Tag Archives: company brand

How to Hire for Attitude: 5 Steps

What do companies like Southwest Airlines, Ritz-Carlton and Zappos have in common? They hire for attitude and train for skill.

It’s a simple mantra but one that has a profound impact on how to successfully recruit and select new employees.

Prioritizing Soft Skills

During their hiring process, these companies weigh “attitudinal” characteristics very heavily.

These are personal attributes that it’s difficult to train employees on — such as being a people-person, having an upbeat personality or possessing a keen ability to learn.

While these firms won’t ignore technical skills (Southwest doesn’t put unqualified pilots in the cockpit, no matter how bright and cheery they are) they nonetheless look very carefully at these soft skills — far more than most employers do.

These companies gain a lot from this hiring strategy. By focusing on attitudinal characteristics that align with their company brand, these companies reinforce their distinctive company culture with each new hire.

And because they’re hiring people whose values align with that culture, the result is a workforce that’s happier, more engaged and less likely to turn over.

But the benefits of this hiring process don’t stop there. When a workforce embodies the company brand (think how Southwest employees exude “fun”), it differentiates the customer experience where it counts most — in consumers’ one-on-one interactions with your staff.

If you have any doubt about the power of that dynamic, just consider how Southwest, Ritz-Carlton and Zappos have dominated their respective markets.

Five Steps to Hiring for Attitude

So how should you go about hiring for attitude, seeding your workforce with true brand ambassadors? You could run your applicants through personality tests and behavioral assessments — but that can be pricey, time-consuming and onerous for the candidates.

Fortunately, there are other approaches you can employ to put this strategy in practice. Here are five simple, low-cost ways to hire for attitude:

1. Be clear about expectations.

Take advantage of candidate self-selection by clearly broadcasting what qualities you look for when bringing on staff.

For example, if you tell the world that you’re in the market for extroverts – fewer introverts will apply (and that’s a good outcome for you and them).

By defining what personal qualities you’re searching for up-front, you make it more likely that candidates with those attributes will throw their hats into the ring.

2. Be aggressive.

Don’t just wait for people with the right attitude to apply for a job – spot them in the marketplace and make your pitch!

When you see someone who clearly embodies the qualities you want on your team, give her your card and invite her to apply for employment.

As any great recruiter knows, that extremely attentive waiter, remarkably patient sales associate or well-spoken repairman could be your next great hire.

3. Focus on the person behind the paper.

Gauging attitude from a resume requires insight and vision. Consider how the personal qualities you seek would manifest themselves in a candidate’s resume and background.

For example, individuals who are adept at overcoming adversity may have demonstrated that spirit in how they responded to a layoff. People-oriented extroverts may belong to a variety of business associations and community groups. Skilled communicators will likely design and organize their resume content in exceptional ways.

In addition, your interview questions can also reveal attitudinal characteristics. Looking for someone with customer service in his DNA? Ask about the most over-the-top service he ever delivered (the best service people never forget such stories).

Looking for someone with a sense of humor? Ask about the time she laughed the hardest.

Whatever attitude you seek to hire, the key is to look beyond the words on the resume and search for more subtle clues about a candidate’s character.

4. Observe applicants when they think no one is watching.

Want to see a candidate’s true colors? Then see how he behaves when he thinks no one is watching.

How did the applicant treat your receptionist? Did he strike up a conversation with other applicants in the waiting room? Did he eat alone in the cafeteria or introduce himself to a table of strangers?

What the candidate says and does outside of the hiring manager’s view can give you a glimpse into her true personality (which may differ from how she presents in an interview). Use these clues to help judge if the applicant will really be a good fit in the culture you’re cultivating.

5. Enlist today’s stars to spot tomorrow’s standouts.

Toward the end of the hiring process, see if it’s possible to have your job finalists spend some time shadowing existing employees.

This serves two objectives. First, candidates get an unfiltered look at the job they’d be performing, so there’s less chance of unpleasant surprises and post-hire buyers’ remorse.

Second, by pairing these finalists with the best employees (the ones who embody the desired attitude), your existing staff can help identify those applicants who have the right stuff.

Hiring for attitude is about building a distinctive workplace culture and company brand that, unlike skill sets, can’t easily be copied in the market. It’s what gives Southwest Airlines, Ritz-Carlton and Zappos their unique character — and competitive advantage.

Follow the lead of these legendary firms as you look to recruit great candidates. Don’t just hire for skill; hire for attitude. It makes all the difference.

This article originally appeared on monster.com.

The Era of Free Agent Employees

Where does a company brand begin and end? Does it embrace the employees — people who are the brand — or suffocate them?

More and more, I’m being asked by people — in both the corporate sphere, among those trying to control the brand perception, and by individuals attempting to expand their own platform and network — what are the dimensions of personal branding, and how does it fit with the corporate brand? What is personal branding? How do you do it? What’s the real value of the “[insert your name here] Brand”? And how do companies use it to their advantage?

Unfortunately, official corporate reaction generally is, “Why should I invest in employee loyalty when they’re at work scrolling through LinkedIn contacts and job postings, attempting to leverage the corporate brand as they are looking for their next job?”

We have all become keenly aware there are fewer and fewer retirement parties and gold watch presentations these days. We are fixated on our next gig because — well, because, what other option is there?

The employer-employee relationship has changed dramatically over time. Any perception of reciprocal loyalty has evaporated, along with the time cards and company picnics. We are no longer searching for the job of a lifetime, instead, we’re in search of a lifetime of jobs.

A wisely led company should recognize that personal branding is an important issue for employees and should encourage it. A study by Brightedge says, “Companies that have a greater proportion of their employees on LinkedIn have more followers on their company pages.” This means employees will improve equity-brand trust by attracting other great employees, improving brand reputation.

That’s a good thing.

Sadly, many times companies fail to recognize the benefits. They don’t realize these free agent employees can be strong assets to their company if they are recognized as thought leaders.

How did this employee free agent mentality start?

Roots of an Issue

Capitalism is, intrinsically, a dynamic system of supply and demand. Financial and intellectual capital jets about these days faster than ever. Markets grow and collapse right and left.

Once upon a time, it was good advice to tell college kids to prepare for careers with multiple stops and regale them with stories of that slow but steady climb up the corporate ladder. Now we tell people of all ages: Prepare for multiple careers!

This change has created what I call the free agent employee model, which has caused a rift in company and employee relationships. Why? Because companies assume these “free agents” aren’t looking for long-term commitment (e.g., the Careerbuilder.com report that says 76% of full-time workers would leave their job if the right opportunity came along.) But how should employees think about job security and company loyalty, especially when facing the likelihood of downsizing, right sizing, re-organizing and lay-offs along their career paths?

Check out N.F.L. free agents, a large talent pool of players willing to join the team offering the highest bid. This “jumping ship” approach reminds me of the show “Shark Tank,” except it’s not limited to fledgling entrepreneurs or N.F.L. athletes — it’s now everyone.

Look at Millennials; they’re the ones who have seen their parents adapt to the aftermath of the recession, and they’re the ones who will continue this free agent way of thinking. Actually, 50% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials by 2030, according to PEW. Companies need to take note by putting an emphasis on employee engagement.

Employees Need Lovin’ – Even Free Agents

Companies that fear and want to crush the free agent mentality are missing important opportunities to capitalize on employees’ personal branding.

If employees feel a sense of fulfillment when working for us, which is employee engagement, and have a strong connection with their manager, which again is employee engagement, then they’re more likely to commit to our company and become brand advocates, which can help bring in more customers and new employee talent right to our doorsteps.

Remember, employees will stay for the right manager, not the right job – and will leave for the same reason.

When you think about it, it’s the front-line employees who are dealing with the customers every day. They’re the ones who help build the relationship between the brand and the customer. Who wouldn’t want to encourage that? And they’re the investment that represents the brand as much as the CEO every day.

However, executives tend to think their role plays a bigger part in the public’s eye than employees. According to a recent New Weber study, “50% of executives expect that CEO reputation will matter even more to company reputation in the next few years.” In fact, the Edelman Trust Barometer says, “Employees rank higher in pu blic trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO or founder. 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.”

What if companies engaged and promoted their employees more? Would the numbers reflect it? Would companies focus less on CEO transparency and public and media relations and more on employee engagement?

Moving Forward

The post-recession way of thinking is here to stay – at least in the foreseeable future. If we want our employees to start being loyal, then we’ve got to meet them halfway. We have to embrace their free agent way of thinking. And we have to engage them. Then, maybe we can stop looking over employees’ shoulders, fearing free agency, and give employees a company they believe in promoting.