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Blog: 5 Tips for Hiring Executives and Salespeople

By Bridget McCrea

Filling sales and executive positions isn’t easy for any company. Regardless of their industry, size, or years in business, most organizations struggle with this issue on a regular basis. “Hiring qualified and experienced personnel for these two roles is a challenge for most businesses,” says Michelle Benjamin, CEO and founder of TalentReady, a New York-based talent management company.

With the job market beginning to tighten up – which means more companies will be vying for fewer qualified candidates – now is the time for electrical distributors to hone their executive and salesperson search, recruiting, and hiring methods. “As the economy continues to recover,” Benjamin says, “even more businesses will be seeking the best talent available to help with new expansions and markets.”

Here are five expert tips that distributors can use to break through the clutter and accomplish their hiring goals in 2013 and beyond:

  1. Take a proactive approach to the task. Don’t wait until the bench is empty or your top salesperson leaves – start thinking about filling positions now. In some cases this may mean making a hiring decision before the actual position is vacated or created, but in an expanding national economy this approach is much more effective than being caught short-handed when business picks up. “In a highly competitive environment, industrial distributors may find it difficult to attract and retain quality workers,” says Benjamin. “Therefore, it is best to recruit proactively.”
  2. Develop strong recruiting and on-boarding processes. It’s never too late to come up with specific recruiting and hiring processes that can be duplicated across your organization – whether you have a single operation or 100 locations nationwide. Developing job descriptions, creating a standard interview process, and using specific hiring criteria across all departments, for example, all go a long way in creating a positive hiring culture. “When you have strong recruiting and on-boarding processes in place,” says Benjamin, “you’ll stand a much better chance of attracting new employees – particularly younger candidates – who want exciting and challenging careers.”
  3. Leverage social media as a low-cost recruitment tool. A big proponent of low-cost hiring methods, Benjamin says good strategies include joining social media groups (like LinkedIn and Facebook), advertising on job boards (like Monster and SimplyHired), and hosting industry-specific presentations. When using any of these strategies, Benjamin says distributors should always gather email contact information, which can then be used to follow-up with prospects and gauge their interest levels. Remember, says Benjamin, that social media is a hiring channel that should “be hosted and staffed by knowledgeable personnel to achieve the best results.”
  4. Put elbow grease into the interview process. Even in today’s wired world, most experts agree that the interview (conducted in person, via phone, or using a videoconferencing tool like Skype) is an employer’s most important interview tool. Try to devote at least 90 minutes to this facet of the hiring process, advises Mark Faust, principal at growth advisory firm Echelon Management International in Cincinnati, and use it as a way to “triangulate” all facets of your candidate’s work and personal life. Ask questions (see sidebar to this article for details on the questions) about experience, education, first jobs, career goals, and other important topics. Be sure to listen, says Faust, or risk missing out on important points that will help you make the best possible hiring decision. 
  5. Always check references. “Be sure to back up your interviewing with reference checking,” Faust advises. “You should be able to go back to the three or four places where they were successful and verify that fact.” Ask for two references that worked closely with the executive or salesperson, minimally, but preferable four. When you get the references on the phone, ask questions about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and then get more detailed with queries like: What kind of training would you recommend for this person and why? “The answers to these and other questions will help you peel back the layers and really get to know your job candidate through the reference’s eyes,” says Faust. “This information will be invaluable when it comes time to make your final decision.”

Editor’s note: Come back to tedmag.com on Wednesday to learn how to master the salesperson interview.

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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