Recruiting Top Talent – you reap what you sow

Everyone (even the least progressive management teams) is waking up to the reality that the competition for top talent is here to stay –even during the GFC it was seen as a competitive opportunity the most progressive leaders took advantage of. However, these were the rarer ones and unfortunately few have woken up to the reality that it is not as simple as loosely agreeing to an HR policy “fine, I’ll agree to a policy that we chase the passive talent – go do it!”

As a talent acquisition specialist I have spent the last 11 years of my life finding the best talent and fitting them to the best relevant firms and I know what it takes so I am still staggered that there is such a “you’d be lucky” attitude to Talent which directly contradicts the trendy “passive talent” policy companies’ claim is in place. There needs to be a far more wide-reaching and strategic approach to attracting Top Talent, otherwise you are just wasting everyone’s time – the recruiters’ (internal or agency), the candidates’ and probably most importantly to you – yours!?!

So if it’s not enough to walk into a meeting room unprepared, be good cop / bad cop and then slap down some low ball offer as if the Talent is lucky to be alive, what is? Here are some of the things you need to consider for your Talent Acquisition strategy:

Consistency! Whatever you take from this article and other pieces of advice you read make sure you are consistent. If there is no consistency there is no trust and if there is no trust you will not secure and retain the best people.

Communication! There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiter (internal or agency or HR) to know there is a fit but that no-one is prioritizing the communication around their thoughts. It’s all that’s needed. There is only so long as recruiters we can keep the Top Talent “warm” without it – they are people, not bakery items!

Branding This is the 360 face on the two above. You need to know what your brand stands for from an employment point of view. It needs to be intrinsic and true to your Business Brand, Values, Mission, Policies, and most importantly the Reality of how you treat Talent – rewards, autonomy, freedom, training, development, support etc etc!

Hiring as a business profile. How come all the CEOs are constantly quoted in industry articles saying “Talent is our number 1 priority” and yet there is no Chief Talent Officer. This needs to happen and I believe it will. In the interim make sure that the profile of Talent Acquisition is promoted with the same consistency and messaging internally as it would be externally, and make people accountable on how they perform in this arena – especially line managers!

Profiling as a business priority Back in the day, good agency consultants did so much “extra” for the companies they worked for that the wider recruitment industry didn’t realise they were doing and other clients (didn’t know they) missed out on. If you cut costs or brought TA in-house you (initially) miss out on these vital extras that help land the best. One main item included training line managers in profiling for specs and interviewing against those profiles. Make sure everyone involved in hiring can do this – it is imperative to know what you are looking for, why you are looking for it and what makes the best version of that person. My suggestion here is you focus on Results. I’ve implemented ROWE at Xpand but even if you don’t want to go that far, a focus on the results you want will help you define the activity and skills needed to perform.

Understand your needs and listen to theirs. Do not just search for people who fit your “brief”. Work out the profile and then go to the best talent with open ears and an open mind. Once there is a discussion, make sure you listen to what they want and offer them that. Crazy, I know but you’d be surprised how often it’s not done! If you cannot offer them what they want, take them off the list. Even if the rest of your strategy is so good you land them, you will never keep them so it is unlikely they will be worth your investment.

Holistic view and a two-way street Make sure that you view the whole process in a holistic manner and sell as you test. The is an important balance but if it’s too easy you will not attract the best and if it’s too laborious and drawn out then it won’t secure the best. Entice, test, entice, test and close…quickly.

Training This deserves as separate line item despite being mentioned in $$$$ and profiling section. As Nike so eloquently advertised, just do it! Without training, policies are worthless and pointless. People need to know Why and How and What if/else. Without these elements you will not make the progress necessary to attract and hire the best.

Communities! Build them. No “ifs” and “buts”. The landscape of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment is changing and changing fast. If you really want the best you need to have specialist Talent Managers / Recruiters that know their space and are engaged long-term with the Talent within. Old school contingency Search and Selection just won’t cut it for much longer. If you are not serious about building communities and partnering an agency that is managing its Talent then you are not serious about attracting the right Talent.

Why should you do all this?

SIMPLE – If you want the best you need to have the best strategy. If you have a paper-thin employment brand and recruitment process then however much you service it with all the right words people will see through it and it’s never going to attract the best Talent. Good people, by default, aren’t stupid. There is one thing I constantly ask the most resistant and difficult senior managers and HR professionals. As a minimum – do you do what it would take to secure yourself! The answer , unfortunately, is often a sheepish “no”…

If you want consultation on best recruitment practices and talent attraction strategies, please ping me a note.


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About Rob Fanshawe

Currently MD, Asia for Xpand Group, living in Singapore with his wife and dog (golden retriever), his passion in life is simple, “people”. He loves everything to do with meeting and understanding them to helping them and businesses realise their potential through the resulting positive connections.

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