Here’s my hiring process, my client said, “I collect all the resumes that come in and I put them in a stack on my desk. Then I sort through that pile and separate them into two stacks, the good resumes and the bad resumes. Next, I throw the bad resumes away and then I turn to my credenza, take out a bottle of Jack Daniels, take two shots and sort through the “good” resumes in hopes of finding the one or two I want to interview. The problem with my process, Jim, is that I am comparing the best of the worst.”
Inspiration comes from seeing the everyday ordinary as insightful because I remember sitting there thinking “your right!” I stated further that instead of comparing the best of the worst we should be comparing candidates to the ideal.
That was the inspired insight. Let me explain. We all have a picture of the ideal… the ideal vacation, the ideal home, the ideal car, the ideal spouse, the ideal children, the ideal marriage, the ideal whatever. We can picture in our mind what the ideal would be. However, most of us have not created the vision of what our ideal salesperson would look like.
If you have not done this, then you are prone to rely on generalities like: they should be honest, be self-starting, have a strong work ethic, have experience in my industry, etc. etc. If your description is generic enough that it can apply to any company, then you don’t know what you are looking for.
Even the Boy Scouts have a vision of the ideal scout. A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. You can just picture what the ideal scout would be.
What does the ideal look like in your world?
To understand this, you have to ask yourself the question, “Upon their annual review what must the person have achieved in order for you to be happy with their progress?” Not ecstatic with their progress, just happy.
Too often when I ask hiring mangers that question, I hear something like they must have sold $1 billion in new business. When I hear something equally as ridiculous as this, I then ask, “Has anybody EVER done that?” Typically the answer is “NO”. “So if they did that,” I state, “that should make you ecstatic with their performance. I am looking for what would make you happy?”
The most common answer to that question for salespeople is a revenue number. While this is true, I might suggest that hitting a revenue mark is the net effect of something, mainly activity. Activity comes before results. I might suggest, what would make you most happy is having a salesperson who consistently hit some activity level. For example: What would make me happy with a candidate is having one that consistently makes four in-person sales calls a day. Or, a successful candidate is one that can demonstrate the ability to penetrate six new accounts within a ninety-day period.
Instinctively you know the level of activity it takes in order for a person to be successful. Have you made that a criteria by which you make a hiring decision?
In my work with hundreds of companies, I have learned that successful candidates typically need to demonstrate they can achieve just a half-dozen things in a year to be successful. What six things must your ideal candidate master in the first year for you to be happy with their performance?
I’ll caution you that when defining your success criteria do not think in terms of what a fully-developed employee would be able to demonstrate. Write the success elements for their first year. For example, I have a client who states that a successful candidate must complete the onboarding program within their first 100 days of employment and receive a satisfactory score of at least 80% on their exams.
Yes, they have a documented onboarding program that takes candidate through their entire product line and scores them against what they were taught versus what they retain and it is done within 100 days. This took their learning curve down from eighteen months to three months.
Once you have defined what your ideal candidate must be able to know, do and use, then you are able to compare your candidates against the ideal and not just other candidates.
This adds clarity to your candidate search; it forces you to ask focused and relevant interview questions and prevents you from “selling” a job to an unqualified candidate.
With these success criteria, you can compare your final candidates to your ideal and identify what gaps exist between the two.
Through this gap analysis, which I call the “Hiring Gap,” you can evaluate whether or not you have the time, money, and resources to augment or close that gap. If you can’t or don’t want to close the Hiring Gap, then pass on the candidate.
There are four steps to the hiring process: identification, sourcing, screening, and recruiting; with identification being the most important. At Performance Group, we have the Ideal Candidate Profile process that gathers 32 data points to identify the success criteria for you position.