Executive Spotlights

Winning The War On Talent

As a Hiring Manager you are evaluated based on your ability to attract and land top talent. It’s not surprising, as our recent compensation survey found, that hiring Managers estimate a $40,000 cost for each month a key position remains open. This presents an unrelenting challenge to evaluate and improve your recruiting strategy. That’s why we’ve prepared these seven top techniques and best practices to WIN THE WAR ON TALENT FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION.

1. CREATE YOUR STORY, MARKET YOUR COMPANY, YOUR POSITION, AND YOURSELF.

Story is everything. What’s yours? You want to attract people already achieving success.

Why should they join you? Would the same message catch your attention?

When you, your organization or your recruiting agency reaches out to potential candidates, you need to offer them an irresistible opportunity.

They want to learn about your growth, your innovation and advancements. Create that story, and make sure it’s consistently shared throughout your industry. Stay on message. Investigate all potential pipelines to prospective hires. Paint a picture of career and company advancement.

Ask yourself: Do the job descriptions you post lead with specific requirements – years of experience, degree specs, desired soft skills? If so, consider replacing that information with insights that highlight the challenges or responsibilities and scope of the position to be experienced by the ideal candidate. “You’ll have the opportunity to...” “We need someone who wants to open markets...”

And what about you? A key step often missed by hiring managers is that of selling themselves.


Top candidates are looking for mentors to help build themselves and their careers.

Be clear about what you bring to the table and how your style, your management ability and your successes contribute to those who work for you. Think of someone whose career has skyrocketed under your leadership and use them as an example.


2. SELL FIRST AND SCREEN SECOND

Successful companies sell first and screen second. What can you say to differentiate your opportunity from the job someone already has at a competitor company? Even if a candidate ends up not being “the one,” you still want to be in the position to evaluate that candidate rather than missing the opportunity entirely. Compare the time used to explain the position and evaluate the candidate to how much of it is used to attract and sell passive candidates to the organization.


Do you give candidates a brief overview of your company?


Do you tell a compelling story of your value proposition, your organization’s culture, and what others who have joined your firm have accomplished?


Although getting right down to evaluating a candidate seems logical, consider the opportunity of talking less about what you need and more of what you offer to someone in their career.

Create a sales packet (or make sure you have one from your HR department). Consider putting together testimonials from recent hires who can attest to why they appreciate choosing your company. Share newsletters or quarterly updates with photos from events and corporate initiatives to give candidates a “feel” for the organization. Include photos from events you host in your company - such as “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” group volunteering efforts or company sports teams.

Make sure all the interviewers that are part of the process are on the same page. Take the time to discuss (or write-up and distribute) the key factors that will appeal to candidates, what will make the right ones stand out, and experiences you want in their background. Discuss the impact of first impressions and how to winnow out the wrong candidates. Assess your interview process and build in ways for candidates to demonstrate their skills, not just tell you about them. These types of activities usually require more time from you, your team, and the candidate, so incorporate them in the latter parts of your process as validation, rather than evaluation steps.


3. TEST THE EXPERIENCE

Do you know what it is like for a candidate to apply to one of your positions?


It could be eye-opening to trial-run your own process. Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and walk through it, step by step. What impressions are you creating? How do you identify the candidates you are interested in? Once you narrow the field, make sure you manage the big and little things. How are candidates greeted for an interview? Where do you seat them while they are waiting? How long are they kept waiting? What type of communication do you provide after they take time to come to you? Evaluate the time you are requiring from your candidates. How many times does your candidate have to take off work to travel to your location? If you incorporate additional components to the interview, like a presentation or personality test, how much prep time is needed? Have you given the candidate enough lead time? Think about what it would be like if another company asked you to do the same thing.

Go through the whole application process. Submit an application on-line. Try it both through one of your postings on your own website and through an external site and see whether the process is smooth. Is there anything that is redundant and cumbersome? What kind of communication is received after you submit? You want to be the one that experiences those frustrations and fixes them before any candidate is put off by your process. What take away is the candidate left with?


4. BUILD A CONSISTENT PIPELINE


Remember to keep a strong pipeline of viable prospects for your toughest positions or areas. Ideally, you want to have an immediate candidate pool proactively identified. Think through your last five hires and calculate how long each one took to find. How many total hours? Over what period of days or weeks? Build your network, both at a peer level in other organizations and through LinkedIn. What are the key industry societies or associations in your geography? Get involved and attend at least one meeting per quarter. Ideally, find the best one and get on the board.

Build relationships with specialty recruiters. Know who to reach out to when you need them. Some recruiters will pro-actively “scout” your hardest positions and send you top candidates they know will fit your profile and hiring personality.


Build your connection process to be easy and automated.


Identify the key people you want to stay in touch with and create a reason for a monthly or bi-monthly communication. Make sure you automate it so it gets done. Don’t forget exceptional alumni from your firm, especially those individuals who have left the organization whom you wished hadn’t, to increase the chances of you working together again or when circumstances may align.


5. LEVERAGE INTERNAL REFERRALS


Take a look at your internal referral program. Many companies spend a lot of time creating an internal referral program but don’t get the results.


With most internal programs, success does not rely on the reward associated with the referral, but rather the consistent reminder that the program exists.

  • What type of communication program do you have in place?

  • How frequently are awards distributed and how public is the announcement that hires were made due to a referral?

  • How well are you beating your internal drum?

The key motivation for employees to make referrals is not usually because of a cash reward. Rather, it is due to deeply-rooted belief in the opportunity that exists for their friends and colleagues to join the firm, and because they know they have contributed to the organization.


6. TRACK SUCCESS


Do you know where your top people come from?


It is good for you to track the effectiveness of hiring methods and sources for your team and others in similar roles in your organization. Of the hires you made in the past two years:

  • What was the originating source of each of those hires?

  • Where are your highly promotable employees coming from?

  • Where did the ones that didn’t work out come from?

  • What hiring criteria turned out to be best and worst?

Chart those results so you can see them at a glance. Once that data has been compiled, use it to best leverage all channels. Be careful not to make a ruling based on number of hires alone. Just because more hires were made by recruiters doesn’t mean that the internal referral program should be abandoned. With each hiring method, take a look at what is working and what can be improved.


7. USE THE EXPERTS WHEN YOU NEED THEM


Many standard searches are best conducted by your internal recruiting team. Make it a point to know their strengths, where they have been most successful and how best to engage them to be most effective together.


There are certain situations where you will want to consider external help. However, make sure your position fits into one of these categories first:

  • You need to hire highly specialized skills that must come from someone working at a competitor or from a niche in your industry

  • To find the right person, you must consider a national pool of candidates which will most likely involve relocation

  • You are under a tight deadline to bring someone on board

  • This is an expansion or you have many positions in a restricted time-frame

  • You have struggled with this position before and it is a “hard to fill” area

  • You are not seeing top candidates and you need a firm who can leverage their industry reputation and proactively reach out to source candidates

If your position doesn’t fit into one of the areas above, re-evaluate with your internal recruiting team. At the same time, be prepared. Most leaders find themselves in one of these situations at a time when they need to act quickly, so make sure you have relationships with strong industry executive search firms.


Executive search (head-hunting) is a specialized service used to source candidates for senior, executive or other highly specialized positions in companies. The method usually involves commissioning an Executive Search Firm to research the availability of suitable candidates working for a competitor or related businesses. Having identified possible professionals that match the client’s requirements, the Executive Search Firm will act as an intermediary to qualify and vet candidates, carry out the candidate screening, organize the interviews and manage the process through to the close. The best search firms will also drive the process, to keep the search moving, and help manage the timeline.


They will also save you time and resources by qualifying candidates and only moving forward those candidates that have a high likelihood of saying “yes” to an offer.


Another key tip: make sure you have choreographed your “closing dance.” The amount of time you invest increases the further you go through the interview process. More people spend longer amounts of time with the candidate, and the cumulative amount of interviewing time extends. Don’t underestimate the ability of the Executive Search Firm to close the deal. Make sure you walk through the “dance” with your search firm and evaluate their process. The last thing you want to do is to have spent all of that time (and political capital getting an offer out the door) only to have a candidate turn you down.


These are just a few successful strategies for winning the war for talent. For additional ideas or to talk further about a search on your behalf, please reach out. We look forward to talking with you soon.

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