Take a Page from the Realtor’s Playbook

home-for-saleI think most people believe their house is worth more than it really is.

That’s a sweeping generality, I know. I’m basing it on the unscientific and totally anecdotal opinion of two women with recent experience in house valuation – me and my daughter, Lee. Last year Lee sold her house in Texas and I refinanced my home in Massachusetts. Both of us were given a dose of “reality” in the process.

For Lee, she fully expected to make about $20,000 more than she actually did. For me, the appraisal of my home was about $40,000 lower than I expected.

For both of us, market realities trumped our opinions of what we thought our homes were really worth. Lee had a very reputable real estate agent with 25 years of experience; I had the comparisons of three other houses with similar size and acreage that had sold within the last six months.

Emotional Attachment in Homes and Jobs

I don’t think this is unusual. I think most people like, if not love, their homes. Because of the time and effort to create their home environments, they don’t see their homes realistically when they have to sell or refinance. They assume everyone will just love those Mexican tile counters and their landscaping choices. They assume that because they have a premier location, their house just must be assessed for more than the one across town. You get the picture. Especially in the case of selling a house, people very rarely think about what other options the consumer has available in their own market.

Same Thinking by Hiring Managers

I believe most hiring managers think the same way about their job openings. When they have an opening, they rarely think about the many choices a candidate has in choosing a job and a company. But they should, because every company that is hiring is their competition. And, like the homeowner who has to make herself competitive with all of those other houses on the market, the hiring manager must deal with the same dynamics.

Candidates are not just looking at your job. They are comparing multiple companies and opportunities.

So, how do you get a “reality” fix on what’s happening in your job market? Here are a few tips:

  • JOB BOARDS – Once you have your defined position description and compensation, go into the major job boards (CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.) as if you are searching for a job yourself. Fill out all of the fields the way a candidate would and run the search. You may even want to set a search string so if a new position opens up that is similar to yours, you’ll get a notice. (That’s also a great way to monitor your competition’s hiring as well.)Is the job you are offering one of twenty or thirty in your geographic area, or one of three? Is your compensation in line with your competitors, or is yours lower? Is your benefits package in line with others? Are other companies offering equity? If you’re not competitive, you’ll have a challenge attracting the best candidates.
  • RECRUITERS – Like real estate agents, recruiters are dealing with what’s on the market (jobs and candidates) every day. If you’re using a recruiter, you should be able to test your opening easily. Ask them to tell you (without naming the companies, of course) what similar types of jobs they have filled in the last six months and what the compensation and benefits were. Ask their opinion on the opportunity itself and where it “stack ranks” with similar opportunities. They can be a wealth of information and are happy to share their insights – especially if you have an exclusive or semi-exclusive relationship.
  • INDUSTRY OR TRADE ASSOCIATIONS – If you belong to your industry association, check out the job board on their website. If you find a position similar to yours, see if what you are offering is competitive. If there are similar jobs in other locations, you may have to adjust for cost of living. If you belong to an association of your peers (sales, marketing, financial professionals for example), maybe they have current information that can help you determine your competitiveness.
  • DON’T CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM – This last tip is probably the most important, yet it is the hardest to do. Just like the realtor who has no enthusiasm when showing a house, I’ve seen many good managers do the same thing. When it comes to “romancing” their prospective employee and their opening, they fall a bit flat. Don’t hold back when describing the potential that your job and your company have to offer. Tell the candidate about your experience working for the company and why you are there. In short, put some sizzle on that steak! That’s nothing less than you would expect from a realtor who was selling your house.

Follow these simple steps and my prediction for 2014 is that you’ll land the candidates you really want in your company!

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