June 21, 2018

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Donít Sell the Job, Sell the Next Step!

Part 1 of 2

Too many recruiters rush the closing process, trying to push the candidate across the finish line before the race has even started. If you want to win the recruiting game, stop the Hail Maryís.

Instead, consider successful recruiting more like a well-planned football drive, where time of possession is key. If youíre not into football analogies, the idea here is that top people donít make critical career decisions on the first call or after the first interview. And if you try to push too hard to get a commitment youíll drive the best away. This is equivalent to a turnover.

With a great football weekend ahead, hereís what it takes to turn a successful drive into a touchdown:

  1. Donít fumble the kickoff. On the recruiting playing field this is equivalent to the candidate asking about the compensation first, or telling you sheís not interested. Itís also forcing a candidate to apply for the job before she can talk to someone about it, to get a better idea if the job is even worthwhile considering. For better kickoff returns, add a chat feature today to your career website and let your candidates IM a recruiter. Or add a series of FAQs about each job. When calling a candidate on the phone for the first time, whether the personís active or passive, you must not discuss compensation under any circumstances for at least the first 10-15 minutes! The goal of the first encounter is to switch the conversation to career opportunity and away from compensation, or any other form of ďnot interested.Ē (Hereís an article with more on this critical step.) Rather than sell the job, your goal is to sell the next step. In this case, itís a 10- minute conversation just to figure out if the job is worth getting serious about. A good kickoff return will give you great field position, and this is just as critical in football as it is in recruiting.

  2. Get lots of first downs. While you might have a big 30- or 40-yard play now and then, this should be the exception, not the rule. If youíre relying on big plays to score, youíll lose a lot of candidates who need to move slowly to digest what youíre offering. Force-feeding information at hyper-speed wonít work. A career move requires time for the person to digest the information. Nurturing the candidate along, suggesting another interview or discussion is how this information is best presented in order to be absorbed properly. This is why selling the next step is so important, rather than forcing the candidate to consider the job, the comp, and the location during the first call.

  3. Prevent turnovers. Once you begin a drive downfield, donít do dumb things that cause the deal to instantly fall apart. Recruiters who donít know the job and managers who over-talk and sell too soon are two examples of recruiting turnovers. Managers who expect top performers to be excited about the job before they know anything about it are the most turnover prone. Turnovers can also be caused when members of the hiring team ask superficial question or are equally clueless about real jobs needs. Lack of professionalism at any step in the hiring process can result in unnecessary turnovers and the loss of some great candidates.

  4. Convert your third-downs. Once in awhile youíll only have one shot to keep the deal alive. For example, if the candidate says she doesnít like the manager or the job isnít big enough and wants to withdraw her name from consideration, youíll have to come up with a big third-down play. In this case, ask the candidate if sheíd reconsider if you made the job bigger, or if you could demonstrate that the style the manager used during the interview isnít the same as his on-the-job persona. Of course, you then have to prove it if the candidate agrees to go forward, but thatís how you convert third-downs and keep the drive alive.

  5. Keep the defense honest. Donít tip your hand too soon. Overselling the candidate, over-talking, and under-listening are equivalent to telling the defense youíre going to pass on every play. This is no way to win a ball game or hire a top performer. Keep the candidate guessing, mention other top candidates, question the candidateís breadth of experience, and excite the candidate with projects bigger than heís handled in the past. This is how you keep the person interested throughout the assessment and recruiting process.

Read Part 2 - Lou Adler

Lou Adler is the president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm helping companies find and hire top talent using Performance-based Hiring(sm). He is the Amazon best-seller author of Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007) and the new Nightingale-Conant audio program Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Hire Top Talent (2007). Adler is a noted recruiting industry expert, national speaker, and columnist for a number of major recruiting Internet sites including SHRM,, and Adler?s early career included executive and financial management positions with The Allen Group and Rockwell International. He holds an MBA from UCLA and a B.S. in Engineering from Clarkson University, New York.

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