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Are You Stealing Employees?

February 20, 2006
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Randall Murphy
An often-asked question regarding professional recruiting tactics is, "Are you stealing employees?" The answer is absolutely not. The fact is you cannot recruit someone that doesn't want to be recruited. If someone is happy with their employer, it doesn't matter how big or enticing the carrot is you dangle in front of them, they won't budge.

From experience, I can tell you that after working with many of the Fortune 500 firms, companies with high reputations are virtually impenetrable by even a pro. Employees have vested interests in protecting their company and their careers. The simple truth is if an employer doesn't take care of their employees' interests, someone else will. The contracting industry has grown and is continuing to grow highly competitive, and companies with vision are attracting and keeping the best people.

"Bad employees" are present in all industries and nearly every owner has a few stories to tell. Interestingly enough, great candidates also have a few "bad company" stories as well. No matter what part of the country you reside in, there are only a handful of great companies, a large amount of average companies, and a few that are just plain horrible.

Top people have, at one point or another, worked for poorly run companies. I've heard stories from superstars that range from companies taking liberties with nearly every paycheck to owners resolving disputes by taking them out to the parking lot to "duke" it out. I talked to a commissioned plumber that turned a $75 drain call into an $8,000 sewer project only to have it handed over to the manager's buddy. I've talked to countless overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated superstars who had such demanding schedules, their marriages were on the brink of divorce. In all fairness, owners aren't the only ones having a rough time.

Professional recruiting tactics give a person the ability to accurately "read" their candidates, while getting the truth about the candidate's feeling towards their employer. "Match making" is a critical part of the recruiting process, which goes far beyond skill requirements. For recruiters, there's nothing more rewarding than taking a great candidate from a miserable and crippling situation and putting them into a healthy and invigorating one where both the candidate and company experience great success. This is the real advantage of recruiting, creating unions between companies and people where everyone benefits.

RECRUITING IN THE CONTRACTING INDUSTRY

While recruiting in the contracting industry, I noticed a high level of camaraderie among business owners, which is odd in a competitive market. This "trusting" relationship, however, only goes so far. I had the opportunity to speak with many owners of impressive firms and they all understood the importance of recruiting top people. In the white-collar corporate sector, recruiting is widely accepted. Professional sports teams also regularly recruit or "draft" from other teams. Since hiring quality people is a nationwide dilemma, many owners in the contracting industry are realizing they must implement top-notch recruiting strategies to remain competitive. The bottom line is competitors are just that...competitors; they aren't business partners.

Owners that choose not to recruit have decided the best way to have great employees is to grow them. The reason why large corporations pay high fees to professional recruiters, which average $15,000 per hire, is to find seasoned professionals. They want to hire people who can generate profits immediately. When deciding to go the training route, owners should consider two critical issues - itch cycles and prospect selection. An itch cycle is a term usually heard in sales and it refers to how often a person purchases a specific item. For example, real estate salespeople know that, in some areas, people have an "itch" to sell their home every five years. Likewise, recruiters know that most people look to change jobs every two to five years. The greatest drawback in training green individuals is that once they become seasoned, the company may only reap the benefits for a short time before the employee moves on.

Choosing the right candidate to train is crucial. Just because a person has the desire to learn doesn't mean they will become a top producer. Keep in mind that every technician at some point wanted to become one and only a small percentage of them can be considered superstars - the best of the best. Please realize I am not advocating against training people from scratch; it's a wise choice for the right prospect. However, don't put all your eggs in one basket - a combination of training prospects and recruiting seasoned pros will create prosperity for any company.

Ray Kroc, the mastermind behind the success of McDonald's Corp., is known for his thought-provoking and motivational quotes that have inspired millions. I have certainly cherished them. A few examples are: "I believe in God, family, and McDonald's...and in the office, that order is reversed." "Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get." "When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." The other day, I came across a quote I had never read before and at first, it seemed a little harsh. It read: "If my competitor were drowning, I'd stick a hose in his mouth and turn on the water." My first thought was "Ouch!"

However, after thinking about his words, I began to create a mental list of the different ways a company brings value to its owner; it turned out to be a huge list. In short, if a company has been "handed down," the obligation for the new owner to pass it down is great.

I'm sure many new businesses would also enjoy the same tradition. Beyond this, a company is the livelihood of the owner, his family, his employees, and their families. Everything that keeps a family safe and secure is at risk. In addition, their children and the quality of educations they will receive are also greatly affected. The bottom line is, if a company goes out of business, it's primarily due to the competition driving them out. The stone cold reality is, if a company goes out of business, a competitor would never step in and provide for the owner and his family that they themselves put "out on the street."

When all is said and done, the only person that recruiting negatively impacts is the owner who didn't take care of his employees' needs. Since the industry continues to increase its quality awareness, more and more companies are realizing the only way to rise above the competition is by hiring the best people. To quote Ray Kroc, "You're only as good as the people you hire."

Randall Murphy is an author/professional recruiter and founder of Oryan Group, which specializes in recruitment, sales, and CSR training. For more information, visit www.oryangroup.org or call 800-274-8020.

Publication date: 02/20/2006

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