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.
Situation: Despite high unemployment, a company is finding it difficult to attract qualified candidates for technical positions. Many applicants don’t possess the requisite skills, and recent graduates aren’t responding to job posts. What works best attracting good candidates for open positions?
Advice of the Forum:
There is a wide array of specialized online resources to help you find qualified candidates. As an example, for tech candidates, try DICE.com. For a reasonable cost, you can post position on DICE.com or get employer access to the database and search it yourself using key words.
Better results come through networking with vendors, suppliers and customers to identify currently employed and highly qualified candidates. This should be regular company practice.
It is feasible to hire nationally and to relocate. As long as the employees and young and not invested, relocation expenses are not severe, and the Bay Area is appealing to young workers.
For distant candidates, companies frequently use an initial telephone interview, and then bring qualified candidates to the office for a face-to-face 2nd interview.
Push current employees for referrals. Give them a reward for successful hires that stay with the Company for a pre-set time period.
One company pays $5-10K for referred employees who stay with the company for 1 year. This is inexpensive in comparison with recruiter costs.
There are some highly targeted recruiters in Silicon Valley who specialize in technology positions. Get to know these companies. They may already have candidates for your positions.
A number of companies have had success with semester or summer interns from local colleges and graduate schools. Current students are highly aware of the challenges finding a job once they graduate, and unemployment among recent graduates is very high.
Key Words: Human Resources, Candidate, Technical, Applicant, Job Post, Networking, DICE.com, Relocate, Referral, Recruiter, Intern
Situation: A company needs to hire several upper level managers to support growth objectives In the past they have selected candidates based on referrals from existing employees or management’s “gut feel” of candidates. The results have been inconsistent. What have you done to identify good job candidates?
Advice from the CEOs:
The answer depends upon the success of your hiring in the past, both for areas where you are comfortable with the skill sets and those areas you are less comfortable. For example, you may be good at identifying candidates for technical positions, but not for sales and marketing.
One CEO’s “gut feel” hires have been consistently wrong. The solution has been to have recruiters screen and evaluate candidates. Once candidates are prequalified, only the best are presented to the CEO for final selection.
Another CEO uses a two-step process:
A recruiter selects and ranks their final two or three candidates.
Then the CEO gets a second opinion from another recruiter on the recommended choices of the first recruiter.
If both recruiters agree on the best candidate, the CEO meets the person and offers a job provided that they are compatible. If the recruiters disagree, the CEO probes the differences between the evaluations and decides whether to meet with one of the candidates.
Another CEO involves staff and uses a ranking system to evaluate candidates in areas of competence and fit. This produces composite scores that assist them in identifying the best candidate.
Key Words: Hiring, Manager, Selection, Referral, Gut Feel, Process, Skills, Head Hunter, Recruiter, Ranking
Situation: A company wants to expand its business development staff. What is your experience, and what has worked best for you in selecting among business development candidates?
Advice from the CEOs:
Your first priority is your compensation plan for the new person. There are three basic compensation schemes:
High Base/Low Commission
Medium Base/Medium Commission
Low to No Base/High Commission
Choice between these options depends on your own philosophy, as well as common practice within your industry. Compensation is central to candidate selection. The CEOs recommend asking candidates about their own preferences for compensation.
If they prefer Option 1, don’t hire them – they either lack experience or confidence.
They ideally prefer Option 3 – they can make more money, but cost you little unless they perform.
If they prefer Option 2, probe. They may be good but face personal obligations that make it difficult to choose the high risk/high reward option. Ask about past compensation and performance. Verify any claims made during the interview.
You want to structure sales compensation so that non-performers leave of their own accord – without costing you dearly in time or money.
What are the most important traits to seek in a good B.D. candidate?
Understanding of customer’s requirements as well as purchase behavior.
Understanding of your product or service.
How do you find candidates?
Use a Head Hunter who knows your industry and competitors.
Use written tests to evaluate the individual’s traits.
Let the recruiter find and screen prospects and present the top 2-3 to you.
Key Words: Business Development, Candidate, Compensation, Experience, Traits, Evaluation, Base, Draw, Commission, Industry Practice, Verification, Performer, Non-Performer, Selection, Head Hunter, Personnel, Recruiter, Test
Situation: The company has been running very lean for the last few years, with very good people. New opportunities are opening up, and we need to staff up to execute. How do we get the best talent while minimize hiring costs?
Job Posting Boards: You can often find specialized talent on industry specific job boards such as Dice.com, SimplyHired.com, Cybercoders.com, TheLadders.com or similar non-traditional job boards.
Online Interest Groups: There are a wide range of industry and product specific user groups through Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and so on. Connecting with relevant groups will not only position your company as a key firm within the segment, but also make you THE place for career progression.
Go Social: Leverage the power or social media to publicize your available positions. Facebook advertisements, LinkedIn job postings and similar sites can build targeted interest in your company, and available positions.
Go Viral: Even if you don’t personally like Twitter or Facebook, these sites can create viral awareness of your company and technology. Tweeting that you are hiring now, with a 140 character job profile.
Be Cool: Create exciting new ways to add in the cool factor. Skilled talent likes to work with fun, exciting, successful companies. Capture photos of company events and add them to a Picasa or Flickr gallery. Positive blog posts build good vibes around your company, your technology and your products.
Ground & Pound: There are many groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss skills, functional interest, best practices, business opportunities or to just mix and mingle. Sites like Meetup.com to find local groups that match the talent you’re seeking. You will often find candidates, people that can pass the opportunity along, or even someone willing to provide an awesome referral.
Attack: Be pre-emptive in your focus. Select a few top-notch recruiters who specialize in your technology, market and/or geography. These professionals already know the talent pool, may accelerate the process, and ultimately provide higher quality candidates.
These are a few thought-starters. What has worked for you to find good candidates at minimal cost?