RECRUITING BEST PRACTICES:
By Alan Davis
Building the Value Proposition
It’s no secret, the market for top talent is more competitive than ever. Companies
have to sell themselves on an ongoing basis as the employer of choice. And yet, too
often many fundamental elements of enticing candidates are overlooked in the rush to
capture any available talent before a competitor does.
Have you ever noticed how many job ads and postings don’t even mention where the
job is located? Or those that are simply a wish list of candidate characteristics, with
little or no mention of the job itself? Then there are those that describe only the job,
without any description of the background requirements.
All these scenarios are common, and each of them can make the difference between a
qualified candidate applying, or moving on to the next opportunity.
The Value Proposition
Even if a position needs to be filled “yesterday”, before any contact is made with
potential candidates you must ensure that all the positive elements of a position (the
hooks) are clearly defined. This critical first step will maximize your chances of
attracting the most talented individuals once you place the opportunity in front of
them. How can you do this?
Let’s start with our definition of recruiting:
The science of presenting the appropriate Value Proposition to an appropriate
person, to solicit their candidacy.
So what should the Value Proposition contain? To answer this question, we turn to
the basics of journalism, the Five W’s: ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ and ‘Why’ –
the most challenging part of the equation being the ‘Why’.
The ‘Who’ describes who you are as a company, including the types of products or
services that you sell, who your clients are, and your positioning in the market.
The ‘What’ describes the job itself – normally starting with an encompassing scope
statement describing the objective of the job, followed by a list of tasks that breaks
down the objective. It also indicates the structure of the organization, including the
level of the position and reporting relationships.
The background requirements are also contained in the ‘What’, giving the would-be
applicant the information they need to decide whether or not they possess the basic
The ‘Where’ and ‘When’ are the easiest. Where the job is located may be fixed, but
if flexible working arrangements are a possibility, this is a strong selling point that
needs to be presented. If the location of work is particularly appealing, here’s your
chance to talk it up. In terms of ‘When’, more often than not the timing is now, or
even better, yesterday!
The ‘Why’s’ can be the most complex and the least obvious part of the Value
Proposition. The following checklist compares some of the most frequently used
If you can define your company culture, describe its
If your total compensation plan includes a variable
component, mention it.
If the job comes with stock options, you will obviously
mention it. Ownership is a big issue for most applicants,
especially if you are pre-IPO.
Some people move from one company to another,
simply because the technology is more up-to-date, or
more in line with their career aspirations. If you really
are at the leading edge of technology, sell that fact.
Often, people leave a job when the tools to get the job
done are inadequate or out-of-date. This can make a
candidate’s experience obsolete. If you have the sexiest
tools, mention that fact.
If you are serving a market that is exciting and that has
obvious growth potential, it should form part of your
If you are recruiting upwardly-mobile people, define the
career path for the position.
This is an often-overlooked aspect of the Value
Proposition. Many people love to travel on business,
but need a realistic statement of the amount. Be sure to
quantify travel expectations, and ensure that they are
Once the elements of the Value Proposition have been clearly defined, and their
benefits articulated in persuasive terms, making that critical first contact becomes
First Contact: The Ad, Job Posting, or Cold Call
Whether you are writing an ad or placing a cold call to a new prospect, the key is to
pull the most interesting, alluring or unique elements from your Value Proposition to
present to them. Your goal is to entice eligible candidates to indicate further interest,
so you don’t need to divulge every detail right away. Present just enough to weed out
those not qualified, and to make the good ones want to know more.
If you are making a cold call, the verbal Value Proposition should be condensed into
a 15 – 20 second sound bite that’s interesting and easy to digest. It may be your only
chance to make a positive impact.
How do you test the appeal of your Value Proposition? Why not poll your most
recent hires and ask them what attracted them to your company, and to their specific
Whether for an ad, a job posting, or a cold call, if you have packaged the Value
Proposition appropriately, you will dramatically increase your chances for success.
The Next Level: The Job Description
Once you’ve piqued the candidate’s interest enough to put a job description in front
of them, this document must be enticing and complete enough to continue the
momentum toward the next level: the submission of their CV.
The job description should contain all elements of the Value Proposition, as well as
supporting documentation, such as the organization chart, company annual report,
and any marketing literature that may be appropriate.
Attracting top talent is getting harder. Scrimp on preparing your Value Proposition
and you may fail to attract key candidates. Even though you’re fishing in the
appropriate gene pool, they simply won’t bite unless the bait is right. Let’s face it –
they’ve got lots of choice. Why not make it easier for them to choose you?
Alan Davis & Associates Inc. (450) 458-3535 - www.alandavis.com
Alan Davis is a 22-year veteran in the recruiting and selection arena and has
managed many recruiting campaigns, both in Canada and overseas. He was the
architect of the 1992 Canadian Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. His company
provides specialized services in recruitment, selection, and interview training.