February eNewsletter

Welcome to our February business eNewsletter focusing on hiring tips for your business.

Quote of the month:
“Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.” – Howard Schulz

In this Issue…

Business & Economic Outlook Lunch and Learn

You won’t want to miss the Business & Economic Outlook Lunch catered by Burn Co. Limited Seating. More information and RSVP here.Join us for some Burn Co. Barbecue and get answers to your most burning economic and business outlook questions like…

  • What does the interest rate market look like in the short and long term?
  • How can I utilize depreciation laws to assist in purchases?
  • How can banks provide liquidity to assist in growth opportunities?
  • What’s the outlook for the real estate market in Tulsa?
  • Is this the right time to leverage my company?
  • What’s the deal with SBA lending? Does it match my needs?

March 6, 2019
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
SpiritBank Penthouse (11th Floor)
1800 S. Baltimore Avenue.
Tulsa, OK 74119

Hear a panel of experts in the industry who will take your questions to help your business thrive.

RSVP: Tandy Donald, tdonald@spiritbank.com; 918-295-7438

Let’s Toast The Holy Grail Of Hiring
By Jeff Hyman

I find myself shocked by the large number of companies who underutilize the best and most efficient source of great candidates: employee referrals.

Sure, two-thirds of companies have some sort of employee referral program in place and employee referrals are the number one source of new hires in corporate America.

But the reality? Your company likely can do much more to encourage those referrals.

In too many organizations, referral programs are under marketed, overly cumbersome and poorly run. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that a huge chunk of your team doesn’t know how your program works. And I’ll wager they frequently don’t hear back about the status of their referrals – which, of course, discourages them from making more referrals.

It’s a shame. Because referrals truly are the Holy Grail of recruiting.

Consider these statistics:

– Referrals are the leading source of superior candidates for 88% of employers.

– Referred candidates are a better culture fit than those hired through other sources.

Retention rates for referrals are much higher than the rates for other employees.

– Referrals generate the best return on investment than all other hiring sources.

– Almost two-thirds of referred employees referred at least one person to their current company.

What these numbers mean is that referrals create a virtuous circle that can help you to build and maintain a first-class team. Put simply, top-performers like to work with other rock stars. Maximizing your employee referral program is an essential ingredient to growing a high-performance culture.

Be honest. How is your employee referral program working? Are you receiving referrals for a large percentage of your open positions? Are your people being rewarded and recognized for successful referrals? Is the program well understood by most employees?

If you can’t easily answer these questions, it’s time to review and revamp your program. Here are my suggestions, based on the best programs I’ve seen:

Keep it simple. Ideally, your employees should be able to read an internal job description and click on a link that brings them to a page where they can refer a candidate. Make it as easy as possible and put the responsibility on following up with the referral on others in the organization.

Market the program… often: Tell your employees that you’re interested in working with them to build a great place to work and a rewarding culture. Let them know that you will send emails about open positions regularly and would appreciate their recommendations for suitable candidates who will fit in with the culture and have the capacity to make important contributions.

The program involves everyone, so it’s appropriate to send company-wide emails regularly on how things are going. I love to highlight new hires made through referrals and provide metrics about the number of new hires made through employee recommendations versus other sources. Keep your people informed and engaged.

Prioritize referred candidates: When you receive an employee referral, advance it to the top of the stack. No questions asked. Regardless of your initial instinct, these are your best leads and should be considered before anyone else.

Pay people fairly: Industry-wide, cash bonuses for employee referrals range from about $250 to $25,000 or so for executive positions. You can also pay in company stock, vacation time or gift cards. I recommend paying the same amount for most positions. After all, the employee making the referral isn’t doing much more than passing on information about a person they worked with in the past.

Google conducted a study in which they doubled their referral bonus from $2,000 to $4,000. The increase didn’t significantly increase the number of referrals. It’s far more important to promote the program often then to pay top dollar.

At most companies, employees don’t receive a referral bonus until the person they referred has worked at the company for a specified number of months. This is a disincentive. I believe in instantly rewarding the specific behavior or outcome that is being sought. So I recommend paying most, if not all, of the bonus upon hiring.

Respond to all referrals: Here’s where most programs fall short: referrals go into a black hole. Neither the HR person overseeing the hire or the hiring manager follow up on the recommendation. And no one gets back to the referring employee. Even if the recommendation is way off base, someone (generally an HR staffer) should at least thank the employee and provide the status.

Recognize people for successful referrals: In addition to paying people a referral bonus, employees should be publicly recognized when the person they recommended is hired. Obviously, people appreciate the recognition, but it also helps to build visibility and support for the program throughout the organization. Your competitive employees will pay particular notice.

Quiz your new hires: A great way to build names of potential candidates is to meet with each of your new hires within their first 30 days and go through their LinkedIn network together. Sit at their desk, and brainstorm who they might recommend for roles that are currently open and roles that might emerge in the future.

Executive support for the program: Encourage your CEO and senior leaders to champion the employee referral program, emphasizing its importance and highlighting its successes.

The Best Investment You Can Make

The value of employee referral programs is unequivocal and compelling.

Referrals deliver the highest quality candidates, in the least amount of time and for the lowest cost per hire. Plus, over the long-term, referrals fit in better, outperform and stay around longer than candidates hired through other sources.

If that’s not the holy grail, I need to change what’s in my cup.

Make your employee referral program best-in-class and you’ll build a workforce that outshines and outpaces your competitors.

Read this article at the Forbes.com

Hiring Smart: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Hiring
By Rachelle Tchiprout

The right employees can change your entire experience as a business owner, and take your business to heights you never imagined. Plan ahead and take care of your employees so you can find candidates who can help your business thrive.

One of the great things about owning your own business is that it allows you to be completely independent, and in control of every element of the work. Hiring an employee can change that dynamic. You’ll need to work in close quarters and learn to trust someone else to get the job done the way you like it.

However, if you do it right, hiring employees for your small business can open up a range of possibilities for your business. You’ll be able to grow your revenue, take your company in new directions, and maybe even enjoy your work more than ever.

Here are 10 tips you can use to find employees that can support you, and help your business reach its potential:

1. Don’t Rush

Just like other aspects of running a business, it all comes down to planning ahead. If you’re desperate and feel that you have to take the first candidate you see, you’re unlikely to get the best candidate. Instead, give yourself time to create a hiring plan. This will help you proceed methodically, giving yourself the chance to really get to know people, and attract the type of candidates who appreciate order and organization.

2. Think Hard About Your Needs

Writing a job description is one of the most critical phases of the hiring process. It’s your chance to dig deep and think about what you and your business actually need before you put it to paper. Spend some time examining your own strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out where and how someone else will be able to fill in the gaps. Imagine what the person’s day would look like, and how their position will change your workload. For instance, it may turn out that hiring an independent contractor could be a solution for certain tasks, which would allow you to outsource projects periodically. Or, after reviewing the factors recommended above, you may recognize that you definitely need a full-time employee who can handle a variety of tasks.

3. Understand and Identify What’s Really Important

A great employee should have a good balance of professional skills, motivation, attitude and the ability to learn. The first one is much easier than the others to measure, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most important element. You want an employee with some skills; however, in some cases, a candidate with slightly less experience who is enthusiastic and eager to learn on the job, is usually a better choice than an expert who you can’t rely on.

4. Know What You Have to Offer

If you can’t afford to pay the highest salaries on the market, think about other ways you can attract the best employees. If you’re a small business, you may be able to offer better learning opportunities or flexibility than a large firm. Maybe you’re located conveniently to a neighborhood without a lot of other employment options, which could make employment with you that much more convenient, and strengthen your roots within your local community. Think about your advantages and recruit accordingly.

5. Think Outside the Box

Diversity is in recruiting is a key factor, and it has a lot to offer your business. Old-school hiring practices often left out some highly talented people, simply because they might not have fit the “traditional image” for a particular profession. For example, you may be able to find great people who were overlooked because they didn’t go to the big-name schools or can’t work standard hours due to family obligations. Plus, it goes beyond mere demographics. You may think a good salesperson is someone who is gregarious and bold, but someone else with a slightly different approach may achieve fantastic sales by being approachable and a good listener. Try to go beyond your preconceptions to find people with unique skills and potential.

6. Ask Specific Questions

Go beyond the classic “tell me about yourself.” Your interview questions should be specific, but open-ended. For instance, try asking people about projects they worked on in the past or former work environments. Have them tell you what they liked and disliked about each. This will help you get an idea of the person’s strengths and what kind of environment they’re likely to thrive in.

7. Don’t Take Their Word For It

You don’t have to run a formal background check these days to get some idea of who your candidate is outside of the interview room. Besides calling references, a simple Google search can go a long way. It won’t reveal everything, but it can help verify what’s on a CV and may turn up some red flags.

8. Don’t Count on Candidates Accepting Your Job Offer

Candidates always have the option to turn you down. You need to impress your candidates just as much as they need to impress you. Be friendly and considerate of their time throughout your recruiting process. In the interview, provide information about the job and give your interviewee a chance to ask questions. And remember, the questions you choose to ask send messages. For example, even for someone with no family responsibilities, asking (possibly illegal) questions about their home life may hint that you don’t know how to support a healthy work-life balance.

9. Reject Wisely

It’s a small business world and news travels fast. It’s perfectly fine to reject most candidates, but it will reflect well on your business to make sure to be courteous, and appreciate the time the potential candidates invested. It’s not polite to disappear once you’ve ruled out a candidate. Take the time to send a basic thank you email, and let the other candidates know you’ve filled the position. In this case, an email is fine. If you liked the candidate, you can even let them know you’ll keep their application on file. Even if they don’t have the skills you need now, it could save you time later when you do need someone with their particular experience.

10. Don’t Hire More Often Than You Need To

Make a solid effort to retain your best employees by making sure they feel appreciated, and giving them room to grow in their positions. There are a lot of ways to do this, so find some that work for you, and make them count. Employee loyalty is a priceless commodity that you won’t be able to find on a resume.

Read this article Business.com

Hire Like Google: 5 Ways
By Jessica Stillman

Small businesses can’t match the likes of Google in budget or branding. But you can steal this search-giant recruiter’s best tips on snagging top talent.

With its free meals, company ski trips, and sky-high brand recognition, Google is a magnet for top talent. Your little start-up or small business… not so much. Plus, Sergey Brin & Co. have the deep pockets to employ the finest recruiters. You’re still counting pennies and sifting through resumes yourself. It may not seem like a fair fight, but Michael B. Junge, a recruiter for Google and author of Purple Squirrel, is aiming to level the playing field a bit. He trolled through his long experience working with top companies to offer Inc. a handful of recruiting tips tailored to smaller businesses seeking to hire the best and the brightest:

Recognize the inherent strengths of the amateur. “Non-pros make plenty of resume reading and interview mistakes, but they can do some interesting things right as well,” says Junge. “Veteran recruiters often get stuck searching for the perfect profile, while the inexperienced are more likely to take action on candidates who don’t fully meet the predefined requirements. Resumes are an imperfect reflection of the people they represent. An off-center candidate can turn out to be a fantastic find, and on-paper perfection doesn’t always translate into a real world fit. Sometimes the only way to figure it all out is take the initiative and have a conversation.” Small business owners have the flexibility to listen to their gut and take a leap.

Be a language detective. It’s easy to type out an impressive resume, but can a candidate really do what he claims he can? “An experienced eye is far more likely to pick up on the subtle signs of incongruence,” says Junge. “Pros are also more likely to recognize language-based clues that may help to predict the performance of a particular applicant.” So how can you acquire these advanced resume evaluation skills? Junge reveals one of the pros’ techniques:

“An old mentor used to drill home the distinction between ‘passive’ and ‘active’ language. He claimed there was a significant difference in the productivity of people who described their work in terms of accomplishments and results compared to those who talked about responsibilities and duties. To this day, I’m much more likely to call someone who has designed, built, delivered, initiated, earned than someone who has been ‘tasked with’ or ‘responsible for.’ As an employer, it makes sense to focus on people who want to deliver and perform, not those who feel like they have to.”

Make being small work for you. You might be small but you can still compete for talent. How? “Be unique,” suggests Junge. “If you don’t have an abundance of resources, going head to head with those who do isn’t a great idea. They’ll always have deeper pockets and bigger perks. Fortunately, you don’t need a ton of money or a big brand to build a compelling employment story. What you do need is a clear picture of the talent you’re hoping to attract, an understanding of what they value, and a willingness to create an environment where their goals and ambitions can be fulfilled in a way that’s not possible elsewhere.”

Don’t believe the social media hype. “Aside from LinkedIn, I haven’t fully bought into social media as a serious tool for recruiting and hiring. Not yet, anyway,” says Junge, pointing to a recent study by CareerXroads that showed only 3.5 percent of total hiring was attributed to social media in 2011 as evidence. So don’t stress out about whether you’re using social media enough in your hiring process. That being said, Junge concedes that LinkedIn is “an immensely practical resource for employers and job seekers alike,” specially HR pros who use it to “seek, identify, validate, and connect with interesting talent, especially for those seeking candidates with hard-to-find and niche skill sets.”

Swap keywords for attributes. (Oh, and have fun.) “Every role in a small business comes with a unique set of requirements. You can try and boil these down to key words, but hiring should really be about the attributes and skills that are likely to make someone successful on the job,” says Junge. “Taking the time to think about the goals and expectations for each position and how these translate into tangible skills can make a big difference. Once you know what you’re hoping to accomplish it’s much easier to devise strategies for assessing the suitability of individual applicants.”

Also, look for signs that, on some level at least, the candidate is enjoying the hiring process, whether it involves logic puzzles for engineers or a creative candidate’s explanation of her portfolio. “It’s not just objective performance or skills that should be assessed, but also subjective traits like attitude and enthusiasm. Ideally you want to find people who thrive on tackling the sort of challenges the job is likely to bring and find the process enjoyable. If an applicant genuinely has fun being tested or demonstrating their skills, that can tell you a lot about what to expect from them six months or a year down the line.”

Is your business playing to its strengths when hiring talent?

Read this article at the Inc.com

How To Make Better Internal Hires
By Suresh Sambandam

The best hires are often the easiest to find. They’re already working for the company and have a history of drive, teamwork and innovation. Deciding when to place faith in an internal candidate is not always simple, though. Companies that get it wrong risk making two mistakes at once: hiring the wrong person for a new job and losing the right person in an old one.

Companies that get it right, however, enjoy a host of advantages. Internal hires provide growth opportunities for capable employees, ensuring that they stay at the company instead of seeking opportunities elsewhere. They also give leadership more information, because managers already have an idea of how their internal candidates operate.

To make smart internal hires, leaders need to understand both the purpose of their internal investments and the best methods for setting up chosen candidates for success.

Categorizing internal hires

There are three types of internal hires: promotions, lateral moves for similar skills and lateral moves for different skills.

Promotions are the easiest internal-hire decisions. Building up clarity within a new department is difficult, so people already functioning well within the organization are best able to make the switch. Team dynamics can be tricky when promoting from within, though, especially if others are not willing to see the candidate as a leader.

Lateral hires are riskier than promotions, at least in the beginning. People switching to a job with a similar skill set have an easier time, such as an inbound salesperson moving to relationship management. An engineer who wants to move to sales, though, must learn an entirely different way to work. Both leadership and employee must be willing to take an initial hit and experience growing pains to make a lateral move work.

When our company needed a new marketing manager, we looked to the employee who ran our paid-search campaigns but were unsure about his ability to transition. After a few failed outside hires, we took a chance on our internal candidate. With support from leadership and plenty of room to grow, he has rewarded our faith and become the manager we had always hoped to find.

How to effectively interview for internal hires

While you might think your interview process is up to snuff, there’s a good chance you need to make some adjustments to make truly great internal hires. Start with these three steps to ensure your next internal hiring decision is an easy one:

1. Encourage potential applicants

Internal hires work best when leadership spots the potential first. If you notice people you think would make an excellent internal hire for an open position, tell them one-on-one about why they should apply. This builds your employee’s confidence, ambition and drive before the interview even begins.

During the interview process, however, let internal applicants know you still expect them to prove their initiative and passion. You need to know that they will continue to show those traits after volunteering themselves for a new position.

The investment does work both ways: Assure internal applicants during their interviews that, should they receive a new position, you will help them make the adjustment. Employees who get help managing their workflows are eight times likelier to remain in their jobs, lending stability to your internal hires and company alike.

2. Lean heavily toward demonstrated skills

The adage of “hire for attitude, not skill,” is less applicable when it comes to internal hires. Worthy internal candidates have already demonstrated an ability to get along with their co-workers and fit the company culture. By this point, attitude issues are of little concern. Instead, company leaders should focus on internal candidates’ skills and development.

Ask interviewees to talk about the skills that have served them best during their time in their current roles. Continue that conversation to ask about how they have developed new skills you might not be aware of. Internal hires must tackle a variety of unique challenges, and only those who possess sufficient intellectual curiosity can keep pace with the demands.

Choose candidates who demonstrate good visibility of the broader company vision. Internal hires should be able to look beyond their departments to understand how their work affects larger company goals. CareerBuilder found that 73% of companies prioritized a strong work ethic in hiring — more than any other factor — so it might serve you well to prioritize drive, as well.

3. Follow through on expectations you set

Once your internal hire takes up a new mantle, don’t leave that person twisting in the wind. Set clear expectations on what good performance should look like in the role, then be present to help the new hire achieve great results.

Only about half of employees worldwide strongly agree that they understand what their bosses expect from them. Employees who guess at their bosses’ priorities are less able to meet those unknown goals and more stressed than they need to be. Remove that stress by providing clear goals – bonus points if you can also outline paths to achieve them – and help employees as they adjust to their new roles.

Follow up with candidates regularly after their interviews to provide feedback and to listen. Allow employees to communicate perceived gaps in expectations or unclear instructions and help them fill those gaps. Internal-hire candidates have proven themselves to be capable and curious, so give them the benefit of the doubt. With the right investment, they will reward the faith of their leaders with strong results.

Hiring an internal candidate is not the easy way out. If anything, it’s even more difficult than bringing in an outsider. With greater challenges come greater rewards, however, and the companies that perfect their internal hiring processes and interviews can reap the benefits of a strong, self-replenishing talent pool.

Read this article at the SmartBrief.com

The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.
Property of SpiritBank. 2019.