People on a cross walk

The Talent Race

This month’s Carnival of HR is titled “the talent race” and asks for ideas how we can win this race, meaning how we can convince the best and brightest to come work for our company instead of for our competitor. There are a lot of “best practices” in recruitment to be found on the internet. Unfortunately, they always seem to work for someone else, but not for you. So let’s forget about best practices and instead look at the following guidelines that I have found to be helpful:

1. Be authentic – make sure you know what your company stands for and be enthusiastic about that. If you don’t know where your company is going, how will you explain that to someone who has never worked for you? You need to create a compelling vision and that usually works best if you believe in your company’s strategy as the only way forward.

2. Be yourself – determine your USPs. Every company has a unique culture but they are not you and you are not them. What works at your company will not work somewhere else. We have had a number of spin-offs that tried to recreate our company as it was before. What seems to work for us are informal employee events where we invite a good band, drink beer, dance and party well into the night. When a competitor imitated this, they foud that no one dared to dance and the party was a sad event. Trust me, it will never work when you’re only establishing an imitation.

3. Be graceful – no matter how great your company, employees will eventually leave. They have outgrown you or they don’t like the changes you are making. Make the exit process as smooth as possible. Thank them for their services and give them a nice farewell. You never know: they might find the grass is not greener elsewhere, or they might end up as your customer some time in the future. We have had a number of employees return to us after some years at another company. Any idea how valuable that experienced talent is?

4. Be open-minded – if you cannot find talent where you are looking, look elsewhere. Thanks to the internet, everyone who has access is a potential employee. Location does not have to be an issue – except when face-2-face customer contact is needed – and there might be an opportunity to outsource or nearshore. Can you fill positions with temps or with pensioners? A company close by employs people with Asperger syndrome as software testers and they are brilliant at it. Just move away from the 9-5 at the office idea and get creative.

5. Be out there – there are very few companies that receive more resumees than they have openings available. So you have to make some noise to tell people what you are about. Last month we hired the first employee who told us she chose our company because our management and employees are active on social media sites like Twitter and she liked the conversations we were having. This works for us because we look for IT staff, but it might not work for you. Determine where your future staff most likely hangs out and go there: if you are looking for local staff, you might want to advertise at local facilities like sports clubs or sponsor events.

Looking at the guidelines above it all comes down to knowing who you are and using that when attracting and retaining talent. It’s the only thing that will work long term.