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How do you retain best people? Answer – how you recruit

November 26, 2009 1 comment

The extent of present economic difficulties have not been seen for a long time.

If you are a software executive with a responsibility to recruit, retain, and lead a team of dedicated people …

– Try to take a pause and ask whether your organization is at risk

– Chances are everyone has to work much harder because the team is smaller

– Some are quietly asking whether all this work is worth it but choose to stay because there are no other opportunities available

– Don’t wait; this is the time to reconnect with everyone again and learn what’s on their mind

The economy will recover.  When it does, the wave of great people (the one’s you want to keep) choosing to leave instead will be unprecedented.

Retention of great people starts with how one recruits.    Despite how memorable the last difficult day at work may be, the most memorable and lasting impression is created by the recruiting process.

Several years ago, I extended an offer to a brilliant software engineer who after 4 phone screens and 2 in-person interviews declined the offer.   I was shocked and called “N” at 8:00pm with an advance apology for disturbing the family dinner.

“N” told me that it was a very difficult decision to say no to a financially attractive offer.  “N” wanted to work in my organization after meeting with me twice.

“So – what happened?”, I asked.

“N” told me that every person in my organization assigned to conduct phone screens did not call on time.   One phone screen, scheduled to start at 10:00am, did not begin until 10:30am.  Another phone screen, scheduled to start at 8:00pm, did not begin until 9:00pm.   The third person did not call on time because of a meeting that never seemed to end.    The fourth and final person was so distracted by e-mail traffic during the phone interview that the candidate was wondering whether this was a good use of everyone’s time.

I listened and thanked “N” for providing me with an honest feedback.

“N” was right in declining the offer.  The organization completely failed to:

– Show the candidate that “N” was 100% important to the organization even as a prospective employee

– Use the recruiting process to create a lasting impression, “This is how we recruit.  Imagine how we take care of our people once you join the team”.

Of course, what happened with candidate “N” never happened again – ever.

Fortunately, there were two other candidates being actively recruited.  Candidate “G” was hired.  Candidate “O” did not receive an offer.  Yet, “O”was so impressed with the recruiting process that – despite not getting an offer –  “O” cheerfully recommended someone who was eventually hired.

The way one retains is the way one recruits.   In today’s economy, this could not be more relevant.

Categories: Hiring, The economy