I had a VP at a multi-billion-dollar defense contractor email me recently with an urgent request.   I had never done any business with him, but he was personally referred to me by a guy we’ve supported on multiple 100+ person programs over the years. So, of course, I responded to him.   The quick email conversation with this VP (let’s call him Joe) served as one more reminder to me of the power of building relationships in the service industry.    More importantly, Joe isn’t getting his jobs filled.   And, it’s primarily his fault.

Here’s how it went:    

Steve, I need a few people, and I’m not getting enough resumes from the Recruiters here.   We’re way behind.  I need software engineers, Top Secret clearance.    Who live in Springfield.   And if they could get FBI Suitability (another layer of clearance requirements), that’d be nice. “

Recruiting 101 required me to ask, “Joe, do you have a written job description?”   He thought for a moment and added, “Um, probably somewhere.   Here’s some key words – Python, Java.”

Recruiting 201 forced me to inquire, “Joe, could we setup a phone call?  Or, I could come by your office tomorrow morning to review the full needs here so we can find the right candidates.”    Joe replied, “Steve, I’m too busy, I just need these jobs filled.  They’re urgent and I’m not seeing enough resumes.”

Normally, I’d just pass.   We are too busy working with current customers in the tightest labor market in modern American history.   But Joe was referred to me by a great client, and he works at a big company I’d love to do business with right now.   “Steve can you help?   The government is all over me, I’m losing revenue every day.”    So, here’s what I did (and what I hope all hiring managers read and understand a little better in order to get urgent jobs filled):

  1. We need Job Descriptions: “Joe, give me 5 minutes.  Let’s walk through exactly what you need.”  Sure, it actually took 15 minutes, but I qualified the job and could share with my Recruiters exactly what skills were needed, compensation, minimum clearance requirement, and the interview process.    Turns out there’s a great written job description online.
  2. We are Teammates: We want the same outcome.   Yes, we want to get paid and need to know how that part works, but help me sell your company, your program and your job.   Our shared outcome is more likely to be celebrated in a few weeks if you listen to me, and treat me, like your teammate.   I’ll do the same!
  3. The Process:Joe, I’ll send you candidates.  Can you review resumes, and respond in 24 hours with next steps?   And, please walk me through the entire interview process for these jobs.”     I don’t care as much about the steps in the process as I do about knowing there IS a process.    We can adjust as we go, but when there’s a process I know we can get to our outcome.

Urgency to fill a job comes in many forms to Recruiters.     Interestingly, slowing down and skipping the chaos is the best route to filling jobs.  

PS – We filled Joe’s job and are working on more.    Now we are teammates!

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