Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

I Think, Therefore I Blog

Have You Wooed Lately?

A-List candidates want to work for A-List companies.  And, they want to be treated like an A-List candidate.  As companies interview and identify the best candidate for the job, many act as if they are the only (or best) opportunity the A-List candidate has. This is counterintuitive.  A-List candidates typically have more than one opportunity and often have a hard time choosing between them.  The choice sometimes boils down to the level of wooing!

So what is professional wooing, anyway?  Just like selling a product to customers, hiring managers/interviewers need to sell the company to candidates, especially the A-List.  For great companies, this can be easy.  They just need to strategically communicate what makes them great.  Like most things, it comes down to execution.  Here are some of the details on communicating a company’s “greatness” and wooing the candidate during the interviewing process.

What to communicate?

What differentiates your company from the rest?  What do you offer that is part of their list of “wants” for their next job?  A-List candidates want autonomy, challenge, education, strong growth potential (for themselves and their company), and respect.  Interviewers must listen carefully when A-List candidates share what has made them successful before.  What was it about their past environments that propelled them to greatness?  Listen for aspects that describe the perfect “fit” for the candidate.

When to communicate?

Don’t wait until the end of the interviewing process to share all these winning qualities.  You need to be doing it all along.  Even in early stage interviews, when candidates ask about the company, you should be prepared to share all the aspects of the company that would be appealing to the candidate.  During the offer-to-acceptance period, realize that counteroffers from current companies are possible and stay in tune with the candidate’s feedback.  Even after acceptance, be sure to keep the new employee upbeat about starting the new job (before starting, upon starting, and for weeks after starting).

Side note: Outside of the interviewing process, many of the best managers are even wooing candidates when they do not have an open job.  They talk to A-List candidates all year long anticipating following up with them later.  Others leverage Social Media to communicate about their Employer Brand.

To whom to communicate?

You need to provide information to anyone who is part of the candidate’s decision-making process.  At times, this might be indirect by asking what questions a spouse or parent might have.  At other times, it might be chauffeuring the candidate and his family around a new town or providing a real estate agent.  The key is to ask questions to the candidate that probe into the lingering issues that are being discussed at home.

Who is to communicate?

In a word: everyone.  Make sure the messaging is consistent.  All interviewers should be appraised of what is important to share with an A-List candidate.  Each will have their own way or perspective communicating the selling points which will build reputation equity, a consistent image, and excitement.  All levels of the organization should be involved.  A-List candidates like talking with the executives and typically have great questions for them.

How to communicate?

Don’t make it a hard sell.  Many companies shy away from this process because they don’t want to appear to eager or are not comfortable pushing too hard.  If done right, these are not issues.  If you are building the impression of the company one brick at a time throughout the whole process, you don’t have to build the whole house at the very end.  Be matter-of-fact about the information you are sharing.  Weave it into conversations along the way as you hear the triggers in the questions that are asked.  When they talk about their goals and vision, mention the company goals and vision.  When they talk about their favorite job experiences, share some of yours with your company. 

Sometimes, you will need to be more direct.  If you sense there is a concern the candidate is not sharing, ask if they have any hesitations about joining the team.  Sometimes just asking, “What about this company and job attracted you to interview with us?” will prompt a great deal of conversation.

Why to communicate?

As stated above, you can never assume a candidate will take your offer.  You need to act as if you are one of three choices for the candidate.  Even if your company is truly fun to work for, many may not know this.  If you are not communicating your Employer Brand through Social Media and other methods, how would they know?  It is your job to share this in a unique, conversational way.  By the way, do not assume economic conditions alter the level of communication required.  This is always a requirement.  At times, this effort can even mitigate the chances of getting into a salary negotiation.

Often the interviewing process is compared to dating, and why not?  Both sides are getting to know each other over the course of a few meetings by asking questions and learning about each other.  Both sides go back to their peers and influencers to seek approval of the other.  Both sides compare the other to an ideal benchmark.

So if only one side is doing the wooing, chances are the romance is not going to last.

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April 30, 2009 - Posted by | Candidate Selection, Management 101

14 Comments »

  1. Jeff, this article should be read by every employer that now has or will ever have a hiring need. Far too many interview processes have completely different messages coming from different interviewers. And let’s face it, hiring managers have favorites and can tend to treat the rest as, well, the rest. Consistency is key. And wooing is essential. Love this post! Cheers, CF

    Comment by Craig Fisher | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  2. Here’s a great article that mentions something you didn’t.
    He says that great people only want to work with great people,not good people. So if you’re hiring real superstars, you’d probably have to sell them on the team.

    I think he was referring to superstar techies.

    I think I’m right when I say that Gretzky went to play for the LA Kings which was the worst team in the league.

    But they had to pay him a lot of money and he had already had the opportunity to establish himself as one of the best players in history in Calgary.

    http://blog.summation.net/2008/02/the-power-of-gr.html

    Comment by Recruiting Animal | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. Jeff you hit it out of the park. I agree with Craig. Every employer should read this article. Every recruiter also. The sustained relationship with the Hiring Manager is the “Holy Grail” to ours, their and the candidates success.

    Comment by Dave Graziano | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  4. I agree that wooing an A-player is a good idea. In this economy, the best-of-the-best still have plenty to choose from. And, if you aren’t wooing them, someone else will. As for wanting to work with fellow A-players, that’s true too, but it may not be the only deciding factor – just like money is never the only deciding factor. Which further proves some consistent wooing (a.k.a. marketing the position to close the deal) is needed.

    Hey R.A., who’s Gretzky? (he, he – just kidding!)

    Comment by J.T. O'Donnell | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  5. Sound advice well put, Jeff.

    Consistent with your comment that, “Often the interviewing process is compared to dating…” the wooing/recruiting shouldn’t stop once the knot is tied, either. At that point, re-recruiting should commence.

    Comment by Bill Catlette | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  6. Woo-hoo Jeff! Great article once again and I totally agree with you. I’ve been wooed several times by companies and one time a company hit it out of the park! They had made me an offer and I was very frank with them that I would consider it along with two other offers. They knew that I was traveling on a specific date to meet with the second company. They timed a courier–with personalized gifts in hand–to meet me as I was leaving the door of my house to catch a plane. Their gifts and accompanying letter signed by the entire team put them at the top of the list. Their wooing worked!

    Comment by Jeff Hurt | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  7. Thanks for the good points, Jeff. As someone who works from the job seeker’s perspective, my only hesitation might be with the word “wooed.” Job seekers like the idea of being “wooed” (it’s nice to know they want you and really nice to receive gifts), but more importantly, they want to be “respected” from the first meeting/interview right up through their tenure with the company. In my view, if you really want to “close the deal” with candidates, yes, show them all the perks of working for you, but don’t bother blowing smoke. Prove to them that you can live up the hype, that they are part of a team that will value them and that you will work just as hard for them as they work for you.

    After all, I don’t believe the goal for the hiring manager is simply to close a deal as much as it is to gain a long-term asset.

    Comment by rezlady | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  8. We always talk about keeping the pipeline of potential talent full because you never know when you’re going to need to hire someone and get them up to speed quickly. This is a great reminder of how to do that and what to communicate as you go through the process.

    We use the social networks for brand building so we can attract A+ candidates. At least once a day I hear, “Wow! I’d love to come work for you.” I keep a list of those people so I know who is already interested and then we can sell them on the vision when they come for an interview.

    Comment by Gini Dietrich | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  9. Lots of good advice for hiring managers. I hope my clients are reading this.

    Comment by Gil Vander Voort | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  10. @Gini Dietrich – Do you want to tell that story on The Recruiting Animal Show – that you use soc media to fill your talent pipeline?

    Who says it? Fresh grads. Would it be possible in another field? I mean PR people are all over the internet. Other job categories aren’t?

    Comment by Recruiting Animal | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  11. Great post Jeff. A good reminder that even in this economy, you need to sell A-list talent on why your company/your opportunity is a good fit for their skills and interests.

    Comment by Simon Bramley | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  12. This is an excellent post, Jeff! This topic, along with your points of reinforcement, are not made often enough today, in both the written and spoken word.

    I have a particular affinity to this article, as I did a training session to 80+ hiring managers at a Fortune 100 a decade ago on this very same topic, teaching them how to best attract the best-of-the-best A-list talent, and many of your same points resonate with me in great clarity.

    Your fluent writing style nicely reinforces the theme of wooing as ‘always being an essential requirement, and one which needs to be consistently interwoven throughout the entire hiring process’. This, in itself, is a simple, cost-benefit action that could launch many companies into the next level of choice rankings with top talent, if only implemented.

    Thank you, Jeff, for sharing this very fine piece with us. I would be pleased to help direct others toward reading this article, as well! ~DINA

    Comment by DINA | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  13. The interesting thing about this post, Jeff, is that when I have seen your “wooing” in place, it is for upper level positions and professions like physicians. My other role as Wausau Whitewater Operations Coordinator often finds me providing marketing and promo information on the whitewater course to the hospitals and clinics in the area. Physicians seem to be attracted to having this unique aspect in the area.

    It is great to be doing the wooing on the upper level but I think it breaks down the lower you get on the totem pole. Since employers find lower level positions so much easier to fill, I think they don’t feel they need to “woo” those people either to get them on board or to keep them. However, I would guess that the cost of retraining new employees on the lower level mounts up too.

    From what I read of your blog, I think you are advocating a different look at how we look at employment, careers, and hiring. Wouldn’t it be a great world if we had enthusiastic, highly committed people in every position at every level… and people loved going to work?

    Just thinking…

    Comment by Julie Walraven | May 16, 2009 | Reply

  14. […] As a part of being the “good cop” in the process, it is also important to convey the benefits of working for the company.  Even in an economy where there are many candidates available for every posting, managers still have to present their job as a great opportunity.  After all, the best candidates for the job may have other options.  More information on communication strategy for enticing the candidate to work for your company is available in a previous post:  Have You Wooed Lately? […]

    Pingback by Double Duty for Hiring Managers « Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog | October 14, 2009 | Reply


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