Just the other day I was attending a human resource training seminar in Nairobi and being the inquisitive person, I decided to engage Dr. Hazel G. Gachunga the Lead Consultant in HR and Change Management at Interlink Management and Development Consultants, a company based in Nairobi and a lecturer of Human Resource Management course at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
She elaborates that majority of the human resource managers/recruiters shut the door to potential career opportunities using short-term information to make long-term decisions.
After doing my research and talking to Dr Gachunga who have been involved in recruiting outstanding senior staff, mid-level managers, and company executives, I can now state clearly that the single most important step in the passive candidate recruiting process is the first conversation.
Forget just-in-time hiring. While the best people might be open to discuss the possibility of a career move, when you get them on the phone don’t try to force-fit them into some skills-infested job description.
This same principle holds true for every job-seeker, whether active or passive.
The problem is that too many people shut the door to potential career opportunities using short-term information to make long-term decisions. Whatever side of the door you’re on, here’s how to keep it open:
Dr. Gachunga suggest that when a recruiter contacts a potential candidate, they shouldn’t ask if the person would be interested in the specific open job. Instead, they need to ask if the person would be open to an exploratory conversation if the position represented a potential career move.
Asking people who aren’t looking if they’d like to chat for a few minutes about a potential career move is far more productive than selling lateral transfers.
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Its good to build a relationship and forget the box-checking exercise. When you start the phone screen, don’t tell the person much about the job other than providing a quick overview. Instead, suggest that the purpose of the call is to determine if the job represents a true career move to the person.
For the next 5-10 minutes review the person’s social site and try to find 4-5 learning and opportunity gaps your job offers that person’s current job is missing.
These are things like a broader role with more responsibility, bigger budget, more impact, faster growth, and more visibility. You’ll use these to fashion the potential career opportunity as you move on to the next step.
Job seekers Mistakes
When first contacted by a recruiter, don’t filter the opportunity on the negotiable items.
From a practical standpoint, if the job isn’t a potential career opportunity, it doesn’t matter what you get on the day you start a new job.
Too many candidates, using the silly excuse of “not wanting to waste anyone’s time,” ask about the compensation, the location, the title and the company name. All of this can be negotiated – even the location – for the right person.
If the recruiter goes into box-checking mode, take control of the conversation and ask why the job is open and find out about the biggest challenges facing the person. If these sound appealing, describe some of things you’ve accomplished that are comparable.
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Then suggest a more detailed conversation with the hiring manager. A good recruiter would naturally suggest this, but don’t judge the potential opportunity on the quality of the recruiter.
Recruiters and job seekers:
Emphasize career growth not compensation maximization. As long as the job offers a combination of less pain, some short-term stretch, and significant upside potential, compensation will wind up in the middle of the stack of criteria passive candidates use to compare and accept offers. Unfortunately, recruiters and job seekers alike filter their decisions to move forward on compensation before either has full knowledge of the job or what the person brings to the table.
Conduct investigative phone screens before meeting any candidate in person. After the recruiter conducts the first exploratory conversation, Dr. Gachunga suggests that all hiring managers then conduct a similar 30-minute exploratory phone discussion with the prospect.
Top people are very open to these types of more serious, but still exploratory, conversations. During these sessions, hiring managers should describe the big challenges in the job and ask the candidate to describe his or her most comparable accomplishments.
This forces the conversation to focus on factors that best predict success comparable past performance. When the candidate and hiring manager agree to an in-person interview, the stage is set for both to determine if the job represents a career move.
Another advantage: the phone screen minimizes the corrosive impact of first impressions increasing the accuracy of the subsequent assessment.
When it comes to mixing and matching people with job opportunities, too many decisions to proceed are based on short-term factors that are neither predictive nor fixed. Jobs can be modified, compensation is negotiable, and skills don’t predict performance. Recruiters:
Don’t sell the job, sell the discussion.
Hiring managers should clarify job expectations before meeting anyone, and then only meet people after an exploratory phone conversation.
Passive job seekers don’t waste some time talking to the right people. You never know where the conversation might lead.
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