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Employment Strategy Corner: The “never can say goodbye” syndrome


Phil Kemper

Phil Kemper

More and more of you tell me you have seen a promising “turn around” in business conditions within the past few months. Order volume is up, and the cash register is beginning to ring once again.

You all confirm we have a way to go, but the light is on at the end of the tunnel. We see it too. We are getting more of your job assignments, especially in the area of sales, creative leaders, and top production innovators; however, with this great turnaround in progress, I have a hunch many top candidates will remain skittish about making any career moves for some months ahead.

What I see and hear from clients and hiring managers is a continued reticence on the part of their top, employed picks to “jump ship.” In other words, a tug of war is on when it comes to leaving their present employer; no matter how hard one tries to pry them away. Nevertheless, good recruiters can prevail with sound career strategies.

As survivors of several years of corporate upheaval and layoffs, they have become very risk reluctant in their short-term career strategies. You can have a great company, a great technology, a terrific product, and a fantastic opportunity, but it’s still difficult to get these candidates to make a move. I call this, “never can say goodbye” syndrome.

Here’s how it works

• Candidates see the incredible uncertainty and volatility in the financial markets, the global political scene and possibly their own companies.

• They believe that forces beyond their control are determining what is happening to them and possibly their mortgages.

• They don’t want to be caught in a bad situation down the road if they make a change now.

• They conclude that it’s better to stick with what they’ve got, even though they may be unhappy; at least for the time being.

So, how can you woo your top pick away from his or her current employer?

Here are three strategies for use in talking to still-employed candidates

1. Adjust your attitude. Recently, I have been astounded by the mind-set of some hiring managers who believe they somehow have the upper hand because they have an open position.

They are approaching candidates with nothing less than an arrogant attitude. One which conveys; “Tell me why you should be working for me.”

I know the 200 resumes they received from their internet job posting have contributed to this line of thinking, but honestly, it’s not pretty. Instead, talk to candidates as if they were prospective investors (because they truly are). As I’m sure your mother advised, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

2. Sell, sell, sell! If you, or your hiring managers, need to get excited again about the great opportunity that exists in your company, do it. You may need to review the vision statement, the strategic plan, your place in the market, recent press releases, etc.

Have your employees talk to candidates about what it’s like working at the company. Remember, everyone in your company is a salesperson, especially when it comes to recruiting.

3. Acknowledge and alleviate some risk. In the hiring process, everyone hopes the future will be bright and things will work out, but no one has a crystal ball.

Realize as a hiring manager there is real risk involved in changing jobs right now and concede that to your candidate. Then, take it one step further and try to mitigate some of that risk.

Recently, we have seen signing bonuses come back as an option for recruiting top candidates. We have also seen some companies get very creative in their compensation packages and employee agreements so candidates feel more financially and psychologically protected from the start.

In times like these, it’s no wonder candidates are hesitant to say goodbye to whatever perceived security they feel with their current employers. If you hope to successfully woo these top players over to your team, you’ll need to do more than just open the door and wait for the cream of the crop to walk in.

See you here next month for: How to avoid a major hiring pitfall.

Philip Kemper is founder/president of Kemper Associates, a 34-year-old, Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in permanent and contract staffing for tradeshows and exhibits, staging and equipment rental, business meetings and events production, video, training and incentives, and more. His complete bio is on LinkedIn at:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308/. You may view Kemper Associates’ web site at: www.Kemperassociates.net , and contact Phil with questions, comments, or employment needs at: Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.




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