Ask the Heat Treat Recruiter-How to Hire & Keep Employees

For many years now The Monty Heat Treat News has worked closely with International Search Partners, a US firm which we believe is the only recruiting agency in the world working exclusively in the heat treatment industry. In the past, ISP has provided us with fascinating articles sharing their expertise about compensation within the industry, the hardest to fill positions, and tips on finding and keeping good people.

For 2023, The Monty is pleased to announce that ISP will offer a regular exclusive feature where they will answer questions about salaries, interviewing, negotiations, and a host of other topics related to recruiting and job searching for companies and/or individual professionals in the heat treat industry. This is our first article, we look forward to your questions about hiring and keeping good employees in the heat treatment industry.

Recently, Mike L., VP of Sales for an equipment OEM, posed a question about “passive vs active” candidates. In Mike’s experience, he’s had better success when a recruiter reached out to him, versus if he’s found himself in a bad place professionally and was actively looking to make a change himself.

He asks, how does a recruiter determine if a prospective candidate is reaching out because they are trying to leverage other opportunities for a raise and to stay with their current employer or if they are motivated by legitimate reasons to leave? 

Jessica Maier, Sr. Recruiter: Mike is right, there is a difference between what we call “active candidates,” those applying to positions and reaching out to recruiters to try to leave their company, versus those we term “passive candidates,” who may be open to hearing about potential openings but are generally in a good spot. For the passive candidate, there might be some points of contention with their boss or employer, but for the most part they’re manageable and these candidates are not in a position where they MUST make a change – in short, they’ll be very selective.

Josh Hale, Managing Recruiter: That’s all very true. Where the problem arises is in the stereotype that passive candidates are somehow better than active candidates. This is often the case – the best employees are usually doing well and getting rewarded for their efforts, so don’t have a real motivation to move. However, it is NOT ALWAYS the case! It’s important for active candidates to spell out their reasons for leaving so they don’t get wrongly labeled as a job hopper or tire kicker.

Jessica: Yes, tire kickers are the worst! Luckily, years of recruiting experience has taught us how to sniff those out early in the process.

Josh: As always, it all boils down to open and honest communication…

Jessica: YEP! Passive candidates tend to be more attractive to companies than active candidates because active candidates often wreak of desperation. Think of it this way: if you went on a date with someone what would be more attractive to you – someone who is confident in themselves and leaves you wanting more or someone dripping in desperation that proposes on the first date? It’s easier for the passive candidate to exude confidence when they’re not in a dire situation.

My recommendation for active candidates is that they need to prepare themselves to avoid coming across desperate in an interview. You want to come off confident and curious about the position and the company without appearing too cocky. This is where working with a good recruiter can really help. ISP consistently does interview prep prior to any interview… by talking to your recruiter and bringing up these feelings, they’ll guide you through how to explain your situation in a way that will resonate with the hiring manager.

Josh: This is also why a good recruiter is often a blunt recruiter. I know we will flat out ask the candidate what their motivations are and address any red flags early in the process. At the end of the day, there are good active candidates and there are good passive candidates, but it takes experience, intuition, and a proven recruiting methodology and process to sift them out. 

Jessica: Exactly! 

Josh Hale has been collaborating with companies to identify, engage, and hire top performers as a professional “headhunter” since the early 2000’s. He’s focused exclusively on the thermal processing industry since acquiring the only search and placement firm to specialize exclusively in heat teat, International Search Partners, in 2015. Soon after, he hired Jessica Maier to support the practice, and, together, they’ve helped dozens of companies make hundreds of hires in a variety of roles within the industry, including engineering, sales, quality, metallurgy, and management.”

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