June 21, 2018

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Company Hire vs Traditional Hire

Are you making 'transactional' hires every time you bring someone on board (or get someone hired on somewhere) or are you making 'company' hires? Hey, the person can do the job, he fits in with his new group just fine, and he went to an acclaimed engineering school, so what's the problem?! At first blush, nothing! There is no problem and certainly traditional hires have their place, but lets look at what separates traditional hires from company hires.

Transactional/Traditional Hires are hires that fill a void in a company or a department. The company needs someone to come on board to hammer out C++ or Pro-E all day due to workload or to fill a recent vacancy. The new persons resume matches very nicely to the job description and they have spent time at a competitor thus giving the person a stronghold on your companies product line. Overall, everything lines up very nice and the person is a great addition to the company or department. Yay!

A Company Hire on the other hand is a much more strategic, less transactional hire. The person is very CAPABLE of doing the job that she was brought on for, but the both the company and the new-hire have much bigger and better in mind. A company hire will have moved through either the ranks of their last organization or have had several different roles in various capacities (IE: a Manufacturing Engineer who has worked in Supply Chain, Production, Environmental Health & Safety, as well as Manufacturing Engineering). A company hire will typically come from a like-size company of the new one who is recruiting him or her. In many cases they will come from a larger company, and occasionally they will come from a smaller company. They generally come to you with lots of on-going training and are hungry for more. Company hires generally don't move around much (from company-to-company, that is) and will stick around with you for many years, if you make it easy for them. The technical portion of an interview with a potential company hire is generally either complete with the initial phone interview, or the first interview. A company hire is seldom hired based off of one interview. A company hire will generally have 3 or more interviews. A company hire isn't one to drink the company-Kool Aid, rather they will help map out new flavors of Kool Aid for years to come. Company hires have spent time in Toastmasters and have no reservation talking & interviewing with everyone from the CEO to interns. A company hire is someone you bring on, either knowingly or unknowingly, to be your next General Manager or Division VP.

"How do you know who will make a good company hire?", you ask. There are certain things to look for (in addition to those already mentioned) as well as certain questions to ask the candidate when you interview them.

  • Are they currently working? That actually is NOT a true indicator if someone is a company hire or not. Countless things could lead to someone not being employed; plant relocation, spouse relocation, family situations, divestiture, etc are just a few reasons.

  • Why did they leave their last position (or looking to leave their current position)? In Jack Welch's book 'Winning' - he talks about how he and other members of his hiring committee would ask candidates over and over again this very question. They would look for consistency and/or try to dissect what the real problem may be.

  • What types of questions does the candidate ask? Are they asking about vacation time - if so, they could be a good traditional hire, but probably not a company hire. Do they ask about career tracks the company provides? Average tenure? Challenges on the manufacturing floor? Commitment to quality? These are questions a company hire will ask.

  • Did he/she ask what the 30/60/90 day plan for the position entails? A true company hire question there. Or, beat them to the punch and ask them what they think makes sense for a 30/60/90 day plan. It is really more about their thought process in their answer than the answer itself. Do they approach a 90 day plan with a clear, well-thought-out thought process that makes sense?

  • Do they know how to negotiate a company's internal network? How did they get things done at their last employer? If you have a large company, it can takes years for someone off the street to learn where-to-go and who-to-talk-to in order to accomplish things. Does your candidate understand the shortcuts?

  • How aggressive is the person? Generally speaking, 3 years in a role is enough time to get something done (a Lean rollout, implementing Six Sigma, developing a few new products), but if they are speaking in terms of 'how fast can I move up' - you may appreciate their enthusiasm, but you will find yourself backfilling their position too quickly (either because they do get promoted, or just leave the company for bigger and better). Less than 3 years, they can finish a project someone else started, or start a project someone else will finish.

Company hires have much more to do with attitude and company culture than true technical skills. Recruiters - learn your client company's culture to better help them make company hires. These clients will be loyal to you for years to come - plus, the candidates you get hired with these companies will soon be your new hiring managers! Plus, you will be viewed as an extension of your clients HR department almost to the point that they forget you don't actually even work for them!

-Dale DeSteno

Dale has 12+ years technical recruiting experience; experience recruiting for startup companies to Fortune 500 and even 100. To contact Dale please visit his LinkedIn page @