Ah yes, Googling candidates. Read enough HR Magazine or talk to employment lawyers, and they'll tell you Googling candidates is questionable at best, as is looking at candidates on social media.
You could get sued. You could factor things into a selection process that really shouldn't be evaluated.
You know what's riskier than Googling candidates? Not Googling candidates. Just ask your CEO. He wants you to go deep on candidates, to make sure a limited number of freaks make it through.
Social media – and life in general as now indexed via the Googleplex – is evolutionary. People make mistakes in judgment (what they share on social media) and in life (what gets indexed by Google and more specific, database driven services like Lexus/Nexus). You should be using every resource available to get all the info you can on candidates.
Ask your CEO over drinks, and he'll tell you he wants you using those resources 10 out of 10 times. Because the people who tell you doing so is a bad idea aren't responsible for meeting your bottom line. They're vendors.
Case in point, Ray Rice. Rice is the guy who infamously punched his wife out cold in an Atlantic City casino elevator. He's just been cleared to play for any NFL team. At this writing, no one has picked him up, mainly because all the teams have PERFECT INFORMATION ON THIS CANDIDATE.
Your candidates? Perfect information doesn't exist. But you're a sucker if you don't use what's available to get a vibe on people. Can that lead to discrimination suits, etc? Yeah. But if your HR department is the one taking a look – not the hiring manager – I like your odds of keeping that to a minimum.
Our country is founded on second chances, and most people get those. Ray Rice will play somewhere, but he may have to sit out a year.
You probably hired at least 5 people last year out of every 100 hired at your company you would have thought long and hard about had you deep googled them and did a social media scan.
I trust your judgement – so does your CEO. And he wants you to Google the hell out of every candidate you hire.
One of the things I love about my gig at Kinetix is that in addition to HR stuff, marketing and more, I also get to keep my hand in the recruiting game every once in a while. Case in point: I'm working on a great high level HR search for one of my favorite customers.
Good candidate flow. Interesting conversations. Then I had the following happen...
I'm on the phone with a candidate over the last couple of weeks. I do some intro stuff, get them to interact with me related to what another recruiter told them related to the position, the company, the opportunity. Standard stuff.
Then I told them I was going to speaker phone so I could be hands-free and take notes like a historian, because they were about ready to do 95% of the talking. Once they were on speaker, I asked them how it sounded and if they could hear me.
Here's one way you tell a candidate probably isn't going to be a finalist. The response was as follows:
Candidate: "How do you sound? You're really clear. But you're also really loud. Can you turn it down for me?"
It took me about 5 seconds to actually process that. I put him on speaker, and asked him how I sounded. He wanted me to turn it down.
Mind blown. Wait, what?
I politely said, "I can try?" (question mark in the voice) and moved the speaker phone away from me and looked at it like had a contagious disease. I asked him if that was better. He said, "kind of, but let's do it."
We've all been there, right? You ask a question that's so awkward, your only course of action is to fall on the sword and say, "Hey, did I actually just tell you turn the volume of your voice down? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's probably my responsibility, right? I turn the volume down on my end if you're coming across too loud. I'm smart-phone challenged. Hahahahahaha."
But the falling on the sword never came. And the candidate never really broke the formality barrier.
Disposition: "We love your background, but we've found someone who's a better match for our specific need. Good luck in your search!"
It's usually an afterthought with great hires you make.
You found the a great person for your open position. You did what you were supposed to do - finding great talent, engaging them, selling them on the opportunity and getting them to sign on the line that is dotted.
You hired a great person. Congrats!
There's just this one little problem. That great hire is going to join a group of incumbents in the same (or related) role who are a LOT less excited than they are about the job. Let's face it, the incumbents have some sh**ty habits, right? You're bringing in the new person to raise the DNA of group.
Now it would be awesome if the incumbents saw the new talent and decided that they need to raise their game. That was originally part of your plan. Unfortunately, that's not the way it usually works.
Instead, your incumbents are likely to educate your new hire about how things are done, with all the whining, bad habits and baggage you would expect. The danger is obvious - your new hire is going to say, "What the hell have I got myself into?"
Here's 3 things you need to do and/or remember to prep the new hire for related to the disgruntled incumbents:
1. Tell the new hire that he/she is part of the future, and part of the turnaround. You're prepping them to understand that the people they are going to encounter may or may not be part of that future. You don't have to name names, they'll get it. And you'll prepare them for the averageness they're about to encounter.
2. Don't make a big deal about the expectations your have of the new person from a performance perspective to others on the team. You'll just make them a target in the general population. No reason to do that.
3. Try to convert some fence-sitters related to where you want to go by engaging them to help train the new person. People are a lot less likely to be jaded and cynical about the new person if they get to help train them. If you've got a struggling team, find the folks most likely to survive the changes you have in mind and have them help train the newbie. It will help convert them to someone who wants to stay.
Never release new talent to the team without having a plan to help them survive. Every new hire has some type of "what the hell have I done" moment in the first two months in a new job.
Have a plan and prepare them for what they're about to see, and you'll have less quick churn of the people you hire as a result.
There's always a lot of talk about active candidates vs passive candidates. Which one has more value, the perception that passive candidates are desired over active candidates, etc.
Realities about the passive vs. active debate:
-We always want what we think we can't have. Thus, someone who actually wants to work for us is thought to be broken in some way versus someone who has no interest. That's deep.
-A lot of active candidates ARE broken in some way - but not all of them are defective. The trick in selling an active candidate to a hiring manager with a snob view is the right spin related to "why are they looking". And the right spin is different with every hiring manager who thinks active candidates are fundamental unattractive.
-The best way to spin an active candidate to a snob hiring manager is to talk about what they are looking for in their next manager - and have that spin line up seamlessly with who that manager thinks he or she is. At that point, you can turn it into a kitten rescue type of effect.
The moral of the story? If you're dealing with a hiring manager who doesn't want to hire anyone who is actively looking, you're going to have to be a marketer when you submit that candidate - and match the stated desires of the active candidate with who the hiring manager thinks they are as a leader of people.
One other thing - candidates who don't direct apply to your position love to be considered "passive" candidates, even though they become active the minute they say they're interested. With that in mind, you ought to start every conversation with a candidate you sourced (they didn't directly apply) by telling them what you are looking for, then asking them who they know who might be a fit.
You didn't ask them if they were interested. That's a compliment to them. But don't worry - if what you're selling is attractive, they'll be happy to tell you.
And they'll be stroked that you considered them a passive referral source as the reason for the call.
Treat talent like passive candidates for best results - both with hiring managers and the candidates themselves.
Some people love to hire jocks. Is that a viable hiring strategy?
I'm up over at Fistful of Talent today trying to answer this very question. Bottom line - you can't generalize and there are lots of great hires who come from non-athletic backgrounds. But, if I was asked to put together a hiring strategy centered around college athletes, here's where I'd look:
1. If the jock in question wasn’t that good, but they had to work their #$$ off in order to compete and survive in the sport in question, they’re not a Ken/Barbie, and they have the three attributes I’ve outlined above that can make a jock hire special, you should hire them.
2. Division 2 and Division 3 athletics are full of these types of kids – not elite, but grinders who love to play. And compete. And are capable of the consultative sale.
3. Hiring jocks from non-mainstream sports who fit all the above criteria is another great route. Everyone knows about Division 1 football and hoops, but who cares about wrestling? They still poured everything they had into it and had some success and achieved academically? Interesting hire.
Because it's hard. You've got a career, a family, outside interests, etc.
And as an employer, we want you to have all those things. The thing is, others have those things as well.
When you step back to look at what the average working professional does, it's incredibly hard. Nothing usually comes with ease.
Which brings me to the reason interviewing for empathy is so important - Are you someone that's mature enough to understand that, or are you the first to brutally bitch and criticize rather than slow down and understand what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes?
There's got to be some empathy for how hard it is to generate results in roles other than your own if you're going to be an effective teammate. Or an effective coach of people. It doesn't mean you can't coach for performance or hold people accountable. It's a worldview. It's a pre-requisite to accountability.
So interview for empathy in your next interview. Ask them about a team member who let them down. Wind them up and let them talk - and figure out if they're a potential team member or just another shark looking for a meal.
You and I love employee referrals. We wish we could get more of them. But, for the rare company that can generate 25% or more of it's annual hire goal from this source, employee referrals can actually weaken the company DNA.
Here's why. High volume employee referrals mean:
1. Your company is whiter (or whatever color is your majority. Full disclosure - I'm white. I'm Irish. That means I'm really white. Don't hate.)
2. Your company has a declining average IQ. People don't refer people smarter than they are - that's a threat.
3. You company is more Blue as a result (or Red). We don't refer people who think different than we do for the most part.
4. Your company can hold the alumni meeting onsite without anyone getting in their car. We love to refer people who went to college where we did. Roll Tide/War Eagle.
By the way, everyone thinks they're a high performer, but this approach only works with 10% of the employee base in your company.
90% of your company thinks they're in the top 10%. That's a problem. But the market never lies. A non-high performer that gives themselves a promotion by switching companies can do it once, then they get exposed as an average performer. They can't switch again with ease. Only the real performers can switch 4 times before they're 35.
I just went all invisible hand on you. Click the link if you don't have an Adam Smith picture in your office.
But there's another problem for young stars who take the track I've outlined. They end up being 35 and comped very, very well. Being comped so well at age 35 means that when they want to move again, they're at a point on the comp/age scale where it's really, really tough for them to move. That comp/age curve tends to even out as they get to their early and mid 40s', but it's an interesting time for the young star.
What's the answer if you're 35 and find yourself in this spot? You won't find your next gig through normal recruiters. It's a custom fit - you're either going to network yourself into your next role or have a recruiter that's willing to do that work.
If you are who they say you are, it's possible to move laterally. But the next bump in comp might not be coming until you cross the 40-year-old threshold.
1st World Problems. Hang in there, young stars. Never apologize for getting paid early.
Capitalist Note – We're doing a new series over at Fistful of Talent called the Recruiter Recharge, created in conjunction with the uber-pro recruiting team at Newton Software. Each month, we do a featured post, a podcast and a short video around a topic that matters to the recruiting community. This month, we’ve been talking about the best way to hire great recruiters.
Wrapping up this month at the Recruiter Recharge Series, Kris Dunn chats via video with Chris Brown, Global Director of Talent Acquisition at LANDESK Software. CB’s a former professional soccer player, so you know he’s got some specific opinions about the best way to hire great recruiters.
Enjoy! (Email subscribers click through for video.)
KD Note - Cut the 1st episode of Recruiter Recharge last week, a new podcast series we're doing with the uber-pro team at Newton Software. On our first show we have Joel Passen, Co-Founder and Head of Sales/Marketing at Newton Software, and Jason Pankow, Staffing Program Manager at Microsoft and FOT blogger, on How To Hire A Great Recruiter. Even if you don't have time to listen to it all, hit the podcast and move forward to hear specific topics at the following timestamps:
5:00 - Jason Pankow tells a great story about a job fair where a Mom lectured her son about staying in school...
7:00 - Joel Passen breaks down why hiring recruiters who act like Macgyver is so important...
12:20 - Joel, Jason and KD talk about the difficulty of recruiting in the Bay Area....
16:20 - Joel throws out his top 3 traits that great recruiters share...
25:00 - The gang talks about hunter vs. farmer and why you need to consider that when hiring recruiters...
31:20 - JP, JP and KD talk about where to find the type of recruiters you want and how to write JDs to attract the right recruiters...
38:50 - Joel gives us his top 2 questions to cut through all the BS when hiring recruiters...