What Recruiters Can Learn From Politicians

This article was originally published here
November 16, 2011
By Peter Weddle for BioSpace.com

We are, of course, in the silly season of politics. Despite the verbal gaffes and awkward photo opportunities, however, politicians do provide an important lesson for recruiters. While they carefully assess their prognosis for success and potential level of support when considering a run for office, the critical factor is more often than what it means for their family. The same is true among the best talent when they are considering an offer from a prospective employer.

Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, is a perfect case in point. He was heavily recruited by Republicans to enter the presidential race earlier this year. According to news reports, it was a race he truly wanted to run. And yet, he chose not to. His family was against the bid.

The candidacy of Chris Christie is similar but different. He too was heavily recruited by Republicans, and after months of refusing to consider it, he changed his mind. His family told him they would support a run. And yet, in the end, he decided against it. Among the reasons he cited was his concern for the impact it would have on his family.

The experiences of these two politicians reveal an important truism about the best talent. People who are in demand have choices. Politicians can choose to stay in one office or run for another, and high performing workers can choose to stay with their current employer or accept an offer from your organization (or another).

The key to recruiting them, therefore, is to understand the triggers for their decisions. We know the best talent is especially concerned with their probability of continued success in a new employer and the level of support they are likely to receive on-the-job. As with politicians, however, the deciding factor is often what their family thinks and what they think it will do to their family. To be successful, therefore, recruiters should take both of those concerns into account.

Recruiting on the home front is a delicate matter. It must signal an organization’s commitment to supporting employee families without appearing intrusive or heavy handed. And, unlike in the past, the message must be conveyed to both the candidate and his or her family. Since candidate decisions are now a family matter, the organization improves its odds of success if it informs the entire family. In addition, that dual pronged approach is, itself, a demonstration of respect to and for the family.

Of course, that advantage disappears if the messaging isn’t true. In an era when workers often monitor and comment on employer pronouncements, a recruitment marketing campaign that exaggerates an organization’s family-friendly values or programs can backfire with devastating results. So, the first step in talking to and about families is to make sure there’s something worthwhile to mention.

Admittedly, that can be a challenge given current budgetary constraints. For many employers, there may simply not be the financial wherewithal to offer a robust program of family support. In such cases, recruiters should focus on a different but no less important factor in shaping a family’s outlook. More than anything else, families want their working members to be happy on-the-job. In addition to making that case to prospective hires, therefore, recruiters would benefit from telling the family why the work their father or mother will do is important and how doing it will challenge and fulfill them.

How can these messages be conveyed? The best strategy involves multiple media and multiple repetitions. For example:

• Add a Family Area to your corporate career site that answers questions typically posed by spouses and has testimonials from the spouses of current employees. Promote the area in all branding and other recruitment marketing campaigns.

• Use social media (e.g., a section on your corporate Facebook page or a video on YouTube) to highlight the organization’s differentiating family friendly values and programs.

• Prepare a special Family Packet with information for spouses and include it with the other materials provided to candidates when they are invited in for an interview.

• Recognize the importance of family and highlight the organization’s family friendly values and programs in all offer letters.

• And, since top talent will often have to give notice and are thus vulnerable to counteroffers, provide additional family-related information to spouses during the interval between an offer’s acceptance and a new hire’s first day of work.

The top talent is always being courted by one organization or another. There are obviously many factors involved in their decision regarding an offer, but among the most important are the two sides of the family question. They will carefully consider both the opinion of their family and their own perceptions of how a job change will affect their spouse and kids. The most successful recruiters, therefore, mount an aggressive campaign to ensure both the candidate and his or her family have an accurate and complete picture of their employer’s family-friendly values and programs.

Thanks for reading,
Visit me at Weddles.com

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.

© Copyright 2011 WEDDLE’s LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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