Time to bang some heads together

Nov 11, 2016

While it is widely acknowledged that hiring people is probably the single greatest challenge faced by AEC firms today – and the problem WILL get worse and worse over the next 20 years – we STILL see instances every day of employers who don’t get it when it comes to hiring. It makes me want to bang their heads together like Moe would have done to the other two stooges! So difficult to hire and then you just keep making the same mistakes over and over!

And the thing is the same companies complain about their inability to fill critical positions but then keep doing the same goofy stuff that has kept them from filling their positions. Here’s more of what I am talking about:

  • Why the candidate is considering a job change. Your people have got to get over their preoccupation with this question. Sometimes people don’t know why. They had a crappy day and a recruiter just happened to call them. They are concerned their company won’t do what it needs to do to prepare for the next recession. The next person who is likely to become CEO is an a-hole. Any of these are possible. But unless the person is currently unemployed, in which case it is obvious why they want a new job, why are you so preoccupied with why they are in front of you? Better give them a sales pitch on the company and the role – quickly – before they change their mind and decide it is better to stay where they are. Screen prior to asking someone in. But if you do have them in, SELL, SELL, SELL!
  • Filling out employment applications. Guess what? Someone who is at a mid- to higher-level in an AEC firm and who is currently working in their job may be willing to look at another opportunity with an open mind. But that does NOT mean they will fill out a job application. That is way too much to ask, especially early in the process. As a formality after an offer is made and accepted is another matter. But why throw this hurdle up needlessly early on? I don’t get it!
  • What to offer. If someone is currently making $130,000 a year, they are NOT – I repeat NOT – going to work for you for $95K a year. That is actually really hard for some people to understand. NO one is going to take a huge pay cut to work for your company. I am NOT talking about unemployed people here whose last job paid $135,000. I am talking about people who are still employed but open to considering something else. We have seen this more than once this year and it is hard to understand. Is an employer who makes offers like this delusional? I think so.
  • Who job candidates talk to. Most job candidates – particularly those at a higher level – and again, those who are currently employed – do not want to meet with HR people as a first step. No offense to HR people – I was one myself long ago. But rather than someone who screens and doesn’t know much about the specific role, why not use the hiring manager as the first point of contact? Again – the candidate is there – possibly reluctantly – considering a job change. A bad boss is the No. 1 reason people leave jobs on their own volition. Who the potential new boss is will be extremely critical to the job candidate’s decision making process. Let’s get the boss involved. And also, be careful NOT to let that dopey blurter that many of us have on staff insult the job candidate. Like the southern engineer “jokingly” calling the job candidate from the northeast a “Yankee.” Or the department head with no social awareness skills making critical comments about the job candidate’s alma mater. Or the disgruntled principal who just regularly trash-talks the company – calling the firm “they” instead of “we” and making cynical comments about their own firm. We have seen all of these happen in the last six months. Dumb!

The bottom line is this: Yes, it is hard to hire people today. But if you aren’t having success doing what you are doing why not take a hard look at your process and who is involved and consider making changes? What have you got to lose?

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

This article is from issue 1172 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

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.