13 Tips For Recruiting Top Talent

Companies that are good at recruiting talent have huge competitive advantage in the marketplace.  Companies that that recruit poorly damage their brands.  With so much at stake it is amazing how few companies invest the time and resources into doing it properly.

If you have a team to build or rebuild, or if you just want to improve the level of talent in your organization, we have put together the cheat sheet below.  These thirteen simple steps will enable you to lower recruiting costs, improve your time-to-hire on tough positions, improve the fit factors of your hires and protect (even enhance) your brand.

  1. Set priorities on each job.  Separate the skills and experience that you WANT from the skills and experience that you NEED.
  2. Invest a few minutes into figuring out the right motivation and fit factors for your candidates (not just skills and experience).
  3. Invest a few minutes into figuring out the best process:  eliminate steps that add little or no value.
  4. Invest a few minutes into figuring out who the decision makers are and who the influencers are.  At the end of the process allow the influencers to influence and the decision makers to decide.
  5. Figure out your geographic scope.  These skills are hard to find… especially when you bundle them with the right motivation and fit factors.  Decide whether you are open to relocating the right people to you.
  6. Figure out whether you are open to remote workers.
  7. Create compensation ranges that reflect the market value of the skills and experience that you are trying to attract.  Consult with an expert in the field to help establish these ranges.
  8. Be careful not to damage your brand. Remember that when you recruit talent you are opening the kimono to the outside world and showing how your company functions. Be sure to provide timely and relevant feedback to everyone you interview.
  9. Have objective criteria for qualification.  Divide the responsibility for this among the interviewers:  Make each interviewer is responsible for delving into a specific area of qualification.  Ask them write their own interview questions in advance of the interview.  “I liked him,” or, “I thought he was good,” are not the responses that you want.  “He rated 7 out of 10 in my area” is what you want.
  10. Focus on the job that needs to be done… not the one that comes after that job.  It is hard enough to fill one role.
  11. Consider a contractor/freelancer.  If you find yourself “buying a skill” or just hiring someone to perform a very specific set of tasks that will change in 6-12 months or go away altogether, consider bringing in an expert in that function to kill it and move on.  It is easier, cheaper and more effective.  Everyone kicks a goal.
  12. Don’t ask too much of HR. HR is brilliant for general recruiting. They are great at running ads, searching resumes, screening candidates and managing the whole process.  When it comes to specialty, niche recruiting they often want to defend all of this turf.  Not a good idea.  Good people get passed over, communication and feedback gets bottle-necked, the process gets slowed and your chances for success plummet.  Amazing but true:  We fill 86% of our positions when we interact primarily with hiring managers.  We fill 17% when we interact with HR.
  13. Work with an expert.  Not 10 experts.  When the position(s) are urgent it is tempting to engage as many candidate sources as possible.  Bad idea.  You reach a point of diminishing returns very quickly when you engage multiple search firms.  There is no way that you can have real partnerships with more than two… provide adequate background info, relevant and timely feedback, etc.  The better firms will quickly lose interest.  One partner is ideal.  If you absolutely must, engage two.  Any more than that and you are hurting yourself.

There is nothing here that is hard to do or hard to understand.  It is not about having an elaborate, cutting-edge strategy.  It is about executing.  This is the blocking and tackling of recruiting.  If you do these well you will be part of an elite minority and you will have a chance to cream your competition.

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