Build Your Dream Team In Style

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To me, building a team is a lot like curating a wardrobe. Talent acquisition is an art that requires practicality, sensibility and creativity, the same skills that make or break your own style. Here are the steps in building a dream team using good fashion sense.

  • Know what you need versus what you want

When shopping for clothes, people tend to get what they want, not what they need. For example, you shouldn’t have bought that shirt just because it was on sales. You should’ve got a pair of comfy, everyday flats instead of the stilettos that will end up sitting in the closet because they hurt your feet. A pair of hiking shoes are more practical for your camping trip instead of feeding your Air Jordan collection.

This is one of the most common pitfalls that hiring managers struggle with- they become a kid in the candy store, excited by the variety and possibilities and forget what they were looking for in the first place. Always start with practicality, stop listing what you want as the position qualifications. Look for candidates who can satisfy your needs (must-haves), not your wants (nice-to-haves/pluses).

  • Try them on

It is much harder to terminate a bad hire than returning a pair of jeans that don’t fit. You wouldn’t bend your toes so you can fit the shoes, right? Be sensible without being blinded by your emotions or external pressures when it comes to hiring. Just move on if you’re in doubt about a candidate. To avoid hiring the wrong person, ask for candidates’ portfolio and work samples, or give them a small assignment.  Be open to trying contract to hire to minimize your risk when a reliable skill assessment is not available.

  • Work with what you can get

When it comes to specialized couture, your have few options due to availability and budget. For instance, it’s not easy to find a wedding gown that fits like a glove without alteration. Many new dress shoes require time to break them in. With limited design collections, you can’t possibly buy as many as you want when competing with other shoppers. And sometimes it makes more sense to rent a tuxedo than buying one because you won’t wear it again.

This is another common roadblock in recruiting because the hiring managers aren’t aware of the supply and demand in the market and who they can afford within their budget. When you compete to hire the same type of candidates with similar background like everyone else, there’s not enough talent to go around.

There’s an easy way to broaden your candidate pool by considering candidates who don’t typically fit the profile. Also, remove arbitrary qualifiers that won’t predict performance and potentials. For example, many hiring managers get hung up on the experience or degree requirement when many high performers or high potentials in the organization don’t even meet the requirement. Think creatively and consider candidates outside of the target population.

  •  Buy for the fit, not for the brand

Right. Don’t we all want to fill our closets with designer brands. However, it is not wise to fill your wardrobe with luxury items because you may not get enough use out of them to justify your investment. You want a piece that will compliment your style, not simply speak class with a hefty price tag. Sometime a thrift store find may fit you better.

We all want the candidates with the perfect resume- the exact background, a reputable degree from an ivy league school, and consulting experience with fortune 500 companies. Many hiring managers have a distorted definition of A-player-to-bes and lose sight of what really drives great performance and results. Attitudes, motivations and goal alignment have a higher correlation to success in the position than a candidate’s skills and past experience.

  • Create your own style

Fashion is one of the most fast-paced industries- there’s something new every season. Talent acquisition changes as fast as the market demands, too. “Do my candidates have the hottest skills in the market right now?” “Has the candidate used the latest ERP software that we’re planning to implement?” Hiring managers sometimes get fixated on the past (a candidate’s experience) and the present (a candidate’s skills set) and ignore what a candidate could offer in the future (a candidate’s perspective potential and performance).

True fashionistas know not to chase the trend blindly. You know who is best for your team. Use the market intel to guide you, not blindside you. Many times the recruiting roadblocks are artificial and can be easily removed if we focus on the essentials, not what is trending.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent 

  • Shop around 

Smart shoppers never buy everything from one store so they won’t lose out not only on the bargains but also unique finds. You can’t establish your own style if you settle for what is convenient. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You may find your new favorite pair of jeans at a garage sales. That denim blazer may not be something you would consider wearing, but you don’t know how good you’ll look until you put it on.

Same goes for recruiting. It is a slipping slope when you hire from a specific population repeatedly with the same screening methods. It may be easy to hire from your in-group but easy isn’t always the best. Innovations don’t happen when all of the employees think alike. Like any business function, you should challenge the status quo in recruiting and hiring practice. Consider populations with diverse backgrounds who might not conform to your norms – give them the benefit of the doubt and be open to the possibilities of tapping into a new vein of resources.

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Build Your Dream Team In Style

When Recruiters Go Bad

Bored waiting iStockphoto.com:drewhadley

Yes, I’m a recruiter and I’m going to talk about those recruiters who give us a bad rap. Why? Because I love recruiting and it hurts me to continue seeing those who ruin the experience for all. Being a recruiter is fun because we have the power to make someone’s dream come true (or at least bring him/her closer to it). We make magic happen- the moment when we seal the deal between a great candidate and a satisfied employer. It’s all about creating and maintaining happy relationships.

As both the company advocate and talent advisor, why can’t many recruiters follow simple business etiquettes?

Recruiter is probably the only occupation that gets away with being flaky and rude because no candidate wants to be on a company’s bad side.

I bet you have experienced this scenario at least once in your professional life: applied to a job, talked to the recruiter & hiring manager on the phone, brought in for in-person interview, then silence. You called, you emailed. Silence. You called again, you emailed again. Silence. 3 months later, you’d be lucky if you get a canned response about the rejection.

A bad recruiter is like that guy/girl who never called again (or returned calls) after the first date, leaving you hanging, feeling all the negative emotions, and going through all the possible things that could’ve gone wrong in your head. Sadness.

We are all adults; we know how to handle rejections gracefully with our dignity intact. Just tell us the truth and we both can move on. Right?

I understand sometimes a recruiter has no control over the course of action. An interviewed candidate can be ‘put on the back burner’, ‘kept warm’, ‘circled back after we see more candidates’, or ‘second choice if number one doesn’t take our offer’. Complete silence for 3 months or for good is just not nice. Right?

There is almost no repercussion for a recruiter being flaky or rude.

It’s almost impossible for you to complain about anything to a company regarding their recruiting processes. Some candidates take their time to share their stories on Glassdoor, yet most employers dismiss the reviews assuming they all came from bitter, disgruntled, rejected candidates.

Again, I totally get how HR or Recruiting department is usually under-staff, under-budget and with the most ancient tools/software (if any at all) because HR is not a revenue generating function. This is one of the most ironic things about corporate America, we think “people are our biggest assets” but we spend minimal investment in treating talent right.

Unsubscribe marketing emails all you want, but you’re not likely to escape spam emails from bad recruiters. Most of them probably don’t even know what CAN-SPAM act is.

I receive about emails/inMails regularly for legitimate career opportunities that match my skills set and also for random jobs that match some keywords on my LinkedIn profile. Those random jobs include various engineering positions that I have no capability to hold whatsoever. It saddens me when recruiters don’t read resumes/profiles before they poach a passive candidate. It’s really sad, like 😦 x 10,000.

Selectively, I responded to some of the legitimate emails not because I was looking for a job, but to learn some market intel. After all, it is the best way to gain the insider’s view and industry trends from your fellow recruiters. And honestly, you never know what kind of opportunity you may miss until you hear about it.

Sadly, I also received poor treatment from recruiters. My most unpleasant experiences include the following: [1] When they rejected me as an active applicant and reached out to me as a passive candidate. {Why did you reject me in the first place? Hello?} [2] When they failed to reject me after interviewing me, and later tried to sell their services or products to me. {They just turned me from a candidate to a potential client without even consulting me first. WTH?} [3] When I responded to their poaching emails, they didn’t follow up but emailed me again two months later for the same job. {Now I know why that job was open for a year. Duh.}

It’s time for us to rethink recruiting. The system is broken. The process is broken.

We keep talking about this huge talent war and how we suffer from a massive talent shortage. How about starting treating candidates with respect? Adapt customer service and marketing strategy to create quality candidate experience. Similar to what the internet has done to the sales industry from a ‘Buyers Beware’ to a ‘Sellers Beware” world. We have to adapt the ‘Candidate Driven’ model soon away from the ‘Employer Driven’ standard.

My suggestions to break the vicious cycle and improve your candidate experience:

  • Hold your hiring team accountable for candidate experience, including the hiring manager, interviewing panel, and HR/recruiter. Ask your candidates to rate their experience on key performance indicators (KPIs) according to your talent acquisition strategy.
    • Email an automated survey link to every candidate after each phone and in-person interview.
    • Include a ‘unsubscribe’ link in each sourcing email. Track the unsubscribe rate, segment your candidate population, and create targeted job promos or candidate engagement campaigns.
  • Ask for candidate feedback regarding your current application process and applicant tracking system if any.
    • Add a survey link on your careers page or encourage candidates to talk about their experience on social media if applicable.
  • Be kind. Don’t be a jerk. Treat a candidate how you want to be treated.

P.S. Candidates, When a recruiter asks you to wait two weeks for a decision after an interview, please wait or tell them that you can’t wait that long. Also, please don’t hate on a recruiter when you are rejected in a timely manner after an interview. 99% of the time you just don’t match all of the hiring manager’s laundry list of requirements or some external factor happened to be against your odds. It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously.

When Recruiters Go Bad