People Quit Jobs for Two Reasons

People leave their jobs on their own for two primary reasons, their Culture & Opportunity. I’m not referring to when people are let go, but when they choose to leave. The most common reason that people leave their job for another position is due to their boss lacking the ability to inspire, lead or develop them in a way that is satisfying their need to belong and make an impact. You may well come up with several other reasons, but they all boil down to leadership failure. Even when people leave a company for a better opportunity with another company, ultimately, the person’s boss failed to give them the chance to advance their skills and expand their horizon. Sometimes, it isn’t possible due to a variety of logistical reasons, which is why I didn’t say that there is only ONE reason people leave a company.

In a recent VP of Sales search for a $250mm division of a larger company, the final candidate listened to my initial presentation on the opportunity because something inside of him was yearning to be appreciated by his CEO. He felt under-appreciated and thus disrespected by his CEO. This is what led him to allow me to convince him to have an “exploratory conversation” with my client, the President. It was in that call that the President laid out her vision for the company and her philosophy of leadership. When they finished the call, the “bait was set.” Even still, the candidate was not convinced that this was either the right time or the right fit . After our debrief call, he graciously bowed out of contention for the position. Although the opportunity was bigger and the role more impressive than the one he currently held, he felt that he had more to do where he was and thought it better to stay and finish what he set out to do five years ago. Clearly, in his case, the reason to change was not for the “better opportunity” with my client, though it arguably was better.

In his case, he decided that he had more to accomplish in his current role. During the debrief call, he suggested that my client should continue to pursue other candidates and then if they felt that he was the best of the best, perhaps they should speak again. What he didn’t know was that my client had their heart set on him and only him. At this point, I agreed with him that he should stay the course and finish whatever is was that he felt needed to be completed. In speaking with my client, however, I explained to her his thoughts and the President still wanted him, probably more so at this point. I told her that in order to get him, she would have to perform in a manner that her company was not accustomed to. Being a billion dollar company with thousands of employees, they have policies and procedures that would get in the way of hiring him. They would have to move very decisively and have an offer within a few weeks or they would have ZERO chance of hiring him. I also explained that she would need to pursue him and show him that she wanted him more than his company did. She accepted this challenge and to her credit, she accomplished it. Now it was up to me to reel him back in and do so on the “culture side.” Knowing that the bigger opportunity would not be his driver, I tried to learn about his relationship with his boss and found that things weren’t perfect with his CEO. I learned that there were promises made that were not kept. I also found out that the integrity of the leadership was questionable. This was then the focus of all my discussions with the candidate.

Even in situations like this,people can be comfortable and complacent. Just because the leadership and culture isn’t positive, doesn’t mean that people will always be looking elsewhere. Perhaps it is the idea of “the devil you know, versus the devil you don’t.” But it does make the company very vulnerable to a Search Consultant with an equally impressive opportunity. In this case, my client pulled of a respectable feat by cutting through the typical HR rigmarole and executed the offer in record time, even cutting out a standard site visit with a full battery of interviews. This was exceptional on multiple levels. What wasn’t exceptional is that the candidate who was given the offer, accepted and resigned 48 hours later did so, ultimately, because of his boss.

There is a perfect example that people resign their jobs for two basic reasons, bad bosses or better opportunities. In some cases, both.


Does Anyone Actually Read Cover Letters?

Where do I start on the topic of Cover Letters? Some people in the HR/Recruiting community write long essays on the proper form and content of a cover letter. Some have even monetized cover letters and offer writing services to people in need. But my advice to people in search of a job is, Don’t Bother! The fact is that I never read cover letters. When I receive one, I feel sort of bad for the person who sent it because I assume that they put considerable time and effort into it. It is a complete waste of everyone’s time. I have “read” tens of thousands of resumes and have gotten to the point that I can determine in a glance whether someone has what I am looking for. I assume that anyone putting a cover letter together has something to explain, and I’d rather judge for myself before reading propaganda.

Your time and energy should be toward spent making your resume STELLAR to SELL your as a successful, valuable change-agent that a company needs. Don’t waste your time drafting a fluffy cover letter when no one cares. If your resume is solid, you won’t need a cover letter and honestly if your resume isn’t solid, a cover letter isn’t going to help you that much. Resume’s can be a valuable tool to advance your career, so put your time and effort into crafting a world-class resume and skip the cover letter altogether.

The Customer isn’t Always Right!

I frequently hear people say “the customer is always right.” That may be true in your line of work, but not in mine. In fact, many times I have to help my clients see what they seem to miss entirely. It is very often the case that my client fails to grasp the gravity of the situation. If I take the approach that my customer has all the right answers and I am merely here to feed their appetite for more candidates, then I am failing them as a search consultant. The smart ones get it, while others may think by challenging their perceptions of things, I am merely looking out for myself. Again, they would be wrong.

Search is a complex endeavor and if my client questions my motive then everyone’s problems are multiplied. Trust is the essence of any consultant-client relationship. If I have not established the credibility with my client such that I can challenge their views or opinions, then I need to re-think my approach. Clients are just people, and they all possess biases that inform their opinions about things from people to the way things should be. Sometimes they make assumptions about people who are factually inaccurate. It is the job of a Search Consultant to advocate on behalf of their client, even if it means disagreeing with them. Early in my career, I was afraid of disagreeing with my client. If my client expressed a concern about a candidate, I would instinctively and without hesitation agree with them. It was often after some thought and consideration that I would think, “that was wrong. I should have said, this or that.”

Many people are adverse to making big decisions so they subconsciously create obstacles, hoping to avoid costly hiring mistakes. One of the most common scenarios is that a client will say “the candidate didn’t seem energetic or interested enough.” or “I just didn’t see the fire in the belly!” This is most often the case of a mistaken assumption. There are stages to a truly passive candidate’s interest, and it starts with mere Curiosity. The first call/interview is actually purely a fact-finding mission and the burden is on the interviewer to capture their imagination. After this interview/exploratory conversation, the individual’s interest will either flat-line in which case they are not a fit, or it will begin to increase. Too often, the client assumes that because the candidate didn’t dazzle them in the first call, that represents a low energy level and intensity on the job. More often than not, they would again, be wrong.

To avoid this scenario, inform your client ahead of time about the level of motivation of the candidate. Is she actively seeking a new job? If so, she would be expected to sell herself. If not, then sell her. This is just one example of ways to help your client be right, before they get it wrong. If you can’t convince your client to see the value of your perspective, then you’d do well to find a new client.

A Recruiter Competency Model for Passive Candidates

The Staffing Man

by Lou Adler

This article is part of my continuing series on passive candidate recruiting. The key principle underlying all of these articles is that you can’t recruit and hire passive candidates using the same workflow, nor the same recruiters, used for active candidates.

According to a recent survey we conducted with LinkedIn, 83% of fully-employed members on LinkedIn consider themselves passive when it comes to their job-hunting status. While this is a huge and important pool, most companies over-emphasize the 17% of candidates who are active. Then to make matters worse, when they do target passive candidates, they clumsily use their active candidate processes.

To assist talent leaders in understanding the differences between active and passive candidate recruiting, I’ve developed a recruitercompetency model addressing the similarities, differences, and overlaps. Contact me directly if you’d like to learn more about this. It’s highlighted in the…

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How Much is Someone Actually Worth?

As an executive search consultant, I deal in compensation daily. Some companies begin a search with a prescribed salary range in mind that cannot be deviated from, while others adapt as needed when an opportunity arises to hire a true top talent. For those with strict limits, this means in some cases the most impressive and capable potential hires are simply out of reach. You’ve heard it said by me in the past that “money isn’t the driver.” This remains true for the vast majority of great people. Most people are driven and energized by great teams with incredible products. There are three primary tanks you have to fill in order to attract the best. Culture, Competitiveness and Compensation are the three C’s of Attraction. In the absence of these elements, it is all about money. Frankly, the toughest search is one where the client company has extremely high standards for talent and experience yet suffers from the inability to afford and thus attract this individual. The answer to the question of what someone is worth is of course subjective. To one company, paying at the 95 percentile is not even a consideration, while to others it is how they attract and retain the best and brightest. So, if you can’t afford to pay these high salaries, how do you hire the best? Your only hope is to have such a great company culture and exceedingly good managers and invest in the professional development of your people. All that and the money still has to be there.

What is it with the “Low-ball” Offer? And what are the risks?

We’ve all had this happen to us. Just when the process is purring along and our client has made their final candidate selection they go pull the “low-ball” offer! Despite ongoing consultation on what the offer should be, some of these clients still seem to get it wrong!

Even after being retained and after a challenging search and protracted interview process, the client decides that although they know that the candidate is currently making $185,000 salary, and they were prepared to go to $200,000 if necessary, they think that circumstances dictate that their offer should be matching the candidate’s existing salary. That is correct. I said, “matching the candidate’s existing salary.” All of this happened after I recommended that they send a strong message to the candidate and come in with an offer at $200,000 which was within the approved range in the Search Assignment profile.

It is as if the client starts to believe their own press about what a great place it is to work. During the interview as they were selling the candidate on all the reasons he should want to join their team, and as the candidate affirmed these attractive qualities, it seems that the CEO began to think that this guy would be lucky to work there and thus no longer felt compelled to draw him in with an aggressive offer.

I am speculating a bit as to the client’s true motive, but here is the rub. If we are successful in convincing the candidate that it is the right offer, how vulnerable do you think he will be to the counter-offer? Perhaps our candidate, during the interview process, in order to further win over the CEO, conveyed how much better an opportunity it is for him and that it “wasn’t about the money.” What should the CEO do?

Here’s what he did, he matched the candidate’s salary in the offer. What impact did this have on the candidate? First it completely deflated him as he interpreted this as a statement about how excited they were about bringing him on board. Second, it made it uncomfortable for our candidate to try to negotiate because he already told them it wasn’t about the money. Furthermore, since there is a relocation involved, it makes the details relative to the other costs seem much larger. Lastly, the candidate was insulted. Generally, I believe that you want to start any new hiring relationship off on a very positive note. The general expectation is that if a company is recruiting you, they know that they will have to entice you with some measure of inducement and the currency is usually an increase in your base salary unless it is a job that pays commission or is an early start-up and offers significant equity. In this case, we can’t check either box.

If you or your client are considering making a “Low-Ball Offer,” these are the potential risks you assume:

– Increased risk of a turn-down by the candidate
– Increased risk of a the candidate accepting a counter-offer from their current employer
– Loss of “Good Will” making company vulnerable in the future

So in our case, we end up making the executive placement. However it wasn’t without problems. We had to work immeasurably harder to convey all the reasons that this new opportunity made sense to the candidate and how money was never the driver. Our client got lucky, but I’m not impressed and I seriously doubt that the candidate or his wife was. He started on time, but based upon several comments made during the process, I would say that the “honeymoon period” was cancelled due to weather.

Anyone with me?