SolomonEdwards’ Ed Baumstein shares how entrepreneurs can attract top professionals

Ed Baumstein, founder and CEO of professional services firm SolomonEdwards, has been personally responsible for connecting employees with employers — more than 1,000 of them. You see, finding a service or product that fills a need is only part of building a successful company. No matter how great the idea, entrepreneurs still need the right employees to help them carry out their vision.

Last fall, he provided insights on the hiring process as part of the “Make Talent Your Job” panel at the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, California.

“The thing about entrepreneurs is that we start with a very clear picture of reality today. We see an even crisper vision of what we want to create,” Baumstein says. “Our problem is getting from point A to point B.”

In order to grow their companies, entrepreneurs need to recruit, attract and inspire talented people who can execute on that vision.
Stop talking and listen

Too many hiring managers dominate conversations with job candidates, Baumstein says.

“I can’t tell you how many clients have had an hour interview with the candidate and they spoke for 98 percent of the time. And when we come back and debrief them, they’ll say, ‘Boy, that candidate was really terrific.’ So the first thing that I’ll put up there is that when you’re interviewing you have to be an excellent listener,” he says.

The main priority of the interview is to find out about the applicant. The hiring manager’s focus should be on learning about the person, with the exception of selling the company to the candidate and creating excitement about coming to work there, Baumstein says.

Another “trick of the trade” used to separate candidates is to focus on how they have performed in terms of job responsibilities. Baumstein says resumes typically provide a chronological history of work experience that lists what the company does, their title and responsibilities.

“What distinguishes one person from another is not what they’re responsible for, but what they’ve done with those responsibilities, how they moved the dial. So I like to look for accomplishments on a resume. And if they’re not there, I like to ask people to specifically talk about examples of what they’ve done in their role to take something from point A to point B,” he says.


Utilize the right network

Since social media is such a popular mode of communication, it makes sense for employers to develop a strategy to incorporate these networking tools into recruiting efforts. But not all social networking sites work well for that purpose.

Baumstein says he was quick to consider Facebook as a potential recruitment tool and launched an initiative to make use of Facebook’s collected data when the site first gained popularity.

“We began to look through Facebook to be able to catalogue and attract and speak with the people that we were looking for,” Baumstein says.

However, SolomonEdwards didn’t have success using Facebook to attract employees.

“I’m not exactly sure why, maybe because of the dynamics of how it has come together, and its original purpose. It’s not designed to connect people together,” Baumstein says.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, has been a terrific mechanism for recruiting and one he recommends.

“It’s a social connector. It connects people professionally. And it allows you to list what your skills are, what your talents are, etc.,” Baumstein says. “As a recruiter, depending on the skill sets that you’re looking for, you can go into LinkedIn and identify a group of people and request to get linked to them.”

Although Twitter may be helpful to some companies, Baumstein says he’s not sure if it’s right for recruitment. It’s certainly not as comprehensive and beneficial as LinkedIn.


Tap into experience

There’s a philosophy that employees will become stagnate over time if relegated to the same role for too long. Baumstein says that can be a danger, but it’s not a reason to bypass candidates with valuable experience.

“I’m a firm believer that as you get older, you gain experience,” he says. “The challenge on the other end is that if you only learn one way, you lack flexibility. And that’s a challenge for employers to capitalize on the experience without getting somebody too rigid so that there’s not new creativity.”

Baumstein says that those involved in the staffing business have found that 90 percent of people who leave a company they were with for 20 or 25 years last about a year in their next position.

“So there is an adaptation that needs to take place once you come out of a long-term situation where you’re comfortable doing what you’re doing,” he says.

In addition to the challenge of ensuring that experienced candidates can be flexible, entrepreneurs are often younger and must convince older professionals to get behind their vision.

“Why are people 20, 25 years your senior willing to get behind you and realize the vision that you’re painting and pointing out? The one bit of advice I would give you is to be comfortable with what your role is in the company. You’re the visionary. You inspire. You create a direction,” Baumstein says.

If people can see what you’re doing and know where the company is headed, they will not care if the leader is younger or older, he says.

“What they care about is that you’re trustworthy, that you have integrity, that you have clarity of vision. And if you have all of those things in place people will follow you, and age will not make a difference,” Baumstein says.