5 Tactics For Landing The Best Talent

May 13, 2014

The best performers can be up to four times more productive than the average worker, so it's important to select the right people from the start. Here are some of the best ways to make your talent acquisition successful.

According to Dr John Sullivan, the best performers can be as much as four times more productive than the average worker and output higher quality referrals once in a post, providing a significant competitive advantage if you can find them. So how do you source talent, engage candidates and make great hiring decisions?

1. Put your existing workforce first

It is important to keep existing employees engaged when you’re hiring, as they could well prove to be your most important asset. According to Dan Tynan’s blog in Computer World, managers need to resist the Dilbert Principle:

They (employers) can’t assume they can hold on to their best employees indefinitely because they believe geeks don’t care about career advancement. - Perry Stoll, VP of Cloudant

Beside the comedic element, the serious message here is that employers should never undervalue its existing workforce. They should be allies throughout the process and may also find themselves in a position to step into the exact role you wish to fill. Hiring from within ensures that internal emerging talent feels not only identified, but also valued. Spending time coaching and developing staff from can also pay dividends, for example allowing them to flourish creatively on an independent project. Pushing people out of their comfort zone may well make you realise they are your next greatest asset.

2. Know what you're selling and be passionate about it

What do you want the candidate to think about your organisation when they see your job specification? They want to feel inspired and energised, they want to find out about your working environment – the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor. So when you are about to hire make sure your website is up to date and accurately showcases your mission, vision, values and team members. This may sound like a small thing but it can have a big impact on whether a potential candidate presses ‘send’ on their application.

It’s not just about the digital picture, consider the image of the office and the company culture – what do you want to draw out and emphasise when the candidate comes in? Hint: Don’t book out the meeting room in the basement with no windows for the interviews. Also don’t forget to mention the all-important employee benefits and development opportunities in the specification. If you were pitching for a big new client, you wouldn’t create their brief with bullet points in Word, so why create a bland job description in this manner.

Ideally, senior management should be involved in the decision-making process, although naturally this will be more applicable to smaller sized businesses. Wherever practical, companies should look to include their top engineers or developers in the recruitment process, not least because the new hire may well end up working alongside them each day.

3. Simplify your candidate filtering

Half the battle in recruiting top talent is filtering out the ‘so-hot talent’ from the ‘not-so talent’. Once you have got the job specification spot on and the applications are flooding in, your selection process can be made far easier with the introduction of online recruitment testing tools such as ShowTech (formerly Technically Compatible/Tungl).

Matching skills to roles doesn’t have to be a clinical process. In fact by calling it a process at all makes it clinical. Additionally, just because someone has put ‘JavaScript expert’ on the top of their CV doesn’t mean they are in reality. Sending out a technical test for all prospective candidates to complete, even if it is under the guise of a fun and friendly task, can separate out those who would work best for you, against the skill requirements as well as under pressure. Many of these resources can be out-sourced now, so you can create your very own job specific, branded test without even writing any code. Ultimately, what it comes down to after this filtering process is; are they smart enough and can we afford them (extract from George Anders ‘A Rare Find’).

Once you have whittled down the candidates to a manageable number by whatever means you recruit, you may find certain candidates where the talent is right, just not right now for the role in question. For these, you could keep a pool of talent for future roles, or even consider them for other roles at the time if you think they would be a good cultural fit. Conversely, once a format for talent attraction has been implemented that works; there is no reason why it can’t also be rolled out internally as part of an employee development programme, or even promote employees to share the test with their social networks to uncover hidden talent.

4. Ensure the candidate would fit with your company's culture

As Langley Steinert says ‘make candidates pass the “drink a beer with me” test’. The candidate’s qualifications, level of knowledge and experience are obviously an important factor in any hiring decision but if their values, habits and beliefs are at odds with your culture then you may have a problem. If, after listening to what they have to say, you would feel at ease with them in a casual setting, Steinert contends that they will likely be a sound investment to your offices cultural mix. So if you wouldn’t feel comfortable taking them to the bar after work, or even out for a coffee, perhaps review the decision.

5. Keep your standards high, otherwise face the consequences

Once you’ve honed your sales pitch, shortlisted, interviewed and considered the candidates personal fit, ensure that you keep your standards as high as possible. Resist the temptation to succumb to the pressures of having to recruit ‘right now’. Shortcutting a recruitment process, or compromising on quality to quickly fill a vacancy, can be disastrous for any business but especially for SMEs. Be relentlessly focused on talent, not timescales, as costly hiring decisions can alter the work environment for the whole team. Try not to think about what could go wrong; instead focus on what could go right. If on balance the reward outplays the level of risk, then you may be on to recruiting your next top talent.

Recruitment skills tests - like our ShowTech tech assessments have many advantages in helping tech recruiters. If you want to know more about how we can help you to improve your tech recruitment, get in touch.

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