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Golden Rule of Recruiting

| January 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
Colm Allen

Colm Allen

by Colm Allen

In our business, we have a Golden Rule of Recruiting: There are three types of candidates, “A,” “B,” and “C,” and there are three types of employer “A,” “B,” and “C.”

An “A” candidate in an “A” company is a good hire. A “B” candidate in a “B” company is good hire, and of course, a “C” candidate in a “C” company is also a good hire.

“A” companies are obvious; they are rare, are typically led by visionaries, are industry go-tos, are 100% clear on their clients’ needs, invest in professional development, and believe their competitive differentiator is their employee talent pool.

“C” companies are equally obvious. They are plentiful and are often led by an old-school boss who micromanages, the work is transactional rather than repeat business, employee turnover is high, and they are constantly paying catch up — on staff, on clients, on money, and on standards. And rarely do they have any real assets.

And in the middle are the “B” companies, the bread and butter of American construction. There are two kinds of “B” companies: “A” companies on the way down and “C” companies on the way up. It’s difficult to be a “B” company for life.

Companies on the way down almost always have one thing in common. When the going gets tough, rather than be progressive, leadership withdraws into their comfort zone and does what they always do. Unfortunately, that’s what got them in trouble in the first place. Creative, progressive thinking doesn’t come naturally to these managers.

Likewise, “C” companies on the way up almost always have the same thing in common; when the entrepreneur realizes they are out of their depth, they invariably reach out to new talent to fill their skill gap and then allow them to make a difference. They don’t see challenges as failure, they see them as opportunities for growth.

So what about candidates? Moving up one company tier very often works out for them because the standard of their new environment encourages them to produce great work along with the benefit of improved leadership and support. However, “A” candidates moving down to a “C” company, or “C” candidates moving up to an “A” firm never works. Why? Because their standards are just too far apart.

The reason I share our Golden Rule is that in our combined decades of executive recruiting, rarely has a client or candidate ever described themselves as anything other than an “A.” Delusions of grandeur all around!

In this market of almost zero available candidates, for Construction Recruiters, Inc. to be able to help a company attract the right talent, firms need to be 100% clear on who they are and what their company has to offer passive, currently employed candidates.

Making a new hire requires a significant investment in time and money, so it’s important to analyze your current situation and know what your true value proposition will be to potential candidates.

It’s great to think big, but also be realistic. If you are a “C” client, no great Suffolk PM is leaving their job to join your firm. If they are and you’re not giving out stock options, then your alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear! There is something wrong with that picture.

Be honest about which tier you belong to. Are you an “A,” “B,” or “C” company? Then see if you can easily answer these questions:

  1. What can I tell a passive candidate about our company that will get them to want to come to my office for an interview?
  2. How do I get them to go home and tell their significant other/or friends how excited they are about my company?
  3. Am I clear on why my opportunity is better than what they currently have?
  4. What would make them accept my offer (it should be more than just money)?
  5. What would make them decline my offer?
  6. Can my company, and this opportunity, deflect a counter offer in this competitive marketplace?
  7. Hiring is expensive, so am I clear on why this candidate will want to be at my company in five years?

If you can honestly answer these questions, you’re in a great position to either improve your tier ranking or expand on your current situation. If not, consider these questions areas of “opportunity” to focus on. Start with why you personally work there!

Don’t delude yourself on where your company ranks and remember, it’s all about the value proposition for your desired audience. Small firm indicates “fewer barriers to promotion,” bigger says “lots of stability,” “great benefits,” etc. When your employees can see where you’re headed and why, they’re less likely to be recruited by your competitors. You might also be surprised to see potential candidates finding ways to align their personal goals to your business challenges.

Do good work. Colm

Colm Allen is president at Construction Recruiters in Milton, Mass.

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