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How to hire top talent; what you need to know about attracting the best

The 64 thousand dollar (maybe 1MM given inflation) question these days is how to attract and hire employees who will perform at or above expectations. Different candidates respond to different tactics, so you need to use multiple methods. Each of these methods needs to have a common thread to tie them together. The first thing you need to do is ask the following questions:

Are we hoping top talent finds us?
Do we want our employees to refer top talent to us?
Are we actively seeking out talent?

The laws of candidate attraction

Best Solution

You actually need to use a combination of the three, but use each differently and not with the same amount of effort.

If you are hoping talent finds you, you will fail. Hope is NOT an effective strategy. Hope is what you do when you post job ads on your website and other job boards. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it as an adjunct to your recruiting strategy; just don’t expect it will typically deliver top people. And, don’t spend lots of money on job boards.

Employee referrals are a great way to get names of possible candidates. The caveat here is that you must have a clearly aligned talent strategy with clearly defined roles. If your employees aren’t clear on what’s necessary to succeed in a job how can they be expected to recommend the right people?

Twenty years experience tells me the greatest percentage of time spent attracting and hiring top talent needs to be going out and finding it. There are a multitude of ways to accomplish this, some of which recruiters spending their time online won’t be privy to. Plus, real recruiting (AKA Headhunting) takes time and energy and many recruiters neither have the time nor interest in this type of effort.

You should also have a quality system in place to help top talent find and reach out directly to you. If you do, you had better be responsive to each and every person who reaches out. If not, just remember how quickly negative feedback moves.

Running on all cylinders

I’m going to assume that you have a strong, positive, and effective message in place already. If not, you need to get this handled before you take another step to attract high quality individuals. It is always in your best interest to be proactive rather than reactive in business. Doing damage control takes time and money that could be saved by being proactive. The last thing you need is negative press to handle with candidates you are trying to attract.

Both customers and potential candidates will be able to readily see this message on your website, through social media, and in any advertising. Your messaging/branding must be consistent in all these areas. If not, get it done. It’s imperative that any employee who is speaking about your company to a potential candidate be clear about this message and is able to effectively convey it accurately. One thing you can’t control, however, is the reality that no matter how great your message is, not every top tier candidate will be a fit for you or you for them.

As for attracting and hiring high quality candidates you need an experienced, competent recruiting staff to go out and find candidates, get them to want to speak to you, engage them in conversation, capture their interest, and give them a quality “candidate experience”. To accomplish this task takes alignment, planning, a solid talent strategy, and teamwork. This does not get done in a vacuum.

If you are also looking for candidates to find you, your social media strategy must include a positive way for them to get in touch with you without making them jump through a million hoops first. You need to be prepared to receive interested candidates in a way that makes them feel good, even if they are not what you’re looking for.

Here’s an excerpt from an article that illustrates some of the points I’ve made. It may be an extreme example, but it’s one to consider. This CEO clearly doesn’t have any sort of alignment among the executive team, business strategy, and talent strategy.

Goodson says the service manager posting included “Must be currently employed” because he wanted someone “at the top of their game and not people who have been unemployed for 18 months.”

He spent three years seeking the right person and sifting through résumés was time-consuming, he says. Ultimately, he chose someone within Crestek to fill the vacancy.

“This was the only time we ever advertised that way and we only ran it when the other ads failed to produce any viable candidates,” says Goodson. “For this job, I wanted somebody that’s in the service business and is employed. If someone is out of work for 18 months, my concern would be that their last job was in a bakery or pumping gas.”

Be responsible and accountable when employing a strategy for talent.

Creator and Host,

Carol Schultz

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