Sunday, May 22, 2016

Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair – Companies

Many companies attend and attempt to work Career Fairs without the proper focus.  Remember your booth and staff are branding your company as an employer.

The purpose of this post is to guide company recruiters to squeeze the very last great potential candidate out of the crowd.

My background has been in recruiting since 1981.  My first contingent client was a very little known (at that time) long distant firm, MCI.  In 1992, my business began the recruiting model known as Contract Recruitment.  Appropriately, my first contract recruitment client was MCI.  Since 1992, I have worked over 100 Career Fairs nationwide for my clients – and invited as a paid speaker to speak to groups of candidates at many of them.


Companies planning to participate in Career Fairs or sponsoring their own Open House (internal Career Fair), need to plan at least 4 months ahead for their first organized participation.  Once the best practice model is completed and practiced, the preparation time will be cut in half.

Recruiting mirrors the sales process perfectly.  Therefore, the people participating in the planning and at the event need to have a recruiting/sales mind.  They are not used car sales people nor are they long term enterprise sales professionals.  Recruiters simply need to be nice relationship building people – who are not afraid to close a candidate nor counter a counter offer.

The first step is to determine what materials your company needs for its booth.  Do you have a trade show display?  Depending upon the size of your booth and staffing, you may be able to simply use a table cloth.  However, if your marketing team has a display, it is far better to use it.  

Does your company have a “toy box”?  These are giveaways with the company name and website imprinted to attract people to your booth (I call them bait…).  Depending on the location of the Career Fair, your company may use chap stick tubes, pens, stress balls, etc.

My client and I decided to attend the Comdex Career Fair in Las Vegas in the 1990’s to attract engineers.  We had a nice booth, decent giveaways, and really cool jobs.  Unfortunately, directly across the aisle from us was Gateway.  They were passing out their famous Holstein stress cows.  We saw the backs of heads for 3 ½ days.  We did chat with the engineers – after they received their stress cows.  Sometimes you cannot control your environment, especially in someone else’s Career Fair.  We did recruit a few special people.

Your preparation must include posting your available positions at least on your website.  Too often, the postings on the company website are not a priority.  It would also be wise to promote your attendance at the Career Fair on your website homepage for a week in advance, at the very least.  Depending upon your needs for new employees, your company may purchase drive time radio spots.  Remember, your potential employee may be streaming music from SiriusXM, MP 3, or another source – But someone they know is listening to the radio.

The final preparation is to select the staff to represent your employment brand at the Career Fair.  If the Career Fair is local, I try very hard to bring a hiring manager or two with me.  More about that in a minute.

Participation at the Career Fair

It is important to arrive at the facility where the Career Fair is being held at the earliest allowable time, find your company’s space and set up your booth.  If a hiring manager is attending, ask them to arrive 30 minutes prior to the Career Fair start so you may prep them on the best way to work a Career Fair.

Now a few RecruiterGuy secrets:

1)    Set your table at a right angle to the flow of traffic.  This practice removes a barrier between you and the candidates.  More importantly this gives you a “room” where candidates may pause without being jostled by the crowd in the aisle.

2)    Place your “bait” at the back on your booth, next to the display.  Now candidates have to enter your space instead of doing a “drive by” and grabbing a handful of toys/stocking stuffers/bait. Then you may decide if they are the quality of candidate you want to engage.

3)    Once your booth is set, walk around the Career Fair.  Quickly you will recognize who read this article and understood the importance of the information.  They are your direct competitors for the best candidates.

This is the reason you arrive early.  Well, sometimes there is some food too…

Remember, the people staffing your booth represent, and more importantly, may create your employment brand in candidates’ minds.  Therefore, they need to engage with the candidates – not hand them a card and say, “Apply online.” (How many thousands of times have I seen/heard that?)  What kind of impression would that leave with you?

Behavior in the Booth

Remember the importance of your brand as an employer.  Everyone participating in the booth needs to be coached on that importance.  How many times have you seen “recruiters” sitting behind the table barrier either sulking because they did not want to be there or looking at a computer reading email or worse?  Once is too many for that company.  If you feel a Career Fair is a big waste of time, you will make it so.

Therefore, your booth should be welcoming and engaging.  Smiles all around, excitement about your workplace, and focus on the candidate (each one) are all important.  During slow times, learn more about your hiring managers’ current and near future candidate needs.  I always ask if while sourcing for their current positions I came across a super candidate who does not fit their current positions, what would that person look like?  That question has led to many hires of top talent.

More RecruiterGuy secrets:

Why would you want managers to work the Career Fair with you?

1)    The word gets out quickly among the candidates that ABC Company (my client) has a hiring manager in the booth!  That attracts the best candidates quickly.  Even whisper to the organizers prior to the Career Fair that you have a hiring manager or two attending.  They will sing it to the world for you!

2)    Coach your managers why they are there:

A)  Attract the best candidates;

B)   Take those candidates out of circulation from your competition by interviewing them out of the hall immediately; and,

C)   Possibly filling their position immediately – or suggesting another opening and manager where they should be directed.

D)  Only give their personal business cards to candidates who have their interest.

Candidates sweat blood trying to create the resume that best represents their skills (you have too!).  Please respect that effort and accept their resume.  You may certainly ask an admin to enter the resume into your applicant tracking system or do it yourself.  Thank them for their resume and suggest they may also want to apply online too.

More importantly, if the candidate is someone that may interest you and introduce to the hiring manager, you NOW have talking points in your hand.  Otherwise, you will need to hope they post and pray before you see their information.  Unfortunately, many companies have conditioned candidates that they will apply online and never hear from the company again – so they have decided not to waste their time.

This is important – Never write on a candidate resume!  Not even in code – or, especially not in code.  If someone writes on a resume, shred it after using the information.  You may use a post-it or paper clip for notes but destroy them when you are done.

If I am working the same Career Fair as your company, feel free to break down your booth early.  Invariably someone who is working and arrives late finds the hall starting to dismantle.  Recruiters are no longer focused on the candidates, just getting out of there.  My clients have hired some super candidates because I welcomed them while other recruiters had their back to them, or worse, had already left.  Obviously, towards the end of the Career Fair is a great time to meet serious candidates who already have jobs.

After The Career Fair

One priority is to retrieve the resumes that your manager(s) snagged.  Actually had a manager with a mischievous look show me his jacket inside pocket that contained several resumes.  Since the Career Fair was on Saturday, I told him to copy the resumes on Monday morning.  I would drop by his office to pick them up.  That way we were co-conspirators; and his trust in me grew.  I ensured they were entered in our applicant tracking system.  We hired two of those candidates.

The next morning, call candidates that you are very interested in interviewing.  Ask if you answered their questions.  I guarantee they will be excited to hear from you!   Ask for their availability for either a phone screen or onsite interview.  If you want them to interview onsite, forward the link to your online application or send them a paper application so that step is completed prior to the onsite visit.

Why call the next morning? Remember, the other companies who read this article and are your competition will do so.  My clients have interviewed those candidates and received an acceptance from them before other companies bothered to get in touch with them.  If you are spending the time preparing and attending a Career Fair, aggressively pursue the good candidates that attend.

Being a little selfish, there are a few other Career Fair secrets that I have saved for my clients.  However, if your company follows these fundamental steps, your recruiting experience at Career Fairs will improve. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

 (Published with permission from RecruiterGuy Blog)

Bill Humbert is available for speaking and training contracts.   435-714-4425

©1999-2016 B. Humbert – Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. – USA 01-435-714-4425 The right to reprint is hereby granted, as long as the copyright notice and contact information remain with the article.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair - Candidates

People who are unemployed or simply looking for their next position are often at a loss how to proceed.  In many instances, they were never taught how to begin a successful job search, not to mention the nuances of attending and participating in events such as Career Fairs. 

My recruiting experience began in 1981 as a contingent recruiter.  In 1992, I became a contract recruiter for MCI.  We had a great 30-month experience.  As a result of my strategy and our teamwork, my hiring managers and I were able to recruit 143 IT professionals to Cedar Rapids, IA in 12 months – not an easy feat!  In 1993, I began to recruit at Career Fairs.  Since that time I have worked over 100 Career Fairs for clients – and was paid to speak to groups of candidates at many of them on how to successfully work a Career Fair.

What is your attitude as a candidate preparing to attend a Career Fair?  If it is anything less than to expect to meet great people and possibly find a job, you are selling your opportunity short.  This is a great opportunity to network with these recruiters – and possibly to network to an interview with a company not attending the Career Fair.

How many of you are involved in sales?  Not necessarily as a job, but anywhere in your life?  Approximately 5% of you will disagree with me, based on my speaking experience.  This is Very Important.  We all are involved in sales.  It may be as simple as trying to convince a child to finish their dinner, go to bed early, or finish homework.  It may be asking someone to go on a date (You don’t think that is sales??).  It could be trying to convince a fellow employee to perform a task more efficiently.

Therefore, participating in a Career Fair is an important sales opportunity for you.  Don’t let that discourage you.  On the other side of the table, the recruiters have more of an incentive to Sell You on their opportunities – if they understand their role.

Think about this question.  What truly makes you happy?  In talking to thousands of candidates, I have heard many answers to that question.  Doesn’t it come down to 2 key elements?

1)    Am I making a positive, measurable impact? And,

2)    Am I having Fun?

If both elements are there, typically money takes care of itself.

Before the Fair

Like all sales opportunities, working a Career Fair requires preparation and practice.  Some of the preparation is very simple.  Some of the preparation takes more effort and time.

1)    Know the type of position that you want to target.  This is very important!  As a recruiter with a line of potential candidates behind you, one of the last things I want to hear you say is “What jobs do you have?”  My thought immediately is, “NEXT!”  And I have heard candidates say that hundreds of times.

2)    Go to the Career Fair website and see which companies are participating.  One or more of your target companies may have booths.  Check out their websites and listings of jobs.  Remember not all jobs are posted on a company’s Careers posting.  Typically, their director and other executive positions are not on the website.

3)    Look closely at your targeted companies’ websites.  In particular look at their press releases for tidbits of information that you may be able to use during your conversation with the recruiter.

4)    Look at the ads in the paper and on the Internet prior to the Career Fair.  You may see a pattern of needs that fits your experience and skills.  Be prepared to address them in your conversation with the recruiter.

5)    Prepare your introduction to them.  In my book, RecruiterGuy’s Guide To Finding A Job on Kindle, I call it the “Here I Am” speech.  You may have heard it discussed as the “One Minute Commercial”, “Elevator Speech”, or “Tell Me About Yourself”.  Practice your introduction prior to the Career Fair.

6)    Prepare your Resume.  Bring at least 10 more copies than you believe you will need.

7)    Dress professionally.  This is a sign of respect to the people spending hours working the fair to potentially help you find your dream job.

During one of the Career Fairs that I worked in Iowa, a gentleman came in the door wearing a clown suit.  He was overheard saying that companies were so desperate to find workers, he would get a job dressed as a clown.  Unfortunately for the clown, he gave his resume to a number of companies who networked with the rest of us to identify him.  Not good.

During the Fair

Each Career Fair is organized differently.  Some ask for pre-registration with a resume.  Others simply look for walk-ins.  As a recruiter, I prefer the pre-registration route.  You may actually hear from me ahead of the Fair if I see and like your resume.

If the organizers do not print a layout of the booths the night prior to the Fair, ask for one at the door.  They will have them for the companies who are participating with booths – or there would be absolute chaos.  Try to get there a little early and mark the companies that interest you.  I suggest that you mark them as 1, 2, or 3 with most interest as #1. 

Here’s a little secret!  Just between us.  Please do not tell anyone else!

If you have any #1’s furthest from the entrance, go to them first.  This is like Disney World!  Get away from the crowds.  Typically, people herd down the rows front to back.  This may give you an opportunity to speak to a top potential before the line forms.

After you have spoken with them, treat the balance of the Fair as you would if you were a professional football general manager.  Pick the best available on your list as they are available or their lines are short.  Sometimes you just have to wait in line.  That is the game.  We are simply trying to improve your odds of talking to everyone on your list.  At the same time, some company may not have made your list.  While you are there look at all of them in passing.  A surprise company may attract your attention. 

One of my clients was De La Rue.  They were a great British based company (still are).  They used to print 60% of the world’s currency (could be more or less now).  I was working a Career Fair for them with De La Rue all over my booth.  A young man began to walk past me.  Since there were no candidates in my booth, I asked him what he was looking for.  He said that he was looking for an international company!!  He was going to walk past me!  I sent his resume to London.

At The Company’s Booth

This is important news.  Some company recruiters do not know how to properly work a Career Fair.  Generally, you can tell who they are.  They sit behind a table and look bored.  Then they tell candidates to send their resumes online where they also have to complete an application prior to submitting an application.  As a recruiter, I love those recruiters because I snag what could be great candidates from them!  They do frustrate great candidates.

If you do find a great recruiter, the temptation is to try to interview right there and then because now you are getting a little desperate.  Unless they invite you to interview right now (and sometimes I do), let them discuss culture, position, and ask you qualifying questions.  If you are interested, let them know.  Ask if there is any additional information they need now.  If not, let them get on with their afternoon or evening – and you proceed to your next company.  But you are not done with them.

Briefly – Give a firm handshake but don’t break fingers.  Practice good eye contact but it’s not a staring contest!  Be succinct.  Don’t just collect giveaways – they make terrible stocking stuffers.  Be a good listener – if there is not a match, simply accept that reality and move on.

Collect a manager’s card if she/he will give one to you.  Usually it is generic and leads to their online postings.

Before you leave the Fair, circle back to the companies where you had substantive discussions and quickly reiterate your high level of interest.  Thank them for their time and leave.

 After the Fair

Send hand written Thank You notes to recruiters or managers who spent time with you.  Include another copy of your resume.  This is called marketing.

Keep good records of your conversations with companies.

Finally, prior to an interview with these companies, research them.  Understand their history, their future direction (quarterly calls may give some direction), anticipate any problems they may be experiencing and be prepared to offer potential solutions if the topic arises.

Following these directions will give you the potential to land your job from a Career Fair!  Good Luck!

Bill Humbert is available for speaking and training contracts.   435-714-4425

©1999-2016 B. Humbert – Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. – USA 01-435-714-4425 The right to reprint is hereby granted, as long as the copyright notice and contact information remain with the article.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hiring Manager Interview Training Thought Leadership

I applaud that companies are developing interview training programs for their hiring managers.  If a hiring manager has not been taught how to effectively interview, they certainly have not been taught how to select the best candidate.  Ever hear, “This person feels good in my gut”?  When I hear that statement, I respond, "Guts are great for storing and processing food, not so great for evaluating candidate skills and experience."

  In my experience it is best to include job description writing as part of the interview training.  Job descriptions, even in the same company, change every couple of years (or more often) in our world.  New software is introduced.  Continuous process improvement changes processes and possibly reporting duties.  New hardware is introduced.  Then there is the whole world of Social Media that is constantly changing.  Make sense?

 Think about this for a second - if the job description is not on target:

1) Your recruiters will source the wrong candidates;

2) As a result of the sourced talent pool, everyone will interview the available candidates with the wrong skills and experience;

3)  Then the hiring manager will be asked to choose among those candidates with the wrong skills to extend an offer;

4) The wrong person will be selected - and will not work out; and,

5) The interviewing process will be blamed.

 Just ponder that while you are creating an interview training program.  The process from opening a new or replacement requisition through engagement and retention of employees is tied inextricably together.

With 35 years as a professional recruiter, and public speaker/trainer for 23 years, my perspective may be a little different than most people. Sometimes I see things differently…

Bill Humbert is available for speaking and training contracts.  435-714-4425

©1999-2016 B. Humbert – Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. – USA 01-435-714-4425 The right to reprint is hereby granted, as long as the copyright notice and contact information remain with the article.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1960's Recruiting in 2016!

Remember the 1960’s? Well, there are two generations – and currently a third generation (who are becoming teenagers as we speak), who don’t.

If you were a candidate, there were three primary ways for you to find a job.

1) Complete an application, drop it off with the Personnel Department, and hope the company called you.
2) Become known as a contributor in your current company and be recruited by a recruiter or someone within another company who knows your impacts.
3) Network with people who could help introduce you to another company – “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know!” became a mantra.

If you were the Personnel Department, you ran a newspaper ad and waited for responses, looked at them, decided if they were a potential fit and either interviewed them or filed their resume in a file drawer.  You reached out to a trusted third party recruiter or opened the job up for every 3rd party recruiter to submit resumes.  If you were lucky, a hiring manager would just call someone they knew and set up an interview.

In 2015, many companies have the same process, only today it is automated. The name “Personnel Department” has mostly become obsolete. Today, we have Human Resource Departments that have the responsibility for Talent Acquisition.  Instead of Recruiters, we have Talent Acquisition Specialists.  Instead of Human Resource Directors, we have Human Resource Business Partners.

How do many of those Human Resource Departments recruit today? They run an automated newspaper ad on one or more Job Boards. “Automated newspaper ad?” CareerBuilder was founded by two newspaper publishing companies.
Many companies post their positions on their websites.  That is very positive.  Unfortunately the positions are hidden under layers of marketing, almost as if to create the perception that talent acquisition is an afterthought.  If recruiting is a priority, it needs to reflect that priority on the company website.
In the mid-2000’s Social Media Recruiting became all the rage!  Unfortunately, using the premise of Behavioral Interviewing (that people revert to their original behavior when under stress), many companies jumped into Social Media Recruiting prior to understanding the time and monetary cost, not to mention how to disengage from unqualified candidates who wanted to remain engaged (read Embrace Social Media…? ).  Then they jumped back out.

When candidates reply, what are they required to do in many companies? Complete a six to seven (or more) page application prior to any conversation or mutual interest; and hope they receive a reply from the Talent Acquisition team. That process is called “Posting and Praying.”  Therefore in the model of 1960’s recruiting, instead of wandering to Personnel for an application, they wander to the website where they are forced to complete an application.
It is far better to attract or engage candidates prior to requiring them to complete an application.  It is a small tweak in process that may result in very positive results because the company is now engaging with the candidate and gaining their confirmed interest prior to asking for an application – the social part of social media.

Today instead of filing the resume/application in a file drawer, it is filed in an applicant tracking system (Thank Goodness! At least that way you may be able to find the resume in the future!).

The applicant tracking systems that promote that process are partially correct. Clerks should be able to run that process. Unfortunately recruitment is not a clerk process. It is a sales process and successful companies treat it as such.

Successful corporate recruiting professionals understand the psychology behind recruitment. They understand that candidates do not like to make big, life changing decisions. They help them make little decisions that lead to the obvious conclusion – offer acceptance and starting the new job.

As our economy slowly improves, companies will begin to open new positions for growth and to replace retiring Baby Boomers. The clerk based recruiting teams will suffer in that environment as their applications dwindle; and they won’t understand why.  Instead they will ask “Where can we spend more money to post our positions?”

Meanwhile the successful corporate recruiting professionals will have the opportunity to choose and recruit the most promising candidates - who will no longer follow the 1960’s processes.

It is time to move recruitment to 2016. Utilize the tools available in the way that attract candidates. Beware of processes that repel candidates. It is important to tweak a recruiting process first, verify positive results.  Then tweak it more.  Companies that try to change recruiting processes (while possibly needed) will meet resistance.  Tweaking is easier and changing is harder.

Bill Humbert is available for speaking and training contracts.   435-714-4425

©1999-2016 B. Humbert – Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. – USA 01-435-714-4425 The right to reprint is hereby granted, as long as the copyright notice and contact information remain with the article.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some consultants would tell me, “It’s about time you jumped on the bandwagon!” Others would say, “That is so 30 seconds ago – now we are talking mobile recruiting!” Other consultants would say, “Certainly you have begun offering the new…!”

It is interesting to have over 30 years of experience in any field. It gives you a certain perspective that less seasoned (okay, younger) professionals do not have. Over those years in recruitment, you learn about people and their behavior, simply through observing and interacting with them.

Wait a minute! How does this apply to Social Media Recruiting? Everything.

If you understand how to interact with people, you are on the way to understand the basic premise – and potential problem – with Social Media Recruiting.

First, let’s define Social Media Recruiting. It is not “recruiting.” It is simply a more engaged way to source candidates. Sourcing is only one step in the recruiting process. Is it a good way to source candidates? It may be a great way to source candidates depending on your budget and priorities. I am going to use two words that guys are reputed to avoid – engagement and commitment.

Does “Social” mean we need to be sociable? In other words “friendly or agreeable, esp. in an easy, informal way” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, second college edition – sits right by me every day)? How many effective Human Resource professionals are described as sociable? Most would probably prefer to be described as a nice, effective business person.

Let’s go back to engagement and commitment. Social Media Recruiting requires engagement and commitment on a daily basis. People (mostly) are social beings and love to communicate with friends (see Facebook). How much communication with unqualified candidates will your company/department commit? Sure there will be qualified candidates mixed in with the unqualified. How many ways can you describe your corporate culture? How many times will managers agree to be interviewed on YouTube to discuss their positions? When will your recruitment marketing material begin to become dated when it is constantly put in front of candidates? When does it become background noise? How do you let the unqualified candidates know you are not going to be “sociable” with them any longer – particularly if they just happen to be your customer also? If your corporate recruiter says “I am developing my next communication in our social media program”, instead of interviewing another candidate, is that an acceptable response?

If not, then what? Do you hire a social media marketing expert simply to communicate with candidates on your Facebook, Twitter, and Corporate social media sites? Then are they trained what they may and may not communicate to candidates via social media?

In my experience almost everyone likes to be on the cutting edge of anything that appears to be really interesting and fun. Then when the darn “work, engagement and commitment” words begin to demand our time, the glimmer tends to wear off.

Let’s go to the basic premise of behavioral interviewing. When people find a successful way to deal with a situation, they revert back to it when under pressure. This is why there is the challenge to maintain a LEAN manufacturing environment when the consultant leaves; and why vestiges of social media recruiting will continue after budget and time begin to exert pressure on the social media program.

There is no silver arrow in recruitment. Social media recruiting is an arrow for your corporate quiver. It should not be your only arrow for sourcing. Every company’s environment is different. Certainly social media recruiting works in some environments. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) not every company can or wants to afford the engagement and commitment that social media recruiting requires.

Most companies are more successful when they focus on their recruitment strengths and improving all of their recruitment processes than spending the money and time on the next sexy technology that appears on the horizon. Remember the words engagement and commitment.

My business is on Twitter and LinkedIn, my book “RecruiterGuy’s Guide To Finding A Job” on Facebook, and my website has links to articles and videos of TV appearances and my blog. I participate in social media recruitment but it is only one source of candidates. May I consult with companies on social media as a potential source for recruiting? Absolutely! After we answer the questions above…

Bill Humbert is available to present to companies and associations on various Recruitment and Human Resource topics.  He has a long history of speaking to students in High Schools and Colleges/Universities. You may contact him at Review his eSpeakers profile -

Friday, November 06, 2015

Have you ever sourced the Best Candidate; sold them on the opportunity with your company or client; worked with them through the interview process, answering their questions; helped the hiring manager determine the best compensation package; extend the offer that they accepted; and then lost the candidate to a counter offer? If you have been in the recruitment business for any amount of time, you have experienced that sinking feeling when they stop returning your calls.

When should a recruiter begin to prepare a candidate for the counter offer? My suggestion is to bring up the topic when you are setting up the onsite interview. Why? You want them talking about it long before they experience the counter offer. Why? You don’t want them to experience the natural ego boost when they feel wanted, possibly for the first time in a long time at their current company.

A great way to bring up the topic is head on. “How do you plan on handling the counter offer if my company/client extends you an offer that you accept?” Hate to bring this up but some candidates use interviewing outside of their company as leverage to get a raise. Obviously there is a lack of integrity, but they have been successful squeezing what they wanted out of a company using that tactic in the past. It’s best to begin to coach them now – and the best way to begin coaching is to know their response to that question.

Now is the time to ask the following question again, “Why are you considering a job change now?” Many times the response I’ve received is “You intrigued me. Otherwise I was not looking.” Then you may ask them, “What was it about this position that intrigued you?” This response is very important to your success. Write it down in your notes (all the better if you work with an applicant tracking system!).
While discussing the counter offer early on, I like to bring up the statistic that depending on the economy and industry between 67% and 80% of those employees who accept a counter offer leave in the next 6 months – and their company knows that statistic.

If that is true, why do companies extend counter offers? Typically to protect themselves. The manager suddenly realizes they need that person that they have either been ignoring or have not allowed them to move to a new project, area, manager, etc. They realize they will lose important knowledge that the person will take with them. They may have lost other members of their team and are afraid how this departure will reflect on them. Sometimes they suddenly realize they are under compensating their employee (but they still have a budget).

Fast forward to the offer. Once the manager has decided to extend an offer, typically they have already begun penciling the candidate into meetings (even when the candidate has not accepted). By now the candidate and I have had several conversations about the counter offer. They are now expecting one. Once the candidate accepts the offer, I ask them to let me know how many of the following statements they hear from various members of management:

1) “I am shocked that you want to leave! I thought you were happy. As a matter of fact, tomorrow we were going to discuss a (promotion, raise, new project, etc.) with you.” (Call me a cynic but the timing is suspect…”)
2) “You are a very valuable employee. We need to see what we can do to encourage you to stay.”
3) “I am happy that you came to me because I planned to chat with you about moving to another organization/project within our company” (that was nixed in a previous conversation).
4) “I am very disappointed that you chose such a busy time to leave our organization. Can’t you see the impact of your departure will have on everyone else?” (RecruiterGuy loves that one. “The manager is trying to put a guilt trip on the employee!”)
5) “Your manager just came to me to discuss your resignation. I asked if I could talk with you. You are a key person in our growth plans. I am sorry we haven’t shared this with you sooner. Let’s sit down and discuss the needed changes…” (generally an executive speaking)
6) “What will it take for you to stay?” (At least that one is upfront in its intent!)
7) “As you know, we rarely make counter offers here. You are such a key person. We will make an exception. What do you want to stay?”
8) “Thank you for coming to me and discussing needed changes. Would you like to lead those changes?” (Generally once you accept the counter offer, the desire to make the immediate changes in the organization dissolves shortly after) Then they will say, “Let’s just finish what you are working on first. Then we will discuss the changes.” (Note – they won’t say “make the changes” again)

One of my candidates called me after their resignation and proudly told me the company hit 7 of the 8 statements during the day of his resignation. Then he laughed and told me he was happy I warned him.

Why is accepting a counter offer typically one of the worse things an employee can do – and leads to so many leaving within the next 6 months?
• The employee’s loyalty to their current company is now questioned. Subtly they will begin to see changes in how management works with them if they accept the counter offer. Fewer strategic conversations and more tactical conversations as they begin the brain drain. Management also knows the employee will most likely leave in 6 months. Therefore, management will begin to plan who is going to replace the employee.
• Remember the odds of further success at that company decline rapidly once the employee accepts a counter offer. Management is now focused on “protecting themselves” instead of future contributions from the employee. They know the employee will only be in the position a short time before they have to go through the expense and time of replacing them.
• Usually accepting a counter offer will burn the bridge with the company where the employee successfully interviewed and received an offer. Now the employee who was excited by the company, the new position, the hiring manager and the offer has to go to the offering company and give them the news they accepted a counter offer. Generally that conversation does not go well. Once a manager decides to extend an offer, they begin to plan for the new employee’s start and begin penciling them in for meetings. They are very excited they have finally found the right person for the position. Imagine the level of disappointment when they are told the candidate accepted a counter offer.

I recommend to candidates, “The best way to resign is to graciously thank the manager for the experience working with them. Then firmly tell them that they are very excited about the new opportunity and give the date of their departure (generally 2 weeks’ notice). When a manager approaches to discuss the counter offer, simply thank them and begin discussing the transition.”

By discussing the counter offer early and often during the recruiting process, you increase the probability of delivering your candidate to your company or client.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Employee Retention Equals Money

We have documented that the recruiting process mirrors the sales process.  Every step builds on the previous step from creating a job description to the acceptance to Onboarding and now the final step – “Keep them while you got them” Retention.

In the sales process, this is the follow up to the delivery and training for the product or service.  In the Recruiting Process, this is the step where you engage your new employees from the beginning – and keep them engaged.

Why does Employee Retention Equal Money?  Just ask any company where there is constant turnover.  They almost get the new employee where they are productive, and they leave.

What are the costs of acquiring that first candidate?  There are both hard and soft costs, costs to the morale of employees having to pick up the slack, and the additional lost productivity of the manager as they wade through the recruiting and training processes yet again.  All of these costs transfer directly to the bottom line.

Watch this short TV interview on Employee Retention Equals Money - 

How long has employee engagement and retention been on corporate priority lists?  Honestly, it depends on the company, doesn’t it?  Does your company value its employees?  Is employee engagement a priority for your company?

Sadly, many companies do not value their employees.  They pay dearly for that decision.  Today’s employees, especially millennials want to be engaged and know they are making positive, measurable impacts.  Therefore those companies turn over the employees who want to make a difference; and keep the ones who are happy getting a pay check.  Is that the balance that you seek?  Probably not.

What is the best way to begin to engage your employees?  Ask them what is important to them in one on one conversations?  Then listen…and listen some more.  Then give them honest feedback.  Now you know what motivates them and what they really want to do.  Keep the door open for future conversations because their needs and wants will change – and so will the company’s.

People who feel their opinions and contributions are important become engaged, if they were not prior.  It is supremely important that the listening continues.  If not, the damage will be irreparable because the company will have lost trust. 

Employee engagement is the foundation of Toyota’s Lean Process Improvement (now sometimes referred to as Agile Process Improvement).  The people who work on the manufacturing lines suggest changes to the project leaders.  They are on the front line and know what needs improvement.  They are making a difference, one that made Toyota a global automobile manufacturer.  It must be working. Toyota’s profits in 2014 were $17,900,000,000 (fun writing that many zeros!).  Now that’s engagement – and I’ll bet the workers are proud of their accomplishments that led to the profitability.

Consistency is another key attribute in a company.  Build a process that works consistently and then work the process.  Employees prefer stability over the plan of the month program.  Time and again you will hear them say, “Can we just see if this works?”

I once worked with a company where someone read a book on management on a plane.  Then decided to implement that plan without thinking about the unintended consequences.  In this case, people leaving the company in droves.  They made the book required reading for all employees.  The author suggested to the reader, “If you don’t like your current company, find a company where you will like to work.”  Many of the employees took the author up on that plan – and left the company.

Think about your plan prior to its implementation.  Does it make sense?  “Should we discuss it with key people at all levels?”  Probably so.  Then they also feel they had a say in the formulation of the plan.

Employee engagement and retention does not happen with the shaking of a wand or sprinkling fairy dust.  It requires work and consistent commitment – and many times reshaping a company’s culture.

What is the payback or Return on Investment?  A company with committed and engaged employees wanting to make a difference – and doing so to increase profits.

I provide training for companies that want to tweak their culture to create a more engaged workforce.  Bill Humbert