4 Best Practices to Enable Hiring Top Talent

When it comes to attracting and hiring top talent, it pays to stay up to date with the latest recruitment tools, technology and processes. In the race to recruit top talent and prevent them from choosing your competitors over your business, it is essential that you have a robust and modern recruitment process which is continuously reviewed and improved, ensuring you stay ahead of the game.

Studies have shown that businesses with optimised recruitment processes and systems are more successful financially; deliver higher productivity; enjoy better staff retention and superior staff satisfaction; and, perhaps most importantly, benefit from improved customer satisfaction.

Despite this fact, many organisations have not altered their recruitment process for a very long time. They are carrying out assessment methods and checking references of prospective candidates in the same way they were a decade ago.

There are a number of steps your business can take to ensure you are effective in attracting, selecting, assessing, and hiring top talent, and retaining them.

#1 Be Flexible and Open Minded

Recruitment should not be a rigid, templated process.

Different roles and hiring people of differing levels of seniority will require a finely tuned approach to ensure that job-specific skills and qualifications are considered appropriately. For example, the recruitment of junior administrative staff would need a significantly different hiring process to that designed for the board or technically skilled personnel.

The channels by which you may choose to target prospective candidates for a technical role will be entirely different from the approach taken in identifying and nurturing potential C-suite candidates.

In the same vein, you will find that the tests you use in your recruitment process to evaluate skills will vary dramatically from role to role. For example, the insights you would hope to gain from a test taken by a candidate for an entry-level role would be very different to the comparisons you would be looking to make from a test taken by candidates for a highly skilled, professional or senior position.

The recruitment process for hiring top talent can be improved by approaching it from a marketing perspective, whereby you decide upon the ideal candidate experience, persona and other factors. These factors are then used to design and develop a recruitment process that appeals to the right applicants, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. I talk more about how important marketing is in recruitment in point 2 below.

The baseline will include setting out the experience, skills and qualifications that a candidate must have to be considered for the position.

The second tier of differentiators can then be added, perhaps allowing a candidate to put forward comparable experience in a different industry or the context of desirable portable management skills.

This would pre-empt a situation in which a promising candidate was needlessly ruled out when they may be a strong fit.

Many companies do not currently use any form of role simulation in the recruitment process, which can be essential in ensuring that candidates meet the varying requirements of differing jobs.

One useful method is to ask candidates to describe specific examples of their skills during an interview.

Using behaviour-based interviews as part of the assessment can also allow recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate how well a candidate fits with corporate culture. More on hiring for company culture below.

#2 Use Digital Marketing Techniques, Platforms and Tools to Showcase Your Employer Brand

In today’s marketplace, when hiring top talent, advertising a role and then sitting back and waiting for prospective candidates to bring a persuasive case to you, arguing how and why they are the ideal person for the job, won’t work.

Notwithstanding the fact that only 13% of a typical candidate talent pool is actively looking for a job, and therefore the ones who apply to job adverts.

What about the other 87% who are “passive”? There have been plenty of studies that have shown that at least half of them are open to moving for the right job and are worth approaching.

Businesses must focus on employer branding, presenting the company in a way that will impress the target talent pool.

Today’s candidates will be looking to see what the firm and the position can offer them, just as much as the business would expect to assess what a potential recruit has to offer.

You have to be pro-active and use the relevant social media platform to engage with the prospective candidate audience. For a senior vacancy, this will be LinkedIn, for more entry-level positions it could be Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

Content needs to be tailored to suit the platform and level of seniority of candidates. For example, a blog article on Linkedin, a video on YouTube or Facebook, or a story on Instagram.

Also, content must be produced consistently, to show life at your company. If your business is not publishing content every day to your LinkedIn company page, either original content, or shared from your employees and customers social media accounts, then you are not doing enough to market yourself as an employer.

In particular, the Millennial generation of 18-to-34-year-olds are high consumers of social media content on mobile devices and expect employers to put in far more effort to persuade them that the role is worth applying for and that your company is an exciting and enjoyable place to work. If I checked out your company’s social media profiles is that what I would see?

All of the above should be a collaboration between the Marketing and HR/Talent teams, getting the creatives and the administrators to work together to show the company in its best light.

The talent team will need to show the candidate that they are important, by engaging with them on social media and responding to any questions, and also by arranging any interviews at a time that is convenient for the candidate, as well as for themselves.

Any person representing your organisation that meets with the candidate will be the potential employee’s first impression of the business. As such, a professional, yet friendly and human approach will prove crucial when the time comes for the candidate to consider your job offer – they need to feel confident that they can work with and for you, as well as the other way round.

#3 Hire For Cultural Fit Over Skills

There is an ever-growing emphasis on the importance of corporate culture in the success of hiring top talent and retaining them. Even the most senior and skilled new hire will not be successful within your business if your culture does not fit with them.

It is essential and in the interests of both the employer and prospective employee that the candidate can get a clear picture as to the working environment and how the leadership team operates.

The more effort you put into communicating the firm’s culture at the very beginning of the recruitment process, the more likely it is that you will end up with a successful hire.

Let’s be clear; there is no “right” or “wrong” type of company culture. Employers are as diverse as the talent pool from which they aim to hire. What matters here is communication, not bland, impersonal, corporate statements but the positive presentation of the reality of the firm’s internal culture; how you do business.

It will work for a given candidate or it won’t. Moreover, it’s far less expensive in terms of money and time to part company at the earlier stages of the recruitment process than at shortlisting, offer or – catastrophically – following on-boarding.

If you’re presented with a choice between cultural fit versus skill set, opt for the former every time. Skills can be acquired.

I have hired too often for skills in my desperation to fill a role in my companies, and in the teams working for me, with dire consequences. When I look back over my business career, the biggest successes were people whom I hired for cultural fit, but who were inexperienced and were trained up to do the role by me.

#4 Run An Efficient and Speedy Recruitment Process

A lengthy recruitment process will have a negative impact on hiring top talent, leaving positions unfilled for more extended periods and increasing the likelihood that a candidate you have shortlisted for a position accepts another offer while screening and other processes take place.

The process should be optimised to ensure unnecessary delays are removed and where possible, any checks, approvals and sign-offs are carried out as quickly as possible.

The longer the hiring process takes, the more likely you are to lose your preferred candidate to a more agile competitor with a better-designed recruitment process. This will not only cost you a potentially valuable member of the team but will add to the internal resource costs as the process is re-started.

When it comes to making any process more efficient and effective, there is bound to be innovative technology involved somewhere.

Video screening is an effective way to save time and speed-up the interview process. For example, it is far easier to set up a video interview at short notice than it is to have a candidate travel to your offices at a time that fits around their current job or lifestyle.

Another method of speeding up the recruitment process is to introduce automated CV screening and search systems, and computer-assisted interviews.

Technology is ever-changing, so as the advice at the very start of this article suggests, recruitment processes should be continuously reviewed and improved. That way, not only will you stay in the game, but you are likely to emerge on the winning side.

In Summary

If you are serious about finding, attracting and hiring top talent you need to be:

1 Flexible and open minded
2 Marketing your employer brand
3 Understanding of your culture
4 Running a speedy and efficient recruitment process

There is a war for talent going on, with many shortages in skilled knowledge worker professions, so you can’t afford to be complacent because your competitors for a candidate’s signature will not be.