October 2011 15
When (almost) alone in a room with American business magnate and investor Warren Buffett, what do you ask him? CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson appeared on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop" this morning to talk about just that. Buffett, Ferguson and a few other business leaders met last evening during Buffett's stop in Chicago for an event for Junior Achievement, and discussed everything from U.S. job creation and the outlook for our nation's economic recovery, to philosophies on business and the housing market.
This was the first time Buffett and Ferguson had gotten a chance to meet. On "In the Loop," Ferguson shared a couple of highlights from their discussion:
"I’m not looking for great storytellers. I want to figure out what makes people tick and how they operate on the job." - Jay Goltz
In the following Q&A, small business expert Jay Goltz draws from his experience as an entrepreneur to discuss the lessons he’s learned – often the hard way – about what it really takes to hire and retain the best people to run a successful business (or, in his case, five). On Wednesday, November 9, Jay will host Hire with Purpose, a complimentary webinar to discuss insider tips, takeaways and tactics small business owners can apply right now to ensure they make the right hiring decision for their teams.
In your book, The Street-Smart Entrepreneur, you talk about lessons you learned the hard way. What’s your most memorable lesson in terms of hiring? I once interviewed a sales manager at a retail shop that had five salespeople, and I asked her, “How many people did you go through before hiring those five great salespeople?” And she said, “Just five.” I literally laughed and said, “Either you have much lower standards than I do, or you’re a hiring guru.” I hired her, and she turned out to be a hiring guru. She moved away about 10 years ago, but most of the people she hired while she was here are still with me.
The lesson there is that part of hiring well comes down to who’s doing the interviewing. There are some people who can hit a fast ball and some people who can’t. Likewise, there are some people who are great at interviewing and some who aren’t. There’s some element of natural talent there. And that realization has had a profound impact on my company. It used to be, when I hired, only 30 or 40 percent of the people I hired worked out great, and now it’s up to 80 percent. And that’s because we’re much better at hiring.
At the recent Inc500/5000 Conference, Gilt Group CEO Kevin Ryan mentioned how reference checks are often an underrated virtue of the hiring process. What’s your stance on that? I totally agree with that. Whenever I hear about people who are having problems with an employee, I always ask them, “Tell me how you hired this person.” No one has ever said to me, “I put an ad out, I interviewed a lot of people, I did some really thorough questions, and then I really checked references.” It’s always, “Yeah, I didn’t check references.” So people are getting what they deserve, I’m sorry to say.
The other thing is, when you’re doing reference checks, you have to read between the lines. I had a call in about a designer one time, and the reference just blurted out, “Oh, she’s really talented.” After interviewing [the candidate] some more, I realized she was really neurotic, but the woman I used as a reference clearly didn’t want to say that. All of a sudden, it made sense why the reference didn’t say, “She’s great. You should hire her.” When someone’s a great employee, people say things like, “Oh, you’re really lucky she applied. You should hire her right now. She’s a wonderful employee. I really miss her.” Is reference-checking 100 percent reliable? No. Even if you do everything right, you’ll still probably only have a 90 percent chance of them working out – maybe 80. But if you don’t do everything right, those chances go down to 30, 40 or 50 percent.
Aside from failing to check references, what are some of the biggest mistakes people make in the hiring process?
Perhaps a trip to American Staffing Association's Staffing World 2011 just wasn’t in the cards this year…or perhaps you were too busy attending sessions, entering to win a [insert flashy handheld electronic device here], and learning how to pronounce “beignet” to catch everything there was to see at this year’s conference, which took place earlier this month in New Orleans.
We had a feeling that might happen.
Lucky for you, CareerBuilder was there, shooting video from the expo room floor, and gathering feedback from fellow attendees on everything from lessons they’ve learned in this industry to current trends, to what they foresee for the future of staffing and recruiting.
Visit CareerBuilder.com/StaffingWorld2011 for complete video coverage or checkout highlights below.
Overheard at Staffing World 2011
“You learn something new every day…Learn to love the new things.”
“We believe in giving people opportunities…to change their lives.”
“You’re only as good as your resources.”
If your workplace is anything like ours here at CareerBuilder, once the leaves start to fall, the office becomes riddled with sniffs, coughs, sneezes, shouts of “Gesundheit!” — you get the picture. Trash cans overflowing with tissue aside, though, you’re probably well aware that some employees who call in sick may actually have other reasons for being absent from work, whether it’s a mental health day or a holiday shopping trip.
Not too terribly long ago, life was a lot harder. People spent hours growing, finding and hunting their food, only to spend equal amounts of time cooking and preserving it so they wouldn’t starve in the winter. But as technology progressed, it brought along a couple of the more noteworthy inventions in recent history: the refrigerator and the microwave. Now, with the pop of a box and the push of a button, people can eat food that is grown anywhere, anytime, whenever they want.
And even more recently, something else amazing happened. While it seemed that the possibilities were endless, people started to realize that they didn’t need to be. Instead of wanting processed foods that are grown, frozen, shipped and eaten out of season, our culture has taken a step back and has begun to embrace fresh, locally grown foods.
Believe it or not, creating content on the web isn’t that much different. Providing a regular diet of fresh, organic content is the best way for you to stay engaged with your employees as well as active and passive job seekers, and grow your company’s social media presence. Because most interaction takes place on users’ News Feeds or timelines instead of a profile or page, posting new content is often the only way to stay connected with your online community on a regular basis. In fact, Facebook users are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume content via their News Feeds rather than visit actual pages. Fresh content also simply lets users know, “Hey – We’re here!” since a page with stale content or a stream of RSS-fed items doesn’t assure users that it’s a community where they’re likely to find new, useful information or have their questions answered.
Get Posts by Email
Sign up to receive the latest recruitment tips, employer trends and hiring insights from CareerBuilder.