Let the unicorns find you.
You want great talent on your team – the best, actually. Do you have the right mix to hire the best, those elusive team members regularly referred to as unicorns? Unless you have a stable of rainbow-manes, there are likely parts of your recruitment process which could benefit from a boost.
The usual routine involves updating the job description, posting the role on the company website, perhaps sharing the opportunity on social media. Some resumes come in, you sift through and make a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ pile, and set up some interviews.
The problem with the usual? No unicorns in the pile. To hire top talent, you need to actively find candidates rather than hoping they find you. Having a solid network, opening sharing your culture, and making sure those who hire have the right skills can all contribute toward how well your organization hires.
So how do you make your organization get noticed as a “must apply today” opportunity?
- Collect people: Get good at spotting talent, identifying people who bring something special to the table and who you’d like to work with, or could recommend to others. Keep them in your metaphorical back pocket. There may be no current opportunity, but developing strong relationships with stand-out people means you have a network you can draw from when the time is right.
- Know your corporate culture: Can you describe your culture to others – your values, and what they mean; your leadership philosophy, and what you tolerate / don’t tolerate? What are the qualities of your successful team members? Culture is your differentiator. You must be clear about your culture to attract the people you want on your team.
- Tell your story: Don’t be boring. The vague (and over-used) statements of great culture and competitive benefits don’t cut it. Compel people to want to join your team, to want the professional challenge presented by your opportunity. Tell a lively (and truthful) story of employee development and leadership training programs, development tools for goal setting and measurement, and what a celebration of success looks like.
- Paint a Picture: For specific opportunities, articulate the career opportunity, not the job opportunity. Focus on what your preferred candidate will want to hear: the challenge offered by the role’s key project areas, new skills to be learned, professional development opportunities. They should be past interested, and moving toward wildly enthusiastic, after hearing the opportunity pitch.
- Balance vetting with romance: While you want to thoroughly vet A-player candidates, you also want to “romance” them – they may need a little talking into a role before they are all in. They have options. They’ll bring a level of scrutiny to ensure this is the best move for them. Make sure you follow steps 2, 3, & 4 above and make the interview process a positive experience that reflects your culture, respects their time and keeps them engaged and informed.
- Interview from divergent angles: Step away from traditional Q&A style interviewing. In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni suggests getting creative with the venue: go for a walk or run, or take the candidate to do an errand. His thinking is that out of an office setting, you can more easily observe character and genuine behaviours in real-life situations. Alternatively, ask the candidate to do something instead of telling you how they do it – these alternatives show skills as well as how someone performs under pressure, or adapts to change.
- Measure top talent hiring outcomes: Hiring well is a specific skill and should be a measured performance objective among team members who make hiring decisions. Measure success rate not based on number hired or how long they stay, but on achieved performance objectives of the new team members. What gets measured gets done.
Need some recruitment help, and not quite sure where to start? The Smart, Savvy + Associates team is here to help: We are a specialized recruitment firm that helps companies connect with marketing, sales, and communications professionals. Contact Jaylene Crick, our Recruitment Team Leader, for more information; we'd love to hear from you!
Peter Reek is the Founder and President of Smart, Savvy + Associates. We find high-calibre marketing, communications, creative and sales professionals with proven track records and in-demand skills for companies who need them, across the Pacific Northwest and in Toronto. We also provide leadership and training development programs for workplace programs, corporate retreats and individual growth opportunities. Contact Peter to discuss your organization's training needs.