Recruiting Notes: Finish strong from the start

Feb 12, 2015

Tulsa Tough 2010 Day 2 - Brady Village - Men's Cat 3 Race - FiniThree ideas to help you implement a successful HR recruiting program.

I sit here writing this article the day after Super Bowl 49. I’m neither a Patriots nor Seahawks fan but it was an exciting game to say the least – and one that reminds me that, “It isn’t over until the final whistle!” This reminds me of the importance in recruiting of seeing something through to completion and not leaving things to chance, especially when dealing with human beings. The beauty of engineering and architecture are the several absolutes tied to the technical aspects of a job. However, when you are dealing with trying to hire the best and brightest people for your office you cannot afford to make too many mistakes and still have a successful recruiting program. If you are running your recruiting program on a whim and things happen on a reactive rather than proactive basis, you may be in trouble if you are hoping to grow your firm. Here are three ideas that, if systematically implemented, can help you and your HR department always operate from a position of strength. First off, you need to have a strategic hiring plan in place for how you will systematically source, recruit, and hire the best people for your company. You cannot leave this to chance or hope that LinkedIn will provide for you as your projects increase. The most successful firms in our industry don’t drop the ball in this area. Recently, I’ve witnessed more HR departments hire in-house recruiters or outsource some or all of their recruiting needs to an executive search firm. You have to be intentional about this and you also need to understand your current capacity for getting things done from an HR perspective. Many firms have great HR managers but they don’t have great HR recruiters. You have to identify the strongest sellers of the company ethos and brand and utilize them throughout the recruitment process. A good outside recruiter can handle some of this for you but you will still need someone internally who can meet with candidates, articulate the features and benefits of working with your firm and ultimately help candidates understand why they should be working there. It’s not rocket science but I see many firms with good names still making mistakes in this area and missing out on the next superstar PM. Every phase of the recruitment process needs to have a caretaker who can “own it!” This may not be just one person and if it’s a committee of people everyone has to be in agreement about the process of recruiting in your firm. Who will candidates speak with, meet with, dine with, etc.? Second, you need to develop a relocation plan that speaks very clearly to the benefits and challenges of moving to your neck of the woods. I recently wrote an article about this subject that gives some very clear instructions on what you can do to ensure a successful relocation (THE ZWEIG LETTER, Jan. 19, 2015, issue #1087). Every office location has pluses and minuses about it and you just have to figure out what those are and learn what to accentuate and what to acknowledge as a deficiency. Trust me! Candidates will appreciate you pointing these things out and if nothing else you will at least attract a person who knows full well what they are getting themselves into, instead of being surprised about how hot the summers can be because they visited your firm in the middle of winter. This is a very simplistic example but you want your new hires to be “all in!” and not griping about a situation that could have been avoided. Lastly, you need to develop a metric for keeping track of your recruitment process. If you don’t know how many people you are sourcing, calling, interviewing, making offers to, etc., you will find it difficult to track your success. If you are a smaller firm and you don’t have an HR department to do this, you need to have someone in your office who’s good at keeping track of things. We keep track of this information for our clients in our executive search group for everything we do. These metrics tell us where we run into problems in the recruiting process and where we have success. This sounds like a lot but in order to hire the best people you need to have a strong HR recruiting system in place. I would be more than happy to speak with you further about some of the challenges you are having from a recruiting perspective. Sometimes an outside perspective makes all of the difference in the world. Randy Wilburn is director of Executive Search with Zweig Group. Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @RandyWilburn and @ZGRecruiting.
This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1091, originally published 2/16/2015. Copyright© 2015, Zweig Group. 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.