I work for a major manufacturer, we’re a prestigious brand. My problem is that I’m having a hard time recruiting for both sales positions that call on dealers and end-users and sales positions that call on the A&D community. I’m baffled because I have excellent personal relationships with sales people from both groups. With one phone call I can call my friends at #Gensler or any major design firm, and they will give great referrals on the best sales reps who call on them. From which I can either call those names myself or forward them to our very responsive HR team in the Midwest to follow-up.
I don’t have a problem getting candidates to come in for interviews, in fact once they do, they are far more impressed with our company than they expected to be. I know I’m doing well when I’m able to get them to the “assessment” level, which is something we do just before we put together an offer. That’s when things seem to suddenly fall apart…
This is a big company, and we make competitive offers, we even make total annual income guarantees, and offer a sign-on bonus if that’s what it takes. Nine times out of ten, our offers are declined. So what’s going on here? Afterwards, when I speak to the candidates and ask why they’ve declined, I can’t get a straight answer. They generally seem embarrassed, but that’s not my goal, so I can’t really get to the bottom of it. You could say I’m pretty dumbstruck here. What should I be doing differently? Our human resources department seems as frustrated as I am, they try to build a relationship with the candidate, but no one gives us a straight answer as to why they’re turning us down. How can I get candidates to join our company?
I feel like someone who's gotten engaged and then left at the altar.
I’m going to answer you as a journalist even though it’s going to sound like I’m answering you as a recruiter. I should also mention that the answer should be obvious.
Finding the candidate is often the easy part of recruitment, but changing jobs is one of the biggest emotional changes in someone’s life next to getting married or divorced. This means the candidate often wants to be able to share with a third, objective party the pros and the cons of making this decision. Just as often, they may have what seems like the littlest issue that’s in the way of them making a change. As good of a relationship as you try to form as the new potential boss, and even your excellent HR team’s attempts to bond with the candidate, you will never be able to be totally neutral with them, and they are hyperaware of that. The fastest way to get a candidate to “yes,” is when a third-party resource comes into the picture, a perceived ally of the candidate that is able to facilitate the hire.
Typically, an outside recruiter can gain the confidence of a candidate so they will share with them questions or concerns they may be too embarrassed or uncomfortable to discuss with their potential soon-to-be employer. These could be tough ones like “Why is the turnover here so high?” or “Is it true the dealers are terrible?” or “Please describe the work environment and the management style here.” Other questions that aren’t so tough but still awkward to ask include things like “I have three weeks of vacation now; will I get that moving forward?” or “I have a wedding to go to.” Of course, there are the other big questions candidates always have, which is, “what is the real dollar amount that medical is going to cost my family and me?” They just want to know that number, but they feel awkward asking anyone affiliated with the company because they don’t want to seem like they’re nickel and diming their new employer.
These simple questions become excruciating when someone doesn’t have a nonpartisan person to consult. So what do they do? They simply pass on the job because it’s the easy way out, and as you said, they leave you there at the altar, jilted.
Therefore, when you make an investment in a third-party recruiter, even when you’re the best connected manager in the world, you are increasing your odds of getting your candidate to “yes.” As self-serving as it is, since it’s my column I’m allowed to tell you, additionally, when you use The Viscusi Group, you also get the benefit of a one-year free replacement guarantee, a kind of insurance policy that protects your HR investment. Our guarantee is unconditional - if someone quits or is fired within one year of their start date we replace them for free.
It’s no secret that the candidates are controlling the market today. Fear of recession or a drop in the stock market, even inflation, has had zero impact on the difficulties that companies still have trying to find, hire, and attract good people. Unemployment remains low, so don’t kid yourself, even the best companies need that extra help making the hire happen. So consider adding a third party outside resource to your hiring formula, no matter who it is, and I guarantee you, you will have greater success in recruiting.
Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of www.viscusigroup.com, an executive search firm that specializes in the interior furnishings industry. Hires made through The Viscusi Group are guaranteed a one-year free replacement. Please share your story or comment on this article and send your workplace questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give us a call at (212) 979-5700 x 101.