Text for hire
Is there any value in texting with regards to recruitment? Yes. If you doubt this then take a minute to think about what you can learn as well as what you can eliminate through a few key texts. If we use a rough analogy of fishing with relationship to acquiring talent, we want as many lines in the water as possible in our quest for individuals who can add value to our team. Texting provides us a tool that can expedite the communication process so that we can be clear, consistent and expedient in our initial screening.
1) Text enables us to reach out to a potential candidate to gauge their interest and responsiveness - "Saw your posting on Craigslist, are you still looking for employment?" If there is no response you have just reduced your follow up list. If there is a response then you have a fish nibbling at the bait.
As a sidenote, understand that many candidates have not been mentored on how to professionally respond to texts, don't be surprised if you get responses which include some variation of, "How much do you pay?" If you remember that the text gives us a quick means of screening applicants, then I would encourage you to respond either with, "What salary range are you looking for?" or be specific, "Depending on experience the range is typically between $x - $X." If a respondent seems rude you can choose to discontinue the process but you may want to dig a bit deeper to ensure both parties have a complete picture of each other. Texting does not always provide the richest context for discerning a persons character.
2) Text enables us to provide a concise outline of what the duties of your open position(s) are to further determine if the responsive candidate would be interested in the opportunities your organization is offering. "We have an open position for X, the duties include [fill in the blank - BRIEFLY]." If there is no response, our work with this individual is likely complete. If there is a response then we want to draw them in closer to the boat.
3) Through text we have determined that we have a candidate who is indeed interested in work and is open to the opportunities that our organization can offer, now we get into specifics such as company requirements. "Our company requires the following [fill in the blank with a BRIEF list] to qualify for employment." If there is no response, there may be a good reason this candidate cannot find work. If there is a response then we want to get a look at what we have on the line.
Our texting has revealed that we have a responsive and interested candidate, that this individual is open to the opportunities that we have available and they can meet the basic requirements for employment that our organization has set as a foundation. What do we do next? Time for a phone call. So, we text them, "When would be a good time to set up a phone interview?" If at all possible this should be conducted as soon as possible. You potentially have what you have been looking for so do not lose what you have on the line by waiting too long. If you have successfully made contact with a potential candidate you will need to be prepared to expediently move your process with that individual into determining the quality of that potential hire. Depending on how wide you have cast your net, you will need to be prepared to think outside of the box with regards to a candidates direct experience with your industry versus their potential to adapt their character and relevant work experience into the responsibilities you are assessing them for (You can read more on this topic in our prior article on Attracting Talent).
Texting is a great tool to enable a recruiter to expediently get fish on the line as well as determine which ones are catch-and-release. Connecting with recruits requires a significant commitment of time, of those candidates we are able to make contact with many will be unable to be hired or they will not the best fit for the team needs. We want as many lines in the water as possible because we are always fishing for good talent to add to our team. In our recruitment process we need to be efficient so that we can communicate clearly and respond quickly when we have attracted someone who can add value to our mission.
You can stand at the banks and curse the water for the lack of fish or you can start casting.
Hiring, 3 Character Keys
Hiring is one of the most important aspects of a leader’s job as an individual as well as an essential mechanism for any organization to achieve consistent pursuit of excellence. While there are many systems which proclaim their ability to weed out the bad eggs, there are plenty of companies large and small that find themselves in a cycle of hiring stinkers. Thankfully companies such as Zappos, which are touted for their exemplary cultures, have had to learn many of their lessons the hard way (like the rest of us), as “CEO Tony Hseih once estimated that bad hires had cost the company well over $100 million (Fatemi, 2016).” This same Forbes article notes, “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee's first-year earnings.” You may recover from the waste in financial resource but think of how much time and stress compounds the pain of those failed hires. This reality calls for more intentionality in developing a system that attracts, acquires and retains good candidates for your culture, values and systems.
Understanding your own values helps guide your process for acquiring talent.
While many of those in leadership shoot from the hip and trust their gut, the risk outweighs the reward when your hiring mechanism hasn’t evolved since the days when you entered your given profession. Bad habits consistently produce bad results, yet the nuances and systems proposed by many of the top authors and business minds are often more cumbersome and costly than a bad decision, which is why many of those in leadership avoid these complex mechanisms. Organizational Physics author, Lex Sisney, wrote a follow up to his scientific approach to business and shares a less complex solution in the aptly titled How to Think About Hiring: Play Smarter to Win the Talent Game, “Consistently great teams don’t scout and hire for talent. They scout and hire for talent that is a supreme fit for their system. They always think about building a team with a strong collective identity at a fair price instead of just collecting individual talent at any price.” To make significant changes you will need to adjust both how you think about as well as how you approach hiring, but a good system does not have to be as complex as an NFL draft board.
Narrowing your focus helps guide your system for acquiring talent.
In our humble opinion, it has consistently been a positive experience in service based industries to hire candidates with minimal direct experience rather than seeking experienced employees from competitors. The reason we like to find new hires that don’t have direct prior experience in our industry is that they also don’t have the bad habits or the pessimism of being burned by a competitor in our market space, which unfortunately happens all too often. Benjamin Franklin spoke accurately when he said, “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them,” which we covered previously in our article on attracting talent. This does not mean that we don’t look for relevant or transferable experience such as customer service, sales and/or comparable skills, but we don’t find much success in recruiting from the castaways of our competitors. This is a mindset where our leadership team has committed to training hires to learn both our culture and values as well as the skills required to succeed in our profession.
To a fault, we will always express multiple times to a candidate throughout the hiring process that we are able to teach them the professional skills that are necessary to succeed with our organization but the three things that we need them to bring to the table are 1) be honest, 2) be hard working and 3) be willing to learn. Of all the things we can teach a potential candidate, we cannot change their character or their core values, so we need them to bring the three principles of being honest, hard-working and willing to learn to the table. If a candidate will bring these three things with 100% effort than we can develop them into a productive service representative of our organization, if they have intelligence and a core commitment to excellence than we can make them very successful (as they have the potential to succeed in anything they put their effort into). When you as a leader as well as collectively as an organization understand your values it creates a focus on what values you are looking for in candidates. As with the regular daily tasks of employment, clarifying what you as an organization bring to the table and what you need from a candidate in order for them to embrace the vision for your team will create a more consistent path to development of new hires as well as the upholding of the existing culture. As there is parity in the NFL, the margins of success and failure are often very thin, which means that simple changes have the potential to produce sustainable positive changes.
What have you learned about hiring that has helped you to be successful?
Fatemi, F. (2016, September 28) The true cost of a bad hire – it’s more than you think. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/falonfatemi/2016/09/28/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire-its-more-than-you-think/#67700bc44aa4
Sisney, L. (2013, December 6) How to hire like the NFL’s best teams. http://organizationalphysics.com/2013/12/06/how-to-hire-like-the-nfls-best-teams/
Attracting talent, what to look for
We have had several discussions in our teams about how we continue to attract, develop and keep good talent so that our organization can thrive. People are the ingredient X that will either propel your team or sink the ship. When you have been able to identify motivated individuals who bring new perspectives into your company the first thing you should ask as a leadership team is how to we find more of these caliber of people?
In our setting, our work experience is primarily in the construction / property restoration industry which involves manual labor, skilled services and the ability to adapt to new situations with care. Like most sectors, the common practice is to attempt to find employees who have existing skills and incorporate them into the organization. We have often found that hiring those who have been trained by others can be as much of a project, if not more, than training someone from the ground up. In many ways it is easier as well as more beneficial in the long run to train someone who has little specific work experience but who will be a blank slate for your culture and develop their good habits over time than it is to try to break an individual of their bad habits. The time spent in training can yield great and lasting results in employees who are eager to make a difference with the disciplines and values that matter to your organization.
It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. - Benjamin Franklin
If you aren't familiar with property restoration which includes water and fire related damages to structures, our industry is a dynamic blend of manual labor that is service based which requires technical knowledge, industrial skills and people intelligence. Our technicians have to learn have to deal with messy situations with a smile while relaying data in several forms about the work they perform. When we sat down to attempt to analyze where our best performers were coming from we had trouble nailing down specific traits as so many have come from diverse backgrounds. We have hired people with no prior experience who have transitioned from fast food service, baking, auto service, cleaning, agriculture and milling, each has some transitional skills but not directly related to the work we do. As noted, the blank slates of those with no direct experience but also none of the industry related bad habits or short cuts have been some of the best additions to our team.
Fresh perspectives and inquisitive minds are valuable. People who ask, "Why do you do it that way," are in the right frame of mind, the question is will they receive the information when you have a sound reason as well as be willing to be a responsible party to change if something needs to be fixed? For our team one thing that seems to be a common trait is a bit of a chip on the shoulder, the idea that individuals have great potential and are just looking for the right opportunity that others may not have given them. To be clear, we are not looking for individuals who are angry at the world, the chip we are looking for is those who have that innate sense that they want to make a difference, they express this in different ways but it is noticeable if you are looking for it.
Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. - Plato
We feel that we can teach anyone the skills of our trade, but there are three things that we tell every potential hire that walks through the door that we need from them. There are three traits that we cannot train or provide an individual, we need you to be honest, hard working and willing to learn. Those things sound simple enough, but if a potential hire is missing any one of those elements they will not be a long term contributor to the culture that we have built nor will they be a value to our clients. These are also three traits that a person either brings to the table or they don't, they cannot be given to someone. We will elaborate on these three foundational character traits in upcoming articles.
Where have you found some of your best hires? What do you look for when interviewing a potential addition to your team?
Connect. Collaborate. Conquer.
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.