• Recruiting Success in 2018

    by Tom Falgiano | May 30, 2018

    Portions of this blog were adapted from a previous Trellist article on recruiting by the author, titled “The Importance of the Kingmaker.”  

    Successful recruiting is one of the most important components of your organization’s health and wellbeing. Like proper nutrition for your body or premium fuel for your car, your people and your teams are what keep your organization moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t spend enough time on the recruiting process or fall into one of the common, and usually avoidable, pitfalls when vetting a new hire.

    When you get recruiting right, your team moves forward, gains a competitive edge, and moves closer to your goals. Get it wrong, however, and you can bring your organization to a halt, at least temporarily. After all, you’re making a huge investment of time and money to find, interview, train, and integrate a new hire into your organization.

    At Trellist, we place a premium on the recruiting process—for our clients as well as for our organization . It’s how we build teams that collectively create better solutions. Here are a few of the “secrets” to successful recruiting.

    Recruiting Success in 2018

    Look for Cultural Fit

    Hiring for skills is important, but unless the skill you need is highly specialized, there are likely many candidates who can perform them adequately. If you narrow your search to two candidates – one with slightly better skills vs. another who is a better cultural fit – you’re more likely to see better results by selecting the person who will integrate with the team more easily.

    Tip: Make sure candidates meet members of the team they’ll be joining. If it’s feasible, do this outside the office as a coffee meeting or lunch, since you’re more likely to get a feel for their personality than you would in an office environment.

    Don’t Always Stick to the Script

    You should have a set of standard questions to ask each of the candidates applying for the position. These questions should serve as your “control” so you can compare answers between candidates. At the same time, keep in mind that no interview is completely linear, and you’ll think of new questions as the meeting progresses. Don’t be afraid to vary from the script.

    Tip: Every good interview should be a conversation. Don’t interrupt the flow just to get your questions answered. You can always come back to your planned line of questioning later in the meeting.

    Identify Red Flags on a Resume

    Candidates have the added advantage of online resources to polish their resumes, so you’ll see a lot of sharp-looking CVs pass your desk. Sometimes, a well-designed resume can overshadow some of the red flags you should be looking for. Keep an eye out for candidates who miss the basics, including major gaps in work history, someone who bounces around from one job to the next, and the standard mistakes (grammar, spelling, etc.), especially if you’re filling a detail-oriented position.

    Tip: If a candidate looks great otherwise, don’t automatically rule them out based on a minor question about their job history. It’s worth hearing the explanation, at least during a phone screening. The way they answer the question about a gap can reveal their integrity and ability to think on their feet.

    Review Work Samples with a Critical Eye

    Samples of work are critical to many creative jobs, but they can be manipulated. You have no real idea what parts of someone’s portfolio actually represent their own work or the output of a creative team. Review these samples with a critical eye and ask questions about their role in creating them.

    Tip: When possible, have your candidates produce something during the interview process – a written test, design piece, or section of code – to get a more accurate view of their work.

    Make It a Collaborative Process

    In addition to meeting their team, the candidate should meet other people in the organization as well. At Trellist, every candidate meets with our variety of leaders so they can be vetted from different, valuable perspectives. Likewise, this gives candidates a holistic view of the organization instead of a static (and likely incomplete) look.

    Tip: Have candidates meet with employees at different levels in your organization. It’s acceptable to ask them to return for multiple visits if they are qualified and interested.

    Always Be Recruiting

    Just finding the right candidates for your business isn’t the only important practice for a recruiting-savvy business. Replacing a full-time employee can cost anywhere north of 150% of that employee’s salary, making the loss of even a $50,000.00 employee cost closer to $75,000.00. Considering the trend continues to see highly skilled employees job-hopping every 2-5 years in search of higher salaries and greater benefits, employers may be reeling as they try to avoid turnover costs. At Trellist, we engage in a living culture with our employees, having frank conversations when it comes to matters such as performance and pay expectations, in-office perks, benefits, and ideals that speak to our company’s identity and foundations—not unlike what you’d expect to take place during an interview. These conversations fuel continued engagement with employees across the company, and encourage them to take ownership of their employment.

    Tip: Just because the interview’s over doesn’t mean you can (or should) stop recruiting your candidates. Having frank, candid conversations and asking the hard questions throughout an employee’s lifecycle creates mutual investment: employees know they have a path to action and that they’re cared for, while you are able to better understand employee needs.

    Following a few of these “secrets” will help ensure you find the ideal employee when interviewing your next new hire.

    We can also help you find your perfect fit, as a candidate or a partner. To start the conversation, contact us at

  • The Importance of the Kingmaker

    by Tom Falgiano | Jun 22, 2011

    My father was one of the best story tellers I ever knew, legendary in some circles. When I was a child, he asked me, “Who has the most important job in the castle?” I answered, “the king.” “No,” he said. “The king dies and his son becomes king. The most important job is the kingmaker. It’s their job to select and train the best person to run the kingdom.” It was one of those ah-ha moments, when I realized that having the job of putting the right person in the right position is key to the success of any kingdom.

    The days of powerful kings are long gone, but the principles of the kingmaker still apply to today’s business world. Getting talented people in the right positions and retaining them for the long haul is critical for success, and one of the biggest investments a company makes. It is a process that requires successful human capital management as well as effective selection and retention strategies.

    The cost of losing an experienced, seasoned employee can be substantial. It’s a generally accepted figure in the HR industry that the cost to replace an exempt employee equals 150% of their annual salary. An average replacement cost for an employee earning $50,000 per year would be $75,000. With the national employee turnover rate at 14.4% annually, a company with 100 employees with average salaries of $50,000 would spend more than $1million on turnover costs, a substantial and often unnoticed hit on profitability from employee attrition.

    Finding the right candidate for a position is a complex assignment. Not only does the candidate need the necessary skills, they need the proper disposition and expectations that will enable them to become part of the organization. Only then can they be expected to remain with the firm for the long-term. Identifying these traits is the key to successful hiring. Trellist Resource Management has helped many enterprises find the right candidates for some of their most difficult to fill marketing, design, and technology resource needs. By applying 15 years of industry experience, a rigorous screening process including industrial psychological testing (as appropriate), and a thorough understanding of our clients, Trellist will continue to recruit and retain the right people; one of whom may someday become their “king”.

  • Project Managers Combine New Planning Methodology and Project Based Staffing

    by Tom Falgiano | Jan 28, 2011

    General George S. Patton once stated, “A reasonable plan executed quickly is better than a perfect plan hatched in a prison camp.”  In a dynamic businesses environment, a new type of planning methodology is being deployed, and is being branded “Emergent Planning.” The Emergent Planning approach challenges Project Managers (PMs) to consider the major phases, milestones, and deliverables at the outset of a project, and how they can evolve over the course of the project.

    The most common occurrence in a project lifecycle is that unforeseen events occur that require adjustments to the strategies.  The Emergent Strategy model enables the PM to adapt to these changes, and follows the evolution from the initial, intended strategy to the actual, realized strategy. Emergent Planning is a fundamental approach for managing in dynamic environments. These changes, however, have implications for budgeting, resource planning, and strategy.  While the overall plan is in place, the individual stages can often be revised to ensure the best possible outcome. Although planning normally attempts to remove risk, in a dynamic environment, the greatest risk may be losing your window of opportunity.  Emergent planning can help mitigate this risk.

    Emergent Planning is gaining favor with professional PMs in many industries.  In a recent article in the Project Management Journal, a survey of 31 PMs found that this approach was strongly supported, and attracted the greatest consensus among the study’s participants.

    An important characteristic of this approach is that the PMs have less time to implement the plan for the next phase.  The PM needs quick and reliable access to skilled resources.  The emergent planning process dictates that the right resources are available to the project team in a shorter timeframe.  As a result, the PM has less time to adjust and schedule work.  Emergent Planning requires a flexible and rapidly deployable partnership approach to resource management in order to properly realize the efficiencies of the core methodology.

    Trellist’s unique Project Based Staffing approach allows human capital management to be rapidly activated, deployed, and integrated into a client project within specific phases.   Whether from the existing professional services matrix, or our integrated client-side resource offerings, Trellist’s structured yet flexible Resource Management Division responds quickly to Emergent Planning’s agile behaviors to support the resource needs of a Client PM.   For more information on the finer points of this approach, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Insights posts by: Tom Falgiano

Tom Falgiano
A proven talent acquisition strategist with nearly 20 years of corporate experience, Tom excels at consulting on human resources challenges for our enterprise clients. He’s also helped to grow the Trellist staff by 65% during his tenure and leads critical employee retention efforts.