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10 Things to Know About Recruiters | Client Edition

Our mission at PromoPlacement is to connect supplier and distributor clients with great promotional products industry talent. Our team brings over 50 years of promotional products and recruiting experience to every search we undertake. Understanding your business, the function of various positions in your business, and the unique business challenges you face help us to deliver on our brand promise.

Below are best practices that will allow you to get the maximum value when working with a recruiter:

#1

As a contingency recruiting firm, we work exclusively with promotional products firms to help you find the talent you need to succeed. We treat each client relationship as a true partnership with the goal of hiring the best possible candidate for your firm.

#2

We take confidentiality very seriously. The name of your business is not shared until you agree to interview a candidate. Confidentiality is critical to protecting both clients and candidates and ensuring the integrity of the search.

#3

Each candidate search is unique. We conduct a thorough search for candidates for every opportunity we’re presented with. PromoPlacement targets only the individuals who fit your profile for the ideal candidate.

We won’t send you a big pile of resumes to review. Our work is done with a laser, not a shotgun. Our goal is to provide you with two to four excellent candidates for your to choose from.

Searches are extensive and time-consuming. During a search, we utilize email, social media, phone, and thousands of industry contacts to develop the talent pool from which your new team member will emerge. We don’t run ads. The highly successful candidates we want don’t read ads. They become aware of a great opportunity with your company because we contact them and present the opportunity to them directly.

#4

We work exclusively with promotional product suppliers and distributors and provide only experienced promotional product industry talent. Our exclusive focus on the promo industry allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of the national talent market.

#5

Due to the nature and thoroughness of our searches, it can take anywhere from four to twelve weeks to complete your search. Planning your staffing needs in advance is critical.

#6

We don’t recruit distributor sales reps. During our first year in business, we had strong success in this highly competitive and challenging field. We now focus solely on salaried positions and can assist you with any role from mailroom clerk to CEO.

#7

Our days are pretty jammed packed. We’re busy but will always make time for our clients. Even if this means working nights and weekends. Our clients are our number one priority and for you, we are always on the clock. We’re on the phone most of the day, so email is often the best way to get a quick response.

#8

If we present a candidate who doesn’t quite fit your needs, don’t hesitate to say so. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and you’ll help us to find better candidates for you in the near future. We do ask for clear, thorough feedback on where the candidate misses the mark.

#9

Prompt communication is critical when is comes to discussing job candidates. The faster we communicate, the faster we can fill your position. Slow communication can cost us candidates who accept other positions with companies who respond more quickly.

#10

PromoPlacement wants to earn your business. By working together in partnership, we can take recruiting off your plate and find you the best industry talent available.

To read more about how recruiters work read our candidate edition on this topic.

Contact us today to get started with PromoPlacement!

 

How to Extend a Job Offer

The most crucial stage of the interview process is the extending of the job offer. The employer has invested hours interviewing and vetting their candidate. They’ve finally decided on the candidate that they want to join their team. They are putting all of their hopes into this one candidate and this one offer. To succeed with your job offer you must first nail down any remaining details and present the offer in the right way.

Pay

Some employers will touch on compensation prior to the offer stage, others won’t. It’s best practice to touch on this topic during the second interview and get an idea of what your candidate’s desired compensation range is. You need to make an offer that’s in your candidate’s compensation range. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your time and theirs.

The offer letter needs to include the following:

  • Total compensation
  • How that compensation will be paid (salary or hourly)
  • Bonus structure (if applicable)
  • Commission structure (if applicable)
  • Payment schedule

Benefits

You likely haven’t touched on your benefits package much in previous interviews, so you’ll need to explain them in the offer letter.

Plan to include the following:

  • Details on health insurance (dental and vision)
  • Enrollment period
  • 401k or retirement account (matching)

Details

The offer letter is a very important document because it lays out the working arrangement between company and employee. Be sure that what you have in the offer letter reflects your conversations during the interview process or you may end up with a surprised or unhappy candidate.

Cover yourself and your business by spelling out the following:

  • Start date
  • Working hours
  • Personal and sick day policy

Process

In many cases, how you extend a job offer matters more than what is actually in the job offer. Follow this process and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of getting your offer accepted quickly.

  • Include all of the above elements into your offer letter
  • Write it as a selling document for both the job opportunity and your company
  • Schedule a phone conversation with your candidate and let them know that you’ll be sending the job offer over shortly before the scheduled call
  • Send the offer letter to the candidate just a few minutes prior to your call
  • Read and review the offer letter over the phone with your candidate
  • Let them know how excited you are to have them on your team
  • Ask them for their acceptance
  • If you don’t get it, ask what questions they have, work them out over the phone, and close the candidate

No matter what you choose to do, no matter how you decide to extend the offer, make sure that you are as detailed as possible and that you are selling the opportunity as hard as you can every step of the way. Happy hiring!

 

How to Onboard a New Hire

You have made your decision, you extended the offer, and the candidate has accepted.  Now you are faced with the onboarding process. While you obviously must follow state and federal guidelines when it comes to processing the paperwork, onboarding is so much more than just regulations and paperwork.  Onboarding is an ongoing part of your business. It’s up to you how long the process lasts, 30-60-90 days? One year? You also have to have the right people on your team to stick to the onboarding process and give it the attention it deserves.

First thing’s first

The onboarding process should begin when you post the position itself. This is when you start thinking of your process, who will oversee it, and what it looks like. Will you have employee orientation? Will the person in charge of the onboarding and training process be available to give it their full attention? What tools will the new employee need to do their job efficiently and correctly? Address these questions early and have everything ready for your new hire upon their arrival.

Use the buddy system

Be sure that there is one specific point person for the new hire to connect with. When this happens, there will be fewer direct questions for the manager which will allow him or her to focus on their own work. This also helps the new employee feel immediately accepted and at ease in a new office.

Small Businesses

If you happen to be a small business, don’t overthink your onboarding process. You will be able to identify flaws and issues with a new hire far more quickly than a large business would. Adopting the onboarding processes of much larger companies would be cumbersome. Keep it simple.

Ask how you are doing

Ask your new employees what they like and don’t like about your process and take it to heart. See what can be changed, what issues there are, and address what you can. Ask them what they would like to see changed, what they think should be added to your process, and ask what you can do to improve. There is no one-size-fits-all process when it comes to this and you may need to adjust your plan over time to find what works.

All in all, keep evolving, keep up with the times and changes within your industry and your business. There is no right or wrong way here as long as you are willing to solicit feedback and understand the need for adjustments to the process.

 

References 101 | Part 2

Nowadays, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most people ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time-consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Check References

Ask for feedback

Touch base with everyone who has spoken to the candidate. Ask them what they think, what their concerns are, and what they would like you to follow up on. The goal here is to then mold your questions around what you are hearing and get as much out of the third-party reference than you could from the candidate.

Make sure you are clear with the candidate on what types of people you want to hear from. If you want to know more about their leadership skills, make sure to ask them to provide you with a supervisor or manager to better answer the questions you have involving that skillset.

Be prepared

Assume the call will take an hour. It won’t, but if you are better prepared to take that amount of time you won’t feel rushed and neither will the reference. The goal here is to take your time, dig in deep with their references, and ask any and all questions you have. It’s ok to stray from your pre-written questions and ask other follow-ups as the call goes on.

Describe the job

Describe to the reference what you are looking for and ask if the candidate was under the same circumstances when they worked together. Example: “We are seriously considering Ellen for our Regional Sales Manager opportunity. In this role, she will have to travel often and meet a goal of $3 million in sales. Is this similar to what she was doing when she worked with you? How did she handle it? Did she overcome obstacles? Did she hit her goal?

Open-ended questions ONLY

Ask very specific open-ended questions; instead of “Did (the candidate) do a good job when working with you?” ask something more along the lines of “I understand that your company is goal-oriented and competitive can you tell me how (the candidate) handled that environment on a daily basis?” Another way to ask is “I understand (the candidate) helped implement a new training process. Can you tell me what (his/her) role specifically was in that project?”

These questions leave it open for the reference to formulate a deep and detailed answer about what specifically the candidate did, what their skills and abilities are, and how he or she could be an asset to your company. This also opens it up for them to give any negative feedback they may have.

Soft skills

After you have the facts on the skills, abilities, and contributions of the employee, be sure to ask about their soft skills. Soft skills cover the candidate’s personality, how they handle day-to-day stress, how they speak to vendors, clients, and customers, as well as how easy they are to get along with within the office. These traits are just as important as other skills and abilities more closely related to getting the job done correctly.

References are an essential and vital part of hiring the best employees for your business. They should be one of several pillars that construct your decision to move forward or not with the candidate. Make sure you are taking your time with them and get all the information you can.

For information on how to ask someone to be a reference for you read this blog post.

 

“Active” vs. “Passive” Hiring

In 2016, LinkedIn found that 36% of the talent market is actively searching for a new role. This includes those that are currently unemployed, underemployed, and unhappy in their current role. These people are often referred to as “active candidates”. They’re likely to actively seek out your company and apply for a position. Active candidates have read over your job board, done their research, and determined that they are interested in what you have to offer.

From a talent acquisition standpoint, relying on job postings to grow your team can be effective. Active candidates are likely to see or hear about your opportunity. That 25% of the talent market will come to you. The challenge is that you’re certain to miss out on the vast majority of industry talent.

So how do you attract the interest of the remaining 75% of the workforce and increase your chances of finding a truly exceptional new hire?

The answer is in your process. It is important to realize that you cannot treat the “passive candidate” the same as someone who actively sought you out. Passive candidates are typically successful and content in their current role. They need to be shown why working for you is better than what they have now. You will need to sell the role, the opportunity, and your company to get their attention and interest.

Challenges

  • Recruited candidates don’t know much about the job opening you have and tend to not be invested in the application and interview process.
  • It is unlikely that this type of candidate will be willing to take several hours off from their current job to do lengthy interviews with you before hearing specific details about the role.
  • Passive candidates aren’t likely to be quickly hired by another company because they aren’t testing the job market. However, once you engage with a passive candidate you should move with a sense of urgency to keep them interested in your role.

To combat these issues, there are a few things that you can do. When reaching out to someone you have found that could be a fit, you need to use a bit of salesmanship.

Changes

  • Give them a job description, tell them about the company and explain why their experience is a match for your organization. The more personal it is the more likely you will receive a response.
  • When you do get a response, it is a good idea to start off with a shorter phone interview. This allows you to explain the role, sell the benefits of your organization and spark their interest.
  • This is the point where you can ask for a survey or application to be completed if necessary. Never try to get someone to put forth a great deal of effort before you’ve generated sufficient interest in the role. You will likely be ignored.
  • You can ask for an in-person interview after this step. Make sure that you don’t drag the process out too long or you run the risk of being seen as a time-waster.

The takeaway from this isn’t to change the process of interviewing entirely, but rather to restructure the steps to maximize your response rate with passive candidates. Keep in mind what the recruitment process looks like to both active and passive candidates. This will help you to better connect with candidates, expand your pool of potential hires, and increase your likelihood of hiring the most qualified person out there.

 

10 Hiring Red Flags You Need to Watch For

10 Hiring Red Flags You Need to Watch For

Hiring a new team member is a bit like getting engaged after the third date. You’re making a big decision with a very limited amount of information. There are three methods of reducing new hire risk. Increase the amount of information you have about the candidate, draw new insights from the information that you already have, or work with an experienced recruiter who specializes in your field.

We’re going to focus on the second method and share the warning signs to watch for when hiring a new team member.

Resume Errors

This is pretty self-explanatory. In today’s job market, candidates must proofread and present pristine resumes. If they don’t spend the time to review a 1-2 page document what does that say about their professionalism, preparation, and attention to detail?

Tardiness

Bad traffic, accidents, and car trouble happen every day. However, lateness suggests that the candidate didn’t proactively plan ahead and build buffer time into their schedule. While not the biggest red flag on our list, it is a mark against the candidate.

Sloppiness

Much like their resume, a candidate’s appearance should be professional and pristine. First impressions are critical to the job interview process. How serious can someone be about the opportunity if they don’t bother to dress the part?

Lack of Research

In our opinion, this is the biggest job interview sin on the list. In the internet age, there’s simply no excuse for failing to brush up on the history, products, and key players within a company. If you ask a candidate “Are you familiar with our firm?” and they say “Not really…”, you can probably end the interview right there.

Explain Their Interest

Ask your candidate “Why this position? Why our firm?”. There are a lot of correct responses, but just a few wrong ones. If he or she doesn’t have an answer, says something like “A job is a job”, or “My mortgage won’t pay itself” you are dealing with someone who is not passionate or even that interested in your business.

Complaints

Anyone who runs down their former employer or co-workers won’t hesitate to speak ill about your firm in the future. Integrity could be an issue for this candidate. Proceed with caution.

Doesn’t Take Responsibility

We all make mistakes and, hopefully, we learn from them. A candidate who won’t admit to failing or making mistakes in the past is either delusional, egotistical or lacking self-awareness. All three traits are to be avoided.

No Enthusiasm

Most hiring managers want to see passion and enthusiasm from job candidates. It’s often seen as an indicator of a candidate’s true interest in the company and the opportunity. It’s definitely noticeable when a candidate is just going through the motions and it’s a red flag that there’s no drive or passion for the opportunity to join your team.

Doesn’t Ask Questions

There comes a point in most interviews when the hiring manager pauses and says “Now, what questions do you have for me?” Again, there are a lot of correct responses and just one incorrect one. If a candidate doesn’t have any questions after an hour-long conversation with you, he or she either wasn’t listening or isn’t invested.

No “Thank You”

A post-interview “Thank You” note is to be expected. It won’t get a candidate any brownie points, but its absence should be noticed. A “Thank You” note is a minor sign that a candidate is professional, polite, and at least a little bit organized. The absence of such a note is a red flag that your candidate may be inconsiderate of your time or lacking some professional polish.

We’ve looked at the ten biggest and most visible red flags you’ll encounter during the hiring of a new team member. While they may seem insignificant, these cautionary signs provide valuable clues and insights into who your candidate really is and what they might be like to work with. Watching for these red flags will help you make the best decision possible throughout the hiring process.

For more information on hiring right check out our infographic “Don’t Make a Hire You Regret: 6 Simple Tips“.

What hiring red flags have you encountered?

 

How to Make Internships Work for the Promo Industry

Making Internships Work for the Promo Industry

Our industry, like many others, has a rapidly aging workforce. In many ways, this is a wonderful thing. There are thousands of promotional products industry professionals with decades of industry knowledge, connections, and expertise. This experience and expertise has greatly improved the service that we can provide to both customers and end-users. Experience is invaluable, but all industries require new talent in order to survive.

Where do you find the new, young talent your organization needs?

#1

Engage with the career center of your local college or university. Most institutions will welcome you with open arms.

#2

While onboarding your new intern, establish a schedule of activities to include a company overview, short-term and long-term projects, and a rotation through sales, sales support, marketing, and operations departments.

#3

Special focus should be given to the intern’s major and how education translates to real-world applications.

#4

Unlike a permanent hire, with internships, you must begin with the end in mind. Plan the beginning, middle, and end of the intern’s workload.

#5

Assign an experienced mentor to monitor your intern’s daily activities.

#6

Assign an executive to provide training input and broaden the intern’s view of the business and industry.

#7

Pay your interns and expect them to provide a return on your investment. You will be amazed at what they can accomplish!

#8

Stay in touch with past interns and keep them engaged in your business if you wish to bring them on as permanent employees.

Establishing a successful internship program is a very attainable goal. However, it does require commitment and investment. Focus on making the experience a win-win for both your organization and the intern and you have the opportunity to bring some strong new talent into your business!

Are you looking to add young, energetic promotional product professionals to your team?

Contact our team today to discuss how you can effectively cultivate and attract new talent.

 

Top Sales Rep Manager?

Why Are Good Managers So Hard to Find?

It seems simple enough to hire a good manager for a promotional product distributorship. You screen candidates with related experience, interview them, pick the best choice, and train them in the specifics of your business. Simple, right? Well, no. As you’ll see, it’s anything but simple.

Top Sales Rep Manager?

Source of Candidates

Many distributors look to their top sales reps to step into managerial roles within their company. This is rarely a good choice. First, the skill set needed to be a great promotional product sales rep is not the same skill set needed to be a great manager. Second, top sales reps often become attached to the open-ended income available on the sales side of the business. Owners aren’t likely to provide open-ended compensation in a managerial position. Often, the result is that the owner ends up distracting one of his top sales producers with a managerial role they may not be suited for. Also, what’s the plan for that rep’s book of business. Third, sales reps are used to focusing on their clients and sales. This is often to the detriment of relationships with other reps, co-workers, and the distributorship owner. Accepting a managerial position places the top rep in the middle of regular conflicts between sales reps, owners, and suppliers. Very often, it’s not a comfortable position for them.

Respect Comes With Sales Experience

Respect Comes with Experience

A salesforce will respect a successful sales rep who takes on a management role because they understand the sales side of the business and will work as an advocate for the sales team. A manager from outside the industry or one who has never sold in our industry often struggles to achieve the respect of the salesforce. They don’t have the credibility needed to address real-life sales challenges that are unique to the promo industry. “They’ve never sold anything.  What could they possibly know about what I need to be doing to make more money?”

The Three Masters

Three Masters

Some owners agree to let a top sales rep become a manager and keep their client accounts. This might sound good to the manager, but it is the worst possible solution. A selling manager is often viewed as competition by the sales reps. After all, they can now choose which clients they serve and which clients they pass along to other reps. Owners want managers who are focused on company profitability. That doesn’t always mesh with the sales team’s desire for a rep-oriented manager. Only a highly capable and talented manager can satisfy the owner’s goals, maintain and grow a client base, and gain the trust of sales reps looking for support and more sales.

Management Training Program

Think Long Term

The time to hire and begin grooming a manager comes long before the day you plan to need that manager. Advance planning allows you the time to slowly choose the right person for your managerial training program. A strong training program should last 3-5 years. It should consist of job rotations through every department in the business, with a heavy focus on sales and vendor relations. After each department rotation, the managerial trainee is evaluated and rated on performance in their most recent role.  If performance in a particular department is satisfactory, they move on to the next one. A trend of poor performance during the training period means that your candidate likely isn’t a good fit. Keep in mind that success in sales is a must before the candidate can proceed to any other department.

By creating a long-term managerial training program you can avoid many of the challenges that come with picking a candidate from your sales team or from outside the company. Sales reps respect sales experience, so sales is a critical building block for management training. The training period gives you a chance to round out a candidate’s skills and evaluate the cultural fit they have with your team.

With full awareness of the pitfalls of hiring a manager and a carefully outlined training program, you can make hiring for this critical position a positive point in your company’s history, and not a negative blip in your path to success.

Steve Jobs on Hiring

Is Your Job Description Scaring Away the Top Talent?

Steve Jobs on Hiring

There is a war for talent going on. This war has been raging wildly in the promotional product industry for some time. It shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. The survival of your business depends on your ability to meet the needs of your top performers. If you fail to meet their needs, they’ll leave you for a competitor that’s crafting a more compelling story. In the war for talent, the business with the most differentiating factors and the ability to sell those factors wins.

In HR, as in sales, you need the proper bait to land the big fish. The big producer. The bright, young executive. The rainmaker. They have no lack of options. You have to separate yourself from the rest of the industry. Buzzwords like “creativity”, “branding agency”, and “industry leadership” don’t really count for much. Oftentimes, what you need to set your business apart is a job description that cuts through all the fluff. These job description best practices will move you ahead of the competition.

Starting Elements

Every job description has to have these elements in some form or fashion. Verbiage can be different, but the general idea needs to be there.

  • Job Title – This is just a title and a few sentences on why the position exists within your business.
  • Core Functions – List the top five responsibilities that candidates are expected to perform. Keep it short. Go with bullet points.
  • Skills/Qualifications – What skills or experience are necessary to complete the core functions of the job?
  • Company Overview – Honestly, a decent candidate should be able to do homework on their own, but this provides them with a good start. Feel free to toot your own horn and brag a bit. This is the first impression you get to make with the candidate. Make the most of it.
  • Location – Where is your office located? Is work from home an option? Also, include your business hours here.
  • Employee or 1099?
  • Salary/Benefits – Many businesses hold back here. That’s a mistake. During the job search process, employers hold nearly all the power. Meet your candidates in the middle and give them a fair idea of what’s in it for them.
  • Contact Info
  • Desired Start Date

Beyond the Basics

So you have the basic elements down and you’ve filled in all the details based on what you know about the position. There’s a 99% chance that what you’ve written is a very boring, dry, internal HR document.

Take the above list of basic job description elements and head over to marketing. A great job description is a piece of marketing literature. It’s the result of a combined effort of HR and marketing putting their heads together.

Great job descriptions, the ones that get real attention, help candidates to imagine themselves working at your business and compel them to act. The goal is to “hook” candidates with your job description so that they spend their own time learning about your company. Don’t overload candidates with information. Instead, motivate them to learn more. Strong candidates will do plenty of research on their own to fill in the gaps.

It’s OK to hunt around on the internet and find bits and pieces from other job descriptions, but you need to make the final product uniquely yours. The more unique, the more it will resonate with your ideal candidate. This is a good time to mention that great job descriptions turn some people off. That’s part of the deal. Those who are put off weren’t the right person for the job so it’s no loss.

Make it Personable

We get it. A piece of paper or an HTML page can’t be personable, but what you write on it definitely can. This is where you separate yourself from the pack and draw the top talent to you.

  • Customize your “About Us” information. Each department needs its own version. Details that will entice a sales rep are not the same as the details that will entice an accountant. Speak to their respective motivations and you’ll get more interest.
  • Insert keywords where you can. Most job board searches are performed using keywords selected by the job seeker. You, or marketing, should have a good idea of what these words are.
  • Add these 3 elements to the list that was provided above.

Opportunity – What’s in it for the candidate aside from a paycheck? What experience or tools will he or she develop in this position? What positions might be a fit for him or her after a few years of success? Appeal to their ambition and career focus.

Future – Where is your business going? What’s the mission? What does success look like?

Personality – What’s the personality of your office? Corporate culture is usually HR mumbo jumbo. Keep it simple and straightforward. What’s it like being in your office?

  • Make it about them. This is copywriting 101. You have to sell top candidates on the job. Keep the focus on the reader and what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for your business.
  • Be upfront and transparent. This will save you from wasting a lot of time interviewing the wrong people.
  • Just like this blog post, make liberal use of bullet points

What great job descriptions have you seen?