There is one enlightening question that I learned a while back that I absolutely love to ask any executive I work with. Here it is:
“If I gave you $10mm and bought you the office across the street to go start your own company, who from your current team would you take with you?”
If their answer isn’t “every single one of them” then that illuminates a possible need to upgrade. More importantly, even when things are going well and the team is humming, quotas are not only being met but obliterated, that’s still a great time to look for talent.
In sports, even teams that win championships understand that nothing lasts forever and there is bound to be turnover, so they are constantly recruiting. They have their finger on the pulse of the rest of the league, always on the lookout for the next breakthrough star or big-name acquisition. Being satisfied with the status quo, means you are likely to fall behind. The Golden State Warriors who had an MVP in Steph Curry and won an NBA Championship certainly were open to the idea of adding another big name…Kevin Durant was the guy. They upgraded and won two more championships.
The point is this; the best time to be on the lookout for talent is…ALWAYS!! Never stop recruiting. Your best producer or greatest visionary might take another job offer tomorrow. Your top sales guy might become very ill and may have to go on leave. Can you afford to lose the revenue or even the opportunity cost of waiting until it’s too late to start a search for their replacement?
Maybe your growth and success sparks expansion, do you want to start from scratch in finding new employees to hire, or would it make more sense to have a pipeline maintained? Build yourself a bench. How do the best of the best do this?
The informational interview provides a non-threatening forum for discussion as the two sides learn about each other. This differs from a job interview because the conversation is not about hiring and not about a specific role and it provides a better platform for an unbiased evaluation of someone and their talent as well as personality. The “candidate” won’t just be saying what they need to say to get the job.
The median number of years that wage and salary workers have worked for their current employer is currently 4.6 years, according to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this longevity varies by age and occupation:
- The median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is 3.2 years.
- The median tenure for employees age 65 and over is 10.3 years.
Statistics state that 76% of Americans will actively look at new job opportunities in 2020 (this was a pre-COVID stat!). The younger generation especially. It’s also likely that even the older demographic that may make up your leadership, although loyal to the tune of 10+ years, may be reaching retirement age and be on their way out. Turnover happens, often!
By conducting informational interviews, you can hedge your bets. You can stoke your pipeline with superior talent for when inevitably people do leave your organization for one reason or another.
Sometimes a situation presents itself where you might conduct an informational interview and may not necessarily have an opening for that person, but they are so exceptional that you create a position for them. The great ones are undeniable and are worth betting on. You will know when you come across them.
In my career as a hiring manager myself I was always open to new talent, regardless of where it came from or if I was actively recruiting for an open position. In fact, some of my greatest performers were “out there” hires I made because someone I trusted made an introduction to a talented individual I couldn’t pass up. This has bled into my time as the president/founder of CFO Systems Search & Staffing where I have countless times approached industry leaders with introductions to exceptional talent that I knew was confidentially looking and thought would be a good fit. What I like to call renaissance leaders are the ones who think outside the box and add tremendous value by being open to opportunity in the form of talent.
I just love the concept. In sports the recruiting has become international, and in baseball and basketball, GMs have found great stars by doing something different. Now both leagues are filled with players that years ago would not have been discovered. Just look at the awards given in the NBA last season:
- Most Valuable Player – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Greece
- Defensive Player of the Year – Rudy Gobert – France
- Rookie of the Year – Luka Doncic – Slovenia
- Most Improved Player – Pascal Siakam – Cameroon
Unconventional thinking can lead to incredible transformation and in the end bottom line results. Not only were they some of the best players, but their teams were elite as well!
I have hired hundreds of candidates in my business career and my experience and track record of success imply I know how to hire. The key to having informational interviews work, is a well-connected, respected talent evaluator to bring candidates to the table. If you don’t have a plan or strategic partnership in place right now to keep your pipeline of informational interviews full, then let’s talk.
The biggest takeaway I want those in my network to understand is the importance of building your talent pipeline, strengthening your bench, conducting informational interviews and how it can exponentially affect the success of the organization. Keep your eyes wide and mind open!