DK Cole News

Get the Right People on Your Recruiting-Interviewing Bus!

I’ll never forget the project manager search we conducted for Tom, COO of a large specialty contractor. Tom was highly regarded, and his technical expertise was unmatched.  But, he had an interview style that turned people off.  He caused all five candidates he interviewed to walk away discouraged.  In fact, some walked away angry!

With heavy competition for talent, you can’t have a “negative COO” on the interview team.  Finding the right balance between selling the company and vetting the candidate is the key.  Look for team members with these following skills.  If you do, you’ll get the right people on your recruiting team.

Has sales aptitude and communication skills

Choose interviewers with excellent communication skills.  Each should be able to sell the candidate on your culture, core values and mission.  Remember, building your interview team is no different than bringing your “A Team” to a bid presentation.  Everyone must have the skill to articulate your brand while vetting candidates.

Prepares for the Interview

One hiring manager we know keeps candidates waiting as long as 45 minutes.   Frequently the manager has not even reviewed their resumes.   Choose interviewers who will thoroughly prepare for the interview, and show courtesy and respect to the candidate.  This is critical.

Avoids Pop Psychology

“If you had to be an animal, what animal would you choose?” is not an effective interview question!  These “Odd ball” questions simply do not project the interviewer or the company as professional and serious. They certainly are a sure turn off with today’s candidates.   

Keeps it legal

Make sure your interviewers respect and follow all employment laws.  Asking about age, marital status, childcare, pregnancy, political or religious affiliation or race, color or ethnicity or when someone is planning to retire is illegal. Employment laws have changed frequently in recent years, so an annual review is great preparation.

Makes it a priority!

Few things are more important than getting the right people hired.  The interview team member must respond fast with feedback and be flexible with scheduling.  Statistics show top candidates are off the market in 10 days!  Interviewers should have a high sense of urgency and be open to utilizing Skype®, FaceTime® or other video tools to speed up the process.

Having a solid interview team is vital in successfully competing for talent.  Those with a positive attitude and who represent your company well make the best recruiting and brand building ambassadors.

Need clarifications or more information?  Have any questions?  Get the answers you need.  Call Kathy Cole, at 630-282-7747 or email her at kcole@dkcole.com.
 

As appeared in Builders Blueprint newsletter for Chicago Builders Association May, 2017 issue

Do You Have the Talent to Capitalize on Increased Construction Spending in 2017?

Regardless of which party you supported in the election, both proposed extensive infrastructure investments. President-Elect Trump also proposed massive inner-pic-of-crane-and-business-letterscity investments.  With support on all sides, a significant increase in construction spending is very likely.

How are you going to find the employees to respond and take advantage of this looming growth opportunity?

This new administration’s construction plans will place even more burden on an already busy construction industry. Resources are tight with baby boomers retiring, and it’s difficult to attract younger generations and new entrants to the construction industry

Is your recruiting “infrastructure” ready to meet your hiring needs amid heavy competition for talent across the entire spectrum of construction companies in 2017?

Recent Construction Industry News:

In the last few months, numerous sources have highlighted the increase in construction activity and the challenges being faced by those recruiting and hiring construction talent:

  • The AGC’s November 2016 issue of Constructor mentions, in its 2016 Workforce Survey, the continued difficulty filling various positions.
  • The most recent issue of AGC Data Digest, on November 11, 2016, was titled:  Voters pass numerous construction ballot and bond measures; job openings rise. It listed numerous new projects that were approved in the recent elections at both the local and statewide levels.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in its November Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported 221,000 construction industry job openings.
  • The Dodge Momentum Index, for October reported existing non-residential building project activity increased 10 % (industrial) and 20% (Commercial) over the same period last year.

As construction recruiters, we can confirm that all signs point toward an increasingly difficult recruiting landscape.  The challenge will be to do everything you can to retain your existing personnel while adding additional team members to meet the demand for 2017. So there’s an urgent need for hiring managers to proactively prepare to meet this challenge.

You can start this process by examining your recruiting process and making improvements necessary to win the war for talent. So what can you do?

Successful Construction Recruiting Strategies

After informally polling construction companies across the country, we developed a list of the most common, successful methods of recruiting:

  • Develop programs to increase employee internal referrals
  • Use External referrals – vendors, subs, suppliers, consultants, previous employees
  • Establish and maintain college recruiting programs
  • Establish internship programs
  • Use online job postings and website postings
  • Retain professional construction recruiters
  • Place signs on trucks, jobsites and roadside (effective for road/bridge builders)

Top 10 Tips to Improve Recruiting Results

We, at DK Cole recommend you incorporate these techniques into your recruiting process:

1)     Make sure the hiring manager is directly involved and accountable for hiring

2)     Select interview team members who represent the job and company well

3)     Develop your “employer brand”

4)     Ensure frequent communication and feedback with all candidates

5)     Develop a success profile (not a typical job description) for every hire

6)     Treat all candidates as if they were a prospective client!

7)     Keep the process moving

8)     Identify a hiring coordinator to manage interview coordination

9)     Learn to recognize and manage candidate motivators

10) Send offer letters after a verbal acceptance

Implementing these techniques will significantly increase your ability to attract the right candidates. You’ll also  increase your success with current and future hires, and your acceptance rates from top candidates. For more information or further discussion, call Kathy Cole, President, DK Cole Company, on her direct line at 630.282.7747.

Should You Accept a Counteroffer?

Career opportunities become more plentiful for accountants during the fourth quarter, so if you’re considering a career move, you’ll want to read further!  Understanding the unique dynamics that occur when you resign could save you from, what could be, disastrous consequences.

Before we extend offers on behalf of the client, we ask candidates what they would do if their current employer makes a counter.  I’d guess over 80% of the time, we hear the following from our candidate, “Well, that’s not going to happen,” and inevitably it, does happen more often than not.

If you’re a competent professional, it is a matter of time before you experience a counter offer dilemma, and if you aren’t prepared for it, before it happens, you’ll inevitably make mistakes.  So if you want to resign without burning bridges and/or making a career mistake, remember the following:

First of all, understand WHY employers make counter offers.  It’s more difficult and costly to replace the departing employees than ever before in history.  There are many reasons we won’t go into here, but know there is a shortage of talent, especially in accounting and finance.  As a result, it is much easier for an employer to convince you to stay than to recruit and train a new employer.

Secondly, when an employer makes a counter offer, it’s almost always a selfish move on their part.  Sorry, I know this is difficult to hear. . . but everyone truly is replaceable…even you, even if you’re a 25 year, tenured employee, so put your ego on the shelf and see the situation in a realistic manner. When positions are unfilled, work load increases not only for co-workers, but frequently for your boss him/herself.  Sure, there are boss’, business owners and managers who truly care about their employees, but honestly, their number one objective is to do what’s best for the company, not you.  The only individual qualified to look out for the best interests of you and your family is YOU.

Third, you must know the statistics.  In a survey conducted by Wall Street Journal, they discovered that 90% of candidates who accept counter offers left within 12 months.  BOTTOM LINE: The fundamental reasons most people switch jobs doesn’t change after accepting a counteroffer.  Most people leave their jobs for reasons other than money, and if money is the ONLY reason, you should NEVER have resigned in the first place.  Counter offers are a bad deal for you, but a good deal for the employer, because they “buy time” to find a replacement by keeping you a little longer.

Finally, understand the consequences of accepting a counter offer.  Even if you improve your employment status with more money or promotion, you run the risk of your employer feeling “blackmailed,” and your co-workers feeling envious that you got a bigger paycheck for being disloyal!  Many employers will find a way to make up these increases by cutting your bonus the following year, demoting you after a period of time, or worst case, terminating you once they’ve had a chance to replace you.  A great example of this is a tax accountant I knew who resigned during busy season, the firm gave him a huge bonus to stay with the firm. A few months later, when the annual bonus was paid out, he got ZERO !  To add insult to injury, this individual was terminated a few months later after the firm found his replacement.

Most of the time the original reasons you made the decision to make a job change are still there, and they don’t change just because you accepted a counter offer.  You should have more faith and trust in your own judgment, because there were good reasons you accepted the new position, so follow through.

Some People Just Want to be WANTED!

I’m reminded of a true story that highlights the similarities between an individual’s employer relationship and their romantic relationships. Let me explain. . .

Have you ever had a friend who constantly complained about their romantic partner, but they refused to get out of the relationship?  Often, these individuals are just attempting to change him/her, instead of simply breaking off the relationship to find someone more compatible!

This is what psychologists would call a dysfunctional relationship! Now, I’m no psychologist, although recruiter is fairly close, but this seems like a very unproductive, unhealthy way to run your personal life. Unfortunately, I see that same dynamic with some people with their professional lives. And this story involves a friend of mine who we’ll call, Helen. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Helen has been a retail store manager for over 10 years for the same, retail company. Since I’ve known her, she has complained bitterly about the company, her boss, how they refuse to promote her because she is a woman, and how she never gets the respect or recognition she deserves! Her more recent complaint is about how the company hired someone from the outside, for the Regional Manager role, instead of promoting her into the position.  She clearly feels unappreciated, disrespected, undervalued and overlooked!” Then, one day, BAM… out of nowhere, the owner of a very successful, competing company calls and recruits her for a (you guessed it) Regional Manager role! So if you were friends with Helen, at this point, you would be thinking how fantastic it is that she has an offer for the position and title she has wanted.  But alas, not quite… After weeks of jerking the potential employer around, Helen stayed at her current job! Why?  Because of her codependent relationship with them, she reveled in the drama of being wanted by another company, waived it in her employer’s face, and they temporarily, they made her feel valued, wanted and respected with a small pay increase and a different title. But they were still unable to give her the regional manager position she really wanted.  You see, deep down, she wants to change them. But it didn’t work, and in fact, it probably made her current boss feel blackmailed.  Getting a counter offer was a huge ego boost.  Let’s face it… It feels great to be wanted, right? But remember, that’s only temporary, and if you stay, like Helen did, it will most definitely be business as usual in a short period of time. Just like in romantic relationships, you have the need to feel respected, valued and appreciated in your job.  And it’s important for you to be able to identify the difference between temporary frustrations, which accompany all jobs, and circumstances that truly justify making a change.

When an opportunity to make a move crosses your path, simply examine your motives. You may even enlist the help of your closest friends and family to provide input on how often you complain or appear unhappy. Ask yourself…why are you interested in interviewing for this new job? Is it going to move you closer to your career goals? Improve your work/life balance? OR . . . Do you just want to be wanted?

If you decide it’s time to leave, and the opportunity is right for you, it’s important to be committed to your decision and resign, without getting your ego caught up in wanting to be wanted.  Otherwise, you’ll burn bridges with the potential employer, and your current employer won’t trust you, as they did before. You see. . . regardless of pay increase and title change to get Helen to stay, her current employer won’t take long to disappoint her again.  And Helen will feel those old familiar feelings of being disrespected, undervalued and unappreciated.

Since Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away, I’m reminded of a true story that highlights the similarities between an individual’s employer relationship and their romantic relationships. Let me explain. . .

Have you ever had a friend who constantly complained about their romantic partner, but they refused to get out of the relationship?  Often, these individuals are just attempting to change him/her, instead of simply breaking off the relationship to find someone more compatible!

This is what psychologists would call a dysfunctional relationship! Now, I’m no psychologist, although recruiter is fairly close, but this seems like a very unproductive, unhealthy way to run your personal life. Unfortunately, I see that same dynamic with some people with their professional lives. And this story involves a friend of mine who we’ll call, Helen. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Helen has been a retail store manager for over 10 years for the same, retail company. Since I’ve known her, she has complained bitterly about the company, her boss, how they refuse to promote her because she is a woman, and how she never gets the respect or recognition she deserves! Her more recent complaint is about how the company hired someone from the outside, for the Regional Manager role, instead of promoting her into the position.  She clearly feels unappreciated, disrespected, undervalued and overlooked!” Then, one day, BAM… out of nowhere, the owner of a very successful, competing company calls and recruits her for a (you guessed it) Regional Manager role! So if you were friends with Helen, at this point, you would be thinking how fantastic it is that she has an offer for the position and title she has wanted.  But alas, not quite… After weeks of jerking the potential employer around, Helen stayed at her current job! Why?  Because of her codependent relationship with them, she reveled in the drama of being wanted by another company, waived it in her employer’s face, and they temporarily, they made her feel valued, wanted and respected with a small pay increase and a different title. But they were still unable to give her the regional manager position she really wanted.  You see, deep down, she wants to change them. But it didn’t work, and in fact, it probably made her current boss feel blackmailed.  Getting a counter offer was a huge ego boost.  Let’s face it… It feels great to be wanted, right? But remember, that’s only temporary, and if you stay, like Helen did, it will most definitely be business as usual in a short period of time. Just like in romantic relationships, you have the need to feel respected, valued and appreciated in your job.  And it’s important for you to be able to identify the difference between temporary frustrations, which accompany all jobs, and circumstances that truly justify making a change.

When an opportunity to make a move crosses your path, simply examine your motives. You may even enlist the help of your closest friends and family to provide input on how often you complain or appear unhappy. Ask yourself…why are you interested in interviewing for this new job? Is it going to move you closer to your career goals? Improve your work/life balance? OR . . . Do you just want to be wanted?

If you decide it’s time to leave, and the opportunity is right for you, it’s important to be committed to your decision and resign, without getting your ego caught up in wanting to be wanted.  Otherwise, you’ll burn bridges with the potential employer, and your current employer won’t trust you, as they did before. You see. . . regardless of pay increase and title change to get Helen to stay, her current employer won’t take long to disappoint her again.  And Helen will feel those old familiar feelings of being disrespected, undervalued and unappreciated.

 

 

Small Town Gen Y Girl Makes it Big!

Recently, a successful young lady, who I would regard as a “daughter,” (Oops, I just admitted I’m old enough to have a 28 year old daughter) was able to spend some fun time with me en route to visit her real mom. While the weekend was filled with spa services and exquisite dining, I also had the opportunity to gain insight into how she has been able to accomplish so much in her six-year career! Her story reminded me how important it can be for young people to consider, without judgment, the sage guidance of a loving parent as well as the advice of a devoted, career mentor.  I’m sharing her story, because, no matter your career path, your ability to be open minded to such guidance and advice, early in your career, makes all the difference!

This young lady, Amber, is an accountant who has quickly worked her way up to managing the finances of one of her company’s overseas locations.  And while money isn’t everything, she is currently earning over $100,000 US dollars. . . I’m sure you agree this is not bad for 28 years old.  So, for all practical purposes, she is doing very well professionally, and personally, in case you’re wondering.

So, being the curious minded recruiter that I am, I asked, “Why do you think you’ve achieved such success at your age?” . . .  (Keep in mind she is part of the famous Generation Y who takes heat for  poor work ethic, among other things.) She responded with, “I followed my dad’s advice, and I had a great mentor.”  Naturally, I asked for details on her dad’s advice, and I was surprised at her response.  After all, she grew up in a small town with blue collar parents who did not have a college education. She also had no executive role models, to speak of, and yet, she’s had this “executive presence,” about her, since the day we met.  As simple as it may sound, her Dad gave her the best career advice I could possibly imagine.  He said, “When you’re meeting with someone in a business situation, consider how your dress and grooming will be perceived by them (vs. what you think is cool or fashionable). What they perceive as professional may be different from you, and it matters!”  Now, I know a lot of you are thinking this is very old fashioned and quite simple, and perhaps, even judgmental. But frankly, if you asked me what I felt was the most important factor in succeeding on a job interview, I’d say your dress/image would be the most important.

As for the mentor, I was a bit surprised, as well.  Most people think of a mentor as someone you can go to with questions, and to get feedback, but Amber’s mentor, as it turns out, goes far beyond this. She says, “anyone can tell you what you should do to be successful, but a good mentor will actually sponsor you.  Naturally, I said, what do you mean by sponsor?  She said, my mentor went the extra mile to provide specific strategies and suggested activities to get me to the next level.”  She said, “With the mentor’s help, I could think bigger and see my capabilities and potential more clearly.   My mentor even did some of the research to find activities for me to pursue that helped prepare me for where I am today.”  Another component to this successful mentor relationship was the hard work she put into the mentor relationship.  She followed through and followed up, and she, at least, attempted every single suggested activity.

So if you aren’t making the progress in your career you would like to see, seek out a mentor who will go the extra mile, and “sponsor” you.   And don’t forget… sometimes parents actually do have great advice.  Staying open to it, even if it sounds old fashioned, may actually result in tremendous reward.  Yes, in my years of recruiting experience, I can confirm….Image is important, even in today’s world.  And it just might be true that what you think like, dress like and act like. . .  is exactly what you’ll become!

“Two Out of Three Ain’t Good!”

The following story shows how the most experienced hiring managers can turn off great candidates. It’s no secret that good talent is hard to find and to keep these days.  Interview techniques of a few years ago have become outdated and ineffective, and “veteran” hiring managers desperately need to update their skills.

Companies are now forced to pay attention to the impression they leave with candidates, whether they end up offering positions to them or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 50 million or 5 billion, managing the “employer reputation,” or “brand” is vital in attracting talent.  Told to me, and now to you, directly from the email of a top candidate, this story describes how two out of three veteran hiring managers blew it!

In spite of excellent cultures and experienced interviewers, some of the best companies today are damaging their “employer brand,” because hiring managers’ attitudes and interview techniques are simply outdated for today’s environment. Below are the exact words from the email of an outstanding candidate who was lost, but more importantly, offended, by two out of the three hiring managers they met that day. Regardless of whether your company is a 5 million or 5 billion size organization, managing the “employer reputation,” or “brand” is vital in attracting and retaining top people for the long term.  A simple way to look at this is to treat all candidates just exactly as you would a prospective client visiting your office.  As the email below will illustrate, this is certainly not what the candidate experienced!

Email from Candidate After 3-Person Interview:

“To be perfectly frank with you, the interview was one of the most disappointing candidate experiences I’ve ever been through.  Now, Matt was fantastic and I liked him very much – he was very personable and gave me his undivided attention.  However, in my interview with Sam it started to go downhill.  Sam was standing at his stand-up desk the whole time, checking email and answering his phone while I was talking.  We were also interrupted a few times by people walking into his office, and at one point he asked me to excuse him and started a 5 minute conversation with one of his co-workers while I was sitting there.  He was so distracted I had to answer at least 2 questions he asked me twice because he couldn’t remember my answer.

My interview with Evan went only slightly better.  He sat me down in his office and proceeded to tell me to wait there while he attended to another matter.  I waited for a few minutes, and he returned.  He asked me to give him a high level view of my background, which I did.  He then looked at my resume (which I could tell was his first time reviewing it) and asked me to go over my work history again.  As I was answering one of his questions, his cell phone rang and he told me it was an “emergency” – it was his nephew, calling regarding a school project he’s doing in so Evan said he had to talk to him.  I remained calm and professional, but to be honest I felt like just walking out the door.  This seemed like something that could’ve waited, but he clearly thought it was more important than our interview.  All in all, an interview that should’ve realistically took an hour took two hours, which I found to be excessive.

My main concern would be that if I was treated as an afterthought in the interview, what would life be like on the job?  I can’t take that risk, which is my reason for withdrawing.  I understand these gentlemen are busy and have lots on their plates, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to be interviewed without multiple interruptions and to be treated professionally.

To receive tips on improving interview techniques, email kcole@dkcole.com.

Managing Your Career Proactively

During the economic downturn, it was sad for us to hear the stories of many talented long time employees who were let go as their employer closed its doors or could no longer pay their salaries. I’m sure you know someone who was employed for 10, 20 or even 30 years at a company, dedicating their heart and soul, only to be let go during the worst economic period since the Great Depression.  After watching now three recessions during my executive search career, I’ve observed how important it is to manage your career proactively.

Now that the economy is heating back up, it’s been interesting to observe those individuals and how they’ve managed their careers.  Some of them found a new, rewarding role, similar to the one they had, but sometimes at a lower salary, or they found a new career that exceeded their wildest dreams, wondering, “why did I wait so long?”  Some, simply found a new lifestyle to match the employment they could find.  Others, however, were emotionally devastated by the loss. . . still bitter or “in mourning,” and are still unable to find their way.

Lessons Learned

During the last recession more than ever, those who managed their careers in a proactive way fared much better than those who reacted to the changes thrust upon them.  And we can all learn from those who survived and even thrived.  You, too, can be proactive by paying attention to your “portfolio” of marketable, transferrable, skills, continually improve yourself with training to increase your skills in areas of high demand by employers, and constantly and honestly assessing your work performance and the value you’re bringing to your employer.   You can do this by keeping documentation on significant projects,  the positive impact they made on your department and your company, and by quantifying the value of those outcomes to your employer, you’ll be ready to tell that success story later!

More importantly, and certainly the most overlooked aspect of proactively managing your career, is building your network.  While most people think building a network of contacts is nothing more than sales, effectively building a network of contacts is quite simply about “giving before you get,” or helping others.   No matter your profession, if you make meeting new people a priority, take an interest in what they are trying to achieve, and look for ways to help them, even in the smallest ways, you’ll build a strong, loyal network that can serve you, personally and professionally, for the rest of your life.  Equally important is you’ll make a positive difference in the lives of many.

It truly is that simple, and finally, networking has been researched, and the results are poignantly discussed in a book called Give and Take:  A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant, Ph.D.  We highly recommend you add this to your reading list!