they also have an incredibly difficult time articulating the real job), I can make the hire…just not sure what for.

    The real problem I see is one far more insidious (not that it’s a subversive plot by a union of Boeing managers): By abdicating the decision to hire, the manager is setting up the recruiter to be the target of the blame game if the hire fails. Pure evil…

    Nothing arrogant about this scenario, just “shrewd” in a dopey sort of way.

  15. The real key to success (please don’t quote me on this or leave any permanent record of my having stated this…) is:

    Do you fit it with the team? How much of a dork are you? Are you cool enough to not be the uncoolest person on the squad? You might be able to perform in a vacuum – but if the group you’re working with doesn’t like you then you’re not gonna be successful.

    So can I spot whether someone is “quite likely” to fit the bill regarding technical skill? Probably. Can I predict whether the manager and the candidate will get along well enough for professional success? Probably not in most cases.

    But back to the original intent of Maureen’s post here. She believes a company name and title are good enough to extend an offer. THAT is hysterical.

  16. In the West Texas venacular..Whut thet sounds like ta me is, if ya don’t give enuf uf a crap ta meet em before ya har em’, ya prolley don’t give enuf uf a crap to tell em’ bye before ya far em’.

    I would be really worried about a candidate who take a job without meeting the supervisor and.or the team unless they were going to do a gig as a contractor. Short term.

    This sounds like a unique situation where they were looking for a lot of bodies in order to get a contract by proving they had bodies. Contract achieved i would suspect a lot of sorting out was done after the fact. Was anything said about how many of those “blind hires” were around a year later and two years later?

    There have been a lot of times when i have been dead sure that a candidate i was submitting was a slam dunk only to have the candidate turn into something different in the interview with the company. There are some real Jeykel and Hydes out there.

  17. Dave Manaster, can you fix the delay on the comments. You’re turning everyone against Maureen Sharib.

  18. No, Animal. It doesn’t take Dave to do that. I do a fine job of doing that (turning people against me) myself. It has nothing to do with fractious comment software or in me moderating comments, something any author IS UNABLE TO DO here on ERE’s Articles.

    Ad hey, Jer, when you put something in quotes, in a comment to an article, like you did here:
    “Once you’ve got the name – the recruiting work is pretty much done” it appears you are quoting something the author said.
    I scanned the article, scanned my recollection (and my conscience) and scanned google for proof of me saying something like that.
    I couldn’t find it.
    “Nice try…I’ll give you a “A” for effort on this one.”

  19. @Animal – There is no delay on comments that are posted to articles on ERE.net, and authors do not have the ability to moderate comments on their articles.

    Sometimes comments get caught in our spam filter though, and we have to manually approve them before they go live. It is a minor inconvenience, but it’s necessary — the spam filter catches dozens of viagra ads, offers from relatives of dead African bankers, and links to unlock iPhones every day.

  20. My goodness, this really got everyone worked up for a Friday morning!

    I understand everyone’s arguments on both sides and here are my thoughts:

    re: candidate trust and/or confidence–I believe that if the situation is explained appropriately to the candidate during this process he/she would be understanding and thankful not to have to go through the usual gauntlet.

    re: HM participation and Recruiter authority–If the recruiter is an internal or corporate recruiter that is respected, has credibility, and understands the business, department, and position, in this instance it makes a lot of sense and could be a great solution to a high volume need. If the recruiter is an external recruiter/headhunter, it is a little trickier. Obviously, he or she is not going to have as much intimate knowledge of the business, department, and company culture, and getting them up to speed would be very time-consuming. Plus, there is the whole fee factor–while we can assume they are in it to makes piles of money and this may effect their judgement on hiring decisions, the flip side is that what headhunter wants to lose such a potential cash cow as a client? As the hiring company/client, you would have to choose your partner very, very carefully….

    Happy Friday!

  21. Much, MUCH too bold for today’s risk averse companies, whose managers won’t go the the restroom without the whole organizational structure approving it. I love the concept, though.

  22. Maureen,

    Just read and loved your “On-the-Spot Hiring” article and want to offer additional details (which time and Animal did not allow) to clarify what you grasped and summarized fairly well. Because of the nature of the show which emphasizes “get to the point” I simply did. Animal, if he’s anything, he is a MASTER for getting a guest to get to the point PRONTO.

    Point of clarification: We effectively did make “on-the-spot” job offers at most of our open and “invitation only” job fairs (which Boeing, Seattle was) throughout the country back in the ‘80s because we realized that, all things being equal, a clear advantage to be competitive with other defense contractors (to include our sister divisions by the way) was to strike first by offering jobs on the spot. No other company was doing this back in the day because they were hung up on the traditional way of the job offer process that tended to be bogged down in getting several levels of signature approvals before an “official job offer” could be extended. Yes, exceptions are made but those are few with most employers. Our logic was, based on positive interviews, we simply wanted to emphatically speed up the “we like and want you” statement “in writing”…with contingencies that the candidate also had to pass medical and a background/security check—before we would make it an official job offer–which satisfied HR and Legal.

    Here’s the advantage, for those who don’t understand the brilliance of the move–candidate “A” interviews with us and three other companies—they say “thanks for coming in…We have plenty of others to interview before we’ll make a decision…We’ll get back to you shortly with a decision.” 1-2 weeks go by. Based on a positive interview with two hiring managers and myself (three votes of confidence)–we say “we like and want you now” and put it in writing, JOB TITLE/LOCATION/SALARY/RELOCATION–but remind them not to give notice until they have passed a background and medical check. By signing this Contingent Job Offer we will expedite that process to make it an Official Job Offer in about two weeks. They accept on the spot…wheels are turning to make the job offer official…while our competitors are sorting out who should get a job offer. In two weeks our background checks are done, drug test passed…an official job offer is overnighted BOOM! We get a start date. Meanwhile, I’m hearing from our new hires that they just got word that one or two of our competitors are interested in them…whom they interviewed some 2-3 weeks ago…,they laugh, I laugh…they report to work with Rockwell International.

    FACT: engineering disciplines, e.g., production, design, R&D, etc., are occupied by professionals who know their counterparts in competitor companies, as well as some of the key projects in the company’s backlog. Obviously, we leveraged those technical linkages to our advantage to get insights into strong candidates we wanted to purse, particularly those in projects/contracts coming to and end.

    The fact is, we were very picky on whom we hired and these were not job offers “blindly” extended by me the lead recruiter. I had two hiring manager on-site with me in Seattle (example I used), co-signing my recommendations—so there were three votes on each offer. Plus, our Ads ran in the Seattle papers weeks ahead of our arrival. We were pre-screening candidates and assessing them well ahead of our interviews. So our Ads, our technical networks, and my techniques for leveraging additional key contacts brought forward many contenders who were thoroughly assessed. I was in communication with key members of management to exchange candidate info for pre-screen assessments. Candidates were “checked out” via our networks—and my managers gave me a green light to set-up an interview or not. So, in sense, we were already fairly familiar with each candidate before they sat for interviews with management, with the exception of interviewees I set-up independent of my managers who trusted by grasp of “what/who works” and they all past muster.

    OFFER PROCESS: After the three interviews, I was given a scribbled (handwritten) note that I converted to an official CONTIGENT JOB OFFER FORM stating “This contingent job offer is made to you today: Specifying JOB TITLE, LOCATION, SALARY and RELOCATION.

    What blew these candidates away was our ability to give them a CONTINGENT JOB OFFER on the spot when no other company was doing it. They actually left dumbfounded, but impressed—even flattered. Guess what else they felt? They felt their buddies should hear about this…and like wild fire, our schedules ballooned. So, you heard correctly. When you have to recruit literally thousands of highly skilled Engineering, Production, R&D, QA, Procurement, Contracts, Business Development, etc., talent—you assemble a team of HIRING managers and recruiters who don’t putz around. They know what they want and they made sure the candidate knew they were impressive enough to garner a Job Offer On the Spot…with contingencies.

  23. Tino,
    Thanks for coming in on this brushfire.
    I expect soon it will be an out-of-control wildfire.
    Then a conflagration.
    We’ll see.
    Life is all about “contingency” planning, isn’t it?
    The maneuver is BRILLIANT.

  24. Hi Maureen,

    Sorry for not responding sooner, but in hindsight the controversy does flush-out heartfelt concerns about the recruiting process which is what we’re all about.

    While I didn’t respond directly to all of the specific concerns mentioned–I hope this general follow-on comment helps answer the key concerns with on-the-spot job offers.

  25. @Keith Halperin Jun 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    You posted: “Imagine a company so arrogant in its predjudices that it doesn’t have the person’s possible direct superior participate in the interview process…This is the same company that wanted to hire a Head of Recruiting without a recruitng background.


    Your observations are off-the-cuff and a bit demeaning, but I won’t take them personal because I don’t know you personally—but since your comment is in the public domain I will take a moment to clarify what you should know about Rockwell International and me on the subject of On-the-Spot Job Offers.

    My earlier comment should satisfy your first incorrect observation. As to your second, that I was the “Head of Recruiting without recruiting background” – please know that prior to Rockwell–I did have two years of civilian staff recruitment experience with the US Army Officer Personnel Directorate in Alexandria, VA (formally located at the Pentagon). Rockwell preferred “aircraft experience” during my initial interview but ended up settling for me, with 2 years of experience, 2 degrees, 3 years of project management experience.

    When Rockwell hired me away from the largest Latino serving minority community based organization in the country–MAOF, where I was Project Director, they brought me in as level-1 Recruiter…the bottom of the totem pole. Based on performance in recruiting roles for Manufacturing/Production, IT, QA–I excelled and was promoted 4x in 5 years through various levels ending in the role of Manager, Employment and University Relations–managing one of the largest defense contracts in the history of defense programs. A program that delivered 100 B1-B aircraft ahead of schedule and under budget. An aircraft so specialized it rewrote many world records for: armament loads; distance range for a bomber; stealth signature for a large aircraft; speed (faster than a speeding bullet); and accuracy for identifying and hitting its targets. A program so large it engaged 5000 subcontractors from throughout the country.

    So FYI…my performance as a “recruiter/Manager of Recruitment” distinguished me from my peers earning Rockwell’s highest PRIDE AWARD for an HR professional in 1989 and the accolade from the company president of “Team’s Top Recruiter”. Incidentally, the Employment Management Association (EMA), a national organization that later merged with SHRM and is now the SMA (Staffing Management Association), awarded me its highest honor, the PERICLES ACHIEVEMENT AWARD for staffing excellence.

    I’ll be happy to clarify further is you have other concerns about my employment and my employers.

  26. The hiring managers onsite makes this a whole different ball game from what i understood. In that instance it would not be a blind hire just offered by a recruiter without the candidate meeting the hiring manager. I retract the “blind hire” comment and will check out. Hiring on the spot is a great thing in this instance. Right up there with sending in a candidate and having him walk out with an offer in hand pending the normal contingencies.

  27. Maureen,

    An interesting footnote to all the hiring I was involved in with Rockwell International, particularly poaching from Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and others…is that in the mid-1990s Boeing bought most of the Rockwell divisions and and a few other companies…essentially getting all that talent back.

    Go figure.

  28. Tino,

    Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy her than to hire her.

    I saw a lot of that in the ’90s too – companies I worked for (phone sourcing) that ended up buying many of the companies that were often on their target lists.

    I’m seeing the same thing starting to happen again.
    I won’t name names.

  29. My apologies for the misunderstanding, Tino. I was not referring to you or Rockwell, about which I have no informaton. I was referring to a frequently cited “Employer of Choice” with a legendarily dysfunctional hiring process.



  30. Thanks, Keith.

    I’ve seen many of your other comments on different subjects and was surprised to read your comment on Maureen’s blog which seem directed at me and Rockwell based on my commentary on Animal’s radio show.

    The problem with time constraints and abrupt change of subjects in a free wheeling radio interview–is you don’t get a chance to clarify comments made that do need additional detail.

    I was impressed with Maureen’s and Jerry’s ability to gather the gist of what I was trying to say in-between the great questions and the bombastic yelling.

    We’re cool, then.


  31. You’re very welcome, Tino. I myy be annoying, frustrating, and too much in love with the look of my own print, but I try to draw the line at attacking people in public, particularly if I’ve never had dealings with them. I may attack a particular person’s perspective, premises, or facts, but not *the person themself.


    *Folks: if I have attacked you personally here, you show me, and I’ll publicly apologize to you/them, too.

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