Jock Seal founded The H.S. Group in 1967. With offices in Green Bay and the Fox Cities, it offers recruiting, outplacement, human resource consulting and leadership development. The H.S. Group consultants have worked with nearly every major business in Wisconsin, as well as companies nationwide in partnership with Career Partners International. Seal sat down with Insight Editor Margaret LeBrun to talk about today’s challenges in talent recruitment and retention.
We’ve worked with thousands of candidates from an outplacement perspective, and what’s interesting — and one of the most disturbing things from that standpoint — is when they go to an interview, about 80 percent of the time they feel the people interviewing them aren’t prepared for that interview. It’s sad, and it shouldn’t be allowed.
We’re coming up on 50 years for The H.S. Group as of July 1. What we think about is how can we do things better, which is in our thought process every day. We are involved with recruiting, career transition, outplacement work, and we have a substantial human resource consulting division. We’re also getting more involved in coaching and managing for talent development.
The biggest issue we have with recruiting today is the online application. It’s amazing; about 75 percent of C-level people don’t even bother with them. What we have found is they’ll fill out an app online and never hear a word. Or, they receive rejection letters almost a minute later. People screening on the phone are often the least experienced. What they forget is, candidates are very interested in how you are going to sell them into working for you.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t check references. We do. We also check college records. I have caught 21 senior-level people since I started in business that lied about their college and their degrees. They were terrified I would say something, and I said, “absolutely not, it’s on your conscience, not mine. But you’re done.”
Most of the people we deal with don’t go online and look for positions. We try to find people flying under the radar, not in the middle of it. Some of my clients say, “Jock, we’re not ready to hire yet, but the next quarter we will be looking for someone.” What I say to that is, “You have your timetable and the candidates have theirs. Theirs is usually faster than yours because they want to get back into the game. If you think that when you’re ready, that talent’s going to be available, you’re making a huge mistake. You should talk to those people now.”
In the last five years it’s been harder to find the right people. You have a lot of things to worry about — dual careers for one. When you’re talking about one person, you’re usually talking about two: spouses, significant others. We came up with a program to address this; it’s like an outplacement division for them.
I tell people who are looking for work to do your homework on the company you want to work for, find out what they do, find out whatever you can about the management team, the owner, the CEO. While you’re doing your research, you are, in essence, writing your own resume. Then you go to an interview (after you get invited) and if you don’t get invited, ask them why not. The company should be prepared to tell you.
I think every individual should have P&L responsibility for their careers. That means your family members are the stockholders, and being a stock- holder they would encourage you to do the best you can, and hope you do well, because they are going to benefit from it.
Most companies will set goals for the people that work there. I believe the people setting goals should be in line with the objective with the company, but goals should also come from the individuals and go up. That way, you improve retention.
I get calls from people I worked with 30 years ago, 40 years ago who are CEOs and running their own companies now. I had the pleasure to help them with their career or even starting a business.It’s very rewarding. It’s almost as good as getting a check when they call.