Top 3 Hiring Myths for 2012

Companies are hiring again! The challenge? Despite all the tools available to help companies hire right the first time, hiring managers continue to rely upon traditional hiring practices or “flavor of the month” hiring gimmicks. Unfortunately, it costs employers thousands of dollars when hiring the wrong person for just a couple of hours! And, can cost millions of dollars when someone is unwilling or incapable of doing the job and the company loses a valuable client or top employee.

These are not new myths.  No formal scientific study was conducted. They are simply ones that have withstood the test of time during the past several decades.

Myth #1: It’s cheaper to re-invent the wheel. Many companies falsely believe they can invent their own tools to attract employees due to numerous social media sites. Yet, sole reliance on your own efforts will reduce your ability to attract qualified applicants. Designing your own applicant tracking system can cost 10x to 1000x more money than selecting a top-rated one with the features you need, like SEO (search engine optimization).  Keep in mind: Applicants will review the top three listings on page 1, skim pages 2 and 3, and not look at any other pages.  While some may argue they don’t want a lot of candidates, picking candidates from a small pool normally means settling for less than the job requires. A well-designed system will provide better applicants for less cost, and allow you to focus your efforts on the best, most likely to succeed candidates.

Myth #2: The perfect candidate exists. Perfection is an illusion. Looking for five “must have” qualities without good decision making tools is a waste of time. Currently, many of us spend less than 6 seconds skimming a resume (or searching for confidential key words); decide “yes or no” within the first 4.3 minutes of an interview; and overlook reference and background checks. How good can our decision-making process be? Top talent will bypass potential employers, if those businesses are unable to understand and follow their own selection system, or use inappropriate tools. Remember, these candidates may be your future clients, vendors and/or suppliers!

Myth #3: I’ll know the person when I meet him/her. Really? Too often we hear, “I can tell the character of a person by looking into the whites of their eyes!” Seriously? If the person does not speak the “hot buttons,” they will not be considered. Many candidates today are well-trained to tell you what you want to hear! It will not make them the right person to achieve the results required to grow your company or keep current clients. Use of qualified assessments (per Department of Labor guidelines) will reduce hiring candidates that simply don’t fit the job, or simply cannot or will not do the job! Review the Technical Manual to ensure proper use.

For additional information on how to hire right the first time: BizSavvyHire.com

For a copy of Testing and Assessment: An Employer’s Guide to Good Practices, U.S. Department of Labor contact JLSeibly@SeibCo.com

Jeannette Seibly is an international business advisor and executive consultant for privately-held companies with revenues of $1MM up to $30MM. She has created million-dollar results for 25 companies, and 3 millionaires!

©Jeannette L. Seibly 2012

Measure Sales Success During the Interview, Not After

Timeless reprint from 2008 and 2010

Contact me for a complimentary analysis of your sales team! JLSeibly@SeibCo.com

Selecting sales candidates who can actually sell is a huge challenge for any employer.  Even if they sold the same or similar products or services for your competitor, it doesn’t mean they can adequately sell for you.

Many times future employers are “sold” or mis-led about an applicant’s sales abilities when:

  • They have very good verbal skills (does not mean they have the personality and/or interests to deliver the results);
  • They appear to be good team players (many good sales people are not); or
  • They are able to sell themselves (does not mean they can sell your products or services).

The following interview metrics do not eliminate the need to use valid and objective assessments that actually (and legally) measure your candidates’ true sales capabilities (think, learning style, core behaviors and occupational interests). These questions simply provide you additional information to ensure you’re getting a true sales person, and not a “marketing-type person” who relies upon others to sell and close the deal.  Your sales people create your company’s reputation, now and in the future.

  • What was your candidate’s quota for his last employer(s) – did s/he hit it?
  • What was the average size deal?  (Dollars and re-sales)
  • Did s/he make President’s club or receive other industry recognized “acknowledgement.”
  • Does s/he have inside vs. outside sales experience?   Which did they prefer?  Why?
  • What were the number of cold calls, conversations, presentations, etc that s/he made daily and weekly?
  • What was his or her close ratio? (How many presentations vs. number of actual sales?)
  • Where did his or her leads come from – were they generated by the person or were they given to them by others in the company?
  • What were his or her day-to-day activities, including time at the desk and time in front of the potential customer?  Or, in front of current customers, up-selling or cross-selling?
  • What formal sales training has s/he had?
  • What tracking system did they use to keep stats on lead generation, lead conversion, and repeat business?
  • Do they plan their work and work their plan, effectively?   How do they know?
  • If they were to describe a sales person, what words would they use?  (Remember, you’re looking for the positive attributes, not the age old “snake oil” descriptors.)
  • If they were to use one word to describe his/her customer’s experience of working with him/her, what would that word be?

© Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, 2008-2011

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo, is a nationally recognized coach, who has helped 1000’s of people achieve unprecedented results.  She has created three millionaires.  You can contact her:  JLSeibly@SeibCo.com OR http://SmartHiringMadeEasy.com  Jeannette is also the author of “Hiring Amazing Employees” (BizSavvyHire.com)  and “It’s Time to Brag!” (TimeToBrag.comContact me for a complimentary analysis of your sales team! JLSeibly@SeibCo.com

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers. He may be reached at 435.654-5342, OR JWH@prol.ws

Focused on the Wrong Things to Hire the Right Person?

Every boss, C-Suite and executive wants to hire the best person to achieve the best results. When the right candidate is selected, companies grow profitably. The major concern for employers during the selection process is fear – fear of hiring the wrong person. This is the hard reality: No one wants to hire someone who is a thief or can’t or simply won’t do the job. But instead of creating a process to collect the right data and make an informed decision, employers too often rely upon tiny fragments of information that are not factual or misconstrue observed behavior. When interviewers fail to follow a strategic selection processes, they are unable to sufficiently compare applicants to make the best decision (think, apples with apples).

Structured Interview: Many employers create questions that have nothing to do with the person’s actual ability to do the job. They focus on whether candidates like money, are loyal employees, want to work, are task or idea focused, etc. Savvy interviewees will tell you what you want to hear! Ask interview questions that are legal and focus on results the person has achieved. Determine the level of skill they actually possess currently, by drilling down into their responses (e.g., Tell me more. Which means?)

Assess Whole Person: Interviewers rely upon their perceptions to infer a person’s entire character. They dismiss a candidate because s/he didn’t bring a pen to the interview, or read a book or listens to music they don’t like. Traditionally we have relied upon 1/8th of the information readily available to evaluate a person’s job suitability: key words on resumes, interview savvy and reference checks. It’s time to access job fit – the 7/8th’s that is often overlooked. You can train the right person to develop needed skills.

Use qualified assessments to determine job fit. Review the Department of Labor guidelines and Technical Manual (each publisher should provide these) to determine appropriate use of any assessment. When choosing an assessment tool, do not solely rely upon a sales person’s knowledge or their attorney’s letter to determine if the tool can be used for pre-employment purposes.

Due Diligence: Use core value and job-fit assessments; background, credit and criminal checks; employment and school verifications; structured interview questions (including all the ones contained in assessment reports); and reference checks with previous employers. Follow your own system in its entirety. If your selection system and interview questions are constructed to obtain the right information and are used correctly, you will make an informed hiring decision.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

We Hire for Job Skills and Fire for Poor Job Fit

Many employers have taken note of Starbuck CEO Howard Schultz’s recent call for companies to create jobs and improve their own businesses. The problem is that hiring to create jobs does not necessarily improve businesses if antiquated hiring practices do not ensure good job fit!

There is a plethora of information on how to recruit, interview and hire the right person, from good strategic and sustainable business practices, to woo-woo. Many employers have relied upon traditional practices for too long. They still fail to understand the whole person they are hiring, not just the person’s alleged skill-set. If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll be perpetually in the hiring-then-firing-trying-to-get-it-right loop.

Get started, now. It’s important to know your numbers. The costs of turnover, honeymoon period, and poor promotion or transfer choices can quickly off-set any tax credits. Numbers give credibility for the need to create a truly sustainable strategic hiring system. It’s important that everyone is committed to real results; it is too easy to be lured back into old habits.

Recruiting. An on-line application process will snag top talent faster than expecting them to snail-mail you a resume with cover letter. Cast a broad net to ensure you’re attracting the right candidates. Include a ten-question format to clarify their job skills, experience, education and career intentions. It will help you find those hidden gems. Do not get caught in the trap of relying solely upon key word searches or skimming applications and/or resumes. 

Interview. Train your hiring managers how to conduct legal and effective interviews. Design structured interview questions to determine a candidate’s actual skill set and experience. Do not rely upon the interview alone to make a good hiring decision. Beware. There are many well-trained interviewees who know how to tell you exactly what you want to hear.

Assessments. Use valid assessments that meet the Department of Labor requirements. They provide good, objective information that is not obtainable in interviews, or by reading a resume or application form. They provide insights into the candidate as a whole person. Use job match pattern technology to determine job fit. 

Background and Credit Checks. White collar crime is on the rise, especially since many companies do not prosecute for theft or other illegal activities. In addition to using background and credit checks, include a core value assessment as part of the on-line application process. This can help to eliminate potential hiring problems.

Employment Verification and References. Both are important to ensure all the information you’ve collected is indeed verified. Ask for professional references and call them to affirm the information submitted by the candidates. If you’ve done a careful job of collecting authentic information, there should be no surprises. 

While this may sound time consuming, documenting evidence to fire someone actually takes more time, money and energy than hiring the right person! Furthermore, the in/uh-oh/out scenario associated with this sort of turnover can sully your reputation. The right person in the right job actually helps you keep customers and grow your business, (think, make money). Having the right people also ensures you attract and keep other great employees too. Then you can truly be free to focus on improving and building your business.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

Employer Beware!

The economy is slowing improving. Companies are hiring again. The current challenge is finding qualified workers to hire. If we recruit those we perceive to be top performers from our vendors, suppliers or competitors, we must beware of believing they will be natural fits for our organization. Too often, it does not work out that way! 

The biggest reason? A top performer in one company does not naturally become a top performer elsewhere. When we focus on attracting them to work for us, often we will fail to follow our own strategic hiring system. And when we recruit them to resolve an issue within our company today, we are disregarding the future impact on continued relationships with our suppliers/vendors (e.g., trust between the two businesses, willingness to provide preferred price concessions, etc.). Making these exceptions to our hiring practices, just because we know/respect them or their previous employer only adds error on top of error.

Hiring from your vendors and suppliers. You may not contractually be able to hire these subcontractors or employees, depending upon the Non-Compete laws in your state. Or, if they have handled the transition with their current employer poorly, there may be cause for litigation. Having a conversation with your vendor/supplier is advisable to reduce disruption to your business and theirs. Conduct due diligence, just as you would with any other potential hire (e.g. reference checks, employment verifications, background checks, etc.). Remember, if you fail to follow your own hiring policy, or worse, do not use one, you may be hiring someone else’s problem.

Change in Working Dynamics. Just because the person worked well as a consultant, temp, or account executive doesn’t mean s/he will complete the job with the same commitment now that s/he is your employee. Unfortunately, the dynamic of the relationship has changed. Before you were the client; now you are the boss. As a boss, you may treat outside people differently than you treat your own employees. Also, the newly hired person may have a negative attitude towards authority that was controlled since you were not his/her boss. A similar dynamic may become evident with co-workers. The newly hired person may have disliked or not respected those who have now become his/her new co-workers. These concerns can no longer be ignored for the sake of completing a project since this person is now part of your workforce.

Hiring from your competitors. They may look good on paper. However, do they possess the thinking style, core behaviors and occupational interests that fit into your culture? The grass is greener syndrome can negatively impact those employees jumping ship simply looking for more money, different job duties, etc. Again! Follow a strategic and sustainable hiring system regardless of who the job candidate is or how well you may know her/him. Job fit is essential! You will always do better with more objective data than without it (e.g., use of core value assessments, job fit technology and skills testing).

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

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NOW is the time – keep key employees!

The economy is getting better. Do you realize your top talent most likely has “feelers” out to see what other opportunities may be available? As a smaller employer this can have a detrimental effect on your bottom line. As we go from an employer market (more available people than jobs) to an employee market (more jobs than qualified employees), NOW is the time to review and update your strategies for hiring and/or retaining that top talent!

Identify top talent. Use scientifically validated assessments to hire, coach and motivate them. If you use “performance matching” you will also be able to find others who are top performers who might be hiding out internally or externally. This process prevents you from falling for verbally astute people who can talk themselves into the job, but have no real interest or talent to perform well. It saves you from hiring someone who may have an amazing portfolio or strong experience, but would never truly fit within your company culture.

Involve top personnel. Engage top performers with memberships and participation in community and trade association meetings or activities. Encourage them to serve on community and trade association boards. This is a great opportunity for these strong employees to learn additional leadership skills and become known. It also promotes your company in a positive light.

Establish compelling goals. One goal may be to obtain a degree or MBA. Another goal may be to place strongest employees on projects that will build their skills and awareness of leading edge issues. Make them team leaders responsible for resolving ongoing internal issues. The key is to have them learn how to work with and through others to achieve results! Or assign them projects to manage and deliver results on-time and within budget. Let them know you expect unprecedented results.

Give useful feedback. Using a validated 360-degree tool can help personnel understand their strengths and weaknesses from others’ perspectives. The key is to keep the questions focused on the talents each person possesses. A good tool will also provide additional training and coaching information for employees to use in leadership skills development. Remember to follow-up in six months to determine areas for continued improvement and to acknowledge successes.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

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Hiring Former Employees

Employees who have left your organization may be the best candidates to provide the help and insight needed to take it to the next level today. Whether or not they helped build your organization or were great producers, they may bring new experiences to give you a fresh competitive edge. How well they fit your corporate culture now depends as much upon their attitude and willingness to leave the past behind, as their ability to get real about the current way the company operates.

The key? Do your due diligence. Be clear as to why you want them to return. Some former top performers may no longer fit the company, unable to effectively work within new structures that evolved during their absence. 

Broaden a myopic perception. Even though you think you know them well, use qualified validated assessment tools to help determine current job fit. Provide the same strategic interview process as you do for lesser-known candidates. Just because they were top performers within your company in the past does not necessarily mean they will be able to perform at that same level now. Listen to their cheerleaders from within the company, but be shy about relying 100% on their insights. Too often current employees simply want someone who is known. They think it will be easier to maintain the status quo. But this perspective can backfire and limit the returning employee’s ability to resolve issues or move the company forward.

Prepare the past employee. Many returning employees fail to understand change is inevitable. They return with the same perceptions they held when they left – both good and bad – of the company, products, employees, services, etc. Inevitably, standard operating procedures have changed, written or not. This can impede the person from getting quickly on track. Remember, they are not wearing the same learning hat as a new employee with no prior experience. Set them up for success. It’s critical they participate in an employee orientation program. Ensure they are working with a colleague who can help them navigate new systems that may not be readily apparent. 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011 

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Don’t Get Bit in the Financial Butt!

Perfection is a myth, yet, many companies engage in seeking the “perfect solution” to stay competitive and improve the bottom line. A few are doing a great job by focusing on “viable solutions.” Most, however, are realizing mixed results due to reliance upon the same old practices that have long surpassed their peak. Less savvy companies are simply hanging on to their soon-to-be outdated products and services. They are afraid to make changes, despite their customers’ requests, and dismal sales.

Why have many business owners stopped listening during this critical time? They fear the change process. They don’t understand how to create a blue print for success. They falsely believe that since riding it out it worked in the past, it will work now. Sticking your head in the sand (think, ostrich) will only get your financial butt bit – hard!

Navigate change now. Waiting won’t change anything! Management needs to seek the right guidance and alter their paradigm to include change. It doesn’t need to a big, evil, costly endeavor. It’s time to hear employee and customer ideas with an open attitude. A simple twist of the wheel may gain the competitive advantage. Proper alignment, direction, and training to manage ever-changing economic factors will keep your doors open for business!

Talk Straight. Give the members of your staff the opportunity to contribute, appropriately. Brainstorming isn’t about judging ideas as right or wrong, or good or bad.  It’s simply a process to gather ideas. Often, off-the-wall ideas are winners once they are narrowed down and fine-tuned. Determine the ROI and viability of the final cuts, and during implementation and execution, train everyone to ensure consistency and positive results. Focused action is the key.

Big Picture vs. Small Details. Some people tend to get caught up in the “bright shiny object” of the bigger picture; others get lost and don’t understand how to move from “here” to the vision of “there.” Create a strategy to put everyone on the same page. Break tasks down into “bite-sized pieces.” Keep listening to and communicating with your team. When you hit the inevitable walls that crop up due to poor planning or implementation, do not reduce your expectations of intended results! Readjust your strategy as necessary, but remember: the success or failure of any idea is in the details.

Hire a Business Mentor. If management is too narrowly focused on people considerations OR on bottom line financials, it could stymie the forward movement required to achieve the expected results. A business mentor helps you blast through the stumbling blocks that change causes. A business mentor helps you make the hard decisions that may be unpopular, at least initially. S/he can also help you create business savvy solutions that balance people and numbers. Someone from outside your organization can see landmines coming up more clearly than you can, since you are so close to the situation. S/he helps you recognize and navigate around them, and enables you to move forward with speed and confidence.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

Costly Promotions

Companies are very focused on being cost conscious, especially in the current economic climate. Many bosses have promoted their key employees too quickly, beyond their skill level — to their level of incompetence. Bosses falsely believe they are saving time and money, but this type of reactive decision-making ends up being costly and has a detrimental impact on the company. Sadly, the once successful employee feels forced to leave the company when her/his continued contribution is short-circuited, and will rarely go quietly.

Since the person was previously treated as an asset to the company, it is often unclear as to why this sudden experience of failure is happening. Instead of having a professional conversation with her/his boss to provide solutions to this dilemma, s/he blames extraneous factors and looks for a new job, outside the company. The real issues? The newly promoted person may not have taken the time, or taken advantage of the opportunities, to develop the interpersonal skills required for the new position. Perhaps s/he has not learned how to delegate or is unable to prioritize and manage multiple issues well. S/he may simply lack the interest and ability to quickly learn the skills required for performance success (e.g., technology, financial, mechanical, sales, etc.) in this new position.

Time to get real. Newly promoted people may be unable to acclimate appropriately when business needs change rapidly. Where did the old adage, “sink or swim” come from? It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. Unfortunately, employees feel they can not say “no” to their bosses’ requests without hurting their career. If they may agree, their naiveté can create additional issues and stresses since they do not possess the required depth and breadth of experience. It’s time to create a win-win development plan that helps the employee succeed and meets the needs of the business.  Be realistic – it takes time. Employees won’t suddenly become great managers if they have poor people skills. Employees with no interest in financial monitoring will not handle their budgets well. Top sales people will not make the best bosses. Remember, accepting mediocrity loses customers internally and externally.

Provide an outside coach. An outside coach can provide insights that the corporate mindset and culture may overlook. The employee will feel more comfortable sharing her/his challenges and fears, confidentially. They know many bosses have long memories, and don’t want the risk. Ensure there is clarity of goals to be accomplished every three months. Write them down. Put together action plans for implementation. Monitor effectiveness. Keep it simple and smart!

Keep valued employees. Although egos play an important role in a person’s ability to stay and thrive after a failure, it requires the boss’s dedicated intention to keep a valued employee! Find a position within the company where s/he can be successful. Don’t be afraid to create a new position to keep the person, but use a scientifically validated assessment tool to ensure you’re not simply creating another new issue. The cost of hiring a replacement is much greater than realigning a job description to match up employee skills with business needs. Provide focused training and development so the employee can gain the skills s/he lacked that caused the demotion in the first place. This allows the employee to experience success once again, and provides her/him with the opportunity to be promoted in the future.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

More Money Does Not Equal Better Results

Too often employers are held hostage when employees demand more money to do the job they were hired to do. Since most employees are paid by the hour and not by the task, it’s difficult to know when to reward someone with additional compensation, particularly when you don’t have stated and objective performance results for each position. Unfortunately, even though everyone says “money is not a motivator,” many employees have the false perception that money will indeed motivate them!

It starts with clarity in your hiring process. Since most hiring processes are fraught with improper and antiquated methods of selecting people, it’s important that you are clear on expectations for the job. Then, hire the right person based upon needs for the job, not his or her ability to sell themselves! Remember, the wrong person in the right job will rationalize poor compensation as the reason for poor performance.

Set up clear expectations on Day One. Onboarding new employees requires the boss to provide a written outline and timetable for producing the required results, along with an accurate job description. To create a win/win for a new employee, the boss needs to stay involved, working through the new employee’s honeymoon period, and beyond. Do not make mention of additional compensation opportunities until after a six-month period. Communicate a clear expectation – in writing – of the results required for the new employee to receive any added monetary perks.

Compensate based upon results. Too often, employers compensate based upon promised results. If employees who don’t deliver these results receive the money anyway, they get a pretty clear message that achieving performance goals is not truly important. It is wise to devise a plan that is performance based. Make sure the goals are objective and attainable.

 ©Jeannette Seibly, 2010