Crap, I hired the wrong person!

I woke up this morning to a 6AM voicemail from a great client of mine with the following message, “FUCK MIKE!  I hired the wrong person, call me to discuss, I need help fixing this!”

This is a painful situation for a CEO. You’ve had a gigantic gap in your executive team, and you find someone you think is the answer to all of your problems – and then it hits you: You realize the person you’ve hired isn’t who you thought he was.  Now what the hell do you do?

Your new-hire does not posses the skills you thought. Perhaps he came from a larger company, and you thought he was capable of adjusting to your small business. Sometimes you may find the person isn’t a good culture fit, while other times they are just downright toxic to your company.

So, what happened? How did you miss the red flags during the interviews and ‘dating stage’?  Did you fail or did you choose to ignore certain things?

How do you find the right fit?

In order to avoid getting stuck with the wrong employee, you must interview the right way. I’ve seen executives (Yes I am talking about you)  glance over a resume five minutes beforehand, and ask questions solely based on the job description. You just set yourself up for disaster.

Instead, you need to put time and effort into devising questions that will help your company in finding the right personnel fit.  Take the focus away from work and education history.  Resumes list the previous jobs and education, and are usually written to show the best of each area.  Spend little time on the resume, that was the ticket into the door, now find answers to the following questions:

  • Does this candidate fit in with your company culture? – Write down or give the candidate your company’s core values. Ask the prospect how he exhibited one of your core values at a previous job.
  • What exactly does your company need the candidate to do? –Tell them to increase throughput by 10%, Improve OTD from 95% to 98%. Get specific, and make your goals measurable.
  • What has the candidate done in the past that can apply to the job today? – Get specific, and go deep! Ask the candidate what has she done that’s comparable to the work expected of her. Then, find out what her role was within the project: Did she come up with the idea? Was she the team lead? Did she perform the work? Don’t stop digging until you have specific answers.  The resume will state. “Increased throughput by 40% by implementing this that or the other.”  By digging deep you will find that they don’t know what the throughput calculation was before and that the 40% was a made up number.  That they weren’t really involved in the process, maybe they just oversaw that person.  Digging deep, gets you the information that you need.

You can listen to his thought processes during the interview and determine if the candidate would be a right fit for your team. If you don’t consider how he plays a role in the bigger picture and how he will interact with your current team, then you could end up with an employee who feels like a stranger.

The interview is just the beginning. You should also have an efficient onboarding process. Keep your eyes and ears open to see how the new-hire interacts with you and other colleagues. If you discover he’s not the right fit, at least you know immediately, and not months or years down the road.

The old adage for small businesses holds true: Hire slowly, and fire quickly. Small business CEOs/ owners can’t afford the luxury of carrying dead weight.

Give toxic employees the boot, quickly!

I’ve worked with a few CEOs who have fired people a few days into the job. One CEO shared a story on how a new-hire lied about meeting with a prospect the first week on the job. The new-hire was unaware the prospect was a good friend of the CEO, who informed the CEO the meeting never happened. A little white lie during the first week of employment violated the company’s core value of trust. Needless to say, the new-hire was terminated immediately.

Hiring mistakes do happen, even when you follow a good interview process. You can minimize a bad hire by asking questions related to your core values, and making sure the candidate understands performance expectations.

Dig deep in your questions to ensure your candidate has performed expected tasks in the past – or at the very least is able to articulate how she would handle similar situations she will encounter at your company. Hopefully, this will mitigate the chances of you asking her later on, “Who Are You?”

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Lead with Objective or Summary?

Should you lead your resume with an Objective or Summary that briefly describes your skills and background? In a word, yes. However, if you were to poll 10 recruiting experts on this question, you might get 10 different answers. That’s because so many Objectives and Summaries are just plain bad. If they’re properly written, they can be the hook that pulls the reader into your resume.

These points were driven home clearly a week ago when I reviewed several resumes at an event in Orange County.   About half of them went straight from the name and contact information to the education and professional experience details.

From what I saw that day, the Objective/Summary issue usually spawns these questions from job seekers:

1. Do I even need one?
2. If so, which one? Objective or Summary?
3. Isn’t this best left for the cover letter?
4. What should I say?
5. How long should it be?

Let’s tackle these questions.

1. Do I even need one?

I’m on the “yes” side of the issue for this simple reason: The Objective or Summary helps describe the value you can bring to a would-be employer through your skills and experience. It’s much easier for a hiring manager to find that value in a short paragraph than to try piecing it together from a lengthy history of professional experience and education. A strong, well-written Objective or Summary that’s tailored to the position you’re targeting can spur the hiring manager to read more of your resume.

2. If so, which one? Objective or Summary?

You’re better off with a Summary, unless you fall into one of these three categories of job seekers:

• You’re just entering the workforce;
• You’re re-entering the workforce after an extended absence; or
• You’re changing careers.

Those who fall into these categories are usually the only ones who do need an Objective. Most other people’s career objectives are easily determined from their work histories, so a Summary works better.

3. Isn’t this best left for the cover letter?

Well, there are also differences of opinion on whether including a cover letter with your resume makes sense (however, 86% of executives say “yes”). Sure, you might say something similar in the cover letter, but if the company doesn’t accept them, or the hiring manager doesn’t bother to read it, at least the resume can communicate your value.

4. What should I say?

Too many job seekers continue to write Objectives and Summaries that focus on what they want their next jobs to do for them. But frankly, most employers don’t give a [insert word or phrase here] what you want. It’s all about the employer: What can you do for them? So, your statement must focus outward, showing hiring managers what they stand to gain by hiring you.

Pull out the most relevant highlights of your professional history and present them in a brief, high-impact statement. Avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my) and remove unnecessary words. And don’t write complete sentences.

Compare the following two Objective statements, and notice how the employer-focused Objective is more likely to grab attention:

WRONG: Job Seeker-Focused

OBJECTIVE: A position in corporate procurement in the retail industry that can utilize five years of negotiating and research skills and eventually lead to a management-level role.

RIGHT: Employer-Focused

OBJECTIVE: A position in corporate procurement that can utilize skills in research and negotiating gained from 5 years of experience in another industry, helping a retailer cut costs and improve its competitive position.

Here’s an example of a well-written Summary statement that says a lot about the value the candidate brings to the table.

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Corporate procurement professional with 10 years of experience in the high-end retail apparel industry. Highly skilled at performing due diligence on potential suppliers around the globe, negotiating contracts, controlling corporate risk, and minimizing costs. Fluent in Japanese and Spanish.

5. How long should it be?

No more than 50 words. You want to be succinct and straightforward. Anything longer might make the hiring manager stop and not bother to read the rest.

Today, the onus of career management falls on you — the worker — not the employer. You must be effective at communicating your value and marketing yourself. That begins with knowing yourself and understanding what you have to offer, how that fits with the employer’s needs, and how to “sell” your skills and potential. Your resume Objective or Summary lies at the heart of that effort. Excel at it and you won’t have a problem convincing someone you’d be a great hire.

Got any questions about the Objective or Summary? Post them below.  Would you like help with your resume?  Call one of our experts today and let them guide you to a world class resume.