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By January 16, 2013

How to Hire and Nurture A-Players: An Employers Guide to Recruiting Top Talent (Part I)

Developing a recruitment process to hire top talent. It’s so hard to get it right.

Even the largest, most sophisticated companies – the ones flush with resources to invest in their recruitment and talent management strategies – report that attracting, developing and retaining top talent is among the most formidable challenges to achieving organizational growth.

So what about businesses that are just emerging? Or the company that’s ready to take things to the next level, yet uncertain of how to bring in the right human capital, at the right price?

hire-new-talent-180x180Hiring and nurturing A-players the right way isn’t a matter of luck, chance and a killer website; it requires a recruiting and hiring process that consistently attracts great people whose skills, personalities and values align with the company’s core values.

Note how we didn’t say “…it requires recruiting technology that consistently attracts great people…” Sure, slick applicant tracking systems and talent management software can make the effort easier. But it’s the process, leadership’s commitment to that process, and the consistent application of that process that will stack the cards in your favor, over and over again.

What are the vital elements to an impactful recruiting and hiring process? While they will vary depending on the goals, structure and personality of the organization, here’s a quick primer on things to consider as you build the overall plan:

Part I: Perfecting the Recruiting and Hiring Process

1. Be clear on your core values, and communicate everywhere.

You’re not likely to find the people who exemplify your values if the only place you share them is on the cafeteria wall.  List them out in every place you anticipate a candidate’s eyeballs to cross: website, job descriptions, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. At Kinesis, we strive to hire only great-fit talent, and we list our values on both our website, and in every job description we post.

2. Hire people who are head over heels for your product, service and/or mission.

Certainly, you need to build a hiring process that points you toward highly qualified performers. But if you find a “dead-on fit” who lacks fire in the belly for who you are or what you do?  You immediately reduce the odds that you’ve found a long-term winner. Instead, consider sleuthing out the power users and super fans of your company, your brand, your vision. Even if their skill set isn’t precisely what you’ve put to paper on the job description, their passion and advocacy will go a long way, and ignite enthusiasm in everyone around them.

3. Don’t rush your hiring process.

Plenty of recruiters subscribe to the “time kills all deals” school of hiring. And, yes, you do have to realize that dragging your feet forever could make you miss out on someone great. But there is much to be said about being thoughtful and thorough as you seek a great fit A-player. If you were only looking for skills, rushing through your hiring process might work OK. But the best hires aren’t those who simply can to do the work; they’re those who are likable and, more importantly, align well with the culture and values of the organization. Make sure your hiring process provides opportunity to observe a candidate’s character, and digest both the hard and soft skills of the potential hire.

4. Find the marathoners; be careful of the sprinters.

A common problem among small business owners is the tendency to assume they need the flashy sprinters. You can’t blame them. They want to grow, win, take the business as far as they can, as fast as they can. And it can be plenty enticing to grab up the first shiny, fast-talking race horse that offers big promise for fast gain. But true growth requires stamina, pacing and the grit to weather unexpected circumstances that are inherent to any emerging organization. Certainly, look for the fastest marathoner, but use care when feeling lured by the dazzle of the sprinter.

5. If you’re using external recruiters, make sure it’s a clear, valuable partnership (or don’t use them).

Recruiters can be a vital asset to a business’ recruiting and hiring process, but the relationship must be set up thoughtfully, and viewed as a partnership between the company and the agency. Clear goals and steps need to be established up front, and every stakeholder must both buy in and participate. On the fees front, realize that if you try to squeeze an agency for the lowest possible fee structure, you will likely earn yourself a spot among the lowest priority clients. Something to keep in mind.


So you land the winner. Now what? Next week we will focus on how you can nurture and develop that all-star. Click here to read Step 2 on How to Recruit and Hire Top Talent.

ABOUT Jenny Foss

Jenny Foss operates a Portland, OR based recruiting firm, Ladder Recruiting Group, and is the founder of the popular career blog JobJenny.com. You may find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny.

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