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Hire the Best, Not Just the Available Candidate

'Now Hiring' lawn sign

People are your greatest assets if you hire the best people. 

Too often a job is posted, and the person hired is the best person out of the candidates who applied for the job. The best talent is often not involved in an active job search and, as a result, they are not aware of the opportunity and did not apply.

Recruiting is a critical element in attracting top talent, and provides access to the hidden market of top talent. These are candidates who have a track record of success, are currently employed, doing a great job and not conducting a job search. However, most great candidates are open to looking at new opportunities that would represent career advancement.

Good recruiters are experts at finding out what is most important to each person they represent. They:

  • Never assume that a potential candidate wants a job similar to the one they are currently doing.
  • Recognize that a résumé or CV represents what a person has done and is doing now, but does not reveal what they want to do next.
  • Understand what a person envisions as their next career move and therefore which opportunities would be of most interest.

Another important element of hiring the best talent is retention.  If you hire someone who can’t perform the functions of the job or if you hire a candidate that views your job as a lateral move with maybe more money, chances are that this person will end up as a turnover statistic.

A director of engineering from an energy company recently bragged about how he hired two engineers well below market value.  My first comment was that they may have accepted the job, but that they are still interviewing.  He did not believe me until I suggested he review their LinkedIn profiles.  After three months of employment, neither of them had updated their profile with their new job.  He immediately gave them both a raise, retroactive to their first day of employment.  If you want to hire, engage and retain the best talent, you must also have a competitive salary range.

Good recruiters understand that retention begins with the interviewing process. To help fine-tune their recruiting efforts, they:

  • Provide updated job requisitions that reflect the company’s current, not past, needs.
  • Include performance objectives for every job, providing information on how each candidate’s performance will be evaluated six months or a year after hiring. Too often skills required on a job requisition are not utilized, while other skills needed to attain the performance objectives are not listed. The best candidates prefer to know upfront what is expected of them and want to advance within a company. When you share specific performance objectives, they understand exactly what they must achieve to obtain a great evaluation. 
  • Focus on building a strong candidate referral program to attract the best talent. People who are peak performers are well networked and know other people like themselves. If they are not interested in your opportunity, they may know someone else who would be. Recruiting is a relationship-building profession that will result in referrals if candidates understand how you can benefit them.

When you keep in mind the hiring manager’s needs as well as the candidate’s, you know you have hired the best person for the job. You cannot rely on the best talent finding you — you must actively use your relationship-building skills to attract those who don’t realize that they are the best fit for the role. Avoid a candidate becoming a turnover statistic by proactively recruiting and networking, not just by posting a job and hoping that great candidates apply.