On Episode 116 of the Talent & Growth Podcast I was joined by the legend himself, Lou Adler, to talk about how people can pick the right moves for their career. Lou regularly speaks about hiring and recruiting issues, with a focus on performance based hiring. This system is something he teaches through his company, Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems, where Lou is the CEO. On the podcast we tapped into his expertise and found the best ways to source top-tier talent. 

How did your Performance-Based Hiring system come about? 

I always thought about systems when I became a recruiter, because I realised recruiting was broken. People wrote bad job descriptions, they couldn’t interview, they couldn’t find candidates. So when you think about recruiting as a business process, it has a sequence of steps, and the process starts with how you define the job, but the process doesn’t end until a year after the candidate accepts an offer. If you think about all of those steps, in between, you can create a process. 

One is how you define the job. I do not use skills and experiences to define the job. I ask the hiring manager, what does this person need to do to be successful? Then you have to interview candidates. How do you know if a candidate is going to fit? Early on, I gave a one year guarantee, even before I became a retained recruiter. When you give a one year guarantee, you’ve really got to do your due diligence. So I learned to become a good interviewer. 

My next challenge was that I never had enough money in the budget. If you’re going after the top 20% of candidates, they expect top dollars. I gave them above average dollars, but not top. What I gave them was a better career move. You have to negotiate all those pieces, then ensure the candidate is successful on the job by getting involved with onboarding and post-hire management. 

That’s the system. It didn’t evolve on day 1, it took 10 to 20 years to get there. It’s important, because people are still hiring with the start date in mind instead of the anniversary date. In my mind, they’ve cheapened work. If you’re just hiring as quickly as possible, you’re creating a group of people who quit every year because the job’s not right. The faster they quit, the better people get at selling job postings. That to me is not a good solution. 

When you think about the whole system, you don’t need to optimise one step, you need to fine-tune all of them. Being a great interviewer won’t help if the best candidates don’t apply in the first place. You have to look at the whole process. You’ve got to optimise all the steps. I don’t think the people who design these systems think through ‘How do you define the job, how do you attract the best people and how do you make sure they’re successful?’, but answering those questions is the secret to successful recruitment. 

How can you use candidates’ career decisions to enhance your recruitment model? 

Let’s pretend you’re the candidate for this answer. When I talk to a candidate, I always say, ‘Paul, would you be able to chat about something that represents a career move?’ Most candidates say, ‘Yeah, of course’. I then say, ‘Paul, I’d like to conduct an interview with you.’ I want to make the general statement, like ‘I’m only gonna present three or four candidates to my client, the hiring manager, and one of those people get hired. We can agree to go forward with this job together, because I think you’re right for the right job, and it’s a career move for you.’ 

I sell them on the idea by asking ‘Would you really want this job if it weren’t for the money?’ before I give them an actual offer. Candidates always say yes, then I say ‘Why?’ Most candidates don’t really have the answer, so I say, ‘We’re going to give you the 30% solution, which is a non-monetary increase. It has to be competitive or I understand it’s off the table. We really have to give you the best career move, which consists of a lot of pieces:

Number one, you have to want to do that work, if you don’t want to do the work, forget it. Number two, you have to buy into the hiring manager and the team you work with. That’s critical to being successful. You also have to see it as an opportunity to grow over time. Number three, you need work-life balance, so our job over the next two to three weeks is to give you enough information to make that decision. I’m going to push you if I think this is the best career move for you, and it fits your needs at that point in time.’

That’s how the chat has evolved; to have people look at not just the start date, but to get everybody focused on getting a better job. Candidates are leaving for more money or to avoid pain. Companies and candidates alike are focusing too much on the short term, where really career growth is long term. If the company can’t keep you on a good career path, you should leave. But, as a candidate, you’ve got to be discerning enough that you can understand those things before you accept an offer. Don’t get seduced by the start date package. It’s the wrong decision. 

Companies and candidates need to buy into that idea of thinking long term and balancing priorities. I’ve been using those kinds of ideas and concepts every time I talk to a candidate because I’ve never had enough money in a budget to place a person. I always made the job into the best career move instead. I look for candidates who would see the job that way too. 

To learn more about long-term hiring strategies from Lou Adler, tune into the Talent & Growth podcast here