Monday, March 28, 2005

Just Sign the Darn Release

As you may know, when hiring new employees or as a job seeker looking for new employment, a background check may need to be done and at a minimum a check of references from previous employers or employment situations is usually done.

There are a hundred reasons why this is a complicated concept, but the plain facts (just the facts Ma'am) are that prospective employers have a keen interest in learning that you are who you say you are and that you've done all the things you say you've done. Some 40% of resumes are said to have "distortion". It costs employers roughly three times the salary of the "mis-hire" to replace him/her if there is a bad fit.

As a candidate for employment, you are asked to sign a release that says that a prospective employer can speak with "others" about your previous work experience. I know when I've been a job seeker and looked at the forms I was requested to sign, I've often thought to myself - "well they have me over a barrel. If I don't sign this then it seems like I have something to hide and if I do sign this and someone says something misleading about me then I don't really have any recourse."

The bottom line is that I always have recourse to go back to someone who was deliberately misleading, malicious and slanderous telling "untruths" about me. However, if what they say was true then there isn't really much I can do about it.

My point is this, when a prospective employer asks a job seeker to sign a release so they can check you out....just do it. It is the right thing to do to get the job - if you really want the job. If you are parnoid enough to think that people will say bad things about you - well that creates a presumption you could be a hiring risk and the employer should be cautious.

I've got a current candidate who is refusing to sign a release to complete a background check and professional references. His attorney has advised him that no one who has his best interests in mind would be asking him to sign a release. I can't help this candidate if he gets legal advice that isn't in his best "future employment" interest. If the candidate doesn't sign the release at some point soon in the process we will just have to walk away from him. We have to be able to get to the info that we need as part of the hiring process. His refusal only makes us (me as the recruiter and my client the hiring authority) raise our eyebrows and sigh. He is writing himself off as a candidate because of the liability in making a "wrong" hire.

If you want the job bad enough, you'll just do it. That is certainly the case with signing releases to check references a background check. Just do it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Getting Past Appearances - Shoes and Biker Leathers

Have you ever been to Daytona Beach Florida for Bike Week? My brother and sister-in-law have a business called Spur Ranch Jewelry where they sell jewelry made and set in sterling silver ( Since 1997 they have had concessions at motorcycle rallies, attending the larger ones across the US. This year I was there to help out for a few days and sell jewelry to this microcosm of society.

How does this relate to recruiting in healthcare? The point I want to make is that appearances do make a difference and that people have a hard time getting over stereotypes and assumptions made because of appearances.

Bikers, at least those I have met in places like Daytona and Sturgis SD, which also has a big rally, are some of the most honest, straight forward, in this world for a good time, passionate people on the planet. Many of them are attorneys, bankers, physicians and other high profile contributors to our economy who enjoy being undistinguished and blending in with the biker crowd.

Unless you are one or have significant experience with members of the “biker community,” you might have the impression that people who dress in black leather from head to toe, ride loud and very hot motorcycles, wear skull caps, are adorned with lots of silver chains and have grease under their fingernails are mostly gang oriented, hard living, beer drinking, lower than the linoleum members of our society. Not true, although they do like their beer and rock and roll. The majority are simply free spirits who love the freedom they feel when out on their bikes and who appreciate the simplicity and camaraderie of the biker community. The stereotype is largely wrong and appearances are deceiving.

If you are a candidate looking for a job my advice is to look at your shoes. Or, if you are a hiring authority interviewing people, my advice is to look a little deeper than the shoes. I had a boss once in the recruiting business that interviewed a candidate in person and came back and told me that he didn’t think the candidate was “right” because of his shoes. He couldn’t articulate anything else about why he didn’t like this candidate only, “Lynden if you had been there and seen him and his shoes, you would have understood.” I also had a client reject a candidate saying, "you should have seen his shoes."

The devil is in the details and that goes for both sides of the hiring process. Appearances can be deceiving. As a candidate do your best to have your appearance serve you well. Pay attention to the shine on your shoes and the press of your suit, it does say something about your attention to details. As a hiring authority, be sure to ask about hobbies and outside of work interests that might just explain the stubborn grease under a candidate’s fingernails and most importantly – don’t be afraid to hire a biker. You might just get the best employee you’ve ever had.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Check out the Talenteering Article

If you are a hiring authority and if you want to attract the best, most professional candidates to your company - check out this concept by Doug Miller with

I think you'll enjoy the concept.

It should stretch and bend your thinking.

Be a Talent HOG - my terminology. Create a superlative corporate culture no matter the size of your company, medical practice or small business. That is what will attract the best of the best to your company.

Happy Talent Hogging! :)


Professional References

This is an often underappreciated resource for both hiring authorities and candidates who are seeking new opportunities in any market, but especially healthcare. Most good recruiting consultants who are competitive about their practices know that professional references provide credibility for the candidate and substantiate the “contributions” and “professionalism” of top candidates.

A mistake most make about professional references, it that they occur at the end of a job search and usually don’t happen until close to the offer stage of negotiations. Cutting edge recruiters know that by pushing up the timing of a professional reference, they can advance a candidate more quickly through the hiring process and get attention for someone who otherwise might have been buried in the stack of resumes or CV’s.

So just what is a reference check then? It is an objective evaluation of a candidate's past job performance, based on conversations with people who have actually worked with the candidate on a daily basis within the last 5 to 7 years. A good reference is a person with whom the candidate has actually worked; may include current or former supervisors, peers and subordinates; may be either business or professional.

Reference checks allow for an in-depth look at past performance of a potential new hire. It allows the prospective employer to evaluate how the candidate’s skills, experience and overall performance fit the requirements of the job to be filled, and if done properly, it highlights areas in which the candidate can improve or gain additional experience to increase his or her value to the employer over time. From the employers’ perspective, it clearly demonstrates that care was consistently and fairly used in the employee selection process.

We no longer live in a society where companies can hire based on someone having an honest face. An accepted estimate of the costs of mis-hiring is three times the annual salary of the employee. That means that the tangible value placed on professional references is high. An astounding 40% of resumes or CV’s are estimated to have some distortion.

So what can you do? As a job seeker entering the hiring market, know who you are going to use for professional references and why. Select people who can speak to your skills from a 360 degree perspective – 1) those you reported to; 2) peers; and 3) those who reported to you. Not every job seeker’s experience includes a 360 degree perspective, but approximate it as much as possible. If you are a physician for example, who has been in his own practice and doesn’t have a boss, then providing peer references and increasing the number of them is even more important. There are ways to still meet the needs of a prospective hiring authority by being thoughtful and proactive about providing the name and contact information for those who really know what you do and how you function in a professional environment.

If you are working with a recruiter, you might encourage him or her to speak with one or two of your references and summarize the information learned for inclusion along with your credentials to a prospective employer. If you are a hiring authority, you might ask for a couple of references to be completed in advance of bringing a candidate onsite for a personal face to face interview. Having the information from the reference in advance of the interview can help frame interview preparation of the part of the interview team meeting a candidate.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, included below are some excellent references or feel free to contact me. References can make or break a hire. Take the time to assure they work for you.

 Reference Checking for Everyone: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself, Your Business, and Your Family, Paul W. Barada, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, 2004
 The Complete Reference Checking Handbook, Edward C. Andler with Dara Herbst, American Management Association, 2003