INFO/RESOURCES – HIRING / CANDIDATE SELECTION PROCESSES

What’s Your Recruiting Story?

by Sara Bennett | April 8, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics get connected

The right recruiting story makes a difference to who you hire. Here's some ideas on how to create the right recruiting story and get it told - often and well! … Read More »

What do your employee’s cost – really?

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 6, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs* get connected

When taking a closer look at the true costs of being an employer, temporary employees are often much less expensive. Here'why.....   … Read More »

A 7 Step Journey to Stress Free Firings!

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 1, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, INFO/RESOURCES - FOR PEOPLE MANAGERS / HR PROFESSIONALS, INFO/RESOURCES - HIRING / CANDIDATE SELECTION PROCESSES, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs* get connected

Hiring and firing are not just the opposite ends of the staffing spectrum, but together represent the two most important staffing decisions managers make when building their teams. … Read More »

I feel stuck. How do I put new life into my job search?

by Sara Bennett | March 16, 2024

0 Author-Sara, INFO/RESOURCES - FOR JOB SEEKERS (All), Job Seekers Q and A*, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs*

We all inevitably have been in a job search for much longer than planned and have been left to feel disappointed and lost of hope for job prospects, here are our best tips for getting yourself out of this cycle! … Read More »

What questions are likely to come up in an interview?

by Sara Bennett | March 8, 2024

0 Author-Sara, INFO/RESOURCES - FOR JOB SEEKERS (All), Interview Dos and Don'ts, Job Seekers Q and A*, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs*

Have an upcoming job interview? Here are the 3 most important interview questions that you are likely to be asked during a job interview! … Read More »

Result Based Hiring Moves Past Traditional Job Descriptions!

by Sara Bennett | February 12, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics, INFO/RESOURCES - HIRING / CANDIDATE SELECTION PROCESSES, Results Based Hiring Processes*, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs*

Traditional Job Descriptions and a Results Focused Hiring Process Don't Always Go Together!  

The use of the job description as an organizational tool dates back a long ways, likely created at the turn of the 19th century when the industrial revolution burst onto the scene requiring organizations to find new ways to organize work into specific tasks and responsibilities. As the number of jobs on an assembly line grew, with multiple people doing the same or similar work, HR was tasked with standardizing descriptions of work into formats that would keep their employer in compliance with a growing number of government regulations re: standardized work weeks, overtime pay requirements, workers compensation, and mandated benefit requirements.  Job descriptions quickly turned into lists of tasks the worker would perform and pre hire skill and experience requirements. Today we see a variety of job description formats, each designed for different purposes, to support different approaches to describing work.   Some formats reflect an employer's need to document certain administrative or compliance elements of the job.  Other formats focus more on making the job description part of the company's hiring process or making it tool for managing the employee's  performance once hired. Most job descriptions still include 1) a list of the tasks to be performed by the person doing the job, and 2) a list of qualifications a candidate must have in order to be hired. Our POV is that most job descriptions aren't being designed to play a role in today’s very competitive marketplace.  First of all  job content can change "just like that.'  Traditional job descriptions with their lists of work to be done can be outdated even before they get published.  Nor is their list of tasks to be performed or hiring requirements needed or preferred, interesting enough to inspire a candidate to say "choose me."  Talented candidates always want to know more about the WHYs behind the WHATs, before they are willing to engage.  How will they be able to make a difference?  Most traditional job descriptions don't answer that question.     This blog is being written to offer some ideas for how hiring managers can make their traditional job descriptions more relevant in today’s world of work. We will make the case that traditional JD formats that focus on the work to be done rather than the results to achieve, need to be tweaked if we want them to play an important role in the recruiting process.  We will point out that a shift in mindset (from a task to results focused mindset) is needed if you want your hiring process to deliver quality hires.          

How do you turn a traditional, task focused job description into a RESULTS FOCUSED hiring process? 

Here's the steps we think are important...

Start by asking questions about the bigger picture - WHY does this job exist?  How does this  job contribute to the company's mission and goal?  

In recruiter training, most recruiters have been taught that their first job is to pin down a hiring manager’s wants and needs.  They've been taught ask all those WHAT questions.  WHAT skills? WHAT knowledge?  WHAT work  experience are you looking for in a prospective employee?  We are encouraged to get as specific as possible when describing the WHATs while also  making sure that the "list" doesn't get so long or become so unrealistic that the candidate who could meet all the marks doesn't exist! The traditional job description does indeed answer these low level recruiter questions, and almost always describes WHAT the employee will do once hired.  What these types of JDs don't do is answer the question as to WHY these tasks have been assigned to this role - what results is the employee expected to deliver?  How will they contribute to the company's mission or goals?  What do they have to deliver in order for their hiring manager to consider them a successful hire?
In a results focused hiring process you always start with a good understanding of the company's mission and how the job is intended to contribute?  .  

The next step is to organize the list of TASKS into areas of RESPONSIBILITY

Most job descriptions contain a fairly long list of the tasks that the employee will do.  We find it helpful to organize that list into a much fewer areas of responsibility. Some jobs have only one area of responsibility;  others have several.  We have a person on our team, for example, who touches and has been assigned important results she is expected to achieve in Operations, Marketing, Recruiting, and Administration. By first organizing her work into specific areas, we can focus on describing the results she is expected to deliver in each of these "buckets" . Organized in that way what we uncovered is that the results we expected her to deliver varied in terms of the level of delegation and accountability we assigned to her.  Her results ranged from  “supporting ” results assigned to a team of folks (a team participant),  to results where  she was the only one involved (an independent producer).  Getting clear around these diverse areas of responsibility and organizing them into visual buckets was incredibly helpful to getting a clear picture of this role.

Once you've identified the AREAS of RESPONSIBILITY, get clear on the results important to each bucket!   

Most areas of responsibility have 2-3 results considered key.  To help you describe these results, take a look at the tasks that fall into each of the responsibility buckets, and ask WHY these tasks are important - what are they supposed to achieve. Traditional job descriptions tend to get organized around descriptions of the tasks, and then go on to describe the result.  The results focused hiring process shifts that  thought process by focusing first on the results a role is expected to achieve and then identifying the tasks currently considered important to achieve those results. For example instead talking to a candidate about an Account Manager role and the need for them to “meet with key customers monthly" - in a results focused hiring process your first focus is on the results.  "This role has been created to increase the number of products or services we sell to each customer.  One of the ways we do that is by meeting with key customers monthly."   The difference in these two conversations might seem a bit nit picky,  but by keeping conversations with candidates focused on RESULTs, not TASKS – you're sending the message that what's most important to you about what a successful hire is finding someone who will achieve a goal, not just complete a set of tasks. The reality is that new technologies and marketplace shifts can change how we do our jobs “just like that”, even though the goals for what we are expected to deliver.   Job descriptions built around tasks need to be updated every 2-3 months.  Job descriptions built around RESULTS can stick around for a while.
When the results an employee is expected to deliver is placed at the center of work conversations, and the conversations that take place when a candidate is being considered for a role, the ripple effect in productivity, resilience, and the candidate's motivation to achieve results, touches every corner of the organization. The organization suddenly becomes more bottom up, less top down.
And for candidates applying for jobs, talking about results is also a way to engage a high quality candidate early in the hiring process.  Talented employees want to be challenged.  Talking with them about goals, not tasks, is a way to do that.  Organizationally, the link between an employee's sense of purpose and their productivity is well documented.  Motivational research continues to show that employees who have bought into the mission are the employees most likely to “go above and beyond”.  We've all seen that employees who don’t know why their job or what they do matters, are employees who tend to disengage,  or even worse, turn their jobs into a personal agenda.

Here's an idea:  Instead of relying on a traditional job description to "describe the work", how about creating a 30-60-90 day PLAN for PERFORMANCE.  

In fact if we had to choose between kicking off a recruit using either a traditional job description focused on a list of tasks and candidate qualifications, or a 30-60-90 day post hire performance plan, we'd choose the latter.  It is really important that in any hiring process we are able to communicate what a new employee is expected to achieve (by when) if they "get the job." And a 30-60-90 post hire performance is not the plan you prepare when a more seasoned employee gets in trouble - not meeting your expectations.  The 30-60-90 day post hire plan lays out what a new employee can expect to experience in their first 90 days on the job.  It is also a road map with check points every 30 days to make sure the employee is on target to become the quality hire you need them to be. The process of creating a post hire 30-60-90 day performance plan minimizes hiring mistakes because it requires a hiring manager to think clearly about their expectations.  It also requires them to get real about what their new employee will experience in their work environment post hire - the CONTEXT in which the work will be done. One of the questions we always ask during an intake conversation with a hiring manager re: a new role that we haven't work with before is:  How would you describe a “day in the life” of your new hire during their first 30 days on the job?  What will they need to know or learn?  What obstacles will they face?  What support systems are or are not in place that will help them be successful? What we've found is that its often the context in which work is done that gets revealed by these questions that makes a difference to what a new employee can deliver! Hiring managers who don't pay attention to  CONTEXT will often…
  • Make mistakes in what they come up with as a profile for their "preferred candidate” – missing some of the soft skills or talents important to actual success on the job  
  • Misrepresent the reality of the role, what it will look and feel like to a new employee, leading to early term turnovers
  • Hire candidates who actually might be the right fit for the role, but lack the skills or talents needed to navigate some unique aspects of the current context.
An additional benefit of preparing a performance plan up front is that they make it easy for a hiring manager to track the progress of a new employee once hired.  So many times managers will decide that a new hire isn’t working out because they haven’t taken the time to describe what it means for an employee to “work out” .  In other words, they have no clue what a quality hire looks like in 30-60-90 days. Performance plans are great tools to get a candidate thinking about the job and what it might be like to work for your company.  When a hiring manager is specific about what they expect by when and presents that  outline to prospective candidates, the right candidate’s wheels will start to turn even before they’re hired, kick starting the onboarding process.  And I guess you just have to trust us when we say that creating a 30-60-90 day pre hire performance plan will set you, your job, and your company apart from competitive opportunities in the candidate's eyes.

Its always a good idea to pin down as much as possible about how you will measure the results you are expecting in your 30-60-90 day plan.   

While nailing down the details of how results will be measured isn’t as important to the hiring process as it is to performance post hire. I can’t tell you the number of times in our own organization where we’ve had to scramble to find the right data and present it visually to a new hire in order to give them feedback on how they are doing. The data is almost always there, but not available in a visual designed to tell the story at a quick glance – and its that story the employee wants, needs and deserves.
It would have been so much better had we done the work to identify the data we needed before we hired so we could get our new employee's on their RESULTS right out of the gate.  Enough said.

Final Thoughts - Why is the focus on RESULTS so important to hiring success?

The data about the number of hiring decisions that end up being hiring mistakes hasn’t really changed that much over the last decade.  Data shows that somewhere between 35 and 55% (depending on who is doing the counting) of all new hires turn into hiring mistakes at some time in the first 12 months.  And that's been true for the last several years. What we know about this statistic is that a lot of hiring mis-fires  have roots in how the job descriptions that are used to drive most hiring processes tend to be focused on tasks not results.  People get hired because they are really good at doing certain types of tasks; but they often lose their job when they aren't achieving the expected results.
In many (but not all) cases the issue with hiring mistakes lies more with the hiring process (including the job description at the center of that process) than the person hired.
A results focused hiring process requires a shift in how hiring managers and their recruiters approach the hiring process.   Relying on job descriptions built around the what's (the tasks to be performed, the skills needed to do those tasks) need to be shifted into job descriptions built around the whys (the results needed by the team).  When a hiring manager makes that shift the impact on who is hired and how can be game changing.
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire quality employees who are the “right fit” for their roles, for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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Hiring for Results: A Shift in Mindset Will Change Who and How You Hire!

by Sara Bennett | January 29, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics, INFO/RESOURCES - HIRING / CANDIDATE SELECTION PROCESSES, Results Based Hiring Processes*, Thought Leader / Featured Blogs* get connected

Getting Clear on the RESULTS You Need Your Next Hire to Deliver Makes a Big Difference in Who and How You Hire! 

When you're competing for talent in a fast changing candidate market, how you organize the steps in your hiring process can make a big difference in who and how you hire.  Your process can't just be a series of steps you go thru to satisfy your boss or HR.  Each of the steps in your hiring process needs to be focused on delivering a quality hire.  But how do you define a quality hire? At PACE, our RESULTS FOCUSED hiring model is all about delivering quality hires.  We use it internally with our own team.  We use it externally with our clients to help them select the right candidate to hire or even to put into a long term temporary assignment. It has several steps, some of which are all about the science of hiring.  Others lean more into the intuitive or artistic side of successful hiring.  but our hiring model  differs from other models  because of its focus on HIRING RESULTS.  It was specifically designed to help clients select the right candidate which in their world is the candidate most able and willing to deliver the results they have determined up front are most important to hiring success.  It was also designed to enhance how a high talent candidate would experience of the hiring journey.  Not just to attract them the job, motivate them to accept our client's job offer, but also to get them ready to perform on day one post hire! This blog is being written to introduce our readers to our  RESULTS-BASED hiring model. We use this model when selecting an employee to refer to a client for hire  or to be assigned into a short or long term temporary role. It involves a series of steps just like any hiring process, but starts with the need to get clear on the results the hiring manager states is important for a successful hire to achieve. It involves a vetting process that includes engaging with the candidate on those results and finding out how they think they would achieve them if offered the chance.   It is a model that includes multiple screening, evaluation and assessment activities designed to provide the hiring manager with the information they need to predict which candidate is most likely to turn into a quality hire!  It also becomes a strategy for retention since it prioritizes underlying talents that can be developed over time,  not just here and now skills.        The PACE team has been using our RESULTS BASED hiring model for over a decade now. Whether our client needs to find a temporary powerhouse or hire a key player for a pivotal role, we help our clients define what an employee needs to deliver to be considered a quality hire, and then we help them find and id the candidates who fit that mold.  We’ve recently added some new features to the process so wanted to update our description of the journey – the steps our clients will experience along the way. To give full credit where its due - the inspiration for this model came from staffing guru, Lou Adler, and what he calls a Performance Based hiring process. Here are the key steps in our version of Mr. Adler's model, pointing out why we call it RESULTS BASED:

#1 Pre Hire Homework

Getting clear about the actual work and what a hiring manager expects a successful hire to deliver, is part of the homework we do with each client before the recruit can launch.  Our intake conversation is the first and most important piece of work in any hiring project. One of the reasons why our hiring model is considered Results Based, is that instead of dusting off an old job description that is typically a long list of work to be done and an equally long list of "hiring requirements", we help our clients turn that list of tasks into descriptions of the results those tasks are intended to achieve.  We like to communicate with candidates not just about what they are expected to do, or the qualifications they are expected to have, but what they are expected to achieve.  We think that focus on results is key to candidate engagement. As example, telling a recruiting coordinator that part of their job is to prepare new job postings daily is about the task.  Truthfully it's not a very compelling way to pitch to a prospective candidate what they're going to contribute once hired.   Telling them that their job is critical to help the team fill more job openings is.   Candidates and employees tend to get motivated when they know the reason for their work - what it matters.  Talking to candidates about RESULTS (not tasks) sets your company apart from competitive opportunities. We promise.    As part of their pre recruit homework we encourage hiring managers to develop a 30-60-90 day performance plan.  This is a plan that details what results the candidate is expected to achieve if hired and we use it to engage a candidate right out of the gate.  Creating a road map of milestones someone is expected to achieve, and then asking them how they would approach achieving those milestones  is a powerful technique.  It also kicks off that dangerous period of 30-60-90 days when most hiring errors surface. There are other things pre- recruit homework is intended to get accomplished...but nothing is more important than the hiring manager's plan for success.  It will also help you nail down....
  • The work content - a typical “day in the life” of the future employee.  What are the tasks the employee will be doing to achieve the results.
  • The CONTEXT in which the work will be done – Why has the company decided to hire now? What business or staffing issue are they trying to address?  What about the work environment that might create challenges for a new hire?  What resources are or are not in place to provide support? (Will they be working for a boss who is almost never on site?  Will they have lots of daily/weekly deadlines?  Will they have daily contact with others or are they expected to work on their own?    The CONTEXT homework is about uncovering anything that will be relevant to how the employee experiences the job after they are hired.
  • Why the right employee would want to take this job? What should we be looking for in a candidate that would suggest they will be both able and willing to not just to achieve but to excede their hiring manager's expectations for results?  Each candidate we interview needs to give us an answer to our question - why would you want to take a job that is expected to achieve these results?   What about this job is likely to keep you interested on year one?  not just day one?
The end product of all our pre recruit homework is what we call a Preferred Candidate Profile (PCP) which is an outline of the skills, experience and personal profile of a candidate who is likely going to be highly motivated to deliver the results you need.     A PCP is what all recruiters need in order to know....
  • Where to look for the right candidate
  • How best to engage them in your hiring process
  • What candidate vetting/screening/evaluation activities will be help to id the right candidate
  • What information will our client need to select the best candidate for the job – “the one most able to deliver the results you need - not just on day one but on the hiring anniversary dates to follow.
In any hiring process the Preferred Candidate Profile is the roadmap that guides the next steps in the hiring process.  In a RESULTS FOCUSED hiring model, that profile reflects results not tasks, talents not just skills and experience.   It is a profile that describes the candidate who is able to deliver the expected results on day one and on each anniversary date after.        

#2. Customized Sourcing, Screening, and Candidate Vetting – where science and art come together! 

Homework completed, a Preferred Candidate profile in hand, your recruiter can now go to work to find the candidates who fit the profile.  They will vet those candidates against all the details you've id'd to be relevant to the “fit”.  They will engage them in the hiring experience by talking about the results they will be expected to achieve and any unusual pieces of the context in which the job is done. The steps our team uses to find and recruit candidates is about the science because it is very data driven approach to the market.  We need to know how many candidates are in the marketplace available for hire?  How many employers are chasing those same  candidates?  What are those candidates looking for when they pursue one job or another?  We will know how many candidates we will need to touch before we come up with the one who is the right fit.  We have the concrete data that we use to answer these questions.   Engaging candidates in the journey is the artistic part - using the story about our hiring manager's expectations of results to trigger each candidate’s interest in becoming part of the team.
You would be amazed on much information you learn about a candidate's underlying talents when you engage them in conversations  about the results that will be expected of them once hired.  They'll come up with approaches they could use that you may not have thought of.  Traditional vetting interviews,  focused on skills and experience, can't touch a vetting interview focused on results.      
At PACE , we vet all candidates using a variety of behaviorally based interviews, skill and aptitude assessments, and reference checks.  A new feature of our vetting program in 2024  is to use an automated reference check process very early in the vetting process. In the past our reference check process was the old fashioned kind - live conversations with a past employer - so we didn't do them before we knew if our client was interested.  Today, we have AI based software to allow us to activate a digital reference check process right after the first screening interview, saving the hard core voice to voice conversations to the end. There are a lot of reasons for this additional step.  It sets the tone re: the seriousness of our hiring process right up front and actually encourages candidates to be more forthcoming during subsequent interviews and assessment exercises.  They know what they tell us in an interview has to match up with what a former employer tells us doing the reference check.  An important nuance of our reference check process is that it is constructed to minimize a previous employer's opinion, focused instead on verifying the candidate’s self reports.     

#3. Information Rich Hiring Decisions – Our Client’s Opportunity to Go Deep!

Armed with the information gathered during our screening and evaluation processes, our clients are able to focus their time with one or two candidate finalists.  They are able to go deep into uncovering how each of those candidates might approach delivering on their expected results, how they might overcome the challenges we've identified, what talents they know they can bring to the table to help them be successful? This type of behavior based interviewing generally makes it easy for a hiring manager to see which candidates are most likely going to be successful once hired. It also encourages the candidate’s on going engagement. While PACE plays an active role not just in the screening of candidates but in more in depth evaluations of candidates who have "made the cut" a lot of what happens in the final stages of evaluation happens when the candidate is referred to our client.  We encourage our clients to....
  • Use a multi step evaluation process…..at least one or two interviews
  • Involve all the folks who will play a role in the new hire’s success in one or more steps in the evaluation process
  • Involve the hiring team with only 1-3 finalists so the vetting process doesn't get too exhausting and lead to hiring mistakes
  • Wherever possible arrange for “on the job” interviews or discovery.  Asking a candidate to spend 2-4 hours job shadowing - watching teammates in action, or attending a team meeting to see how the team interacts with one another.   Our favorite "on the job" evaluation is a “temp to hire work audition” where the employee actually starts work on the team but is in an interim, non employee role for a 2-3 month auditioning period.  We are big believers in try before you buy.  
When its time for our client to make the hiring decision the focus on RESULTS which has been part of the process since day one once again comes into play.  The hiring decision is simply a prediction about which candidate is most likely to achieve the short and long term results needed to be considered a quality hire.  Which of the candidates is most likely to stay motivated along the way.  The answer is usually quite clear if you've kept the discovery focused on results each step of the way.

#4. Pre- Offer Discovery – Making Sure We Get it Right!

Once our client decides who they want to hire, the recruiter's role shifts to make sure their job offer aligns with the candidate’s needs and the competitive marketplace.  Our goal is to make sure the candidate will accept the offer enthusiastically. This last phase of the hiring journey is critical to a successful hiring process and employee retention down the road. While difficult to do without someone in the middle to make sure there are no misfires, when using a third party agent like PACE to communicate clearly thru all the nuances of the right offer, miscues are nipped in the bud quickly.

#5.  Pre-Hire Compliance – The Finale!

The last step in all hiring processes is to make sure the candidate is eligible to go to work in the US and passes muster in order to get access to the employer’s facility.  In our state, some of the steps in the compliance process, the criminal background check for example, cannot be initiated until an offer has been made or accepted. For any temporary employee placed on assignment, PACE is the hiring agent and will always do every step in the compliance process.  If our client is hiring the employee directly they can either ask PACE to do the compliance or do it themselves.  Either way PACE clients can rely on our compliance team to have the expertise to walk you thru any issue that might arise.

Final Thoughts – a Holistic Approach to Hiring, Performance Management, and Staff Retention

We hope you now have some insights into the steps of our RESULTS FOCUSED hiring model and the many ways it lays the groundwork for hiring success.  It is a seamless journey from the initial intake call thru the onboarding and first 90 days your new hire is on the job. Whether you’re a customer who has already experienced this hiring model or a new client looking to upgrade your own hiring process, we hope this information sparks some ideas about how to get started.  Our RESULTS FOCUSED model will definitely make a difference in who or how you hire. If you have questions or run into some challenges along the way - never hesitate to call.  We’re here to help!!!!
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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What Changes Are In Play for 2024?

by Sara Bennett | January 24, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics get connected, main whats happening

I love January….that time each year where we clear our heads on all those things that we did or did not do in the past year, and get excited about what we can start, stop, or do differently in the coming year.  As our team here at PACE went thru that thought process it certainly “feels” that 2024 is getting off to a start that offers more clarity than what we were experiencing at this same time in 2023. … Read More »

Pre-Hire Performance Plans – Whats, Whys, and How Tos

by Sara Bennett | December 11, 2023

0 Author-Jeanne, Hiring Strategies and Tactics Employer Buzz, get connected

Making the Case for Pre-Hire Performance Plans

We’re all familiar with the term Performance Plan that is used to describe a series of steps or activities sequenced in a way to achieve a specific goal or objective.  There are all kinds of performance plans, most used to lay out the activities and results required of a company, a team or an individual covering a specific time period. Many companies, teams or individuals regularly prepare weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual performance plans. Unfortunately the performance plan language is most frequently used in situations where an employee is in trouble, either with their conduct or their results, and a PIP, a Performance Improvement Plan, is used to lay out what specifically the employee needs to do or change what they have been doing to avoid termination. Given the number of times PIPs come up when googling Performance Plans, it is no wonder performance plans are so often viewed in a negative light. Less well known are what is called “30-60-90 Day Plans”, typically introduced during the onboarding process to describe what an employee needs to learn or do during their first 90 days on the job to be fully ready to perform on their 91st day after hire. These types of performance plans are designed to get a new hire off to the right start, armed first with what they need to know, and secondly what results they need to deliver, to contribute to the organization’s success. Most 30-60-90-day plans are written either by a hiring manager or a member of the HR team right after the employee is hired and is about to be "onboarded." A much less well-known version of a performance plan is what we call a Pre-Hire Performance Plan (PHPP) a type of plan introduced during the hiring process as a way to lay out for a job candidate what a newly hired employee is expected to do, know, or deliver by when if hired. PHPPs are very much like on boarding plans but are given to a candidate before they are hired and are used to describe the hiring manager’s expectations for “success.” Long story short, a PHPP is a “results focused” definition of the hiring manager’s expectations. This blog is written to make the case for Pre-Hire Performance Plans; describe how they are used in the hiring process plus outline why a company might choose to incorporate a PHPP into their hiring process. We will also provide our readers with some ideas and insights into the how to’s of creating a PHPP. 

What is a Pre-Hire Performance Plan (PHPP)?

Feeding off the brief definition provided above, the content of a PHPP looks very much like a 30-60-90 day on-boarding plan in that it lays out what needs to happen by when after an employee is hired and begins work. While most PHPP's are focused on the first 90 days post hire, for more senior roles that time frame can and often should be expanded to include the results to be obtained during the employee’s first year on the job. A PHPP often includes a statement of the context in which the expectations are to be achieved to clearly spell out the challenges likely to be faced during the plan period.

How are Pre-Hire Performance Plans Used During the Hiring Process?

A PHPP is used to identify the “best candidate” for the job – the behavioral way. It is typically a document given to 2-3 “finalists” who have already been screened to have the base experience and/or skills needed. These finalists are asked to review the plan and come to their interview prepared to provide examples of situations where they have faced the same or a similar set of expectations.  During the interview they are asked for specifics of their experience – what they did, the results they achieved, what they learned that might help them address the requirements of the job they are interviewing for. The PHPP can play a key role in the candidate selection process as the candidate’s answers to questions relevant to the PHPP almost always reveals which candidates are most prepared to achieve the results described in the PHPP.

What are the Key Benefits for Using a Pre hire Performance Plan?

There are many benefits for using a PHPP in addition to the role it plays in employee selection.
  • A PHPP ensures your hiring decision is focused on predicting performance or results, avoiding personal bias. And that is a trickle-down benefit that keeps the entire team or organization focused on performance/results. Having a PHPP in place shows just how serious you are about hiring the right employee and how focused you are on results.
  • A PHPP engages the high talent candidates during the hiring process in ways that traditional hiring processes do not. High talent candidates are attracted to challenges and will automatically self-reflect on the skills and abilities they can use to address these challenges.  Increased engagement = more offers accepted, often circumventing the type of competition based on costly pay and benefit packages.
  • A PHPP takes the mystery out of expectations…making it clear what is to be accomplished by when. High talent candidates don’t like surprises….and want to know exactly what will be expected of them.
  • A PHPP helps the recruiting team develop a job relevant preferred candidate profile. Knowing what a future employee must produce by when, makes it easy to get realistic about what qualifications are needed to succeed once hired.
  • A PHPP kick starts the onboarding process…. shortening the time it takes to get a new employee off and running.
  • A PHPP provides a way to get some early warning signals that you’ve hired either the right or the wrong employee.  A new employee who isn’t reaching the milestones spelled out in their Pre-Hire Performance Plan can be spotted early, the reasons for the performance shortcoming addressed in real time, as they come up.  This process avoids the more traditional, often long-drawn-out methods of assessing a new hire that results in too much time and resources invested in the wrong employee.  With over 50% of new hires turning into hiring errors, the earlier a “bad hire” is detected the easier it is to minimize the wake of an underperforming employee left in their role too long. The phrase “take the time to hire right, and fire quickly” comes to mind.  The PHPP is an invaluable tool to do just that.
  • A PHPP plays a key role in creating a culture of personal accountability and productivity. It keeps the hiring and orientation process focused on hiring and developing employees who have the necessary experience and talents needed to reach and exceed goals.  It can play a pivotal role in creating a performance focused culture.

How to Create a Pre-Hire Performance Plan

Creating the PHPP is, of course, the difficult part.  There are many multi-day workshops created to train managers on how to create the right performance plans. What I’d like to do in the context of this blog is to give you a limited list of “things to consider” when creating your PHPP.  I will also share some examples of the PHPPs we’ve helped PACE clients create and use in their hiring process.
  • Envision a SIMPLE ROADMAP. Identify the priority achievements for each segment of a progressive timeline.  Make sure you’re not expecting too much too soon and have clearly spelled out how the employee’s plan accomplishments will be measured.
  • Make sure you include a clear description of the context in which the PHPP will be achieved. The reality is that many new hires run into issues with a new job, not because of shortcomings in the skills or abilities needed to do the job, but because of the context in which the work is performed – a failure to adapt to that context.   Spell the context out clearly so that your PHPP comes alive for a potential candidate.  “You will be replacing a valued employee who is retiring after 15 years.  She will have very big shoes to fill and unfortunately there is not a lot of documentation available on how she does her job that makes her so good at it.  You’re going to have to absorb most of the how to's in the 3 weeks we have arranged for you to overlap with her.”   
  • Organize plan objectives into “conceptual” segments…
    • The first thirty days is typically a period of LEARNING so the plan needs to identify the key elements of the job the employee needs to learn and a brief description of how they will be learned.   You will meet with your boss at least twice to get clear on the department’s current projects and how you are expected to contribute. 
    • The second thirty days should be focused on DOING…putting into play the knowledge and skills learned in the first 30 days, and re affirming the employee’s ability to execute the base expectations. Spell out what work the employee should be regularly performing and how they should obtain feedback on their performance.     You will actively perform assignments given to you by the VP and obtain feedback from that VP on how you performed.       
    • The third thirty days should be focused on demonstrating the employee's ACCOUNTABILITY and INITIATIVE. The components of the plan should show the ways in which employees can demonstrate that they have a firm grasp on how their role contributes to the team’s success. You will have mastered the reoccurring/daily/weekly work assigned to your role plus will have presented some of your own ideas on ways your role might enhance its contribution to the team’s performance.     
  • Make sure your PHPP provides answers to key questions.....
    • What skills or knowledge does the new employee need to either bring to the table or learn quickly?
    • What resources are available to facilitate the required learnings?
    • Who are the people (i.e. stakeholders) who will play a role in the employee’s success? Who do they need to meet?
    • What projects or initiatives are currently in play that the new hire is expected to contribute to?
    • What recurring problems or challenges will they likely encounter and need to address?
    • What will the new employee need to do to establish their credibility with others?
    • What are the specific tasks that make up the employee’s daily, weekly, monthly requirements?
    • How will those tasks be taught – by who? Using what resources?
    • How will the employee get involved with other areas of the company besides their own team?
    • What kind of feedback will they be given to let them know how they are doing with their plan? How will it be solicited?
  • Adjust how you break down your PHPP into performance periods based on the complexity and scope of the role. Most if not all jobs benefit from a a PHPP covering a 90-day timeline.  Some higher or executive level jobs will require you to expand your plan to lay out expectations for first year results.

Examples of Pre-Hire Performance Plans

We'd like to share examples of PHPPs we have developed with customers in the last 12 months.  The first is the PHPP for a VP of Marketing so that you can get a sense of what that type of high level PHPP might look like. The second is the PHPP for an Administrative Assistant in the Marketing Department. Please note how each plan spells out the "context" in which the results will be delivered and the extended time period covered by the executive level plan.  
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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