It’s Only Common Sense: A ‘Hire’ Responsibility—Selling the Search

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Looking for the right people for your company is very similar to the way your sales team approaches building sales—especially now, when the competition for good people is so intense. This is a smart way to consider your search tactics.

In some ways, the search team is faced with an even harder task than a sales team because it’s currently harder to find a good hire than a new customer. There are far more potential customers than candidates right now.

In an environment like the one we have today, finding the right approach is critical; your search team, and most of us for that matter, tend to overlook how important choosing the right approach really is. To be successful, we need to dig down and start using the exact same tactics that a sales team would use.

The company is the product you are selling. Just like in sales, you need to develop an appealing story about your company—one that demonstrates how great your company is. You must frame the work you do in a positive light and explain why that work matters. You want to emphasize that your company is a wonderful place to work. You must think of your company as your product and play up its strengths to land that “sale.”

Once you have defined your product, take the sales team approach by asking yourself these questions:

  • Who is the target customer (person)? Who am I selling to?
  • What is the ideal customer (candidate) profile of the person we want in our organization?
  • What is their background?
  • What education or experience do they have?
  • What positions did they hold previously?
  • What are their goals for the future?
  • What kind of position are they looking for?
  • What are they looking for in a company?
  • Are they ambitious?
  • Are they aggressive?
  • Will the fit in well with our organization?
  • What are their financial needs?
  • Who are my competitors?
  • Why are people choosing to work for them and not our company?

I encourage you to add your own unique questions to this list depending on your company and its needs.

Once armed with your company’s appealing story, the description of your ideal candidate, and your “sales” tactics, it’s time to aggressively set out to find the right person.

When I say “aggressive,” I mean doing more than just sitting back and placing an ad in a magazine or using candidate search engines like Monster and Indeed. Again, to use the sales team analogy, would great salespeople just sit around and wait for business to come to them? Of course not.

If your sales manager came to you and said, “We have done an intensive search and come to the conclusion that all potential customers are gone because they have all decided to work with our competitors, and there’s nothing we can do about that,” he’d be heading down the road pretty fast and guess what—you’d have another search on your hands.

What would you do if you asked your sales manager what they had done so far to find customers, and they said, “I placed an ad in a giant international site where thousands of companies come to look for customers; then I waited three months and unfortunately, nothing happened. I’m telling you there are no more customers out there at all.” If your sales manager told you something like that, once again, you’d have to handle another search on top of the one you’re already doing.

Just like sales, looking for good candidates is a very proactive process. You must constantly develop new and innovative ways to find the right candidates. Use the big websites and advertise in trade magazines, but just like in sales, don’t stop there.

Reach out to your network and ask your vendors for suggestions on a potential fit for your company. Your vendors want your business; they want to be on your good side. If they can help you, they will.

Don’t forget about your own employees. You can set up a referral program with financial incentives to reward employees who recommend good candidates that you eventually hire. But be careful, because if your company isn’t a great company to work at, the last thing they’ll want to do is invite some of their friends to work there. Before setting up any referral programs, make sure your “house is clean” and that your company really is a great place to work.

The incentive program should be attractive enough to your employees that they will actively work at bringing in the right people. This means paying real money when you hire the person they recommended. Pay on hire, not after their candidate has been at the company six months, because a delay like that only serves to water down the incentive. Offer something significant to really motivate your employees to look for and recommend the right people.

It might be worth it to throw in an extra employee incentive for those who consistently help you find the right candidates. Your employees know these could be their future coworkers and someone they will work closely with. You can be sure they will be extra careful about whom they recommend.

It’s only common sense.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.


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