Category Archives: Patrick Valtin

Hiring: How to Attract Top Players

By Patrick ValtinPatrick Valtin

Ann is a frustrated business owner who has been trying to hire a Marketing Manager for the last 8 months. Her last attempt was disastrous: over $6,200 spent on recruitment ad placements and 63 resumes screened. After 27 interviews is one week, 4 selected applicants were met for a second meeting. Not one of these finalists was offered the job.

What went wrong and why was Ann so upset? Simply stated, the company had been attracting the wrong people. An analysis of the job placement ad revealed too much emphasis on job-related hard skills and experience, as well as a strong promise of an attractive salary. But it was lacking a clear description of vital job-related soft skills needed to excel on the job and in Ann’s company environment. Most importantly, the ad was “selling” the wrong benefits to the wrong people – no clear mention of the most important selection criteria top players are looking for!

If you want to attract top players, you need to understand that your challenge is not to find them, but to attract them! Hiring is like marketing – if you do not know what top players are looking for, they will never show up. You have thousands of competitors when it comes to attracting the best, knowing that the war for talent is raging and that every business like yours is willing to over-pay, compromise and sacrifice in order to attract top players.

You can always evaluate an applicant against 4 general levels of motivation in finding a job. The first two criteria are quite logical and your margin of negotiation is rather limited. The last two criteria are much more irrational, more emotional and have proven to be so much more important to top players. The good side of it is: you have ample room to compete on these last two. As a matter of fact, the 4 criteria below are presented in increasing sequence of importance:

1 – Nature of the job. Top players look at doing what they like to do. No matter how tough the job market conditions might be, you want to detect and attract those who would not compromise too much on their life-long aspirations. Communicate clearly in your job ad that you are looking only for those who are passionate about what they do. Always give priority to those applicants who demonstrate a good persistence in their professional orientation.

With young applicants, it is important to detect why they decided to take a specific academic orientation. Were they purpose-driven or merely going through school without any specific future intention? Watch out for the purposeless applicants who mostly look for a job “to make a living.”

2 – Salary and other compensations. Qualified applicants know how much they are worth. Even if the current job market is a “buyer’s market,” make sure you offer your selected players an attractive package which will motivate them to work for long term rewards.

But if you really want to attract top players, offer performance-based rewards, such as bonuses or profit sharing. Reduce the fixed part of the salary and provide larger performance-based rewards which drive personal and organizational efficiency – and also reward commitment to the future.

Watch out for the skilled or experienced applicants who try to sell you their talent at a higher fixed salary with no desire for performance-related rewards. The coming years will be bright for you and your business, provided you are able to surround yourself with able, group-dedicated and future-driven collaborators!

3 – Working environment. While your employees will say that they want a new job for better pay, reality might be different. People do not leave their company, they leave their boss. According to recent studies, nearly three out of five employees feel that their bosses frequently fail to honor their promises and 37% say they do not give credit when due. Another 23% said their supervisors blame others to cover up mistakes or minimize embarrassment. Most employees leave because of a difficult relationship with a supervisor rather than dissatisfaction with their salary. Over 77% of them find a new job with no higher pay.

Be aware that top players will first judge your company through the same irrational criteria as any potential customer would with a supplier. The recruiter’s attitude, employees’ friendliness, the smile on the receptionist’s face, etc. are factors which will attract – or scare away good applicants. So be clear in your message: you will hire only someone who wants to have fun on the job, enjoy a great team work and contribute to others’ as much as he/she will be contributed to.

4 – Challenges & future. Many applicants primarily search for job security. Top players don’t care about it. They mostly want to face challenges and meet their potential. They are future-oriented and they want to prove that “they can do it.” They instantly respond to those “mission impossible” types of assignments. They buy a bright future to which they feel they can contribute. Being part of a future-oriented team is a major reward by itself; financial reward comes on top of it.

The key factor is: does the applicant want to take an active role in the expansion of your business? Is he/she responding positively to your challenges? Many employers tend to be too nice and too promising during the hiring process. The truth is: scare your applicants by being clear and totally transparent about the current challenges or difficulties. Then, and only then, show them the future.

Top players will love it. Other applicants will naturally shy away, which is exactly what you want! If you don’t present challenges first, you will indeed attract the wrong prospects for the job. Job security should be the reward of creating and contributing to a bright future, not a God-given right that you, the employer, must assume for every challenge-shy employee. Challenge is THE keyword. A bright future is the reward!

So, in order to attract the best and avoid the rest, put all your attention on developing your competitiveness on the last 2 criteria. While the first two do not give you much room to successfully beat the competition, these 2 irrational, emotional criteria offer unlimited possibilities to show – and make the difference!

Patrick Valtin is the author of the “No-Fail Hiring” book and an international public speaker. He has evaluated over 22,000 applicants for the account of 5,000 customers in more than 30 countries. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. Patrick has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, Sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. To find out more about his speaking and training, visit http://patrickvaltin.com or call 877-831 2299.

Hiring: Do It the Steve Jobs Way

By Patrick ValtinPatrick Valtin

Jim was the perfect candidate with many years of solid experience as a professional sales rep and had an obvious talent of persuasion and communication skills. But the hiring manager had some strong reservations during the interview. Jim’s strong focus on results ‘right now’ and a certain aggressiveness that could probably overwhelm or upset clients were some of the weaknesses he was concerned about.

In regards to Jim’s focus on the purposes of the company, its role in the community, the vital importance of innovation and unselfish dedication to excellence, he did the perfect job. He sold himself like never before and got hired.

Four months later, Jim was fired for lack of vision, lack of dedication and worst of all, for his lack of honesty in his intentions.

The manager knew he had to hire “the Steve Jobs way,” but had no real clue as to how to do it. He hired what he saw and what he heard “at the moment.” He was trapped into Jim’s salesmanship talent. And he was fooled by Jim’s hidden intentions: to get the job, “no matter what needs to be said…”

Steve Jobs’ Hiring Philosophy: Steve Jobs was an amazing and unconventional leader in many respects. His reputation as the best entrepreneur of our time can be summarized in a few words: he and his top execs never compromised with the talents and qualifications required of their employees. He personally interviewed over 5,000 applicants during his career. He and his executives considered very different qualities in people than most business owners do. When you thoroughly analyze Apple’s philosophy of hiring, you find out that there has always been fundamental, un-compromising attributes needed to get a job at Apple, Inc.

You too can apply these attributes when you look at attracting top players and ensure you avoid trouble makers.  To help you in the hiring process, here are the main “Apple selection attributes.”

Vision-minded. Everyone joining the company must have a clear picture of its management vision – and fully agree to fight for it, to defend it and to live with it every day. Applicants who do not seem to get it are systematically rejected. When you hire people who don’t seem to agree with, or care about your company vision, you are potentially employing future enemies.

Innovation-minded. Steve Jobs always emphasized the vital importance of hiring people who are innovative – willing to create something from nothing. Applicants are first chosen for their ability and willingness to constantly create, rather than for their technical competence.

Future-minded. Employees at Apple are driven by their leader’s vision of the future and they contribute everyday to creating the future, more than just beating the competition. Each of them owns the future of the market because they know they can contribute to creating it. The eagerness to create, not follow the future is a vital attribute observed in top players, no matter the industry.

Passion-minded. Steve Jobs’ first principle is: “Do what you love.” People are hired because they love the product, the company and its vision. Applicants who do not demonstrate a genuine passion and “love” for the company’s purposes and business philosophy will never make it.

Contribution-minded. A statement given by an Apple recruiter is clear enough: “We didn’t want someone who desired to retire with a gold watch. We wanted entrepreneurs, demonstrated winners, high-energy contributors who defined their previous role in terms of what they contributed and not what they titles were.”

Engagement-minded. Over two thirds of Americans are not engaged in their workplace. Apple management is strict on employees’ level of commitment. Committed individuals who are inspired by a grand purpose make the whole difference in the most competitive conditions.

Excellence-minded. Steve Jobs was known for his passion of perfection. The company always tries things out until they are perfectly done. The same attitude is expected of every collaborator. Applicants who do not share that passion for excellence do not have a chance.

Other Critical Attributes To Evaluate: You will notice that these 7 points enforced in the Apple’s personnel selection are all personality-related attributes, also called soft skills. They do not always guarantee performance. But the chance of selecting productive people is at least 200% higher when focusing on these vital soft skills. It is very well known that recruiters who focus on soft skills in their personnel selection process are, on average, 50% more effective in selecting top players.

So, in order to avoid falling in the momentary personality trap – as the hiring manager in the above example did, you should also focus on the following two basic soft skills:

Honesty. Did you know that one third of all business failures in the USA are due to employee theft? Also, 95% of all US companies are victims of theft and yet only 10% ever discover it. So this is definitely a crucial criterion to evaluate. Everybody recognizes the importance of honesty so it would make sense to evaluate it PRIOR to evaluating any other soft skill, wouldn’t it?

There are strong indicators which allow you to precisely evaluate honesty. Here are just a few:  gaps in the resume, contradictory data between the resume and your standard job application, negative reaction or embarrassment from the applicant to your challenging questions and lack of accuracy in applicant’s explanations of previous achievements.

Willingness. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 87% of employee failures are due to unwillingness to do the job. You can’t simply force someone to do something if they do not want to. Such persons will do what you want in order to keep their job or to avoid penalties. But they will not really put their heart into it.

Most applicants will tell you that they are willing, of course. The key to finding out if they are honest is to ask them to prove i.t Challenge them to demonstrate that they have been willing to work hard, learn something new, question their old habits, work under tough conditions, etc… The way you do this is simply by asking them to give you specific examples when they had to display such willingness.

So, hire the Steve Job’s way, by all means. But don’t forget these two basic attributes in the same process. inform applicants that your company values and management philosophy imply honesty and willingness/positive attitude as primary selection criteria, no matter the position – lack of either is enough to be considered unqualified!

Patrick Valtin is the author of the “No-Fail Hiring” book and an international public speaker. He has evaluated over 22,000 applicants for the account of 5,000 customers in more than 30 countries. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. Patrick has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, Sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. To find out more about his speaking and training, visit http://patrickvaltin.com or call 877-831 2299.

In Hiring, Beware the “Ace of Spades:” Why Personnel Selection is No Poker Game

By Patrick ValtinPatrick Valtin

John was a successful physical therapist. Pressured by the expansion of his practice, he decided to hire an office manager. Alice had the perfect resume – on paper, she was an “ace of diamonds.” She was hired the same day and started the next. What happened in the next 5 months unfortunately looked like a very bad end to “Casino Royale.” When John found out that Alice’s rough personality (undetected during the interview) was the major reason for his patients’ sudden lack of loyalty, he fired her. The next week she sued him for breach of “implied contract,” as her probationary period was over. Final resolution of the case was an award of $550,000 to Alice. John was forced to sell his practice in order to comply with the legal judgment.

There Are Four Aces in Hiring: It is not about playing cards, it is about picking people who will help you win – and won’t make you feel like you lost your last dollars playing poker. These Aces are your most important “hiring cards,” yet they are not equal in value. You must know exactly what you want to measure and in which sequence, in order to avoid John’s kind of experience.Your four aces of selection are, in the proper sequence:

Performance Mindset: This is your Ace of Diamonds. Detecting top players who are naturally high performers is your highest priority. The “number one” reason why you hire someone is to get the job done – no matter what it represents. Most business owners and hiring managers evaluate candidates with their heart rather than with their head. Emotions control the process.

When looking for the performance mindset, consider:

  • Does the applicant mention measurable results/achievements in his/her resume or job application?
  • How about references which clearly support his/her achievements?
  • Does the applicant provide practical, results-oriented examples of some past performance, rather than mostly action-oriented ones?
  • Does the applicant feel at ease with your results-oriented questions?

Willingness: This is your Ace of Hearts. Many call it “positive attitude.” Some people are naturally willing to work hard, to learn more and to do new things. Showing a positive attitude when problems arise can make the difference between hell and paradise in the working environment, especially when working in a team.

Willingness to learn accept heightened responsibility, and exceed expectations is so important! When asked why they usually fire employees, only 9% of business owners said “inability to do the job.” But 69% of them cited attitude-related reasons such as absenteeism and tardiness, bad attitude or work ethics. 22% mentioned other attitude-related reasons.

There are a few good detectors that can help you separate top players with high willingness and the right attitude:

  • When asked, the applicant can easily provide examples of situations on the job where he/she had to demonstrate a positive attitude in order to solve a problem or challenge.
  • When challenged during a simulation or role playing, the applicant shows evidence of willingness to respond and solve the problems.
  • The applicant can show evidence of willingness when he/she had to solve problems in order to help a group.

Know-How: This is your Ace of Clubs. You want to have competent employees who can at least master the basic technical skills as required on the job. In a 2010 national survey of employers, more than 70% of managers revealed that recently hired high school students proved to be deficient in basic academic skills, such as grammar, spelling and written communications.

The best and easiest way to measure an applicant’s practical, non-academic skills is to put the person to the test. Here are some important rules, no matter what the desired technical skills are:

  • Never trust academic or educational evidence of know-how found in the resume.
  • Never rely on an applicant’s previous experience to demonstrate technical know-how for your vacant position.
  • Test. Do not be afraid: right in the interview, put the applicant in a real (best) or simulated (second best) situation and observe his/her action – and reactions.

Personality: This is your Ace of Spades. You should measure personality last; not because it is the least important evaluation criterion but because if you let yourself be influenced by a “nice” personality, it could offer trouble, or destroy your business! The golden rule is: never trust what you see during the interview. Too many employers fail to detect the difference between temporary personality and the lasting one.

Why is personality your Ace of Spades? If you play cards you might know that the Ace of Spades is usually called the death card. Personality can be called your hiring “death card” for two good reasons. First, if you allow yourself to be influenced by an applicant’s temporary personality, chances are you will fail and hire the wrong people. Second, you definitely need to detect those vital job-related soft skills because you know this is what will determine success on the job.

Our experience has shown that the simplest and most effective approach in detecting job-related personality factors is the following:

  • When you develop your job description, make a full list of soft skills vital to the job.
  • Honesty being a crucial soft skill, you can start checking it through resumes/job applications and phone screenings. If you have doubts or reservation, challenge the applicant on any nebulous topic during the interview. Also use reference and background checks to confirm your doubts.
  • During the first interview, focus on the first three Aces. Ensure that you have prepared simulations or scenarios that challenge the applicant on each of these selection criteria.
  • Remember: people reveal themselves best when they are confronted with unprepared or unexpected situations. Challenge is the key word.

Ensure your hiring procedure focuses on “invisible” personality-related skills. Business is often a gamble, and the odds of success lean on your ability to judge the aces at your disposal.  Don’t trust the poker faces that present themselves in interviews; know your hand so you can guarantee that the house will win.

Patrick Valtin is the author of the “No-Fail Hiring” book and an international public speaker. He has evaluated over 22,000 applicants for the account of 5,000 customers in more than 30 countries. His No-Fail Hiring System has been used by thousands of small businesses of all kinds of industries. Patrick has trained 85,000 business owners and executives in the field of people management, personnel selection, Sales, business strategies, leadership and organization. To find out more about his speaking and training, visit http://patrickvaltin.com or call 877-831 2299.