How NOT to Create an Employment “Brand” for Your Company
By Admin

March 8, 2010

This segment is built around a real company, real people, real hiring being done.

First, the organization has a great growth track record. They are recognized for it, have trophies and plaques, articles and accolades. (As do MANY companies including my own). They are in a semi high-tech field (not software). They have a unique business model and few competitors. The main competition are also “Partners” with the organization. They are BOTH a SALES driven and service-driven organization. Sales volume in the $25 area. Goal: $100, in a few years. Any one who has been there KNOWS that they are now in the difficult part of the curve where everything the organization does will feel like a uphill climb, except sales. Sales will grow, but lurking under those wonderful figures will be balsa-wood structures and hiring foundations. The “Brand” will be stuck in last year’s mirror.

The top Sales Manager knows the business well. As does the first-level Sales Manager. They have worked together before. The Top guy has a solid track record, the second guy has had many employers in the last many years.

The top sales guy has an interesting Linkedin profile. His profile’s most prominent features look like he attended the top business schools in the country. He is even a member of what seems to be their Alum groups. Until you look closely and see that these were just SEMINARS he attended (Prestigious still). One of them is on negotiating. Guess he wants us to know NOT to mess with him. How do we know he wants to impress? He subordinates his real colleges (he has an MBA) to below the Seminar colleges. Same with the Alum groups.

The HR person is out of a huge financial institution. The kind where they have more people in HR than most companies have employees. These financial institutions function by rules, policies and structure. Transferring those skills to a small high-growth company may help create structure, it does not create Collaborations. BIG financial institutions are used to dealing with recruiters and vendors by creating rules and barely transparent “arms-length-we’re better than you” relationships. “We Boss. You do what we tell you”. The HR Chief’s attitude struggles between wanting to collaborate and wanting to rule. The result is to keep recruiters at bay. HR rules. Stiff, policy-correct and less than Collaborative. Don’t want those vendors to know what is under the hood.

Having recruited a bit for them, here are the armor-piercing bullets that will cause issues later:

1) The Top Sales guy’s profile looks like a fraud. He is a talented person. He does NOT have to try to look like someone he is not. It’s a “leaner” here, but I have heard many comments. It gets out to the public.

2) The Top guy’s personality is abrasive, slick and “in your face”. That’s fine internally, not while you are attempting to build a company of younger people who are aggressive. People have commented that he is “Napoleon”. It fits in many ways. It gets out to the public. He has all the answers and never asks “What do YOU think”. (BIG Mistake)

3) When your #2 guy has a problem with job changes, don’t tell prospective candidates they do…as a reason for not hiring them. They can do the math. It gets out in the public.

4) They don’t really know what kind of background will fit…but the Top Sales Guy will shut down a phone interview ABRUPTLY with a talented person, if he doesn’t like him in the first 5 minutes. The applicant is left wondering what the mistake was, and who does this guy think he is? It gets out in the public. Damn, it proves that guy is powerful, doesn’t it? It will get out to the public.

5) They brag about how great the company is, but never respond to resume applicants responding to their hyped up “Make a million $” want ads. When you do, don’t sell your company, make it hard to get into. Creating a huge barrier to entry won’t turn people on, they will talk to the community and it will get out to the public.

6) They NEVER ask the vendor/ recruiter “What do you think?”. Which is typical of people who think they have all the answers to anything. The recruiter is just, well, a body-pusher, and probably does not know squat how to create a good company brand. This DEFINITELY will get out to the public.

7) When the recruiter finds a talent for the company, tell him he was lucky. The company knew the guy anyhow. (and nobody called six months ago when the candidate was first unemployed?) It will get out to the recruiter public.

8) LIE about when you are going to send a check. And make sure it is 60 days after invoice. This alone will really motivate the recruiter, who has done several months of work before he gets paid.  This will POSITIVELY get out to the public.

9) During all this, tell the recruiter you are trying to build a long term relationship, then tell him that his service is valuable only when the company’s efforts won’t pay off from a cheap ad. This will get out to the public.

Sour Grapes? Nope. Just an example of hubris and ego. And those are great qualities to have at a backyard cook-off. But when you are attempting to build a GREAT WORKPLACE, the effort should be about the company and its future, not about how cool and exclusive you think you are.

COLLABORATION is the root characteristic of a Great Workplace 2.0. The great companies collaborate with VENDORS, and all participants. Hard to do when Napoleon is barking orders and telling the help where to stand for the next whipping. But for now, the bucks are rolling in and everyone is giving the high-five. They will be successful ($). How much more successful could they have been? What brand are they building to a potential candidate-community that is narrow? How about other employees they need to hire? How about when their operations are affected by their hubris?

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