Editorial: Selling people on joining you

Jul 17, 2014

Mark Zweig provides 10 tips how to treat potential new employees right.

One of the things we do at ZweigWhite is a limited amount of executive search consulting. Most people don’t really understand that. They think it means we help people get jobs – that we “place” people in companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. The companies that hire us to find someone who can fill a critical opening aren’t interested in seeing the best of the unemployed or soon to be unemployed. They tell us that they want someone who is truly outstanding and who can make a difference in their firms. But then when it comes to how to treat these candidates – once identified – many of these same firms stumble, fumble, and trip their way to an actual hire because they don’t understand that recruiting is selling! Here are a few of the things that companies could do better. Some of these may seem silly to you but trust me, they all contribute to a higher offer acceptance rate and start rate:
  1. Arranging for pickup and delivery of out-of-town candidates from the airport. Do you want someone you are trying to induce to make a change to get a bad cab ride – maybe one where the driver gets lost, or where the car has no air conditioning, or the cab smells from the drunk passenger who puked in it two hours before? I don’t. I pick up or arrange for pick up.
  2. Controlling the route to and from the airport. Over 30 years ago, when I lived and worked in Memphis, I was very sensitive to this. You had two choices when it came to the airport. Go through a horrible blighted area... or take the long route through beautiful suburbs. I chose the latter.
  3. Having a video or other presentation that sells the company and the area. A nice little show can be very helpful in showing what makes the company a great place to work. I find most people working in firms cannot articulate this.
  4. Getting realtors involved EARLY in the process. They can be your best intel into what the candidate is really thinking about a potential job change. Use them!
  5. Talking to the spouse of the candidate to learn about his/her questions or concerns about a potential move. You cannot and should not ignore spouses. Get their numbers and arrange a call with them for anyone you are getting serious about trying to hire.
  6. Arranging meetings at a school or schools for parents of children with special needs. Finding a school can be a deal-breaker or a deal-maker when it comes to hiring. Probe and then HELP the candidate (and his or her family) get the information they need to put this issue to bed.
  7. Making sure the candidate is treated well during every meeting. We just had a candidate – one we actively recruited – be treated poorly by our A/E firm client. Even though it was a local interview, they ignored the time constraints the candidate told them she had for the meeting and also put her in a waiting room with other job candidates who were there actively seeking new jobs. Not the good first impression we and they wanted to create.
  8. Stop asking and obsessing about why the candidate wants to make a change. The best people may NOT want to make a change. They have been convinced by a good recruiter to take a look at your opportunity with an open mind. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily committed to leaving their current employers. Don’t make the candidate feel uncomfortable by latching onto to this topic and not letting go.
  9. Making sure that all interviews start – and end – on a high note. When you have someone who is not a great interviewer/seller, you better make sure he or she is not the first or last individual a job seeker interacts with.
  10. If an offer is to be made, not delaying that endlessly. Time is your enemy. The longer you delay making a job offer to someone you think you want to hire, the harder it will be to get him/her to accept once you do.
Last bit of advice. If you do work with an outside recruiter, do NOT cut them out of the process at any stage along the way. Some companies want to do this, but it’s a mistake. Having someone who can debrief the candidate after each and every meeting or phone call, and after an offer is extended, is invaluable to you. Use this resource! Any fees you pay won’t be different if you use the resource. Outside recruiters have a lot of experience and insights that can help you. Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com. This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1064, originally published 7/21/2014. Copyright© 2014, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.