5 tips when building your team for 2011

Last week, an old friend of mine asked me for some advice hiring a new employee.  I get these requests every so often since I was a head hunter for fifteen years – mainly in the printing industry.

I’m not active anymore so I just gave him a couple of tips.  Hopefully once the new year rolls around you’ll be looking at 2011 in proactive manner … and who know maybe even expand.  So maybe these will come in handy for you too.

  • It is not a privilege to work for your firm. I don’t care if we’re in recession or not in a recession – don’t think your firm is the only one out there hiring.  In fact, competition for the top-tier talent is even tougher these days because the companies hiring are the strong ones.  A top candidate doesn’t have to sift through the fodder.  They may only go on three interviews, but those will probably be good opportunities.  If you come off acting like you’re doing them favor – they’ll remember it … and you’ll remember it when they’re working for your competition down the street.  Treat them just like you would a top client you’re trying to land.
  • Fish in the right pools. If want a trout, you don’t fish in the ocean.  If you’re hiring a new media person … don’t put an ad in the paper.  They don’t read papers.  Find online sources.  Better yet, ask another trout.  Ask your best people for referrals.  They’ll only refer you to someone who they can stake their reputation on.  And on that note …
  • Make your entire company a recruiting firm. I did an informal survey once of ten of my top clients.  I asked them if they offered their employees finders fees if they referred a new hire to the firm.  Two did, that’s all.  And the bonuses were only $500 to $1000.  That’s interesting since they paid me about $8000 for finding the same person.  I didn’t get an answer why … lucky for me, I guess.  Start a referral bonus program for your employees – a good one.  Chances are, they’re only going to refer the best to you.  Trust them, otherwise why would you hire them.
  • Work with a recruiter. I’m not saying you have to hire someone from one.  Even though I’m not against it.  If for no other reason, a recruiter dedicated to your industry, is going to know what’s going on out there.  In fact a good one is as good as it get for information.  They can tell who’s doing what, what’s working and what’s not.  Over the years, I was probably instrumental in selling over five million dollars in prepress equipment through my recommendations and insight.
  • Check references. If there is only one thing you do when you hire someone – do this.  I don’t even care if you meet the person.  Just find out ‘if they are who they say they are and can do the things they say they can do.’  And don’t tell me references are illegal and nobody will give you one.  I hear that all the time.  In fifteen years, out of thousands of reference calls, only once … yes once, was my request turned down.  And please don’t rely on a reference from human resources.  Their job first and foremost  is gatekeeping.  Name rank and serial number is about all you’re going get … if you’re lucky.   Plus they didn’t work next to your candidate anyway.  How are they going to know what exactly they did and how well they did it.  In the future I’m going to write a piece entirely on reference checks and the type of questions to ask.  Look out for it.

Just a few things to keep in mind when you’re building your team for 2011.  Good luck.

Check out the bleedingEDGE site and follow us on Twitter.


~ by Clay Forsberg on December 15, 2010.

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