A Recruiting StrategyIt is important to understand that the old hiring paradigm has been shattered and the war for top tal...
should be prepared to rewrite the rules to attract the best outsiders. I see study after study that suggests that highlyta...
anyone who refers a candidate who gets hired. That’s a real incentive that will get their attention. If you thinkseveral t...
Recruiting strategy
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Recruiting strategy

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Recruiting strategy

  1. 1. A Recruiting StrategyIt is important to understand that the old hiring paradigm has been shattered and the war for top talent will be thedefining feature of the business landscape. Your ability to attract, develop, and retain talent will give you a majorcompetitive advantage far into the future.Building a better talent pool is not about adding more people to your HR department. It is not about better training.It is not about offering more stock options. It is about leaders and managers at all levels embracing a talentmindset. Managers must believe that talent is their TOP priority. It is a deep-seated belief that having better peopleat all levels is how you will outperform your competitors. Leaders must commit time and energy to strengtheningtheir talent pool and helping others in the company strengthen theirs. They must have the courage to take bold, newactions.Old Recruiting Strategies New Recruiting StrategiesGrow your own talent Pump talent in at all levelsRecruit for vacant positions Hunt for talent all the timeGo to a few traditional sources Tap many diverse poolsAdvertise to job hunters Find ways to reach “passive candidates”Specify a firm compensation range Break the compensation rules to get top performersRecruiting is about screening Recruiting is about SELLING as well as screeningHire as needed Develop a recruiting strategy for EACH type of talent The New Mindset1- Establish a talent standard. How often have you debated your organization’s talent standard? Before you canadopt a talent mindset you need to share a common notion of exactly what constitutes superior performance. Ifyou’re not clear on what those characteristics are then you can’t expect managers below you to be clear on whatdefines talent and performance. This can be as simple as a sentence or it can be a comprehensive list of six to eightcompetencies (strategic thinking, communication skills, etc.). You should define the talent standard for everyfunction, describing the behaviors that distinguish between poor, average and superior performance. Thesestandards then become the benchmark for evaluating current staff and those you interview.Top leaders should be actively involved in hiring decisions. There are many companies I know where vice-presidents never interview manager-level candidates. At companies where talent is a high priority, seniorexecutives get involved by interviewing finalists and voicing their opinions, but they leave hiring decisions to theirimmediate supervisors. This helps ensure that the talent standard is being applied and it sends a message todepartment heads that top management is setting the drum beat.2- Leaders must instill a talent mindset in the organization. It is your job to demonstrate this mindset through yourown actions and behavior. Every meeting of department heads and every meeting with clients is an opportunity totalk about this new talent mindset. Why not a have a staff meeting and brainstorm new ideas for locating,identifying and attracting talent? If you’re a services firm, clients should be made aware that you are embarking ona strategy that makes talent management a top priority. Ask them to keep an ear open for superior candidates thatmight be of interest to you. This has a dual benefit because it sends a message to your clients that by focusing onhiring stronger talent you’ll do an even better job for them.3- You need to invest real money in talent. You must not be constrained by the old compensation rules. You
  2. 2. should be prepared to rewrite the rules to attract the best outsiders. I see study after study that suggests that highlytalented candidates can be twice as productive compared with average and low performers. Having a talent mindsetmeans being less concerned about internal pay equity. You cannot afford to be held back by compensation levelsthat attract no better than average performers. By breaking the rules you will send a signal to your staff that you areserious about hiring the very best and that you are prepared to offer highly competitive compensation packages toattract the best outsiders.4- Managers should be held accountable for the strength of the talent pools they build. This is a foreign concept tomany companies, but think about it for a moment. Would you be comfortable not holding a manager accountablefor the strength of their talent pool knowing that this is what gives your company its biggest competitive advantage?You do this by setting anywhere from three to six specific talent pool strengthening objectives for each department.This requires some judgment, but the idea is to have ongoing discussions about how effectively these objectives arebeing met. Accountability is the difference between companies that just talk the talk and those that walk the walk.Here’s a checklist of questions. If you can answer “yes” to each of these, you have truly embraced a talent mindset:1- Do you believe having better people is how you will stay ahead of your competitors?2- Do you believe that strengthening your talent pool is a crucial part of your job and that of your top managers?3- Have you convinced all of your managers to make talent a crucial part of their jobs?4- Have you established a gold standard for talent at all levels that drive your people decisions?5- Are you deeply involved in hiring decisions two and three levels below you?6- Do you talk to your people about talent frequently?7- Are you prepared to invest real money in talent?8- Are you holding your leaders (and yourself) accountable for three to six highly specific and measurable actions to strengthen their talent pool in 2005? Action Items1- Hunt for talent all of the time. You should hunt for talent continuously so as to capture people when they areready to make a move. There are several ways to make this work. First, when you become aware of someone thatyou’d like to have on your team someday continue a dialog with that person until the right job becomes available.That means staying in touch with that individual every few months to “check in” and ask how they’re doing. Startwith a list of people identified by your staff. What about talented candidates you interviewed in the past who didn’tget hired? There is a high probability that no one has been in touch with them. Perhaps their situation has changed.They are also going to know other people. Make it the responsibility of each manager to keep a dialog going with,say, ten potential candidates. It can take the form of phone calls, meetings at trade shows, lunch or sending anoccasional note by email. The idea is to learn about the personal and career factors that might affect their careerdecisions (“If you could change anything about your current job, what would you change?”) and then trying toconvince them to join when the time is right for them. Also, bring people in for an interview even if there is noopening. Make it the goal of every department head to try and bring in one person every month. These names cancome from your own employees. Tell your line managers that they should spend 3-5 hours each and every monthrecruiting or interviewing people or making client contacts to talk about your new campaign. Have them reportback during your department head meetings.2- When a truly outstanding candidate becomes available, create the right opportunity for them. You may not get asecond chance to do that.3- Begin an internal referral program if you don’t already have one. Do you offer a “bounty” to your employees if they refer someone who gets hired? If not, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to attract top performers.Most companies make the mistake of offering an incentive that is much too small. Offer a $2K or $3K bonus to
  3. 3. anyone who refers a candidate who gets hired. That’s a real incentive that will get their attention. If you thinkseveral thousand dollars is too much, compare that to the cost of a search fee or the cost of a job posting on theinternet and the time HR must invest pouring through hundreds of useless resumes.4- You should tell the world about your new talent mindset. Every communication that leaves your office shouldcontain something that describes your focus on hiring top people. That includes marketing collateral, yourwebsite, trade shows, etc. Let’s take trade shows for example. Along with materials that describe your productsand services, why not include a handout that describes your company as THE place to work in your particular nicheof direct marketing. If you currently have no career page on your website you should put one up ASAP. One clientof mine has included on their career page a separate section they call “Best and Brightest” that describes theirmission to seek out and attract top talent. Instead of “Best and Brightest” come up with your own slogan and makeit creative so people will remember it. When I launched directmarketingcareers.com seven years ago I placedsome ads in the job classified ads section of DM NEWS. They were not your normal ads: “Some days you’re the dog. Some days you’re the hydrant. Tired of being the hydrant? Directmarketingcareers.com.” and, “There is no such thing as security. There is only opportunity. Directmarketingcareers.com”These little ads created lots of “buzz” about the website and I credit those ads for bringing in a tremendous amountof business. Think of places where you can put small ads or messages that convey your philosophy.5- Visit colleges and universities that offer direct marketing programs. If some of them are within a short drive ofyour office there is really no reason why you shouldn’t have someone visit these schools and let them know thatyou are very interested in talking with their students and graduates. You could offer to send someone to talk to thestudents about careers in direct marketing. Contact their alumni associations and check if they have a job postingservice. Offer a scholarship. It doesn’t have to be much, but something like that will generate additional PR.6- Always check references of applicants. Ask candidates if you can check references during the interviewingprocess and always call references of candidates who give you permission to do so. You are doing this for tworeasons: Not only do you want to know more about the candidate, but chances are the references are going to bedirect marketing hiring managers. Many of these people are exactly the ones you might want to recruit or call forfuture referrals. Here’s your chance to get to know them while at the same time advertising your talentmanagement philosophy and asking who else they might recommend you network with.7- Step outside the box and look for candidates who are outside your industry. One of my clients now fills about25% of their sales and operations positions with candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. These types of hirescan bring a fresh perspective and a rich vein of creativity to the company. Many of these candidates haveoutstanding people skills and can relate well to customers. Also, the military is another source you can tap. Often,military officers bring strong cross-cultural experiences, technical knowledge and a strong work ethic. Troopexperience, in particular, has given them plenty of “what if” experiences and other competencies that may matchcritical skill sets your jobs demand. Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC 2068 Greenwood Drive Owatonna, MN 55060 507-451-4270

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