In a tight labor market, firms can gain a tremendous competitive advantage by breaking the old rules and acting differently from the average firm. Unfortunately it’s often quite difficult to get conservative HR departments to realize that the recruiting game has changed forever. And if you are going to get the best recruits, you have to stand out from the rest of the firms. Traditionally all hiring has been individual. People apply individually and are hired independently. However the tight labor market, coupled with the changing values and lifestyles of the workforce is forcing policy makers to revisit their decades-old rules that forbid the hiring of two people (at once) as a package deal! HIRE THEM BOTH – OFFER THEM A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY!
Forward thinking companies like Cisco and Intel have re-popularized the use of employee referral programs which often entail a friend recommending to a friend that they follow them to their current firm. The next logical step in a tight labor market is to hire two friends simultaneously as a “package deal.” The principal is really quite simple. Many of us have close friends and spouses that would love the opportunity to work at the same place. These close friendships/ relationships are often so strong that it might be the only thing they would cause two employed friends to leave their current jobs. They would leave for a once in a lifetime opportunity to work at the same location and perhaps even on the same team. Because firms now have so many unfilled jobs the odds of having two of the right jobs open at once are greater than they have ever been. HIRE SEVERAL OR EVEN A WHOLE TEAM
The U.S. Army was one of the first to initiate an “enlist with a buddy” package. Firms in the Silicon Valley have often hired intact teams. Movie star type “talent scouts” in the valley have “shopped” software development teams around to firms for several years. Even Sears has hired an intact team. Cisco is rightly famous for targeting firms to acquire, based on the quality of the intact teams that they will get when they purchase the firm. The time has come for other firms to begin changing their search tools to target friends and small groups of friends and colleagues as “package hires.” VARIATIONS ON “HIRE THEM BOTH”
- Hire two as a team (bring a friend) – College classmates as well as ex-college friends are prime candidates. Ex-military that served together are also excellent targets. Adults that volunteer together and neighbors should also be considered. Parents that have children in the same day care or school are also excellent candidates. Advertising needs to be targeted specifically to places where these “types” will see it.
- Hire the spouse / significant other (get over it) – Nepotism rules are thankfully gone in most organizations. Many couples would love the opportunity to commute together and to work at the same facility. Because so many couples develop their relationships at work it may even be possible for well-managed firms to allow a couple to work on the same team, where one person did not directly supervise the other. For unmarried and gay couples the opportunity to work together could be the deciding factor in getting well paid, content employee people to leave their current great job for an opportunity to work together at your firm. Dual career couples have often tried to relocate together, only to be thwarted by shortsighted HR policies. By offering to hire them “both” your applicant pool will increase dramatically, almost overnight.
- Hire their boss – Hiring a boss and a key subordinate as a package is just a simple variation from the old paradigm where the boss quit first and after a period of time asked the subordinate to follow. Now one can talk the other into seeking out “greener pastures” together.
- Hire their mentor – By telling a mentor that he or she could bring their mentee along you could “sweeten the deal” by offering a once in a lifetime opportunity.
- Work with your brother/sister/parent – Close family ties have often drawn relatives to work at the same firm. However by hiring two as a package you can increase the incentive by virtually turning one relative into a recruiter for the other.
A POWERFUL INCENTIVE
Obviously if you hire two or more people as a package it is an added WOW to them if you can place them in the same team or division. Although you can not always guarantee that they can work together in the same team, merely having the opportunity to share breaks and lunches as well as commuting together may be enough of an incentive to close any deal. Another advantage of hiring “two at once” is that friends are likely to mentor and assist each other in learning the culture of the firm as well as their individual jobs. New hires will feel less isolated knowing that they have a friend that is close by with whom they can talk and share experiences. POSSIBLE CONCERNS
Obviously if you hire two or more people together, each must meet the minimum qualifications for their individual job. And of course, there can be no guarantee that they can continue to be transferred or even assigned together for more than a short initial period (6-12 months). There is also a risk that if one friend decides to leave (or must be let go) that the other will choose to follow. However there is also the possibility that one friend will talk the other out of wanting to leave. Although technically there is no legally binding agreement tying the two hires together, there is a clear understanding that if one applicant gets an offer the other will also. Even if one of them rejects their offer there still a chance the second will accept. I would suggest caution against hiring large or whole teams directly from a competitor without first checking with counsel to see if “trade secrets” may be involved. GO AHEAD…HIRE A DYNAMIC DUO
Now expect a lot of excuses and “well…I don’t know’s” and some general whining from conservative HR types. Tell them to “get over it” or fire them and replace them with someone that is willing to take a risk and try something different. If you expect to beat the competition in the recruiting war, you have to “act differently” from the rest of the “pack.” The key to the whole process is the powerful draw (or the dream) of a once in a lifetime chance to work and commute with your best friend! Be the first on your block to try it!