Get Serious when Recruiting Talent

If a terrific 16 year old power forward, who lives in the most rural area of Mississippi, invited one of the ten most renowned college basketball coaches in the country to visit his family in their home on Christmas Eve, what do you think the odds are that such an illustrious coach would make the grueling trek and be away from his own family on the holiday? The answer is near 100%. (For those of you who follow college sports closely, I know Christmas Eve falls in the recruiting dead period, but let’s not be too persnickety here! And note the reason the NCAA installed dead periods is because they know successful coaches never stop recruiting as long as it is allowed.)

Great college coaches are relentless when it comes to recruiting – they attend to every detail and seldom take a day off from this critical activity. Why do these coaches focus so aggressively on bringing in talent? It’s pretty simple – they know success is built on a foundation of talent. Coaching is important, but if you start with the wrong person, it is incredibly difficult to build them into a Star.

Let’s now consider how many businesses approach recruiting. Are most company leaders and HR specialists as focused and passionate about the acquisition of phenomenal talent as are top-notch coaches? Very few are…and sadly, most of the time it’s not even close.

Here’s an all too common example of what I observe. An outstanding individual inquires about the possibility of joining several different companies. Some companies stop him at the first call (or front door) saying they have no openings. Others may inform him how to find and complete an application form – leaving him to wonder when and if he will ever hear back from them. Even worse, he may be assured that he will hear back from the company by a certain date and – and as you might guess from the point of this blog – that date will come and go without them getting back to him as promised. A huge violation of another key MindSet: always under-promise and over-perform!

Many companies are stuck in “blah” when it comes to this crucial process – they see the task as a scheduling chore whereby they interview and select new employees from a set pool of interested individuals who have filled out the appropriate paperwork to be considered. What is clear is that these businesses have no understanding of (or interest in) how one goes about aggressively recruiting great talent. They behave as though they hold the keys to the kingdom, and that applicants should be appreciative of being considered as the company moves in its own sweet way and time.

MindSet counsels a different approach that is much more akin to how college coaches view the world: recruit, recruit, recruit!

I acknowledge that there are a few select companies that have such great reputations that scores of amazing players actually seek them out, but such examples are increasingly a thing of the past. What we are more likely to see going forward are formerly iconic businesses deteriorating in good part due to lackadaisical recruiting efforts as they rest on past laurels.

Talent is fixed and precious – and the company that is most apt at identifying and absorbing exceptional talent into its fold will have a huge advantage as the world evolves ever more quickly.

Helping companies revamp, reinvent, or rejuvenate their hiring processes is one of the MindSet consultation areas we most enjoy. Here is a sampling of just a few of the factors MindSet has discussed with our clients regarding their talent acquisition efforts:

  • Don’t just “post and wait.” Particularly with respect to internal candidates, often those with the best potential will not even consider tossing their hat in the ring unless you actively encourage them.
  • Who do you have doing your interviewing? Can they sell? Your interviewer should be one of your company’s best salespersons.
  • Don’t sell a job – sell the company…its culture and its future.
  • Do 90% of applicants leave their interaction with your company thinking they would LOVE to work for your company? If not, you don’t have it right.
  • Do you have someone greeting applicants, in person or on the phone, who is a premier PR agent for your company?
  • Do you offer a tour – and use that time wisely to get an even better feel for the applicant?
  • Do you see that every strong applicant spends time with an existing staff member who has been trained to be a “closer” for the company?
  • Do all staff members recognize the role they can play in recruitment? Your HR department will lead process, but all staff members should be expected to help.
  • Never, never over-promise and under-perform when recruiting someone. (Yes, I know I’m repeating this – it’s that important.). Get back to them in a timely manner, i.e., soon! If something unforeseen happens and you get delayed, call and let them know; a fantastic HR director I know made return calls from her hospital bed – thus why she is fantastic.
  • Good real estate professionals know that good deals might stay on the market for awhile, but great deals disappear quickly; if you want a great deal you have to be ready to act! Same for talent acquisition – for great talent, make a call to hire quickly – get that job offer made now.
  • If you don’t have an opening for a great talent – consider creating a new position. Assembling talent is the best insurance for success you will ever take out.
  • One last note – examine what you are doing with what MindSet calls the “gap time,” i.e., the period between when a new employee accepts your job offer and their first day. Don’t let this period go to waste. Take advantage of the new hire’s cognitive dissonance by communicating in a variety of ways to reconfirm the wise decision they made, build their anticipation for joining their new company, and be a PR agent for their soon-to-be new supervisor.

MindSet teaches skill sets that are driven by three great passions – three conditions that in combination can build and maintain an incredible organization: 1) a passion for recruitment – and I mean assertive recruitment – that is built into the bloodstream of the company, 2) a passion for continuously coaching talented employees, and 3) a passion for ensuring that those talented employees enjoy a positive and vibrant work environment.

Succeed at all three and you will have a dominant business.