I have been doing a lot of recruiting lately. And it is harder, more competitive, and more time consuming as ever. It is clearly a job seekers market right now, which affords them the opportunity to take the best of competing offers, even if they have already accepted a previous offer, and “ghost” their new employer by never showing up on their first day, which is happening in record numbers and is not a cool move, at all. So, to save you all the tedious effort of having to go back and restart your recruiting efforts after making bad offers or hires, it is important you get it right in the first place. I found these four key recruiting criteria have served me well over the years, and I wanted to share them with you.
1. LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements
Duh, a candidate has to have the right skills for the job. But what they say about themselves, is materially less important than what third parties have to say about them. Yes, a candidate can give you professional references from past employers, but you know they are going to cherry pick people that are going to say nice things about them, or don’t want to risk the legal repercussions of saying anything negative about a candidate. To address this issue, my favorite place to recruit is on LinkedIn. Not only because they have a large B2B audience of users to tap into, but because as candidates apply, I can immediately see how third-parties have assessed that individual in the candidate’s skills and endorsements section on their profile page.
There are two things to study here: (i) do the skills third parties think this person is skilled at, match up with how they are positioning their own skills during the interview; and (ii) how many people think they are qualified in those skills. So, let’s say your are looking for a candidate deep in search engine optimization skills. Is SEO one of their top skills highlighted on their LinkedIn profile, and do a lot of people agree with that by giving that individual their professional endorsement for that skill. The actual number of endorsements desired is subjective, based on how many LinkedIn connections a person actually has. But, a person with 50-99+ endorsements for a skill, is a lot more vetted as credible for that skill, than a person with 0-10 endorsements, as an example.
2. Longevity at Prior Companies
Nothing scares me more than a lot of job hops in a short period of time. If you see a candidate with five jobs in five years, buyer beware! Yes, sometimes a candidate is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a one year stint is explainable, like the company had layoffs or the business was sold. But, the odds of that happening over and over again is very unlikely. So, if you see a resume where the candidate has stayed at least 3 years at every job they have had, that is a really good sign that former employers were happy with their performance and wanted to keep them on staff. And, it is an equally good sign that those candidates were loyal employees to those employers, which you are hoping to hire for your business, to help lower the odds of their future flight risk.
3. Will They Be Happy and Stay in the Role
Too often, you are studying a candidate from your own perspective—are they a good fit for the role and will they do a good job. But, it is equally important that you study the candidate from their vantage point—what are they looking to accomplish with their career and will they be happy working at your company. This category has a bunch of sub-considerations:
The Job Itself. Will the candidate actually enjoy the job, is it in line with their desires and career aspirations. Be wary of a candidate that is potentially going back down the corporate ladder (e.g., a former sales team manager, becoming a contributing salesperson again), as they may be using you as a stepping stone, until another management position becomes available.
Company Profile. Some people are better suited working for big companies, and the structure, formal processes and clear career paths that come with that. Other people thrive in more nimble, entrepreneurial environments. Make sure your candidate is best suited for the stage and structure of your business, and be sure they know all the good, bad and ugly about your business ahead of time, so they are 100% clear on what they are signing up for (so no unexpected surprises for them down the road). Don’t try to bury your “warts” during the recruitment process, make sure they still like you, warts and all.
Compensation. How much did they make at prior jobs? How much do they need to get paid to cover their costs and desired lifestyle? How much is your salary offered in comparison? Be wary of a candidate willing to take a material pay cut to join your company, as they may simply be using you to tide themselves over until they can find a higher paying job. Worth adding, in tight job markets like this, don’t be cheap—you may need to pay a little more than you normally would to stand out and land the hire.
Career Goals. People earlier in their career have different goals than someone later in their career. A younger worker may think that jumping from job to job, to help get higher titles and bigger compensation with each move, is the way to progress themselves. Which means they may be a flight risk after a couple years. On the flipside, someone later in their career has already built their career, and may simply be looking for their “last gig” before they retire, and will stick with you until that time, with them knowing how hard it will be for them to find a new job a their age. So, make sure you do your investigation on where they see themselves in a couple years, to assess if you will need to replace them down the road.
4. Do They Fit Your Culture
I like to think that new employees are joining an established “family”. They need to get along with all their “siblings” and know the cultural rules that have been put in place by the “parents”. If you don’t think the person you are considering will “play nice” with their fellow co-workers, or will bring something that disrupts the “good vibe” in the office, the hire will never work, for you, your other employees or the candidate. Be sure not to upset the apple cart with any hires, otherwise you risk all your other employees looking for the door, and you will end up with an even bigger recruiting problem on your hands.
So, hopefully, you have a better understanding of where to focus your recruiting investigation efforts, to not only make smart hires, but ones that will stay with your company and won’t have you wasting your time recruiting over and over again with a “revolving door” of workers. Good luck with your hiring!
George Deeb is a Partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons-An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.