I’ll Know It When I See It

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

That’s what a client said the other day during a call to discuss an opening on his team. That happens to be something I have heard many times over the years from hiring leaders when talking about who they want to hire.

That statement is a product of hiring leaders being unclear in their mind about what they are looking for in an ideal candidate.

In my experience, I have learned that most hiring leaders can clearly articulate between 40-60% of what they are looking for in an ideal candidate. When you take into consideration that hiring is yet ONE more thing on their plate, you quickly see why they often wing it, and hope for the best.

It’s for this very reason that I work with my clients to create a document that goes BEFORE the job posting.

It’s a document that outlines the necessary Knowledge, Experience, and Motivators/Values (KEM/V) needed for the role.

The most powerful thing about the document is that it allows the hiring leader to unpack their thinking into something that is meant to capture what THEY want.

You see, a job posting is all about helping the candidate understand:

  • About the company in a compelling way
  • About the job in a clear, enticing and straightforward way
  • What’s in it for them (for joining your company)

So while this is important, a typical hiring process ends up skipping the most important part – what the hiring leader wants and needs.

The KEM/V doesn’t just create inputs for the job posting; it supports the entire hiring process and beyond. Once a hiring leader has thought through and captured what they want, they are better able to articulate this to the interview team that will help with the selection.

Each hiring leader wants to make the best possible hire, from the available talent in the market. Adding a KEM/V step to the start of your process allows you to bring greater intentionality to your process for hiring.

Ultimately, hiring is about thinking through and clearly understanding what a new hire needs to work towards and why it matters. When that happens, success follows as a natural result.

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Onboarding…why it’s worth it

“Every time I see my Onboarding reminder pop up on my computer, I get anxiety.”

Those were the exact words a leader with an upcoming hire said to me last week.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon response from leaders I speak to about Onboarding.

Managers usually figure it out as they go along.  That produces results, but comes at a risk.

They risk productivity, engagement, and ultimately retention.

Not only does it not have to be this way, creating an Onboarding plan is simpler than you think.

Simple, not easy.

Let’s start with a definition for Onboarding.

Onboarding is a 2-4 month plan that guides, enables, and empowers a new hire and their direct manager to navigate critical elements from “big picture” to “exactly how”, in service of the employee reaching full productivity as quickly as possible.

Now, this is where I could begin to share statistics produced by the Society for HR Management or Gallup to prove my point.

Instead, I’m going to share a few things that explain why this is true, based on my experience creating Onboarding plans and leading others through it over the last five years:

  1. When a new hire starts, they’ve just left the comfort of their old company and if they receive a roadmap that outlines key elements needed in order for them to be successful in their new role they FEEL excited. Why does that matter? Because we’re emotional human beings and believing your company cares about your success goes a long way.
  2. Managers are equally set up for success when they have a roadmap that helps THEM understand (and think through) what they need to manage their employees to, (Jedi tip: if they commit to regular 1:1 meetings they are able to proactively address concerns versus reactively).
  3. An Onboarding plan helps new hires understand not just the fundamentals of the business, but their role and how they can impact the bigger picture.  When people see how they can do that, they tend to work harder and when they work harder, they grow with the company. Over time, what does that lead to? Retention.

When you consider that the cost of starting over with a hire is 1.5 their salary, it only takes simple math to see how the effort to create and manage an Onboarding plan impacts your bottom line as a business owner, and directly impacts the energy and productivity of both manager and new hire.

It’s a pretty awesome win/win when you look at it like that!

Now, let’s discuss the five key elements of building a successful Onboarding plan.

  1. The direct manager MUST be enrolled in the creation and management of the plan. They will manage/lead this individual and are an integral part of the work.
  2. Depending on level, the plan needs to cover the first 2-4 months.
  3. It needs to capture from “big picture” to “exactly how”. Think fundamentals of the company: industry, competitors, key clients/relationships, systems/processes. If you have a 50 page employee handbook or you send new hires 10 emails about the various systems, know they won’t read it all (or at all).
  4. It must capture regular milestones, and those milestones must be measured.
  5. It must also contain agreements/expectations that need to be managed via regular 1:1 meetings with the direct manager (in-person whenever possible).

Onboarding is not drinking from a firehose, a DIY website or only an HR checklist.

Remember: you can put the best race car driver in the world in a car, but if you blindfold them don’t be surprised when they eventually crash.

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Why Good Hiring Isn’t Enough

Recently, I worked with a company that had been awarded “best place to work” by a national magazine.

While their hiring process had worked well to that point, they were looking to double headcount within the next year.

In addition to this ambitious goal, they had recently uncovered a serious problem.

Attrition was on the rise as indicated by several key individuals exiting the company

The founder shared his desire to increase the quality of candidates.

As we dug deeper, we uncovered a surprising statistic. The founder was spending upwards of 13 hours of his time for each hire.

Adding an additional 17 resources using the existing approach would bring business development to a standstill.

Working closely with the founder and his team over the course of 90 days, we implemented a new process that reduced his time per resource to less than four hours per hire.

Here’s how we did It.

Phase One: Intention

Setting an intention includes deciding who, when and why to hire.

It’s front-loading the critical aspects of the process before you kick things off.

Think about it, you’d never set out to make an amazing meal by turning on the stove, finding a recipe and then running around your kitchen looking for the ingredients.

Yet this is the way most companies approach hiring.

Phase Two: The Hiring Process

We established an effective hiring process that:

  • Brought objectivity to the table across critical aspects of hiring: selection & interview.
  • Created a formal, documented consistent experience for everyone involved.
  • Helped determine the necessary and important levers throughout the process.
  • Together it increased the statistical probability they would hire a person with the needed skills and cultural DNA.

Element #1: Job Posting:

I created a compelling and engaging job posting that brought to life the story and journey of the company.

It wasn’t just a list of responsibilities and requirements with a marketing blurb about “who we are”.

The goal was two-fold: to have the applicant’s ‘why’ resonate with the companies’ and help them clearly see if they are a fit for the role (skillset and culture) at the start of the process (versus interview or later).

Element #2: Brief Survey:

I added a brief (4 question) survey that was sent to all applicants.

It served as an assessment and filter.

It assessed critical experience and filtered out applicants that weren’t serious about their job search.

A recent Gallup poll shared 85% of people hate their jobs so it’s a safe assumption that 100% of applicants aren’t running towards a new job, they’re running from their current one.

Phase Three: Onboarding Plan

If you’re hiring a human, it’s not enough to hire well, you need to support their success post offer as the first 90 days are critical.

On Onboarding Plan doesn’t need to be comprehensive, but it does need to be thought through and contain a few critical aspects: milestones and expectations.

Milestones are measured and laid out in a clear and simple way.

Expectations are managed through weekly meetings during the first 90 days and real-time as needed.

A Gallup poll found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their employer does a great job of Onboarding new employees!

When you add that SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) estimates that it will cost a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement you quickly realize you can’t afford an ineffective and/or subjective hiring process that is absent some sort of Onboarding Plan.

An Onboarding Plan creates a roadmap for success that launches the new hire’s journey with the company while also allowing the hiring leader to objectively see if things are, or are not working out (quickly!)

Final Thoughts

Today, my client has a repeatable process for hiring that saves him and his team time, while increasing the quality of their hires.

They have a process for assessing key skillsets and filtering out individuals who aren’t intentionally looking for a new job.

They have a roadmap in place for launching the success of a new hire that also allows them to quickly identify and address concerns as they arise.

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Do You Really Want Your Dream Job?

According to a survey from Jeff Weiner, titled “What’s Your Dream Job?”, 78% of people aren’t in their dream job today.

If you are in that 78% and want to be in the 22% that ARE, I challenge you with three things:

  1. Do you know what your dream job is, specifically?
  2. If you don’t, do you spend a couple hours each week reading, exploring or thinking about it with specificity?
  3. If you do have a clear vision of it, how much time over the last year have you spent creating GOALS and TAKING ACTIONS that move you towards it?

If your answers above were ‘no’ and/or ‘minimal to zero’, then you are in the 78% because you WANT to be.

If you do not want to be there, know you have the power to change directions right NOW.


How badly do you want it?

A Job Posting Is Copywriting

If you create a job posting and don’t see it as copywriting, you’re doing it wrong.

I recently met with an Entrepreneur who shared their frustration with the large number (400!) of resumes her team had to sift through for a Data Entry position they had open.

When I read the posting their challenge was clear.

The copy was sterile and sounded like most positions.

I asked her to share why she had started her company and who they serve, as though she were sharing with a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time.

What she shared was the essence of their culture and their journey as a company.

I told her to spend time putting together a short paragraph bringing that to life.

Today she shared that after making the changes we’d discussed she’d gone from 400 applicants to less than 200 and was interviewing 8 qualified applicants that she felt certain fit their mission and vision.

Each company has a beautiful and unique story and if you start your recruiting process by sharing it with candidates, your search starts with people who want to get behind that from the very start.

#TalentMatters #Recruiting #JobPosting

The Case for Onboarding

“We recently hired a few folks and we’re struggling with their performance. It’s so frustrating.”

This is something I hear from clients quite often.

The solution is quite simple. 

No matter how skilled or experienced a new hire may be, they all need: 

– An Onboarding plan that outlines the vision (‘where’) of the company, their role, sets expectations and captures 30/60/90 day milestones.

– Their manager to walk them through the Onboarding plan and test for understanding. 

– Their manager to meet with them weekly (15-20 mins) for the first 90 days to support their integration into the business and manage to expectations set forth in the Onboarding plan.

– When something isn’t happening that should be (or vice versa), it’s discussed and another meeting is set to review progress.

– If you follow this process you know within 90 days if the new hire is working out or not.

#TalentMatters #Onboarding #Newhires #Hiring

The Critical Difference Between Knowledge and Experience

#JobSeekers, here’s why you aren’t hearing back from more companies in your #JobSearch.

Over the past two months I have reviewed nearly 300 #resumes.

Roughly 120 of them didn’t meet the outlined minimum experience.

Before you submit an application, take the time to identify whether the company is outlining KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERIENCE in their posting.

This is a subtle but important distinction.

If a company is outlining knowledge it means they want someone who has certain skills to do a job.

If they outline experience, they need someone who has actually done the work.

Don’t apply if you’re looking to gain that experience in the role (remember they are paying for someone that’s been there, done that).

If you’re unsure or want a little guidance shoot me an email, I’m happy to support your efforts.

Rejected Candidates Can Be a Wealth of Information

Don’t ignore candidates who self-withdraw in the recruiting process, they are a wealth of information.

I recently started a search for a client and was making swift progress with building the pipeline once we posted to LinkedIn.

I received an email from an applicant who shared they were withdrawing from the process. 

This happened about 5 more times over the next week or so.

I thought to myself “how can this be, I have such good traction on the pipeline?”

I decided to reach out to each applicant to inquire why.

The feedback was eye opening.

Reasons varied from getting another offer, deciding they wanted a more senior role and deciding to pause their search entirely.

This type of feedback is invaluable. In addition to learning their reason for withdrawing, most candidates volunteered who they went to work for and some even shared the amount they were offered.

As it turns out, a small investment of time provided market intelligence and rapid feedback on the effectiveness of our process.

When applicants self-withdraw from your hiring process, take the time to connect with them…you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how valuable the insights can be.