Recruiter Russ Riendeau has heard it all in conducting about 90,000 interviews with business professionals in the past 27 years. He gave some common-sense pointers during the Plastics News Executive Forum.
“We need to do a better job at finding good candidates,” said Riendeau, senior partner at East Wing Group Inc., an executive search firm in Barrington, Ill.
Riendeau, a behavioral psychologist, has written six books. But his Executive Forum talk was more common sense than Ph.D. dissertation.
For example, all job applications ask for the current salary. Make them prove it by showing a W-2 form.
“You want to save money next year? From now on, demand a copy of the W-2 before you make an offer. You will save $20,000, $50,000 to $100,000 over a year's period of time, because you're already overpaying,” he said.
Riendeau sprinkled his comments with humor: “How do you keep people from leaving your company? Well, hire family. They never leave.”
The search expert said most human resources departments make common mistakes. A big one is only trying to pouch employees from competitors. “We try to take the easy way and it doesn't work,” Riendeau said.
He encouraged companies to cast a broader net — but only after you have developed detailed job descriptions. “Do you have a list of the key initiatives that this person is expected do to in the next 12 months?” he said.
Include specific metrics and goals for 30 or 40 days, and hold new hires accountable. Don't leave everything up to the headhunter, but check references yourself, he said. Ask for documentation of performance claims.
“You want people to prove what they do,” he said.
Riendeau encouraged forum attendees to have job finalists write a plan covering the first 30, 60 and 90 days. Go over it together. Modify the plan. Then both you and the finalist sign it. If you hire them, hold them accountable.
Writing skills are important, but often overlooked in hiring sales and other executives, he added.
“If you have people writing contracts, writing proposals, writing grants, writing specifications, why would you not want to see how they write?
“But most of us admittedly don't ask for a writing sample,” Riendeau said.