Managing the FM Team: Building Great Teams (2 of 4)

July 26, 2005

Savvy recruiting practices make hiring top performers a snap

You don’t have time or a big budget. And to make matters worse, you’re operating with a skeleton crew. It’s the ugly reality that many facilities and property management professionals have been faced with recently. During these “do more with less” years, ensuring that your team operates with smooth precision requires wise hiring practices. One weak link and the ability of your team to achieve its goals is compromised.

Step 1: How to Prepare
In your rush to fill a gap in the team, it’s essential that you complete a detailed analysis of your department’s needs and define the position and its qualifications as succinctly as possible. It’s difficult to find the ideal individual(s) to hire when you have no idea what you’re searching for.

As you consider the skills and experience levels that are important, the question of skills vs. wills is likely to arise. To spare hours of debating about whether it’s better to hire someone with years of experience and well-honed skills or to take a chance on an individual who shows drive, desire, and ambition but might lack adequate work history, you should consider the time involved in training. Before you post a job, decide whether you’re willing to allocate staff resources to bring a new team member up-to-speed. This will help you screen candidates later.

Consider your budget and determine an appropriate salary range. If you’re not sure that the compensation level is competitive, consider using online metrics from websites like ( and (; these sites offer free data across many industries and geographies. If more detailed information is required, contact companies that make compensation data available for purchase and specialize in providing a break-out of real estate positions by city. Based on your list of qualifications and requirements, you may determine that paying above market average is worthwhile. But, as Will Helmlinger, president, Your Hire Authority, Gladstone, OR, points out, with higher pay comes higher expectations.

Your research may reveal that market averages are beyond your budget. If this is the case, it’s important to define what else you have to offer job candidates - like excellent health insurance, the chance to lead projects, or a corporate culture that fosters professional development and team building. “Be able to identify what your corporate culture is, because people truly want to work in an organization where they feel they can contribute and be part of the team,” explains Helmlinger.

Step 2: How to Search
Despite what you perceive as the skills and desires for professional growth among your staff, it’s essential that you make any job position(s) available to internal candidates first. In doing so, you communicate that there are opportunities to change positions and/or chart a path for career development. Internal postings can help team members understand which skills and qualifications are required for advancement, as well as invite them to refer industry peers for jobs. Many companies even pay a bonus to employees who refer candidates that are hired. Considering that your best employees often know other top performers, this is an excellent strategy for finding the kind of personnel you desire.

When advertising the job elsewhere, look to industry-specific resources. Perhaps the local IFMA chapter has a newsletter, or an industry magazine offers a place to advertise the opportunity nationwide. Because candidates are likely to use any number of vehicles when job searching, it’s important to use a variety of different methods to advertise. And don’t forget to include Internet job boards in your multi-pronged approach.

Choose your words carefully and be specific. “If you write the right type of advertisement using the verbiage and the language that will attract the right type of person,” explains Helmlinger, “it doesn’t increase the volume [of applicants], it increases the quality.”

Step 3: How to Screen
Effectively screening candidates is a critical step in refining your search. The bulk of résumés you receive can be overwhelming. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Saltzman of Purchase, NY-based Sirota Survey Intelligence advises that you consider applying the “multiple-hurdle approach.” First, create a list of filters through which you can begin to eliminate candidates. It’s helpful to refer back to the qualifications you noted during Step 1.

Saltzman recommends that your first filter begin with a bio data screen. “Look first at people who are in the job currently and are successful,” he says. “[Then ask yourself,] ‘What do I know about them, where did they come from, and how do I duplicate them?’”

Once you’ve screened the pool of eligible candidates using these filters, consider conducting a short, 10-minute preliminary interview over the telephone. Continue to focus on the skills necessary to complete the job and the type of candidate you’re interested in. This can often help you narrow the list even further.

Step 4: How to Interview
It’s important to invest in some face-time with the remaining eligible candidates. Remember: As you conduct in-person interviews, not only are you interviewing them, but they are interviewing you. Be prepared and generate a list of poignant questions. Each candidate should be queried in the same way. When the same questions are asked of each candidate, making comparisons later is easy. (For a list of helpful interview tips, read The Dos and Don’ts of Interviewing.)

Step 5: How to Decide Who to Hire
It can be difficult not to rush to judgment or let bias help you decide who to hire. Saltzman recommends using a scorecard to rank candidates. By using a standard set of criteria, some biases can be removed. The scorecard enables multiple interviewers to rate candidates individually. The scorecards can then be combined to objectively determine which individual is best suited to the job. Constantly measure the abilities and skill level of candidates against the expectations you defined in Step 1. Once you’ve made a decision, present the offer.

The hunt for your new staff member(s) can, at times, feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, taking a step-by-step approach can mean the difference between a feeble search and a bountiful hunt. Those hard-to-find A-players can quickly become interested candidates - not to mention your team’s future top performers.

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