5 tips for building your team in 2012

We’re now in the last month of 2011, so maybe we should think about next year and what’s on our business agenda. One of the biggest decisions we’ll have to make is whether we’re going to add to our staffs. Since the recession started three years ago, it goes without saying there hasn’t a lot of hiring going on.

Well, let’s say 2012 will be different, and we’re going to “get back on the horse” and declare it’s time to add rather than subtract. In a past life I was a headhunter for fifteen years … so I thought I’d pull out a couple of pieces of advice I gave my clients when I conducted searches for them.

Are you going to get the “rock star”
  • It is not a privilege to work for your firm. I don’t care if we’re in a recession or not in a recession – and don’t think your firm is the only one hiring. In fact, competition for top-tier talent is even tougher these days because the companies hiring are the industry leaders. A top candidate doesn’t have to sift through the fodder. They may only have three interviews – but they’ll probably be good opportunities. If you come off acting like you’re doing them favor – they’ll remember it … and you’ll remember it when they’re working for your competition down the street. Treat them just like you would a top client you’re trying to land.
  • Fish in the right pools. If want a trout, you don’t fish in the ocean. If you’re hiring a new media person … don’t put an ad in the paper. They don’t read papers. Find online sources. Better yet, ask another trout. Ask your best people for referrals. They’ll only refer you to someone who they can stake their reputation on. And on that note …
  • Make your entire company a recruiting firm. Once I did an informal survey of ten of my top clients. I asked them if they offered their employees finders fees if they referred a new hire to the firm. Two did, that’s all. And the bonuses were only $500 to $1000. That’s interesting since they paid me about $10,000 for finding the same person. I didn’t get an answer why … lucky for me, I guess. Start a referral bonus program for your employees – and a good one. Chances are, they’re only going to refer the best to you. Trust them, otherwise why would you have hired them.
  • Work with a recruiter. I’m not saying you have to hire someone from one. Even though I’m not against it (obviously). If for no other reason, a recruiter dedicated to your industry, is going to know what’s going on out there. In fact a good one is an invaluable information source. They can tell who’s doing what, what’s working and what’s not. Over the years, I was probably instrumental in selling over ten million dollars in prepress equipment through my information and recommendations.
  • Check references. If there is only one thing you do when you hire someone – do this. I don’t even care if you meet the person. Just find out if they are who they say they are, and can do the things they say they can do. And don’t tell me references are illegal and nobody will give you one. I heard that too many times. In my fifteen years, out of thousands of reference calls, only once … yes once, was my request turned down. And please don’t rely on a reference from human resources. Their job first and foremost is gatekeeping. Name rank and serial number is about all you’re going get … if you’re lucky. Plus they didn’t work next to your candidate anyway. How are they going to know what exactly they did and how well they did it. In the future I’m going to write a piece entirely on reference checks and the type of questions to ask. Look out for it.
Just a few things to keep in mind when you’re building your team for 2012. Good luck.
I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg
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