The Huge Risk When Hiring Managers Employ People They Don’t Already Know

Mar 29 2012 in Featured, Job Search Strategy, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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Why is this such a big risk?

When hiring managers hire any new employee it’s a risk. It’s an even bigger risk for a hiring manager that doesn’t know you.

To many candidates, it’s not obvious why it’s such a risk.

Let’s look at hiring from the hiring manger’s point of view for a moment. Hiring managers today are under the gun.

We’re in a slow recovery – this means that corporate profits are increasing, but hiring is still slow. Companies are improving profits through increased productivity … requiring managers to do more with less. A slow recovery economy translates to a hiring manager asking for 3 new employees and only having one approved by the finance department.

To the hiring manager, this means operating understaffed, even if they’re at full headcount. There’s little room for error … if a hiring manager has an new employee that can’t quickly get up to speed (without training or on-the-job training), the department and manager won’t meet their goals.

Risk #1 – A poor hiring decision could cause the hiring manager to miss goals.

Because the hiring manager is running an understaffed department, there’s little room for error. If a hiring manager has an new employee that can’t quickly get up to speed (without little or no training or on-the-job training), the department and manager won’t meet goals. This means the managers risk their own bonus, career advancement potential, reputation and even their jobs, if a new hire isn’t cutting it.

So why not just fire new hires that don’t work out? That’s a second risk.

Risk #2 – It’s difficult to get rid of under performing new hires.

It used to be easy for a manager to get rid of an under performing employee. All the manager had to do was to make life rough for the employee – make their life a living hell. Eventually, the employee would get fed up and quit.

Causing an under performing employee to quit was much easier than firing an employee and much safer for the hiring manager’s career. When jobs were plentiful, few employees would hang onto a job just to suffer the indignities of a horrible boss. It was an easy decision to quit, because it was easy to find a new job.

But after 2007, when there was such a shortage of jobs, few employees were willing to quit when they didn’t have another job already lined up. In a tough job market, in the middle of a crippling recession, many people would rather work for a boss who they hate, than be out of work.

Now, to get rid of an under performing employee, the manager had to actually fire the employee. This takes time to get approvals, to make sure the company is protected against lawsuits and it can cost the company higher unemployment insurance payments, but these aren’t the issues for most managers.

Unless the manager is the owner, CEO, or location manager, the manager usually needs to get approval from many levels of his/her own superiors and the HR department in order to get approval to fire.

Firing an employee creates risk #2 for a hiring manager – In order to get this approval from many levels up and the HR department, managers have to admit failure in doing their own jobs. A hiring manager has 3 primary jobs – hire a strong team, use the team to achieve goals, and turn around under performers. To fire an employee, the hiring manager has to admit failure in 2 of these tasks – admitting a bad hire and admitting failure in turning that employee’s performance around.

To fire an employee, the hiring manager risks their own career, bonus and advancement. Each time a hiring manger goes through the process of firing an employee, their own star starts to fade in their own manager’s eyes. Fire too many employees, and the problem starts to look like a poor hiring manager, rather than under performing employees.

How hiring managers try to mitigate these risks

  1. Hire people the hiring manager already knows: This is why CareerBuilder reported that 80% of new hires were already known by the hiring manager. These are internal transfers, ex-employees/coworkers, or people who have networked their way to the hiring manager. There’s lower risk in a known quantity.
  2. Find new hires who have already solved similar problems: If the hiring manger can’t come to terms with already known candidates, the next best thing is to find a candidate that has already solved the priority problems that the hiring manager (and department) faces today. Candidates who have already met similar goals have a much better chance of hitting the ground running and being able to make immediate contributions to the team … because there’s little learning curve.
  3. Find new hires that have provided similar value: If the hiring manager is tasked with growing sales, risk is lowered by finding a candidate who has grown sales for past employers by a really big number. If the hiring manager’s goals are to lower shipping costs, risk is lowered by finding a candidate who has reduced shipping costs for past employers, returning impressive cost savings.

If you can reduce these risks in the hieing manager’s eyes, you become a more attractive candidate – simply because you present less risk.

Here’s how you can cause hiring managers to perceive you as a low risk candidate:

Now let’s get out of the hiring manager’s head and back to what you can do to improve your chances of getting hired.

I recently wrote about this in a series of two articles:

Part 1:

Part 2:


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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