Help Your Placement’s Transition

Jun 7, 2010

I have been a recruiter since 1988 and have held leadership positions with large national companies as well as owned my own executive search firm for 10 years. I’ve been a member of the Pinnacle Society since 2006 and am also certified as an executive coach by the International Coaching Federation.

What a lot of people don’t know about me (besides that my first job in high school involved wearing a bear costume for kids’ birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese) is that I actually started a new job in January.

After 10 years on my own with two business partners, we amicably parted ways, and I was recruited by a large regional CPA firm, Goodman and Company, to provide executive recruiting and human resources consulting services to its client base. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it has been a great reminder about the transition our candidates go through when changing jobs.

It has been a rough road in our industry recently, even for a seasoned recruiter, causing me to pause and reflect on what made me successful in the first place. I told someone recently that I feel I was a much better recruiter when I was less experienced. I wasn’t as efficient as I am now, and certainly didn’t have the trust-based relationships I do now, but I think I had better attention to detail because ultimately, more was personally at stake with every deal while I was building my business.

Now, much of my business comes to me based on my established reputation. But with more orders to fill, it’s easy to get sloppy. I took my own job change as an opportunity to revisit some of the fundamental placement principles and fine tune my skills.

I watched my former Pinnacle Society colleague Tony Byrne’s videos as a starting point: 30 Steps In The Placement Process. The first time I watched this I found myself thinking: “I can do this in 15 steps. Why 30?”

But in watching the suspender-clad training guru (who left us much too early, and was succeeded by Danny Cahill as training chair for the Pinnacle Society), it reminded me not only of how much I miss the ‘80s, but also of how business was conducted before technology took over.

It was a great primer about bridging the gap between the keyboard and the phone which advancing technology has created.

I also revisited some ideas I wrote regarding the preparation of candidates, clients, and maybe even your own new employees, about their first day at work.

Too many outstanding candidates are staying put right now hoping for an economic surplus of jobs that is not likely coming anytime soon. When you have convinced that fantastic candidate to take the opportunity to move, do what you can to make their transition as smooth as possible for everyone.

These conversations will open up the dialogue for future business as well.

Consider these ideas to make your next placement’s transition a little smoother:

Feelings of nervousness are expected and very common no matter what the level of career professional. Let your candidate know this is their chance to start from scratch, and first impressions are not only important, but lasting. Those first days will set the tone that will carry through this important step in their career.

Remind them of these basic ideas to make their arrival more comfortable:
• Leave home early in order to be on time with an extra 15-minute cushion on top of that in case of a traffic jam.
• Take proper identification for completion of new employee paperwork. This could include a passport, a driver’s license, social security card, Green Card, or other authorization to legally work in the U.S. Know what tax exemptions to claim and have emergency contact phone numbers on hand as well as a voided check or deposit slip for direct deposit if applicable.
• Know who to ask for and exactly where and when to arrive.
• Dress professionally and appropriately for the company. (When in doubt, dress UP, not down.) Make sure shoes are shined, clothes are neat and pressed, and don’t over-accessorize.
• Be prepared to introduce yourself, smile, and treat everyone with respect. Saying please and thank you are the easiest ways to make people comfortable quickly.
• Have pen, paper, breath mints, and cash on hand. Trying to find a bank or a cash machine in a new neighborhood may not be the easiest thing on a first day.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to take good notes. If invited to meetings to observe or participate, don’t jump in too quickly, but also don’t be afraid to share comments and ideas if asked.
• Relax! It will take time for all the new information about the job and company to sink in.

A phone call from the new boss a week before the new employee starts is a great personal touch, and goes a long way toward making them feel welcome. Items for discussion should include what to expect the first day or week, where to go, and what time to arrive the first day. Remind your clients about items they should have ready before the new employee arrives:

• Keys, security passes, parking passes, etc. should be ready or the paperwork associated with them available to be filled out.
• Payroll forms and HR paperwork should be in a package and ready to be completed if not already done prior to start date.
• The employee’s workspace is ready for work:
– Computer set up and running, email accounts activated.
– Ensure the phone is in place, working and a manual is handy.
– The chair is appropriate for the space and in good condition.
– The work area (desk, carpet, etc.) is clean and in good working order.
– A new, current copy of the company phone directory is available (or available online).
• Order business cards and other personal stationery items as needed so they can get to work and be a productive, contributing member as soon as possible.
• A scheduled agenda for the first day or two. Include them in meetings on projects they will be involved with, even if only as an observer.
• Introduce them to everyone they will be working with directly. Make sure they meet the person they should go to with facilities questions (i.e.: how to work the copier, the fax, the phone, etc.).
• Have someone in the department (manager/peer) schedule to take them to lunch. There is nothing more un-comfortable than going to a new company and not knowing where to go for lunch the first day, and not being invited to go with others. A little pre-planning can make the new employee feel welcome and a part of the group.
• Be approachable and available. Assigning them a first-week mentor they can go to with questions will make them more comfortable with policies, procedures, and work flow.

Thanks again to all those who came before me and paved the way for our industry to have grown and evolved to what it is. For those who will follow me, I want to inspire you to think outside the box, be creative, and HAVE FUN WITH YOUR JOB, YOUR COMPANY, AND YOUR STAFF every single day, no matter what challenges the economy or market throws your way.

Email me your challenges or ideas any time at

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