Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Shortest Job Ever

Last week a new member of staff joined the Garlik team. For 27 minutes. Then he left. Does this take the prize as the shortest job ever?

At the time we were quite surprised, but we had to laugh afterwards. It turned out that he had been in the running for another job whilst he was talking to us. He had accepted our offer but a few days later got offered the other job and decided he was going to take that one instead. However, instead of ringing up to tell us, he turned up on the appointed morning, presumably intending to tell us in person first thing (quite brave actually).

But before he had a chance to speak, we welcomed him with open arms, introduced him to the team, sat him at his desk, gave him a laptop, pass and all that good stuff. I thought he was looking a bit nervous as he smiled at people and said hello. It took hm 27 minutes to build up the courage to say "errr, errrr, excuse me, could I have a word please?" We didn't even have time to organise a leaving card before he left and we are still waiting for the leaving drinks!

This episode highlights a few lessons that it's worth remembering if you are a small
company recruiting in a market that is gradually getting more active and competing
against the big corporates with plush offices and deep pockets.

Firstly, I always take the view that when you think you have found someone who is right for your company, you swoop and make the offer. Sometimes people worry too much and keep waiting for "Mr Right" to come along. What if the very best candidate is the next CV that you haven't received yet? What if "Miss Perfect" is just around the corner?

My advice is don't worry. Go with your instinct and hire the person in front of you who feels right and has the skills you need today. In any case however careful you are the best possible outcome is that you will be "right" 75% of the time. One in four of your hires will turn out not to be right for your company and you will have to deal with that, so make decisions, move on and deal with the issue if and when it arises. By the way, if you are hiring sales people and you get a positive hit rate of better than 33% you are doing really well!

Secondly, if the person you are interviewing is any good then you can be certain that
they are having several other conversations as well as yours, even if they swear blind that they only have eyes for you. The market for good people is always competitive. Just accept it. There is nothing wrong with that. The candidate hasn't tricked you. That's just life. And, in fact it's a good thing because if they do come and work for you it means they really wanted to, not that you were the only available option.

Thirdly, candidates will say "I really want to work for a small, entrepreneurial company, I'm done with stuffy, big corporates" and then when a big corporate offers then a job, don't be surprised if they change their mind rapidly. Not everyone is cut out for early stage companies and people are easily seduced by a big brand and a big office. Don't worry about it. It's not a reflection on your company.

Finally, its worth bearing in mind that the market for recruiting good people is
changing. We have seen a definite change at the start of this year. When you put a job advert out there, you get a lot of candidates, so there are clearly a lot of people still looking to get back into jobs, but you have to sift through a lot of CVs to get to the quality and at the moment the best candidates have a number of choices. More companies are hiring, more projects are kicking off. That's good for the economy as a whole, but means that its harder for you and me.

1 comment:

H said...

I don't think i can beat 27 minutes Tom although I have had one or two no shows over the years. Recruiting at the very top end of the market is a difficult task at the best of times as you are never quite sure when you have found the right person. A few years a go the corporation I work for introduced a departmental policy whereby we would only recruit the very best in the industry and we were prepared to pay the going rate for them. We spent several months putting several candidates through a gruelling interview process and ended up hiring absolutely nobody as we had simply set our bar too high. The closest we came to was a New York based Oracle Data Warehouse Guru who we had never met but had spent many hours interviewing over the phone. When it came to the crunch and we made him an offer he turned us down on the basis that the charm of the West Midlands wasn't quite enough to coax him out of his Manhattan life style.

As it turned out, the most suitable candidate (not necessarily the best) was the very first one we had interviewed so we went back to him and fortunately he was still available as he hadn't found the right role to leave his existing job for. We made him an offer which he accepted and performed extremly well in for several years.