The Dating Game… We have all played – remember the agony back in high school? Does he/she like me? Will he/she ask me out? What should I wear? What will we talk about? What will my friends think? Will it last? The hiring process should not be as agonizing as dating was back then but let’s show a little comparison and poke some fun at the “Dating Game”.
First decide how to attract the right person. Where do we look? Do we use ads on our website, on the internet, or word of mouth? Host a career day? Offer a bounty to fellow staffers? Word of mouth to our bankers, auditors and attorneys? Use an outside head hunter/recruiter? Are we using our network within our company? Do other departments receive resumes that are not of interest to them but might not be shared with us? We want to make sure that the story is the same wherever it is told. Each and every ad writer, recruiter, employee, banker, etc. should know how we want ourselves positioned in the employment marketplace and should tell a consistent story about our company, our department, the position, the future opportunities, etc. The same story should be told each and every time. We want to be in control of what our reputation or brand is in the employment marketplace.
They share their resume with us and we see something of interest. Often the resume can make or break the relationship before it gets started. We need to look for more than just the grocery list of qualifications. How are their writing skills? Are they able to articulate their accomplishments? (Remember, the best “story” they’ll ever write is their own) also check out their presentation skills – how does their resume physically look? Now, what do we do when there is a mutual attraction?
We meet – often more than once! We put on our best show to get them to like us and (hopefully) they are doing the same. We have our best interview people in the dating game. The best interviewers are those who can tell our story with enthusiasm and show the success of others in our organization. They are our cheerleaders and can sell the great opportunity of coming to work with us. They can make the candidate think, “Yes, hire me, and hire me now!” Our interviewers must be enthused when they meet our candidates – no one wants to date a “sour puss”.
We are prepared for every meeting with our candidates. We want to show our desire for them to come here and work. Is the interview area (your desk or conference room) clean, tidy and comfortable? Are there enough chairs in the room ahead of time so we are not fumbling at the last-minute (worse; in front of the candidate – making it appear as if we were not expecting them or that something else is more important than they are)? Do we have a copy of their resume handy and have we reviewed it ahead of time? Do we have questions ready – that are not duplicated by everyone else on the interview team? Are we all telling the same story about our potential future together? Do we have information material ready to give the candidate to take with them after the meeting? This should include a short description of benefits, some kind of brochure describing our products – new and upcoming – and additional information about our company, people, locations and products offered around the world.
Meeting the Parents
We check them out. We like what we see and hear but are they for real? In dating we introduce them to our friends, family and co-workers and get (even if we don’t want them) comments and opinions. As we spend more time with them we learn more about their personality, their likes and dislikes. We can’t always do that in the interview process so we check their references. We talk to people they suggest we talk to and we talk to people we know who may know them (casual references) and can share insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Casual references are often the best references because they are from someone we already trust and are usually more candid. We want to reach the conclusion that “we want to share our life with you”.
We meet their parents and they should be meeting ours. They should also be checking us out. Talking with people in our company that they know – talking with people who used to work at our company that they know. Asking more questions – asking questions is a way of saying ‘I am interested, but need more in formation’. They should be checking our website, reading our information material and getting very comfortable with us as a match. They need to reach the conclusion that “till death do us part”.
If we like everything we now know about the candidate we extend an offer of employment. How we handle this is as important as how we handle the interview process. This part of the process needs to be orchestrated. Think of your own marriage proposal. The setting has to be right. The candidate has to be ready for the offer. If we extend it too soon it could scare them off – if we wait too long we could lose them. If we are using an outside recruiter they should be able to tell us when and who should make the offer. Sometimes it is best for the recruiter to extend the offer. Sometimes it is best for the hiring manager to extend the offer.
An offer of employment should be something the candidate will be excited about. Never try to undervalue or low-ball the compensation package to the candidate. It leaves a bad taste that can not always be fixed and usually will end up costing much more than we planned.
We’re now together. For a few weeks (honeymoon period) everyone is excited at the newness of our “marriage”. How do we keep that sense of excitement in our new person? Do we have an orientation program? Not just the company plan but our own department or section plan? Is someone assigned to buddy with the new person for the first few days to acclimate them to our routine? Is there someone to give them a tour of our building, our floor, our parking area? Have we planned for someone to have lunch with them for the first few days to check on how they are adjusting to our world and family? The first few days and weeks are crucial for setting the foundation of our “marriage”. This is also the best time to ask for referrals. For other possible new employees.
The Honeymoon Is over
The honeymoon is over and now we’re doing the day-to-day work. The newness has worn off. Now how do we keep them challenged and motivated? Send flowers/candy on their anniversary? Is a raise every year enough? What do we offer for career development for our high potential people? What do we offer our “steady eddies”? They also need career development. Have we talked with them regarding their goals? Their goals may have changed since joining us and learning about all our opportunities – have we checked with them about any changes in their career goals? Do we offer a mentoring program for the first couple of years? What kind of outside networking and/or development opportunities do we participate in? What kind of communication vehicle does our company use to keep everyone in the loop regarding new products, open positions, staff changes, etc? Is it company wide or just department wide?
Even though we make fun of the enticement, attraction, dating, meeting the parents, the marriage proposal and the honeymoon period, the hiring process is more important now than ever. The company that plays the Dating Game best will win the best candidates – the best employees. And live happily ever after; or should we say they will have the best people in place to make their future growth a reality.