Tag Archives: Candidate

What’s the Next Version of Our Business Solution? Four Ideas

Situation: A company that provides personnel services wants to adjust their business model to make it more appealing to employers. They are unique in that they focus on social issues, rather than purely on business services. From the perspective of a hiring Manager, what would you want to see? What’s the next version of our business solution?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The idea of a social issues-based brand is unique. To some employers this may have appeal.
  • Your obvious differentiator is the tie between existing communities and social networking. Emphasize this.
  • As an employer, the focus is on finding quality employees for the right price. This will always take precedence over other factors for most businesses. In fact, over-emphasis on social issue-based hiring could subject an employer to discrimination issues. It also will not appeal to everyone. How can you address quality employee for the right price through your service? Here are some things to consider:
    • The employers’ challenge is finding good candidates. How do you solve this problem?
    • Employers have specific needs to fill. Help them by identifying and screening candidates so that it makes their job easier.
    • The question for the employer is whether your helper audience can crowd source the screening function. Screening is the challenge of the employer. Solve this and I as an employer want to talk to you!
    • Within your model, instead of asking for monetary contributions from your helper audience ask them to donate time to screen candidates. Not being a recruiter is a plus.
  • Pitch your new ideas to your company insiders – see what they say.

How Do You Evaluate Marketing Partners? Six Observations

Situation: A company is interested in partnering with a larger company to market a suite of services. They have identified two good candidates. They haven’t worked with partners in the past and are curious about how other companies work with marketing partners. How do you evaluate marketing partners?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The danger of working with a single marketing partner is that all of your eggs are in one basket. Your success in this relationship will depend upon the success of the marketing partner. This, in turn, will depend on the amount of attention that they pay to marketing your services, and on how actively their sales department sells your services. The danger to you is loss of control over the marketing and sales process.
  • Another company had a similar situation several years ago. At that time, the advice of the CEOs was to not select an exclusive partner, but instead to work with two different marketing partners, even though they are competitors. The company followed this advice, and it has worked like a charm.
  • Start with a position that you want a non-exclusive relationship. If a potential partner insists on exclusivity then ask for fixed guarantees of business and fixed minimums.
  • Other companies around the table work in partnership with competing companies all of the time. All of the partners value the services that these companies provide, and the relationships are harmonious.
  • If a possible partner insists on an exclusive relationship, another alternative is to split territories and supplement your agreements with most favored nation clauses.
  • Going back to the original question, provided that the terms offered by the marketing partner/partners are favorable, you won’t really know how they will perform until you establish a relationship and monitor it over time. Exit clauses and conditions will be an important part of any marketing agreement.

How Do You Recruit an Outside Director? Five Suggestions

Situation: A company’s current directors are all insiders. The CEO wants to bring in an outside director for greater perspective, someone who can help the company grow to the next level. What should they look for?  How do you recruit an outside director?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Look for an individual at a company in a similar market segment that is the revenue size that you want to be and which is selling to the same customers that you do. You want their sales process to be similar in type and complexity of sale but non-competitive with your company.
    • This can be an inactive founder or past employee who has been in GM role with P&L responsibility.
  • Write a list of the needs that you want this person to fulfill. Use this to evaluate prospective candidates.
  • Is it OK to hire a stranger?
    • Before you speak with a candidate, research their background and reputation.
    • You want someone who can provide information and a perspective that you don’t have now. During the selection process you will get to know the person.
  • Consider a high level individual from a company that has been a top customer. This individual can help you understand how you are viewed in the market, and how you can enhance your positioning and competitiveness.
  • Have lunch with a local recruiter who regularly recruits directors for companies. Get their perspective on how to select an outside director and what to look for in a candidate.

How Do You Define Your Sales Offering? Four Recommendations

Situation:  A company is having difficulty finding the right sales candidates for the opportunity that they offer.  They have had good conversations with prospects, but once they present their offering the candidates reply that they’re not interested. How do they define their offer to attract good candidates? How do they adjust the conversation to produce better results? How do you define your sales offering?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • This is the same conversation that you have with your biggest client prospects.
    • Good people have options. If you have not convinced yourself that you have a great opportunity, you will never convince them that your offer is better than other options.
    • You are selling YOU.
  • Change early process.
    • Be sure that you are as passionate about your opportunity as you are about positioning your services with clients.
    • Divorce the conversation about the opportunity from the general screening interview.
  • Here’s the process:
    • Your recruiter does not sell.
    • Just ask the recruiter to identify potential; not to initiate the sale.
    • Do this sale yourself.
  • Aspects of the story – much of this is the same story that you present to your clients:
    • Your performance within your industry.
    • Strength of your people and brand name.
    • The quality of your clients.
    • The unique opportunity that the prospect has joining you at this stage of your business growth.

How Does a Founder Hire His Replacement? Four Thoughts

Situation: A founder CEO, after many years building a business, has lost the passion that he had early on. He needs to hire someone to succeed him, assuring the ongoing growth and value of the company while minimizing ongoing personal involvement. How does a founder hire his (or her) replacement?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • When a founder has lost the passion to continue running a business it is time to move on. Passion is critical to meet the day-to-day demands of a business.
  • Before you start looking, decide whether you will continue to have a role in the business, and what that role will be. Will you remain Chairman of the Board and give up the CEO role? If so, are you ready to let go of the CEO role so that the right person can take it on? Typical company structures for Chairman/Top Manager roles are:
    • Chairman focuses on growth strategy, select PR and critical relationships.
    • CEO/COO/GM handles operational planning and day-to-day management.
  • The candidate that you seek will have the following profile:
    • Good energy, loves the business, but not ready for the risk of building a company.
    • When the right person has run the business for you for a few years that person may become your exit strategy.
  • Go to your next trade show with the mindset to find the right person. Many of the best candidates will be on the trade show floor – now working for someone else, but inwardly looking for their next opportunity.
    • Spread the news ahead of time that you’re looking. See who seeks you out.

How Do You Inform a Client about a Problem? Five Solutions

Situation: A company provides staff for a client. Overall the client has been pleased with the staff provided, and only a couple of individuals have had to be replaced. The client was recently presented with an individual that they seem to like; however, the company has since developed reservations about this candidate. How do you inform a client about a potential problem?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Meet with this individual face to face or via video conference. During the interview, tactfully ask questions that will either disqualify the candidate or satisfy your concerns. Only continue to present this candidate to the client if you are thoroughly satisfied that they can meet the client’s needs and will represent you well.
  • Ask the client for their impression of the individual. If they do not express any concerns, then your own concerns may be overblown.
  • The client will require the candidate to be trained by them prior to fully bringing them on-board. This will provide another opportunity for the client to say yea or nay. If the individual completes training to the client’s satisfaction, then once again your concerns may not be justified.
  • In any communications with the client, take care to voice only concerns that you can substantiate. Otherwise, you might expose yourself to suit by the candidate.
  • Independent of this situation, adjust your selection process to require face to face or video conference interviews. This will prevent the recurrence of future situations like this one.

What are Best Practices in Succession Planning? Four Ideas

Situation: A company wants to create a succession plan for key roles. Historically they haven’t had succession plans, but they are actively looking at candidates, skill sets, and so forth. The CEO wants to be able to make a recommendation to the Board. What are best practices in succession planning?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start with job and role descriptions. Select internal candidates for the positions and offer trial opportunities to assess their capabilities.
    • Test potential successors with projects to see if they can rise to the level of the higher responsibility. It may take more than one try to assess this.
    • Along the way you may discover hidden talents possessed by some of your employees.
  • Start with your incumbents. One of their responsibilities should be to identify possible inside candidates as successors for their positions, and to create a profile of qualifications for outside candidates. This should also be part of their job descriptions.
  • Succession candidates must desire the responsibility of the higher position. Don’t assume that everyone will want this. Some will be very good in their current role. Trying to force them to advance in responsibility can be counterproductive.
  • Do not assume that an outsider with a good resume and industry connections can fill the role of an insider who knows the company and its products and services.

How Do Identify and Bring In A COO? Five Suggestions

Situation: A company’s Board is pressing the CEO to hire a COO to oversee operations. The Board’s concerns include succession planning for the CEO and a desire for the CEO to put more focus on the vision and strategy of the company. There are no current candidates within the company. How do you identify and bring in a COO?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Think beyond roles and responsibilities and consider how you would describe the ideal candidate. This includes attitudes and behaviors, talents, experience, and essential skills. Map these attributes and use them to guide your recruitment and selection process.
  • Increasingly, companies are using a values-based process to evaluate personnel both for promotion and outside selection. Tony Hsieh of Zappos talks about this in his book “Delivering Happiness.” This doesn’t substitute for skills and experience, but helps to identify candidates who will help to strengthen your company’s culture.
  • Assure that you have a full process in place that will help you to recruit and select a good candidate. If it has been a while since you last recruited a high level executive, consider securing outside resources to assist. One of the CEOs even hires a 2nd expert to vet the recommendations of the primary expert.
  • Where can you look for good candidates?
    • Talk to your key vendors about who is really good in the industry. Look for a high potential individual in another company who doesn’t have room to grow in their current situation.
    • Also look at related industries where there will be cross-over knowledge and skills.
    • Don’t overlook the military. Talented officers are regularly rotating out of the services – people who have exceptional experience leading and motivating people.
  • On-boarding a new senior executive is different from a lower level employee. If you choose the right individual and they fit your culture, this will ease the process. Be aware that some of your current senior employees will likely be upset that they were passed over and may be difficult. If you haven’t done this in some time, it is worthwhile to secure counsel on the best ways to bring a new COO on-board.

Key Words: COO, Operations, Succession, Candidate, Role, Responsibilities, Attitude, Behavior, Experience, Values, Process, On-Boarding

How Do You Target and Prospect Acquisition Candidates? Three Guidelines

Situation: A company wants to grow by acquiring companies in similar verticals that have different but complimentary offerings. The targets will most likely be boutique operations. How should they target and prospect candidates?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Before you think about either targeting or prospecting an acquisition do your internal homework. Establish your strategic plan, including strategic capabilities that you want to develop. Look for synergies within your plan, and assure that any new capabilities complement these synergies.
    • Will current customers be interested in the new strategic capabilities, or will you have to build or buy access to new customer segments?
    • Determine the leveraging factors. How much incremental business can you expect to gain compared to current business? Look at both top and bottom line impact.
    • Do a build/buy analysis to determine whether the capability is more effectively built using your own resources or purchased.
  • Leverage both internal and external resources to develop a target list. Ask what current employees may be knowledgeable of potential candidates.
    • Use your industry network to identify and gather information about candidates.
    • Retain a firm to assist you in identifying candidates. They can approach candidates from a neutral position to assess interest in acquisition.
  • It is critical to negotiate a deal that retains key talent. Founders and key staff of the acquired company must see the combination as a means to facilitate and expand their own vision. In many successful acquisitions you will see the following traits.
    • The acquiring company did not change management, accounting methods, or operational procedures of the acquired company.
    • They acted as a bank to facilitate pursuit of the acquired company’s dreams and already successful strategies.
    • They took a “hands-off” approach with the acquired company and did not try to force cultural change.

Key Words: Acquisition, Candidate, Plan, Capability, Market, Customers, Leverage, Build-Buy Analysis, Target List, Talent, Retain, Culture, Compatible, Due Diligence

Do You Hire for Character or Skills? Four Thoughts

Situation: A small company has a candidate who seems a great fit for their culture and comes with excellent references. However, this candidate has little experience in their industry. They are struggling to assess which is more important – the quality and character of the person or their experience and skill set? What is your opinion – do you hire for character or skills?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Overall, personality, character and values consistent with the firm’s values outweigh skills. However, if the individual needs significant training to attain the skills required for their new role, you must assess the ability of your firm to provide that training. Either that or bring them in at a lower level and let them grow into their eventual role.
  • If the candidate will fill a business development role, put them across the table from you and others, one-on-one, in a sales role play. Can they sell you on hiring them for the position? If the candidate will have to develop their own leads, make selling you on their ability to do this part of the role-play exercise.
  • Open up the search to other possible candidates, and assess the current candidate vs. others who may want the position. See if this individual rises to the top in a competition for the position.
  • Large company experience may not be relevant to the needs of a small firm. Better to find an individual with experience in a firm more similar to your size than with only big company experience.

Key Words: Hire, Candidate, Character, Culture, Skills, Experience, Training, Business Development, Compete, Large, Small