KFWB Radio Hosts Betsy Berkhemer & Renee Fraser Keynote “Where’s the Money” Conference, this Saturday, May 18th5:18 pm
Recruiting passive candidates is a topic that recruiters have discussed and debated for years. Countless blogs and articles have been written. Many tend to focus on defining who passive candidates are, why they are important, and how to find them. These are all valid, but perhaps the most crucial issue to hiring organizations is how to recruit these professionals once you find them.
First, let’s cover the who, why, and how to find.
Who are the passive candidates? Passive candidates are not necessarily seeking new employment. Most are currently employed and, for the most part, satisfied in their current roles. Active candidates, in contrast, are proactively seeking new employment. They tend to be unemployed or unsatisfied in their current positions. Some are semi-active candidates, who are employed, but selectively looking.
Why are passive candidates important? Some argue that passive candidates typically have a career history of stability and reliability; that they are more loyal, make better managers, and are more effective. The counter-assumption would be that active and semi-active candidates are less reliable and less effective. This is not always true. For any given search, the best candidates could be employed, unemployed, looking, or not looking. However, candidates who become finalists and eventually placements, tend to be employed and not necessarily looking to make a change, especially at the senior level.
How to find passive candidates? Executive-level professionals, passive or active, generally don’t post their information on resume databases or attend career fairs. Senior-level active candidates usually reach out to recruiters, send their information through online job postings, or network with other professionals in their industry. Passive candidates, however, need to be identified and approached directly. To do this successfully, it often takes proactive sourcing and networking by a skilled recruiter who knows the capabilities and experience needed for the role and the types of organizations where appropriate professionals can be found.
Basic keys to successfully recruit passive candidates:
Know the role and the organization: Beyond the basic responsibilities and qualifications, recruiters and hiring managers should know the unique challenges and opportunities of the position they are hiring for, and what makes this role and this organization different from others. What about this role and organization would be intriguing to someone who isn’t actively looking to make a change. For outside recruiters, developing a strong partnership with the client organization, with open and constant communication, is the best way to gain this understanding.
Get to know the candidates: Candidates have different levels of interest and different reasons for being interested. To successfully engage passive candidates, recruiters and hiring managers need to discover and appreciate each candidate’s motivations. What drives them? What are they passionate about? Why would they potentially be interested in this particular opportunity?
See previous post: ‘Why are you interested in this Position?’
Uncover roadblocks as early as possible: Despite an executive’s motivation for potential interest in a role, there are often roadblocks that prevent passive candidates from seriously considering a change. The two most common are location and salary. Making sure that the candidate’s salary expectations are in line with the range for the role is critical. Passive candidates typically do not leave their current roles unless there is an increase in salary. Relocation can also be a major concern for passive candidates. Many are reluctant to move. They may be tied to a certain geography because of family issues. They may have children in high school. They may own a home and are worried about their ability to sell. Identifying roadblocks early is key. Some roadblocks can be overcome, but if it’s simply not going to work, it’s better to know as early in the process as possible.
Paint the picture: Once recruiters know the role, the candidate, and have uncovered the roadblocks, they must “attract.” Experienced recruiters know how to develop a realistic, yet compelling narrative of how the qualities and opportunities of a specific role complement the unique motives and passions of the potential candidate. Each candidate is driven by different motives, and each will have different hesitations and roadblocks. To successfully attract passive candidates, the skilled recruiter will speak to what drives the candidate, while addressing their fears or hesitations. Paint the picture of what life would be like in this new role, and use examples of stories of candidates in the past that have made similar changes and been successful.
Remember the motivation: Once passive candidates have expressed initial interest in an opportunity, many recruiters and hiring managers often forget the “motivation” conversation and jump instantly to assessment mode. While candidate assessment is an essential part of the process to determine fit, developing motivation is needed for a long-term, successful placement, especially for senior-level passive candidates. Recruiters and hiring managers need to remember that passive candidates need more recruiting than those that are actively looking.
NIRI – Los Angeles Board Members (From left to right:)
Fred Clayton, DeLise Keim, Maili Bergman, Scott Cunningham, Julie MacMedan, Lisa Bono, Geri Weinfeld
Fred Clayton with fellow National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Los Angeles board members at a recent luncheon at the California Club in Los Angeles co-hosted with the National Association of Corporate Directors. The program’s panel was secured by Fred and business partner Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire and featured corporate directors of Home Depot, Yum! Brands, WellPoint, CBS Corporation and Jack in the Box who addressed the 100 guests on the topic of “Board Accountability to Shareholders.”
Four leading board members of publicly traded companies and investor relations professionals shared their insight on the increasing need for board members to understand the views of investors of their companies. Especially in consideration of today’s shareholder activism and proxy scrutiny, this discussion cleared up some questions regarding the relationship between the company’s IRO and board members. To read more about the event, click here.
Employers often think they hold all the cards during the hiring process, especially in a down economy when many people are looking for work. But the process represents an opportunity to strengthen one’s employer brand, no matter what the larger economic situation.
The candidate that is hired presumably has a good impression of the employer’s reputation and hiring practices, and thus becomes a brand ambassador for the company her- or himself.
But the candidates who do not get the job should also be seen as potential brand ambassadors. Too often, the opposite is the case.
The interviewer who does not show up on time for the interview, the human resources department that does not inform the candidate in a timely manner of his or her status, even the process itself—too many forms to fill out on the front end before mutual interest between employer and candidate has been established—all can leave a poor impression with the applicant of how the company runs its business and treats its employees. These individuals form an opinion about the company based on their experience, and through sharing their opinion with friends or colleagues, negatively impact the company’s employer brand.
During the hiring process be sure to:
- Minimize the hoops through which a job applicant has to jump
- Show up on time and give your full attention for the allotted time of the interview
- Give the candidate an update on his or her status as soon as possible
- Adapt to the candidate’s timeline if need be—not only could you lose a candidate who receives another offer while you move through a slow process, lack of efficiency also sends a negative message to the candidate about the corporate culture and could cause a change of heart about your job opportunity
It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad economy—your employer brand reputation will stay with you. By treating all candidates with respect during the job application and interview process, your employer brand will be protected and promoted in the marketplace.
While there are many questions that may be asked during an interview, this is one of a few that you should always anticipate. ‘Why are you interested in this role?’ It seems simple enough, but it is quite possibly the most important question you will be asked, and is one that is often not given proper attention by candidates.
Many candidates spend their preparation time focusing on how they will address their skills or accomplishments; transitions in their career history; or even management style. These are all important and deserve thought, but so does the question about why you are even interested in the role at all.
Even if you your reasons seem fairly straightforward, treating the topic like an afterthought is a big mistake. How you respond to this can often impact your chances of moving forward in the interview process. Answering this question well provides a tremendous opportunity, one that you don’t want to miss. It’s a chance for you to show what you know and how you think.
Take your time with this and make sure you have a compelling response. Even if you are an active jobseeker, and currently unemployed, saying that you ‘need a job’ is never a compelling answer. You may be unhappy in your current job or with your current organization and eager to make a move. While this may be a part of your motivation to leave, it should not be part of your reason for your interest in the role.
For any jobseeker, active or passive, plan ahead to offer thoughtful statements about what motivates your candidacy. Take the time to put aside the realities about your need for a job or your desires to leave your current job and truly consider what added value you bring to the company? Show that you have researched the company and how you see your experience might benefit them. And of course second, why are you impressed by this role. What about this role and this organization is appealing to you at this time?
Go beyond the job description and do your own research. Review the job description, thoroughly. Take the time to hear what they are saying. A well-written position narrative will often provide you with clues to the goals of the organization and even to the cultural environment of the organization itself. Look up the organization online. Discuss the opportunity with people you trust, people that may have insight about the organization.
Be truthful with yourself. What drives you? What are you passionate about? What are your goals? How would this role and organization help cultivate your own goals? Think about the specific challenges and opportunities presented in the role and why those challenges and opportunities are compelling to you.
This is an opportunity for you to show how much you know about their organization and what they are looking for in this role. It’s your chance to show that you have done research beyond simply glancing at the job description. Assume that the people conducting the interview are happy in their roles and committed to their organization. They want to know why you want to join their team. They want to know that this is more than just a job to you. How you answer this will demonstrate how serious you are about them and about the role. It can show them about your decision-making process and how you may approach the challenges facing this role.
Take the time to truly consider this question.
Be truthful with yourself.
Do your research.
Build a compelling story.
See this question for the opportunity that it is.
This is not just a job interview—it’s your strategic career!
Betsy was invited by Citibank’s Linda Descano, president of Women & Co., about “How to Ace the Interview” especially for senior level searches that Berkhemer Clayton handles.
Full interview available at https://www.citibank.com/womenandco/article/acing-the-job-interview-9-must-have-attributes-to-make-the-cut.jsp
When it comes to career resolutions in 2013, finding a new job is top of mind for many women, based on a recent poll with members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network, a LinkedIn group powered by Citi. Acing the job interview is a key step to turning this resolution into reality. To help you prep for that all-important interview, we asked a group of successful executives to share the top attributes they look for in a job candidate. While each articulated her top attributes with different words, common threads emerged which we distilled into nine must-have attributes. Edited excerpts from our conversations are included.
1. Intensity, Intellectual Curiosity, Drive, and Ambition
I ask where the executive sees herself or himself in five years. Don’t respond to the interviewer with the trite “I want your job” answer. I want to hear about a genuine strategic pathway this person has in mind for where they are going and why. I want to hear how they describe their personal goals. – Betsy Berkhemer Credaire, Co-Owner, Berkhemer Clayton
Here’s a toast to the privilege of serving first-rate client organizations, and the enjoyment of working with good friends.
We are grateful to the client corporations who engaged us in 2012, including Bank of America, City of Hope, Gap, Kaiser Permanente, Mattel, Raytheon, Tutor-Perini, University of Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Waggener/Edstrom, and more.
We look forward to solving strategic communications challenges together in the new year in our specialty executive search practices:
- Corporate Communications
- Corporate Boards
- Investor Relations
- Higher Education
- Non-Profit Organizations
As the economy builds momentum in 2013, Berkhemer Clayton is here to help you recruit experienced executives in corporate communications, public relations, investor relations, and finance, and Trufflepig Search will find your next great social media or digital communications team member in the United States or Asia.
We wish you a profitable new year, full of health, enjoyment, and happiness.
In a blog post for the Harvard Business Review, Anthony K. Tjan, CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, explains that the best candidates are usually the ones that have options–they are the candidates that you have to pursue and convince to leave their current companies. The key to landing these candidates is to build a two-way dialogue in the interview. Not only do you have to determine what the candidate will bring to your company, but you have to explain what your company will bring to the candidate. Tjan says that the most important question you should answer when looking to make a hire, is why the candidate would choose your offer over another.
Tjan’s “most important question” stresses the necessity of employers to stand out from their competition. Fred Clayton, CEO of Berkhemer Clayton, believes that “most employers spend far more time evaluating than recruiting candidates and should heed his very good advice to devote the necessary time and be calculated when attempting to attract “A” players because they do, in fact, have alternatives–so, yours had better stand out!” As a company, you need to keep in mind that the best talent will probably have multiple job opportunities in addition to yours. In fact, most of the time these talented candidates are not even looking for a job.
Ben Lambert, Vice President of Berkhemer Clayton, explains, “The best candidates tend to be happily employed, successful in their jobs, and not actively looking to leave. They often need to be enticed to leave their current roles and organizations. This is the main difference between the active and passive candidate pool…the best candidates always need more convincing.” Both Fred and Ben stress the importance of showing potential candidates what your company would bring them.
While an undeniably important question, asking yourself if a candidate would choose your company may not be “the most” important question in the entire interview process. Sai Pradhan explains that an interview is meant to “ascertain the possibility,” probability of yield, as Tjan calls it, “of matching the job seeker with the job at hand,” and only after being “convinced that the candidate is a match for the employer” does it matter if the candidate would choose your company. If you don’t have a sense already, the interview should be when you decide if the candidate is a good match for your company and if your company is a good match for the candidate.
Interviews should feature two-way dialogue. Without this dialogue it is impossible to gauge if the candidate and your company would be a symbiotic match. The discourse can break, or amplify, previous opinions you had about a candidate–and this is vital. According to Fred Clayton, a “hiring executive may have a bias in favor of a candidate based on resume and reputation before she /he even walks through the door; and, if the person looks the part, speaks well, and possesses that top-drawer spark, they quickly conclude that this is “the One” when, in fact, it might very well not be.”
An honest discourse between candidate and company is really the only way to see through a candidate that may not be the perfect fit. Tjan’s “most important question” is certainly an important question to ask yourself when hiring top talent, but it is more important to ask yourself if you and the candidate would be a good fit for each other.
Skype and phone interviews have become standard as the first interview on the road toward landing a new position. Time is money and it makes sense to do a preliminary skills check to make sure the basic requirements are met. Even though skype and phone interviews may be less stressful than in-person ones, they should not be taken for granted.
- Make sure that your internet connection or cellular network is working properly. Make a sample call to test video and sound quality. There is nothing worse than technical difficulties hampering an otherwise successful interview.
- Find a quiet place, without the threat of background noise, to have the interview. If you have a phone interview do not do it while you are on a bus, in a car, or in a taxi. If you’re at home, make sure pets and kids are not nearby.
- If you have a Skype interview, sit at a desk and dress in business appropriate attire.
- Prepare as if it were an in-person interview–this means don’t wake up five minutes before the interview, people can tell when you sound fatigued.
- Take advantage of not having an in-person interview by keeping notecards with key points.
- Before a Skype interview, set up the lighting and make sure to not sit too close to the screen. Be sure to smile and present your best professional self.
- As tempting as it is to look at the screen during a Skype call, don’t. Make sure to look into the camera so that it looks like you are maintaining eye contact with the interviewer.
- Keep your answers short, relevant, and to-the-point just as you would in an in-person interview.
- If you have a phone interview, consider standing up or walking, it may help you feel more relaxed.
- Another pointer for phone interviews is to use a headset while on the phone–not speakerphone–so that you can take notes and have your hands free during the interview.
- Finally, don’t be distracted during your interview. Don’t try to multi-task, give your full attention to your interviewer.
After you’ve finished your interview, follow-up with an email and thank you card–hand written–the potential employer as you would after an in-person interview.
Going to a networking event might give you stage fright, especially if you don’t know anyone. But networking can provide huge payoffs. Even if you haven’t had much success at networking events in the past, it doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future–networking is a skill that you develop over time. Each event is different and each gives you a new opportunity to hone your skills.
Perfecting the “elevator pitch” is crucial to improving your networking skills. The key to a successful elevator pitch is to get your point across in 30 seconds or less without sounding like a mindless salesman. Try to build a conversation from this pitch so as not to sound like you are simply selling something. Make sure to appeal to your audience; explain specifically how what you are providing will help them, instead of repeating the same pitch to many different people. Ask questions.
If you are intimidated by meeting a large number of people at a networking event, remember you don’t need to meet everyone in the room–the thought of this can be overwhelming. Instead try to make meaningful connections. Channel your nervous energy into meeting people and engaging them. It helps to attend networking events that offer a workshop or a speaker so you have an ice breaker topic once the networking time begins.
Online networking is becoming an incredibly popular and a rewarding complement to in-person networking. Try to create a unique personal brand on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Remember that hiring managers and recruiters will peruse plenty of LinkedIn pages everyday–so make your page stand out. LinkedIn groups are another effective social networking tool because they allow people with similar interests and goals to connect with one another. If you already have an established in-person group of professionals, think about starting your own LinkedIn group or joining like-minded groups to share your skills and abilities.
When forming a networking group–either on LinkedIn or in real life–decide if having a closed or having an open group is better for your needs. While larger, open groups have the appeal of helping you reach more people, they tend to be unfocused. Closed networks, however, do not provide the opportunity to connect with as many new people, but do allow for focused and meaningful discussions among people you are more likely to establish offline connections with.
Make sure to promptly follow-up with any contacts made at a networking event. You can send them a follow-up email, or even connect with them on LinkedIn. Successful networking, either in-person or online, can lead to a new contact, new business venture, or even a new career. Don’t take for granted the possibilities of networking.