By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

Has someone ever encouraged you to travel to someplace they’ve been – and you haven’t – by telling you the “people are very friendly”, or “the hotel staff was very accommodating”?  You want to believe what you’re hearing, especially if it comes from a credible source.  And, though you feel the enthusiasm, the message just doesn’t register, somehow. 

Candidates can have the same reaction to your own efforts to tell them about the great practice you have and the opportunity that awaits them. What to do?

Start by admitting that simply telling someone you have an “open door policy”, or that your firm is “family friendly”, or that you “are very entrepreneurial” isn’t going to cut it. These phrases – and others like them – have been used so much they’ve become clichés. You may not notice the candidate rolling his eyes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

People just don’t respond to what sound like self-serving assertions. Even if they’re true! The trick is to have the candidate make those same inferences based on real-life information that you provide.

Try consulting your own employees about their thoughts on what kind of a workplace they have. Ask them how they think you should characterize what it’s like to work there. For one thing, you’ll get a more authentic response as seen through the eyes of an employee. For another, you can count on that perception to be reinforced by that employee in any conversations with the candidate.

Next, ask your employees for stories from their experience that would be good illustrations of those characteristics. When did they benefit from an “open door policy”? What has “family friendly” meant to them, personally? What rewards have they received for being “very entrepreneurial”? Add your own examples to this list of stories.

Then, as you are interviewing a candidate and in your best “selling” mode, reach into your bag for one of those stories to illustrate the point you want to make. Better yet, tell the story as you introduce the candidate to the very employee who gave it to you.

Once you start looking for them, you’ll probably find stories you didn’t realize were out there.

John Borrowman