If you’re not treating recruiting as one of the top priorities of your business, you’re probably missing out on a massive opportunity to upgrade your team. Most businesses large and small see Human Resources as compliance-based and necessary, and ultimately as a cost center. So when company leadership hands the responsibility for recruiting new team members to them they are treating recruiting as a cost not an investment. The result can be boring job postings that are more or less randomly strewn across the internet, without regard for who they actually want to bring into their company. Pre-internet this would look like generic want ad in the newspaper or poorly worded boring flyers photo-copied and stapled to telephone poles.
Imagine what will happen when you change your thinking and treat recruiting as it really is, as marketing. You are not selling a product or service now, but the company itself. What makes your company unique? Is your purpose compelling? What about how people behave inside your company (core values)? What about where you’re headed long-term (your BHAG)? Are people inside your company inspired by your vision and who you are? If so, recruits will be too. That’s who you want more of. That’s what needs to be communicated about your company.
And what about the candidates themselves? Who are they? Are you clear about what kinds of people you want to bring into your company? Remember, you’re marketing, so you need to know your audience. You need to know what they need, what they want, what they fear, and where they hang out. Your recruiting messages need to be written and placed by top marketing talent who knows how to create compelling communication and how to get it seen in a world crowded with messages competing for your recruiting targets’ attention.
Everything we’ve discussed above is in the paradigm where you identify a need for talent, create some kind of ad and then put it out in the world. But if you transform from a shotgun approach to a targeted one, you will improve your results immeasurably. Let’s take this one step further.
People say word of mouth is the best form of marketing. The same applies to recruiting. And just as a soccer coach doesn’t wait until the 65th minute of the game to start recruiting for their next substitute (they build their bench in the offseason, preseason, and all season long), you too can get out ahead of recruiting. Start thinking about the people you will need to take your business to the next level and make a list of potential targets today. Here’s how you do it:
- Start with who you know personally. Think about the people both in your field and outside of it that you’ve known over the years and would love to work with. Put them on your list.
- Add the people you don’t personally know, but who have a great reputation in your field, the people you admire.
- Ask your A-Players who they know. A-Players want to work with other A-Players, so use that to your advantage. Ask them who you should be talking to.
- Reach out to the people on your list. Don’t wait until you have an opening. Get in touch with them, tell them you admire their work and want to get to know them. Remember that this is marketing and not sales. Your objective is to get to know them, to build a relationship, not recruit them now. If they ask why you’re reaching out, tell them the truth, that their reputation precedes them, that you are growing and often need top performers who are also great people, and that getting to know each other now so you can both move faster when opportunities are presented.
- Stay in touch with these folks regularly, at least once per quarter. As with any other professional relationship, be interested in who they are, what they’re interested in and what they’re learning.
- Ask them to make introductions to great people they know, inside and outside your industry. Just as product or service referrals can come from non-customers, so can recruiting referrals come from non-employees.
- When you do have an opening, now you have a list of people you already know and have been cultivating, perhaps for years. These are the people to start with. Who is on your list that’s a great fit for the position you’re trying to fill?
By the way, if you use any self-awareness tools inside your company you can offer this to the folks on your list as a way to help them improve their own performance wherever they are today. This will also give you insights into their behaviorally profile and how they learn and grow. You’ll learn a lot more this way than you will when they’re on their best behavior during an interview process!
If you want to know the assessment tools we use or to explore any of these ideas further, please schedule a call with us. We’d love to learn what you’re doing that’s effective.
Ted Sarvata | Assured Strategy