Human Resources

Spraying, Praying, and Delaying

Recruiters are Spraying, Praying, and Delaying

Written By: James Aiken


The Spray

Joe the Human Resources Manager received an email from the General Manager. The GM was asking once again how their recruiting pipeline for a sales representative for an under-performing region was going. With the current union negotiations, safety ceremonies, scheduling, strategic planning, and middle-manning negotiations, let’s be frank – he didn’t exactly have the free time to source and recruit, let alone interview endless candidates. In this case, Joe decided to throw some meat to the wolves. Joe emailed four of his favorite contingency recruiters and gave them a shot.

Within a few days he heard the comforting ding, ding, ding from emails of candidates from his external recruiters. As he opened each email, he began noticing these candidates hardly had anything to do with the sales vacancy. They distributed hardwood flooring and most of his candidates didn’t have anything to do with flooring or distribution sales, let alone the construction industry.

The Pray

On the other side of the computer, Joe’s recruiters were praying…

They were praying that Joe wouldn’t have any other options. They were hoping that one of the stretch candidates would work. They were crossing their fingers that they could get a quick and easy placement, just this time…

While reading a hard sell from one of his recruiters on the ‘high potential’ of a candidate who only had experience selling telephone packages to local businesses, Joe started to wonder how is this possible. Joe gave the recruiters a specific outline, yet all none of the candidates so far are even considered eligible for interview! He rejects the candidates and waits it out hoping that they will bring some better candidates to the table. A few days pass, no emails. Another week passes, and he has no new candidates. “What the hell happened? Where are my recruiters?”

The Delay

Joe emails out to his recruiters asking where all of the candidates are and is lucky enough to get a response from about half of them:

“It looks like the market is pretty tight…” 
“We just aren’t seeing any applicable candidates”
“We have a couple in process… We should see a good candidate by next week!”

“Here’s a candidate, he’s a little on the green side, but he may work for this…”

Joe’s recruiters are already giving up on the role and he’s being put back into square one.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Opening Up Pandora’s Box of Candidates

The reason is: your external recruiters are “spraying and praying”! Many contingency recruiters are focused on making a ‘quick fill’ due to competition, leading to heavy selling and pressure on action. This isn’t necessarily their fault, after all, they know they’re up against other contingency recruiters so there is much more of a focus on speed versus quality. Some external recruiters keep throwing in candidates until something sticks, and quick! They aren’t as concerned with recruiting as much as they are aggregating.

Many are using less efficient tactics such as posting the job description anywhere and everywhere, then screen all of the people that apply and forward the ‘top’ candidates. This is much more popular in larger agencies where they are getting big discounts on posting jobs on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster and ZipRecruiter. Heck, some of them even post professional roles on Craigslist.

Utilizing Your Town Crier and a “Help Wanted” Sign

Would you try to hire the top talent in your market by putting an ad in the local newspaper? How about staple it up on a board in city square? Would you put a sign in your window or hire the town crier to scream it at everyone downtown? You would get some type of response, but is the elite salesperson going to see it? If elite talent sees it, are they going to make the effort to make a contact when they’re already successful and satisfied in their current role?

\Although the internet has made connecting to more candidates through job portals and job boards, this still isn’t much more than putting a “Help Wanted” sign on your virtual workplace. This system worked great when it was a company-driven employee market, but nowadays it is absolutely outdated. Many, many more people were looking for work in 2008 so firms really were able to easily snatch up some of the pick of the litter through job postings that everyone was looking at.

Look at where we are today. Its 2018 and unemployment is lower than ever (especially in the construction products industry). Firms are fighting harder than ever to retain their top talent. The best players in your market aren’t applying to job ads on CareerBuilder and Monster. Top candidates aren’t posting their resume on Indeed. Heck, they may not even be on LinkedIn! If you’re outsourcing a search, you need to make sure you’re tapping into hyper-specific markets.

Don’t Run an Ad, Make a Friend

Associates in your industry and region need to be contacted directly. Yes, this does take much more time – but if it leads to a better hire, who looks like a hero? Due to the nature of a contingency search, external recruiters are much less apt to dedicate ten to twenty hours per week. They can’t isolate time on planning, searching, sourcing, interviewing and presenting when there is no commitment from the client. Think about it, would you send your taxes out to five different accountants working on a contingency basis, then use whichever one’s work looks the best?

Recruiting to Complete Your Firm’s Justice League

Do you want to look like a team-building aficionado or is it okay for you to hire average employees? Get away from the recruiters who are spraying your job descriptions everywhere and praying that a decent candidate applies. You need a partner who is going to be meticulous and dedicated, not under competitive pressure and rushed. If you’re focused on being seen as the talent mastermind at work – you need the strong recruiters of Legacy Search.



Human Resources

Secrets of Retaining Top-Performing Millennials

Retaining the Millennials

Written By: James Aiken


Common “Solutions” to Retaining Millennials:
– Increase compensation
– Give them newer tech (cell, laptop, etc.)
– Let them work remotely
– Tuition reimbursement & training opportunities
– Increase company social events
– Avoid requiring overtime

Retaining your employees is one of the most crucial aspects of leadership. There’s a lot of different options on how to address chronic millennial turnover in a certain position. We have come to realize that all of the above solutions are actually just added bonuses. They’re often like a band-aid over the issue. A manager shouldn’t focus on implementing one of these as a solution until making some other changes first. Often times, turnover isn’t an operations problem, it’s a recruiting problem. In the building materials industry, there has never been as much need for focus on retention.

Creating Workforce Inertia – Pairing Common Goals

A manager can lower their turnover by understanding who they are recruiting past their objective skills. Dive into the DNA. Often times managers will get caught up in technicalities, which is so easy to do. The technical aspects of a candidate are certainly important. However, an employee shouldn’t just be viewed as “can this candidate do the job?” Managers should consider “how can I create workforce inertia to keep this candidate performing at their best?” There should be a focus on helping them advance their own personal career goals.

Understanding the Future to Motivate the Present

Some managers will complain that they can’t retain someone in a certain position past a year, but they never ask the candidate/employee where they want to be in a year. When a manager recruits for a position, they need to use candor – plain and simple. They need to understand a prospect’s aspirations. Hiring managers need to understand what makes the candidate tick. There’s a need to understand the candidate’s vision for their future.

Our interactions with millennial candidates has concluded that for millennials – its often a matter of them wanting to do more. They want to increase their scope – they want to develop their career. They want to build a legacy. Keep them happy up front by understanding where they want to be. Help carve the path in front of them. If managers want to retain, they need to understand their yearly outlooks (1, 2, 5). These should be kept up with as much as quarterly. Don’t have them answer by a form, ask them face-to-face. Having a candidate or employee answer on a form doesn’t help them feel like you actually care about their future. This will make candidates more apt to stretch the truth on their answers for short term solutions.

Be Frank like Sinatra

On the other hand, managers/interviewers need to be frank with the candidate on what the position entails. If the position is one of those positions where there’s no vertical opportunities, managers/interviewers need to disclose it. Is the person going to be traveling three weeks out of the month? Disclose it! Even if the company vehicle is a PT Cruiser, disclose it. Disclose to the candidate the most difficult parts about the responsibilities and environment. Disclose it up front and save Human Resources the tears, time, and money.

It’s tough to retain millennials. However, with the right level of communication, forecasting, and planning, you’ll be able to cut down on your aspirin bill.


Human Resources

Interview to Understand Aspirations

Peer into the Future to Retain Employees Better

Written By: James Aiken

Depending on the hiring manager, recruiter or human resources department – interviewers may not necessarily have as much time to interview as they wish. I’ve seen interviews that last from thirty minutes to a chain of interviews lasting eight hours. Regardless, interviewers need to make sure to take advantage of the time spent interviewing. More often than not, they ask questions that don’t necessarily give a real understanding of the candidate.

Reading the Future: Crystal Ball Questions

In a previous article, the importance of understanding a candidate’s foreground, or what they understand as their near future (aspirations etc) was put into consideration. Technical questions are absolutely critical in the process. However, time needs to be taken to interview for personality and aspirations. When a hiring manager doesn’t understand a candidate’s aspirations, it makes it much harder on the firm to retain an employee since they don’t know what would actually make them happy!

Interviewing on Past Behavior

Some do not necessarily put a huge deal of weight on the new fad of “behavioral questions” in human resources, although some firms do put a lot of confidence behind these questions. These are often more reactive questions and certainly help hiring managers understand a candidates reactions and past actions. They are also likely to hear the highlights of that candidate’s career versus everyday interactions. In this case, it may not necessarily be the most accurate representation of the candidate. If someone is interviewing to be a fisherman, they’re more likely to tell you about the time that they saved a coworker from going overboard than the time they tossed another fisherman overboard. These are good questions to ask, but the answers should certainly be taken with a grain of salt.

“I’m Best When I’m at My Weakest”

An interviewer could technically flip the questions to make them a negative as in “What are your weaknesses?” but you’re likely to get a less extreme version of Michael Scott’s answer when he said:
“…my greatest weaknesses? I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I can be too invested in my job.”
 All the more reason to focus on the candidate’s aspirations and what they see as their future to see if it matches up with the future an interviewer sees in the possible associate.  More importantly, down to the questions:

1. What do you see as the next big step in your career?

This is nearly always the first question a good recruiting firm will ask a prospective candidate. Before speaking about the job opening, the company or details on what the candidate does – a candidate’s aspirations must be addressed. If the opportunity doesn’t match up with what they realistically see as their future, it probably isn’t the best fit. Not to say this is a disqualifier, but you can be assured that the candidate will not be as enthusiastic about the opportunity than someone else who really matches up as far as aspirations go.
In addition, this gives the interviewer or company as a whole a clearer image of the candidate in order to emphasize the parts of the job that do line up with their aspirations

2. If you could change one thing about your current employer, what would it be?

 Associates always have some type of idea or suggestion to make their workplace better. They may be in an environment where there are already so many processes they don’t have an opportunity to implement anything. This question gives an interviewer an inside look at a candidates analytical thinking as well as how well they can put up with not being able to implement/influence a change.

3. Being from a (small/large) company, do you prefer an environment with established processes or an environment with more opportunity to implement processes?

This is an important question to ask due to polarization. Associates from small companies gripe that there aren’t processes in place, that software isn’t sophisticated or that things are inefficient. Associates from large companies gripe that they are being drowned by processes. They mention that there are many things they would like to change, but can’t. On occasion associates believe their employers strategies “can’t see the forest for the trees”.
This gives a hiring manager another opportunity to sell to strengths. Many times, an associate from a large process-oriented firm will be very excited to join a smaller firm if they have the opportunity to implement processes of their own. On the other side of the coin, associates from a smaller more liberally run firm may be excited to join a large firm where they can learn processes, techniques and strategies that they didn’t previously have the opportunity to be a part of.

4. What accomplishment in your current role makes you most proud? 

This may seem like a background-searching question as the setting is in the past, but its actually forward-looking as the interviewer is figuring out what drives pride behind an associates work. An interviewer is greatly benefited by understanding what makes an associate happy with their work, go figure!
The interviewer may also be surprised, as the answers aren’t always profit or process-driven. Occasionally there are answers focusing on healing fragmented teams, improving employee pride or team engagement.

5. If you had to train someone in one of your current work-related skills, which would you be most enthusiastic about?

Teaching is a key factor behind leadership. As Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” According to my application to Harvard’s Law Department, you can’t teach something you don’t know! In addition, this again explains the passions behind an interviewee’s background in order to more accurately predict their future.

Understand Employees to Better Motivate Them

Some of the most important information to understand about a candidate is what drives them. An interviewer should understand what their passions are, as well as where their pride and enthusiasm lies. When a company can line up the succession plan of their open role with the future aspirations of a current candidate – they will greatly increase their average employee tenure.

Human Resources

Interviewing for Red Flag Identification

Getting the Right Candidate Means Identifying the Wrong Candidate Early

Written By: James Aiken


You have a vacant position. You need to fill it. Yet, you need to fill it with the right candidate. The interviewing process, notwithstanding whether you love it or hate it, is costing you both time and lost productivity due to this gap. However, hiring can go wrong. This article will help you avoid “toxic” candidates and help you source the right talent for your business.

This article will give you a new approach. Don’t waste time on the wrong candidate. Learn to quickly recognize signs of a mismatch so you can focus on the right candidate for your urgent vacancy. The latest academic research along with industry best practice all point towards the centrality of nurturing good talent. However, the converse of this outcome is to quickly move on from talent that doesn’t align with your candidate profile.


It is all about knowing what you want. You should know what the position entails, what the duties are and the responsibilities therein. You need to understand how that role interplays with the wider business. This way you can take small steps towards getting the right candidate first, without being bogged down with candidates that do not match what you’re seeking.

According to Harvard Business Review, in a paper entitled Toxic Workers, the cost associated with hiring the wrong person can exceed $12,489 – excluding litigation and regulatory costs. Furthermore, some academics believe hiring the wrong person can also decrease organisational productivity by creating a negative influencer within the organisation who will counter the wider business goals and objectives through their negative psychology.

There is a dilemma and a conundrum here. Getting the wrong staff member can cost a business a lot of money. However, the metrics and benchmarks used to target the right member of staff can sometimes be gamed by the right ‘negative’ influencer. The research above highlight this reality and as such it is crucial that businesses plan their recruitment processes on the assumption of such negative counter-experiences.


It is crucial that your job advertisement is curated to define the full range of employment and role experiences. This way, the candidate, can be sure the role suits their skills sets and experiences. However, as a business leader, your role is to focus, with laser pointed clarity, at the wider issues.

As a business leader, when looking at candidates, you need to focus on a nuanced reality. All the candidates can do the role – they’ve curated their own resumes in order to highlight this certainty. Therefore, you need to ask yourself whether the candidate should do the role. This is not about employment history or qualifications but about a wider array of intersectional experiences from emotional intelligence markers to outside workplace interests. These diverse metrics can help identify crucial markers. As a leader, you need to be able to understand the team you lead.


Human Resources

Six Markers of a “Toxic” Employee

There are six ways, as a business leader, you can avoid the hassle of recruiting a toxic employee. This section will explore a series of useful processes that can help to nurture an environment in which recruiting a toxic employee is difficult. The six stages are as follows:


Get two or three stages of the interview process – you can offer a telephone interview, followed by a face to face interview and perhaps a test-based interview. This myriad of diverse investigation will be able to help identify flaws in the candidate’s personality and whether their personal values would impact on your business.


You have been fooled many times. You know it. Your colleagues as individuals have been hoodwinked. However, getting a team to interview a candidate, whilst daunting for the candidate, can help to create a group mentality around the recruitment process which can lead to a group attitude towards the candidate’s suitability.


Ask the crazy questions! Think outside of the box. Ask a question like; “can you think of six issues relating to your previous employer?” This question is a leading question designed to get the candidate to not just answer a singular question but to explore a myriad of themes within the confines of a singular answer. If blame is appropriated into this experience, you can understand how this person endeavours. So, ask a crazy question.


The dreaded question, “where do you see yourself in ten years”, is the ultimate question for discerning the narcissist toxic employee. The purpose of the question is to understand the long-term goals of the individual within the context of the organisation. This tricks the individual into providing information about their values and the worth they have placed on their prospective employer.


There are lessons from history you can learn, as the maxim goes. This is so true when it is placed alongside the context of recruiting individuals. Bad and negative experiences are central in deconstructing toxic future employees. You can ask questions that force the candidate to explore their past. If patterns begin to emerge, there is a chance this could happen again – within your organisation!


When sourcing, sorting and interviewing a candidate. There is one way you can identify a toxic employee and that is by discussing their work history and listening to their responses. Do they use the word “we”? Did they work in a team, but the interviewee sounds like it was a solo one-man project? These vanity responses hint at an altogether more troubling sub-dynamic and that is the presence of narcissism. Toxic employees are toxic because they’re more about themselves than the wider team or business goals. Listen for the “we” in candidate responses.

These six markers can help a business leader avoid the costly pitfalls of recruiting a toxic employee and by-pass the ancillary costs of such a mistake. This article has identified the science surrounding toxic employees. It has discerned the real problem a toxic employee would create and how this would impact your own business goals and objectives. Therefore, as a business leader, you need to plan. You need to strategize your recruitment process. You need to understand the vacancy. You need to understand what that role will entail. From this knowledge, you need to approach the selection as a wider team effort.


The six markers herald a more collaborative approach to recruitment that can help you to find the right candidate for your business. By following these six metric markers, your business can save tens of thousands of dollars and hire the best staff for your business needs.

Human Resources

Find a Job Like a Recruiter in 4 Strategic Steps

Finding the next step in your career can be a lot less stressful than applying to job postings and hoping for the best. If a job-searcher takes a more active approach, they can guarantee a higher level of success and have much more control over their future. It’s overused, but most agree, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

1) Create your job profile

I like to think about a job profile as location, industry, function & scope. If I sell insulation across the southeast from Greenville, SC – then I would likely be looking for a job within sales in the southeast (preferably Greenville) in the building materials industry. At this point you start making your company target list. A good number is around 20 with your top 5 segmented out.

2) Sweep through applications

Go on to the popular websites such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster & ZipRecruiter and apply to all of the applicable positions according to your job profile. Do not limit your companies, however. That list is to be used later. When you’re applying for jobs, you’re best off spending maybe 4-8 hours applying for all of the jobs you possibly can. Afterwards, forget you even applied. After you do this (once every two weeks max), you should only be waiting for phone calls back. Focus on phone conversations, if they call you, the relationship can be on your radar, otherwise its not worth the brain strain. Apply liberally, this can also be used as a networking tool. If something seems a bit too high, apply anyway. Applying above your pay grade is obviously much more productive than applying below it.

3) Connect with applicable recruiters

Connect yourself with recruiters that apply to your job profile as far as location, industry & function go. For example, a company/recruiter that works exclusively in your city/metro/target area. If you’re in IT, you’re probably going to work best with an IT firm like MDI Group. If you’re in building materials, sales or manufacturing operations, you’ll do great with Legacy.

4) Network and Grow Your Niche Like a recruiter

At this point you’ve clearly stated exactly what you’re looking for, you’ve got your eye on the prize. Now its time to get out and spread the story. Don’t wait for new jobs to get posted, don’t rely on the recruiters to find you a job, it’s time for you to really get to work. Here you should be chatting and getting introduced to anyone and everyone that falls within your niche, more specifically your top 20/5 list! Stay focused and continue to build out your network within your target job.

Taking an active approach and tracking relationships will help you greatly in finding a job. Treat it like a sales job. You’re selling yourself! Build your network, gain trust and offer solutions. Remember, there’s a job opening because there’s something that needs to be addressed, sell the solution. As much as you’re going to be concerned with what the company is going to do for you, you need to have a clear idea of the value behind what you’re able to do for the company. This will make you much more confident and clear-minded during interviews. Follow these steps and you’ll have your next job in no time!

Human Resources

Why College Kids Hate Recruiters and How We Can Solve It

I recently read through Elana Goodwin’s article on ERE Media titled “Why Students May Not Want to Work with Recruiters”. It seemed pretty important to me because if students aren’t interested in working with recruiters, I need to know why and I need to figure out how to fix these issues. If students feel a certain way – I’m sure there are others outside of University that feel the same way.
At the same time, I wanted to be able to provide a look from a different angle at the objections towards working with a recruiter and explain some of the stemming causes of these points of conflict. Elana covered multiple issues, the four strongest arguments I believe she made were the lack of transparency, lack of response, lack of activity and lack of reliability.
“Students feel working with a recruiter can be challenging as you can’t always be sure that what they’re telling you is the truth… Whether students work with an external or internal recruiter, they may end up being lied to — and while it may sometimes be ‘for their own good’ or to soften a blow, it’s still a lie.” (Goodwin)
This is a common issue raised by candidates working with recruiters. As Elana mentions, we see this with internal as well as external recruiters. I think the issue here stems from two things: a recruiter’s hesitance for confrontation. If you are working with a recruiter who shies from confrontation or that may be restricted behind corporate red tape from saying certain things, you will end up running into this situation.
One of the points we make at Legacy is that we must work with honesty and transparency. This isn’t only ethical, but it improves our business processes and our quality altogether. We do not look to put square pegs into round holes. We do not look to shy away from being honest with our candidates. We are a team looking to achieve a goal – increase a candidate’s quality of life through their career while at the same time building our client’s human capital. If we do both of those, retention is not an issue.
“Additionally, there are recruiters who may never call back candidates, and students will expect and accept a no-response when applying to jobs through a website in situations where says they won’t contact all candidates unless selected to move forward in the application and interview process. When students are dealing with a person and that recruiter fails to get back to them and let them know they weren’t picked, it’s likely that student won’t want to work with any other recruiters in the future, thanks to bad experiences in the past.” (Goodwin)
Another very common issue – most common with high-volume jobs where the amount of active candidates interviewed gets to an overwhelming level for human resources or recruiters. That doesn’t excuse the action, though. There is no excuse for not getting back to an active candidate in the interviewing process.
At Legacy, we don’t typically work high-volume roles. We are able to commit ourselves to conversation by phone. If we are working a high-volume job on a project, our software is able to send out status updates automatically through our system when certain stages are met in the hiring process.
Some firms have recruiters working eight to sixteen different search assignments at once which would make it very difficult to keep up with all candidates, but at Legacy we make sure to keep the search assignment load low in order to ensure we are giving candidates the attention they deserve. We have found that splitting a recruiter’s hours per week between fifteen jobs doesn’t turn out as positively as focusing in on two to four jobs.
“Some recruiters will keep a backlog of resumes to peruse and review for new job openings when they’re tasked with filling a position while others will seek out completely new candidates and won’t even check past applicants to see if anyone would be a good match. Knowing this, students may question why they should bother working with a recruiter, and the answer to that will depend on the practices the recruiter uses to fill empty positions.” (Goodwin)
Elana makes a great point here that took me a while in my career to really understand. A recruiter must be able to realize the passive candidate pipeline just as much (if not better) than the active candidate pipeline. A very prominent external recruiter swears by the process of building your passive candidate roster specific to the job functions you’re most likely to address.
For example, Legacy works primarily in the building materials industry and we focus on meeting and understanding sales and operations individuals’ aspirations for the next step of their career. That way, when our clients bring up the need to either increase their company’s revenue (sales) or lower their company’s costs (operations) – we are able to solve their problems faster than a company that needs to go out into the market and run an entire search! When the Panthers are in the middle of the season and need a lineman to cover an injury, do they quickly sign someone from the free agency or do they wait around and scout for next years draft? More than likely, they have a couple of free agents they know they can pull in when necessary.
“Students feel they are the ones who will be most motivated to find themselves a job — so relying on a recruiter may seem counter-intuitive and counterproductive to students. Students, especially millennials, approach job-hunting as they do many other tasks and things: with independence and the knowledge that whatever is unknown about the job or application process is inherently know-able and self-teachable, thanks to the power of the Internet”. (Goodwin)
This is one of the great things about millennials when it comes to finding a job – they know that ultimately, they are the ones responsible for finding themselves a job. For soon-to-be (or recent) graduates, I typically suggest the following strategy focusing energy on five avenues:
  • Passive Opportunities
    • Recruiters – Pair yourself with recruiters specialized around your background
      • Industry
      • Function
      • Location
    • Personal Network – Make your availability and interests known. Don’t stop at friends and family. Figure out friends of friends that may fall into an industry/function you’re interested in.
  • Active Opportunities
    • Job Boards – Apply liberally. If you’re on the fence, apply to learn more. Its a numbers game, remember the plate-spinning theory.
    • University Job Fairs – Make it a focus to speak to as many companies as possible in person. Endorse opportunity, learn as much as you can about every company and role so you can accurately make the best decision for yourself. It’s better to have five offers and turn down four than to fight for one offer because you limited yourself.
    • Target Companies – Make a list of 20-40 companies you are most interested in and reach out to their human resources department. There are plenty of ways to meet influencers if you are truly determined.
Want to know one of Warren Buffet’s big secrets behind getting rich? Multiple income sources. That way, when one fails, you still have money coming in from a handful of other avenues. The same applies to finding a job (or any goal for that matter). Don’t let your success come down to one strategy being successful, work through multiple avenues to leverage your efforts.
All in all, the criticisms college students have of recruiters are valid and present in many recruiting firms we see in the industry. As companies get larger and more complex, some things do fall through the cracks of process and overleveraging. All firms need to make sure they are able to respect a candidate’s time and perception or they may find themselves without any candidates in the future!