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Hire and Lo

Posted by David Polakoff on February 20, 2009

The Windmills of My Immediate Mind

Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff

Hire and Lo

I’ve been on both sides of the hiring table and you would think being on the hiring side would be the higher experience, but that’s not always the case.

Seeking full-time or a consulting engagement is hard work in itself. Yes, you have to gain access to company human resources, the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s manager, the recruiter, any or all of the above. Once accessed, you are on stage, in the spotlight, in the hot seat, and in the firing (not literally) line. Your phone, in-person, paper, and electronic representation have to say the right things and not say the wrong things. Its nerve racking, frustrating, and you need the patience of a teenage girl waiting for THAT boy to call.

The hiring side of the table quickly has forgotten or (believe it or not) has never experienced what it is like on the other side of the equation. Whether in start-up or mature work spaces, there is the hiring Catch-22 the posting has been made for the need for a consultant or staff person, but the staff is so short-handed, they don’t have the time to go through the hiring process. Each link in the aforementioned hiring pipeline is multi-tasking with normal day-to-day professional responsibilities, of which hiring is not always one of the routine tasks. So the process gets drawn out beyond reasonable, just like watching the Academy Awards broadcast.

The procedure is compounded by certain corporate policies, office politics, fear of making the wrong decision, and of course, fear of legal ramifications from any real or perceived impropriety along the way.

Can the procedure and process be made easier and kinder? Of course it can – by adding both elements of humanity and practicality.

Real or Phantom – Establish that the posting is legitimate; there is complete, up-the-food-chain approval and that the budget can withstand the head, now. Too often, after the process has commenced, I’ve heard stories of the job being shelved for reasons that should have been known at posting time.

Planning – The hiring point persons should establish a plan, timeline with end-date, including blocking out calendar time for interviews and meetings, and call-backs. Treat the effort like you would as a normal business project would be planned and executed. Don’t start the process in the peak of vacation periods, business seasonality, and budget deadlines; this includes posting the job weeks before you intend to even start calling people.

Golden Rule – This is paramount. Treat the candidates with respect and courtesy. Don’t feed them false hopes about their prospects; and silence is deadly. Keep them in the loop. Be sure their follow-up inquiry calls and Emails are provided with responses. I was once hiring someone and kept calling him with process updates. The hiring process was compounded by an “emergency” office project and the final decision-makers’ business travel schedule. When he ultimately started, he complimented me on the communication flow – he respected me and the company for doing what most don’t. As a counter to that story, we lost a different job’s candidate because our process took too long and we didn’t communicate with her. When we called her to come in as a finalist, she remarked, “Sorry, you took too long and I had no idea I was still a candidate; I took another job.” And, have the moxie and the maturity to contact those people you’ve met to tell them they’re no longer a candidate (and be prepared, within company policies, to give a response as to why they’re no longer being considered).

Wish List – It would be ideal if website submissions could receive Email responses if/when the candidate is not being considered for the position (“But we’re keeping your resume on file for future potential opportunities.”)

Whether hiring part-time, full-time, or project consultants, don’t lose sight of mutual respect and common courtesies. Remember, how you treat your candidates reflects upon you and the company – whether you hire them or not. And be cognizant that candidates will spread word-of mouth about the people, process, and company (especially via on-line outlets). Be sure the chatter is hi and not low.

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