The Hire Sense » 2007 » June

Archive for June, 2007

Lazy Ad Writing

First let me say, I read through a business development job ad today that was fairly well-written.  The ad did use many second person questions – Do you enjoy closing deals…?  I’m not a huge fan of that approach, but I suspect it engages the readers at some level.

The part I wanted to call out was towards the end of the ad when the author calls out the requirements for this position:

To be a successful candidate for the BDM position, you should:

· Hold a Bachelor€™s Degree, preferably in Packaging

· Have 8 years sales-related packaging experience

First, the B.A. degree should be a preference and not a requirement.  I googled the “Packaging” degree and it appears to be related to Packaging Design.  If that is crucial to successfully selling in this market, fine (I personally don’t know).  However, I am of the conviction that sales cannot be taught in school.  Successful salespeople have a blend of abilities that have been refined by sales experiences.

Second, “Have 8 years…” is sloppy.  8?  Not 7, not 9?  The better form would be “Have a minimum of 8 years….”  Still, I would say this experience is desirable but not required.

I’ve never understood how companies come to the conclusion of how many years is ideal.  What if the candidate has 8 years of industry experience but it was basically the first year repeated 8 times?  What if another candidate has only 5 years of industry experience but it was 5 years of unique growth and development?  This ad’s requirement would discourage or eliminate the candidate who actually had better experience as opposed to tenure.

We never use the minimum years’ experience requirement in our ads.  I do not recommend that you use it in your ads either.

Gen Y And Self-Fulfillment At Work

We work sparingly with Gen Y-level salespeople but we do track the articles regarding this generation. offers an informative read in their article Careers: The Goods on Generation Y.

The takeaway information for me:

Indeed, twentysomethings don’t view work as merely a way to make a living, says Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties (Oxford University Press, 2004) and research professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “They expect work to be a form of self-fulfillment€”they don’t want to take a job that pays well but is boring or annoying,” he says. Money is important to twentysomethings, he says, but it’s not as important to them if the work’s not enjoyable and exciting. This notion comes from their baby boomer parents, who invented the idea that work should be fun, he says.

Boomer parents have also taught their kids that they’re wonderful, so they enter the workforce thinking they should be showered with things that they want, Arnett says. With strong self-esteem, they’ve also grown up in an information tidal wave, as technology has become much easier to use and widespread, notes Bruce Tulgan, founder of New Haven (Conn.)-based generational research firm RainmakerThinking and author of Managing Generation Y (HRD Press, 2001). “This group is always connected, always accessible, and creative,” Tulgan says. He’s fond of saying that Generation Y is the highest-maintenance generation that will also be the highest-performing workforce.

Interesting.  May I also recommend Steven Rothberg’s blog at  I’ve learned more about Gen Y reading his blog than any other source.  Well, other than talking to the Rock Star’s Gen Y twin sons.

Snap Judgments Rule The World

I thought this was interesting from the StarTribune’s Old-Time Job Search:

In 1937, Elmer Wheeler published the advertising classic, “Tested Sentences That Sell.” He wrote it after testing 105,000 word combinations on 19 million people over 10 years, to find the phrases and communications techniques that sold the most goods and services.

Wheeler included a chapter on tested ways to get hired, and here’s his number one rule for getting a job: “Watch your ten-second approach. Our case histories showed that many employers judge the applicant during the first ten seconds. He catches a flash of the man’s appearance, his personality, and is or is not impressed by his first ten words. Snap judgments still rule the world, unfortunately!”

Wheeler explains how: “The successful job-hunter will watch his opening statements €¦ [because] your first ten words are more important than your next ten thousand.”

Better to run a hiring process than to rely on snap judgments!

Sales Ads That Include Excel

I wouldn’t recommend this tact to a sales ad:

Are you the candidate we are looking for? If you are very familiar with Excel, have good organizational skills along with verbal and written communication abilities, you may just be the future (salesperson) for our growing business.

Leading with Excel and organizational skills are generally not the strongest points for drawing in talented salespeople. I would recommend putting those abilities in a “helpful to have” section. Far better to focus on the abilities the salesperson will need to close business.

Misguided "Hiring A Hunter" Assumptions

I just read another article about hiring sales “hunters” that was filled with simplistic tips and tricks.  The article triggered a thought – there seems to be much conventional wisdom about hiring strong salespeople that permeates these articles.  Unfortunately, I think the logic behind them is overly assumptive.

Let’s look at some of these mythical assumptions:

Sales Managers Should Always Be Interviewing Sales Candidates
This approach sounds good in a theoretical sense but has minimal real-world application.  The only sales managers who should follow this approach are ones who head up high-turnover sales departments.

A sales managers’ top priority is to increase profitable revenue (with an eye on SG&A at the same time).  It is advantageous to maintain a strong network that they can access in times of hiring need, but a dedicated approach to interviewing is a waste of precious productivity.  Sales managers should invest that time in growing their existing team.  This investment in the current team will reap far more rewards than performing informational interviews with external candidates.

If need be, the sales manager can employ a company like Select Metrix to source the right candidates while they maintain a focus on their current team.

Assess Candidates Before Phone Screening Them
This battle cry is all-too-familiar in the assessment world.  That’s because it is promoted by assessment companies.  Don’t fall for it.  Don’t throw good money at an unknown/bad candidate.  The phone screen is the best method for getting your first pass through a candidate’s abilities.

Let me be clear – you always need to use objective assessments when hiring salespeople.  The assessments are like an x-ray into the their sales abilities – abilities that are not easily apparent through interaction.  The sequencing of the assessments is the point here.

Use This Trick To See If The Candidate Is A Hunter
I understand the rationale behind this tip, but I find it grossly lacking in 2 areas.  First, the assumption is that you will actually attract or find a hunter.  This is a significant assumption.  If you write the wrong ad, you won’t have to worry about using any hunter tricks – none will respond.  If you are not certain about how to approach a suspected hunter, it won’t matter either.

The worse scenario is to limit your hunter determination to one trick because of the next point.

Second, hiring salespeople is difficult work – there are no magic bullets to determining if the candidate is a true hunter.  A steady, repeatable, objective process is the best approach to determining if the candidate has the business development skills that fit your position’s requirements.


These surveys come out on a fairly regular basis. There is a part of me that believes 20 years down the road we will still be seeing similar results to the findings in’s Employees Feeling Underappreciated.

Of more than 500 full- and part-time employees surveyed nationwide, 35 percent said the company they worked for was ineffective at rewarding strong performance, according to OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing services firm. At the same time, 30 percent of 150 senior executives surveyed admitted that employee recognition wasn’t a high enough priority.

The reason I mention this survey is that that Gen Y/Millenials have a different take on employment. They value work/life balance and look for different rewards from their employment (skill development, authority, horizontal organization, purpose). I don’t think these topics are new, but their prioritization of them is.

Retaining employees requires effort from their immediate managers. Understanding the employee’s motivations and rewards provides the recipe for building a stronger feeling of appreciation.

Most managers make the mistake of showing their appreciation by using rewards that reinforce their own personal motivation. I worked for one boss who always wanted to reward our team by taking us and our spouses out to expensive dinners. As nice as the meal was, I never looked forward to these outings. No matter what the setting, he was still the boss so the meal was not relaxing.

A $50 bill would have been far more pleasing to my Utilitarian motivation.

July Is _____ National Awareness Month

It has been a while since I last posted about important upcoming dates. I was looking through a promotional calendar and started chuckling at some of the titles I was reading. Instead of highlighting just one this month, I thought I would provide all of July’s honor:

  • National Recreation and Parks Month
  • Blueberries Month
  • Cell Phone Courtesy Month
  • Family Reunion Month
  • Herbal & Prescription Awareness Month
  • National Baked Beans Month
  • National Culinary Arts Month
  • National Grilling Month
  • National Hot Dog Month
  • National Make a Difference to Children Month
  • National Purposeful Parenting Month
  • Skyscraper Month
  • Social Wellness Month
  • Women’s Motorcycle Month
  • Mental Illness Awareness Month

Where to Find Cheap Gas

We have a couple of approaches to purchasing gasoline within our company. If you are like me, you keep a close eye on the price of gas and attempt to purchase it before it spikes. If not, you are similar to the Hammer who fills up whenever and wherever he needs gas regardless of the price.

I read an article on that provided a link to software for your phone. The “Cheap Gas” widget is a free application from GetMobio. They provide an entire suite of applications designed to help cell phone users with a variety of tasks.

The program has over 50 applications and the “Cheap Gas” widget allows users to instantly search and compare gas prices for any geographical location€”determined by a user-provided street address€”as well as search gas prices by brand. The application also presents map displays for all gas station locations within the direct area.

I doubt the Hammer will add this widget to his phone, but I highly recommend it.

Sales Traits Series – Quality Orientation

Quality of standards is an important aspect of successful selling.  A salesperson who does not ensure quality has a tendency to appear inaccurate, or to the extreme – sloppy.  Since salespeople are initially the face of the company, this quality disconnect can present a poor view of the company’s quality as a whole.

Quality Orientation
This trait is a measure of a salesperson€™s affinity for seeing details, grading them against a preset standard (internal or external) and identifying flaws. This is directly related to a person€™s preference for paying attention to detail. Whereas attention to detail is more a measure of how capable a person is to appropriately see detail, this capacity also measures their proclivity for such accuracy as well. Instead of simple ability, it answers the question €œHow much of a desire do they have to ensure quality?€

A salesperson with strength in this trait will have an underlying desire to constantly evaluate things at a subconscious level; to be comparing them to predefined set of standards.

weakness in this area does not indicate the lack of ability to see details, but rather a lack of motivation to use their innate ability to see details and ensure a high quality of work. They either do not understand the standards, which have been set, or they are not capable of using their own judgment to set such standards for themselves.

More Americans Are Working From Home offers a story regarding the booming trend of working from home.  I hope no one is surprised by this trend since it has been prevalent for many years now.  Obviously, $3 a gallon gas is driving even more people towards this model.  Yet, I think the gas prices are exacerbating the increasing commute times around the country.  To my point, think of how much time is wasted each work day when commuting:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005 an estimated 3 million Americans commuted more than 90 minutes to work each way €” almost twice as many as in 1990. Fifteen out of every 100 Americans traveled 45 minutes each way.

Part of this trend is due to the migration to the outer rings of city suburbs.  I think if you couple high gas prices and extended commute times you end up with a trend towards work-from-home options.

We are currently sourcing a outside sales position in Los Angeles and are seeing this pattern in spades.  We have talked to some candidates who are 20 miles from our client’s office, but they will not even discuss the position if it does not offer some work-from-home flexibility.  We were informed that the 20 mile commute would take over 1 hour to complete.

We quickly adjusted to include a work-from-home option in the position which has greatly changed our success in sourcing.

Next Page »