Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fundamentals of Hiring

Stop looking for reasons not to make a hire.
Overly narrow job descriptions and overly choosy managers are killing companies. It might be the economy that makes managers so risk-averse. Such aversion often clouds business thinking. Their companies are hurting while they hesitate to hire good people.  Their current employees are being overworked and morale is suffering while they find reasons not to make a hire. 

What is it going to cost the company to leave this position un-filled and the job un-done for several more months?
What is it going to cost when one (or all three) of those “fit and qualified” candidates join the company’s competition — and work against this employer? 

Hiring someone who actually hits on every bullet point in a job description is rare indeed. And what if you wait months and actually DO find that person?  Just because someone did amazingly well at a previous role doesn’t, unfortunately, ensure they’ll do the same with you...
  1. Holding out could  impact you in numerous ways. You’ll never be satisfied with candidates until you find that star and they could cost you a lot, both in salary, and, if you are wrong, in undoing the mess they leave behind.
  2. Instead, look for people who will add real value, supported by data driven hiring practices and tools.
  3. Unless an amazing candidate lands in your inbox, and they are suitable following pre-screening, due diligence and an interview, then look for the best fit from the candidates in front of you.
  4. Avoid analysis paralysis. Slow to hire and you lose. 
Being stuck on the bullet points and you spend months with an open job.  If the person has a proven track record, you like their energy and personality but they lack a license, so what?  Allow them to get the license.  Otherwise you could go months with an open position, when in reality the person could have gotten their license and have become a productive part of your team while you are still waiting.

Sticking to the fundamentals of hiring the right way, finding the right candidates, not hunting for a unicorn, is much more likely to lead to a successful fit, plus gets your positions filled quicker so you stop hurting your business.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Strategies for Securing Top Talent

While employers often feel that it should be easy to attract great candidates it is not always the case. Top candidates always have options, and they can generally afford to be picky about which jobs they explore, let alone which offers they accept. This means that employers who truly care about attracting top talent need to put special thought into how they recruit candidates.

Since the best candidates have options, they’ll interview and evaluate employers right back. Employers who assume that the assessment process only goes one way and forget to care about how they’re coming across to candidates will generally turn off great candidates.
Over my years in recruiting within the insurance industry, I’ve found the below strategies particularly helpful in attracting and securing the best candidates:
  1. The hiring company needs to understand the difference between an active job seeker and a truly “recruited” candidate.  It is up to the recruiter to make certain the client company knows who is who, too. Not that the process should necessarily be any different between the two types of candidates, but it can be helpful to know the difference in how each is considered within a hiring process.
  2. I am presently working with a client that volunteered, during our initial discussion about the project, that the hiring manager would be very open to speaking with any prospective candidate prior to them officially allowing their credentials to be submitted as an actual candidate.  When recruiting on particularly difficult searches where the potential pool to draw from is very shallow, this can be a very effective strategy.
  3. If you, as a hiring company, have a good story to tell, then you should tell it! A recruiter certainly serves as a valued resource during searches, but no one can tell the story like the hiring manager.  I’d even suggest that a talent acquisition professional or human resources recruiter, while very knowledgeable certainly, still is not as equipped to talk to a potential candidate about the department culture and why it is great to work for that company and that department.
  4. Once you have identified a candidate you are truly interested in bringing on board, offer to bring them and their significant other (if they have one) out to your community for a couple days.  Set them up with a rental car, a non-aggressive real estate agent and someone on your team that can show them the highlights of the area.  I’ve seen this as a very effective way to seal the deal with the person you want to join your company.

The competition for talent is tough.  Why not utilize whatever advantages you can to help separate you from your competition?

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Hiring Manager’s Guide To Job Interviewing

We work with insurance organizations of all shapes and sizes...
  • Large nationally known organizations
  • Regional medium sized organizations
  • Very small organizations operating in just one to three states
  • Well-established organizations to true start-ups
  • Organizations with highly structured human resource, recruiting and/or talent acquisition departments
  • Organizations with no structured recruiting function

Our goal is to serve as a resource to all of these different organizations, to tailor our service to each client’s respective needs. We have had the opportunity to work with smaller insurance organizations that have sought out guidance in the actual interview process.  
Let’s face it, some of the industry's brightest and best readily admit that interviewing is simply not their forte. So with those industry professionals in mind, I’ve assembled some resources that you might find helpful as you prepare to interview candidates for your job opening. 
There are over 7,000 books about interviewing and recruiting. Here are a few top choices that I would recommend:

Title: Successful Interviewing and Recruitment
Author: Rob Yeung
Teaches managers how to structure the interview, spot exceptional candidates, and hire only those who will add value to the business

Title: Knock ‘em Dead, Hiring the Best
Author: Martin Yate
This book is directed towards hiring managers rather than recruiters. However, since recruiters must often coach hiring managers on how to make good decisions, this serves as a "train the trainer" manual.

Title:  Hire with your Head
Author: Lou Adler
Adler approaches hiring from the perspective of a long-time recruiter who has seen recruiting undergo massive change. His approach is thorough and straightforward.

Title: 96 Great Interview Questions
Author: Paul Falcone
What Falcone presents is an entire philosophy of interviewing that is the exact opposite of the canned question approach. It's full of examples and explains why these questions work and how to interpret the answers correctly.

Title: How to Spot a Liar
Authors: Gregory Hartley & Maryann Karinch
Many people—including some in law enforcement—swear by these techniques, so they're worth learning and trying. 

Title: Hiring for Attitude
Author: Mark Murphy
This book explains how the hiring and interview process must change so that companies can weed out candidates whose attitude will create failure.  

Another recommendation by way of a quicker read would be this guide created by Careerbuilder:
The Hiring Manager’s Complete Interviewing Guide

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Do You Assess the Environment While at a Job Interview?

We talk a lot about interview preparation such as becoming familiar with the organization, wearing proper interview attire and positioning yourself through non-verbal communication when in the interview.
When I discuss interview preparation with candidates I believe it is also important to recommend that the candidate also assess the environment at the organization.  You can determine a lot about an organization’s culture if you simply be alert to various cues.
Paying close attention to the workplace and people will allow you to get a better sense of the company culture, and in turn, can help you determine whether it’s a good fit for you.
Interviewers can tell you what they want about the environment and personnel but your own first-hand observations will be far more useful. Not only are you being evaluated, but you should be evaluating the company and its people. Gain a sense of the environment and its vibe.  If possible, you should also request to meet some potential co-workers.
Look around and see how formal the setting is. Do people have personal items on their desks? Is there informal and casual conversation in the hallways? Is the feeling relaxed or tense? Does everyone seem like they are on an urgent mission? These are easily made observations.
So, while you’ll still want to use the interview as your chance to make a great impression and ask important questions, you should also think of it as an opportunity to evaluate the role, the culture, the company’s leadership, and the boss.

The first impression a company decides to give visitors (interviewees or others) can often indicate their philosophy on how employees are treated, as well.  A warm and friendly greeting by someone who seems to genuinely care if you’re comfortable is a great indicator of a company with a thriving and happy environment.
In interactions, do the employees seem friendly and supportive of each other?  Does the workplace have energy?  Is it a place where people actually want to be?  A big part of that is just watching the genuine and outgoing ways people interacted with each other.
Do the employees look happy? This isn’t something you can figure out in your pre-interview research. When you arrive, take note of whether or not the receptionist or security guard is friendly. This will be the first person to greet you so his or her attitude may be more important than you’d think. Do employees smile at you or acknowledge your presence? This can tell you a lot about the overall environment as well. 

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Close a Job Interview

Planned and effective follow-up after an interview is a must.  Failing to do so might cause you to lose out to another candidate.
Although it is important to provide a great impression during an interview, closing the interview strong is just as important. In addition it sets the stage for the next phase of the process, the follow-up.
Prove to your interviewer that you want this position and you are in this for the right reasons. Here are some questions you can ask before you leave the interview....
  • How do you view my qualifications for this position?
  • Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
  • Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
  • What's your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
Now that you have an idea how you may stack up, an idea as to the process and steps and an idea as to their timeline, this helps determine your follow-up steps. The line between being persistent and being a pest can be a tightrope walk. So this process must be managed well.
To a degree, your planned follow-up depends on the type of role you are interviewing for. If you are in a more relaxed profession (e.g., accounting), I would wait seven days after your last contact to call or e-mail again. Why? Accounting is not as aggressive as sales, and therefore to apply sales pressure might frighten off your boss-to-be. Balance the aggressiveness of your follow-up with the field you are in; the more aggressive the job is, the more aggressive you should be in following up.

A thank you note is a MUST. Send one via email within 24 hours of the interview. However, a handwritten card still can’t be beat.
Include supporting documentation that illustrates your ability to do the job. You don’t want to overwhelm the interviewer, but adding one or two carefully crafted examples of your work (non-confidential work samples, etc.) can be a good way to show off your expertise.
Provide a follow-up response to one of the key interview questions. We all leave conversations thinking we would have responded with this or that. Use your note to modify, correct or amplify one of your responses.
Always be professional. Always be courteous but with the enthusiasm.

Keep in mind — many companies don’t tell you their hiring decision. If no one returns your e-mails or voice mails after several weeks, let it go and presume that there will be no offer. If the hiring company were interested, your contacts would be picking up the phone. No worries, the right job will come.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Technology Creates Yet Another Challenge For Parents

Okay, so this writing comes from the parental side of my brain.  It most definitely has impact on the insurance community. 

The new smartphone app Pokémon Go begins with a warning screen. It is not a parental warning about violence. It is not a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids should limit their gaming to about two hours daily. Pokémon Go wants players to avoid physical trauma.

While mobile games can be dangerously absorbing to begin with, playing them while walking down the street poses significant risks.

If that were not bad enough, criminals have already found a way to exploit the game. Reports of players being attacked, robbed and hospitalized are emerging. Players can send a “beacon” to other users via the game, signifying that a Pokémon might by nearby. It is feared this feature could be hijacked by criminals.

Security experts are warning that hundreds of thousands of people desperate to play the game are downloading unofficial versions which contain malware which reveals to criminals the entire contents of their phone, including their location. 

Risks of Playing the Game:

Robberies or abduction
A group of 11 youngsters were robbed in Missouri after criminals sent a beacon to a secluded area by using the game’s location technology to create a signal at a “Pokéstop” - a location that players can visit to replenish in-game supplies. Fears are now building that the game could be used by pedophiles to lure children into remote areas.

Personal injury
A number of players have reported injuring themselves while using the game. The main concerns here involve children not looking as they cross the road and wandering away from their parents into hazardous locations where they may hurt themselves.

Nasty findings
In the US, trying to catch Pokémon led a teenager to a dead body in a river.

Data theft
Experts are warning that fake versions of the game are designed by criminals who want to steal people’s data. Consumers who download versions containing malware risk the entire contents of their phone being stolen.

Additional reading can be found on this subject on

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How To Determine an Appropriate Salary Range?



Can you possibly advise a salary range? I worked with another recruiter who advised that I was currently on the low end for salary.


Hi Candidate,

Recruiters need to be careful what they say.  Everything has a context to it and everything is relative.  Companies vary in their base salary structures just as they vary in the non-guaranteed part of the comp.  One cannot simply make a statement as that recruiter made.  What is the reference point?  Salaries vary by the type of the organization.  However even within carriers, salaries are going to vary. A national carrier for example may have a different salary structure than a small carrier writing in three states.  The comparisons go on and on.  So again, to simply make a blanket statement as was made to you is reckless.

A better way to put it would be, there are carriers that may pay more than you are currently making.  There are carriers that may be paying the same as you are making.

You have shy of two years of commercial lines underwriting experience.  So the question is, what would someone expect as a typical base salary in your geographic area with a similar carrier and given two years of commercial lines underwriting experience?  You are presently at $50k on base.  Could you make more elsewhere?  Yes you could. Salaries could be anywhere from $55k to $60k. But they could be less. 

You stated that your salary expectations are $70k. For two years of experience, that is typically going to exceed the majority of carriers’ ranges for that experience.

But the real question regarding our specific situation comes down to internal equity.  The client carrier cannot justify bringing in someone with two years of experience at $70k when they have underwriters on staff with the same or more experience that are not making $70k.

Again, all things are relative and must be considered in the context of the specific scenario being considered.

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group