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Secrets from an Executive Recruiter

By Steve Margalit, FPC National

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still impacting how business is done in the United States and around the world.  As the economy revs back up and the employment market regains its footing, one underlying theme that has remained constant is the war for top talent is alive and well.  Successfully filling open roles in your organization requires a tremendous amount of communication and coordination throughout the hiring process.  From the beginning of the process, ensuring all your team members on the interview committee are on the same page; to the activity stage, sourcing internally by reaching out to your network of contacts.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, partnering with a specialized Executive Recruiter in your industry.  It’s “all hands-on deck” if you want to close and on-board the candidates of your choice.

During a recent Q&A, Jeff Herzog, President of F-O-R-T-U-N-E Franchise Corporation (FFC) sat down with Dylan DeYoung, Director of Training and Operations at FPC National.   F-O-R-T-U-N-E Franchise Corporation, founded in 1959, currently has over 65 offices and 175 recruiters around the country placing top talent in several industries/disciplines.  Jeff has the unique vantage point of running his own recruiting desk in addition to getting the pulse of the market in real-time from his franchised offices.  Here are some key takeaways from their discussion, taking you behind the Executive Recruiters veil, that you can implement to swing the pendulum in your favor in the war for talent.

Beginning Stage

Dylan DeYoung: What type of information do you look for from the candidate on your intake interview?

Jeff Herzog: I generally divide up the information I am looking for into two categories…hard skills and soft skills.  Obviously, I need to make sure they have the experience I am looking for, but just as important is listening to make sure they have the right mindset.  Ideally, I want someone who is a “make-it-happen” person who is not in a rush to leave their job and is able to articulate their quantifiable accomplishments.  It is really a very important balance between someone who is confident, but not arrogant, assertive, but not aggressive and enthusiastic about a new opportunity, but not so much that it sounds like they are running from something.  It’s also critically important that I “earn the right” with candidates and that I earn their respect.  Too many recruiters outside of FPC treat their clients like gold and their candidates like ‘you know what’.  That really comes back to bite you in the end.

Dylan DeYoung: What things do you close for in the beginning stage?

Jeff Herzog: Closing during every step of the process is critical…even on the first call.  I need to be comfortable that they are committed to the interview process and they are able to convey to me that they will leave their current role if things work out with the job I am recruiting for.  Getting a commitment for relocation and compensation are also things that I am closing for.  It’s so important not to have these things be issues at the very end when the offer is out.

Activity Stage

Dylan DeYoung: What expectations do you set with your candidate during the interview process?

Jeff Herzog: This really comes down to the details of the interview process that the company I am working with lays out.  These days it is more important than ever before to tell the candidate exactly what the interview process will look like.  One of my clients recently set the initial expectation that the process would be a total of four video interviews which is what I told the candidate.  After the second interview, the hiring manager added three additional interviews which not only made me look bad, it made the candidate second guess the company.  Thankfully everything went well and the candidate accepted the job, but it doesn’t often happen that way.

Dylan DeYoung: As the interview process moves forward, are there any deal breakers or red flags that would cause you to pull the plug?

Jeff Herzog: Absolutely.  If candidates drag their feet or start wavering, I immediately start to pull the opportunity away from them to re-test their commitment.  It’s also concerning when candidates start talking about other opportunities they have, but we still need to ask about them.  Every time I talk to a candidate during an interview process, I always ask “What else do you have going on that could interfere with this opportunity?”  On the flip side, though the biggest issue these days seems to be the companies that are stalling and can’t get their act together.  We hear time and time again from our franchisees and recruiters that candidates are either pulling themselves out of the process or taking other offers because the hiring company took too long.  It’s a pervasive problem and we train our recruiters how to manage the process to ensure that if a hiring manager wants a candidate, we can deliver.  I don’t think a lot of companies understand just how much influence we as executive recruiters have on the process.

Closing Stage

Dylan DeYoung: After the interviews are complete, and your client wants to make an offer how do you put yourself in the best position to close the deal?

Jeff Herzog: Great question…I have a standard process the walks the client back half a step before making the offer.  I always go back to the candidate and say “It seems as though everything went well with the interviews and they are considering making you an offer.  That said, let’s say they make you a professional offer, meaning let’s take money off the table for right now and assume it’s what you’re looking for, are you ready to go to work for XYZ company?  Is it the right professional move for you?”  If the answer is hopefully “Yes” or “Absolutely” I will proceed by asking “Great, let’s go back to what you said about your expected compensation during our initial call…What’s changed?”  This really tests the commitment of the candidate and ensures that we are in the ballpark.  The goal is to have them closed on a number lower than what the company is willing to offer.  It’s not always possible, but if we did our job right, it should actually be anti-climactic when the offer comes.

Dylan DeYoung: Candidates behaviors change once the offer is out, what are some of the warning signs, and how do you handle them?

Jeff Herzog: Radio silence is often the biggest concern…it definitely happens when an offer is made and you don’t hear back from the candidate to get their thoughts.  My mind immediately goes to either a counteroffer or they are shopping our offer to another company.  This is why it is so important to build that credibility and relationship with candidate right from the very beginning.  I understand that might be tough for hiring managers to do, but it is critical to our success as recruiters.  This credibility allows me to ask candidates very direct questions about what they have going on and anticipate issues before they happen.  I tell my hiring managers that I don’t want offers going out that don’t get accepted.

Wrapping Up

Great insight from Jeff on the steps he and his network of FPC Executive Recruiters take throughout the hiring process when partnering with their clients.  Attracting, interviewing, closing and on-boarding of high-level top tier talent is NOT an accidental process.  It requires open dialogue, realistic expectations, and commitment.  High performing Executive Recruiters are working at each of these steps behind the scenes from day one of the hiring process in anticipation of any pitfalls that may arise.  If you’re serious about building your team of “A” players, find your industry/discipline specialized recruiter at FPC National.

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