There’s a lot of buzz that everyone loves to complain…eh hem, I mean…talk about, yet do little about – and it goes by the phrases of “hiring top talent”, “finding the A players”, etc. – a task that can seem like a mission impossible.
Why is this so buzz-worthy though? Because yes, everyone wants to hire a great candidate, and the result of hiring the wrong candidate results in a mis-hire, which in turn ends up being more like a mess-hire…and you end up having to clean up the mess.
I’m a numbers guy; we specialize in Big Data & Analytics for private companies, and here are some hiring numbers for you:
- 1 out of every 2 hires is a mis-hire.
- Mis-hires cost your company between 15-24 times the placed candidate’s base salary. So, your $100k job now cost you between $1.4 million – $2.5 million per year, if you get it wrong.
- Greater than 90% of firms hire external sources, recruiters, to find them talent on a contingency basis. Contingency recruiting = the recruiter’s fee is contingent on the client hiring their candidate.
- And only 18% of contingent job searches actually get filled. The contingency recruiting model creates the highest risk of a mis-hire.
So here everyone is, talking about how it’s so hard to land the right candidates, instead of actually realizing that it’s probably their current recruiting process that is causing the problem in the first place.
If you’re like most, then your company is working under a contingency recruiting model (the model that yields only 18% success rates in placing a candidate), the recruiting model where a client slings out their job order to a bunch of recruiters, who compete with one another to make the placement. Under this model, Mr. Client thinks it’s a win-win situation, “Hey, why not have those recruiters all fight for the win, at least I’ll get to see a bunch of candidates.”
It can be messy, and it usually looks something like this:
But what does that really look like for you Mr. Client?
- This critical job opening has now been turned into a game of speed, not of a game of quality for your recruiters. The recruiters reach for their low-hanging fruit (candidates from their databases, candidates who applied to their job postings – essentially = B & C players). You get excited as the client, because you see tons of resumes coming in, and now your job is to filter through all these below par matches of unqualified B & C player resumes (yey!!!). After some time passes, you become fed up with the process, and end up just hiring the guy who can walk and chew gum at the same time – the mis-hire.
- You are also empowering multiple recruiters to go out and share your company’s brand and message. Are the recruiters all sharing the same value proposition, and even more importantly, are they sharing it to the right candidates? If not, they’re doing tremendous damage to your brand in the marketplace. And P.S. – more candidates knowing about your job opening isn’t a good thing – it dilutes the value of your opportunity, and if too much time passes, candidates will begin to wonder why the seat is still open in the first place.
Well here’s the black and white of it, or as Einstein states, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Why continue trying to build out your team with “A” players, under a recruiting model that is broken, and only delivers the B & C players? Is that what your investors expected when they dumped millions of dollars into your venture?
“Oh hey – go find me the bench warmers, they’ll help us land our competitive spot in the marketplace, and get us to an IPO.”
If your organization doesn’t have at least 90% or more of your team exceeding your expectations, then you have a flawed hiring process!
It’s time to become aware of how you can solve your own talent search dilemma:
#1 – GIVE YOUR CANDIDATES A KILLER EXPERIENCE
True “A” players are a cut above the rest – and a garbage interview experience will not get them to leave their current company for yours.
Why? Because the game changers are not. actively. looking. for jobs. And they are most certainly not applying for a job with your company.
“A” players, who are not applying for your jobs, are:
- Happy, well-appreciated and making great money.
- Not running from their current company – they would be running to your company, if attracted and courted to appropriately.
- Open to having a business conversation if approached properly, but usually through a talent agent who can present your opportunity in the best light, with your vision and objective in mind.
B & C players are the ones who apply for your jobs, and are:
- Going to tell you what you need to hear in the interview process.
- Running from their current company (or else he/she wouldn’t be applying to work for yours).
- Going to create a higher risk of being a mis-hire.
So you must understand that the courting process for an “A” player, and the experience that you give them during an interview process needs to be top notch. You can’t treat them like an applicant – because that is what most certainly they are not. They are savvy business individuals who are open to having a conversation with you – they’re not asking for a job offer during your first call, and will need to be influenced and engaged in order to make a move.
It’s the same concept as when you were in the dating world – were you really interested in the girl who was pretty much “applying” to be your next date, the one who gave you her phone number without you having to work for it?
Or were you more interested in the girl who had her own thing going on, who didn’t need you to ask for her number, and who made you work for her interest? Same goes for the “A” talent pool.
SOLUTION: Give “A” players a killer interview experience. From start to finish, they need to feel comfortable – so be d*mn sure that you’re putting your best foot forward during each step of the way. This may require you to come off of your soapbox and realize that this candidate may help solve your problem, not the other way around. You need to partner with your talent agent to help you court to and engage them accordingly. Because remember, even if it’s a great opportunity, not everyone may want to come and work for you…there are millions of opportunities out there just like yours, and you shouldn’t risk missing the right candidate because you treated them like an applicant.
#2 – STOP WASTING TIME
TKAD = TIME. KILLS. ALL. DEALS.
If your recruiting process takes longer than 4 weeks, it’s broken, and the ability to capture an “A” player is lost. Any of the following can (and usually does) happen:
- The candidate loses interest, he/she doesn’t feel engaged anymore in the process, and why should they? They’re currently killing it at their current job anyway.
- At any moment, he/she could close a huge deal and poof! your opportunity has now fizzzzzled…
- Taking longer than 4 weeks gives a candidate the impression that you don’t have the ability to make a business decision, which doesn’t exactly send out warm fuzzies, and can be seen as an indicator of future problems to come under your platform. “A” players love people who can make a decision confidently and keep moving forward – this is the impression you should give them in the process.
- Your talent partner also loses faith in your process, and begins showing the candidate opportunities with other clients. Hey – this candidate is an “A” player – he’s going to make a company a lot of money. If it’s not going to be you, it’s going to be someone else.
SOLUTION: Set a pre-structured plan with your talent partner at the beginning of the search cycle, in order to hit interviews and all required internal steps within 4 weeks. This is sufficient enough time for you to gather all the information you need to decide if they’re a good fit. Remember – “A” players have a ‘get it done’ mentality. If they have to follow your process for longer than 4 weeks, the momentum is gone and doubt has slipped in. It is critical to have all your ducks in a row when you bring a top candidate through your interview doors.
#3 – GET THE UNNECESSARY COOKS OUT OF THE KITCHEN
Too many times I’ve seen companies involve too many employees in the interview process. Employees who ultimately shouldn’t be tied to the business decision that needs to be made about the hire.
Do you think your top sales performer is really going to rally behind the new guy you’re interviewing?
He may say he is, but inside he probably wants to do this instead:
Do you think he’s saying “Yes I love him! I can’t wait for him to pass me in line on the Leadership Board slots!” His natural instinct may see the new hire as a threat instead.
You, as the hiring manager, have the responsibility to deliver to your investors/owners/boards – PROFIT. And last time I checked, profit only comes from hitting your targets. Your primary concerns for landing the right guy for the seat are:
- Can this person help me achieve my targets?
- Are there any red flags that would keep this guy from hitting his targets or disturbing your mission?
SOLUTION: Involve only key decision makers in the hiring process, and make sure that all the decision makers are on the same page in delivering your company’s value proposition – the proposition as to why this candidate needs to come work for your company, as opposed to anybody else.
Which now leads to my 4th tip:
#4 – DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR HIRING OBJECTIVE
The word “scaling” is to 2014, as the word “culture” is to 2015 (and actually many years prior, come to think of it).
I have found that hiring authorities lose sight of what’s truly important in their hiring objectives – focusing more on irrelevant points like “Will he fit into our culture?” vs. “Can this guy actually do the job?”. Is getting a guy to hit 100% of your culture points really tied to whether he can actually perform the job for which he’s being considered? Not really. If the guy is a rectangle, and your culture box is a square, you’ll eliminate him – without realizing that he still has four straight lines, and four corners – oh, and that he can probably do the job. And no – whether or not your other employees want to sing Kumbaya during your company’s group bonding event with the new hire, is not a relevant point in making your decision on hiring the individual or not.
Here’s a recent example. I went to check out a new gym, pretty much one of CrossFit’s main competitors. I’ve been training myself for a while, and wanted to try something different…have someone else challenge me. This group fitness gym was charging 3 times the market rate (of other group fitness gyms, not just regular gyms), and they kept trying to sell me on their culture, culture, culture. What they failed to sell me on was how charging 3 times the market rate for their program was going to change my physique, challenge me, and motivate me – all the reasons as to why I was looking into their program in the first place. Do I really care about taking river raft rides on the weekend with these guys? Not really, because those were never my objectives in exploring the gym to begin with.
Same applies with hiring – focus on your true hiring objective for the role. Are your investors and shareholders asking whether the candidate loves your culture? Do you think VC firms and investors worried whether their CEO or VP of Sales was going to fit into the company’s written culture description? No – they looked for the best guy to do the job. Your investors want to know if this guy can help you capture market share, drive profitability, and increase brand awareness.
So stop wasting your time focusing on whether he is a 100% culture match to your team. “A” players challenge the status quo – they motivate others to be better than themselves, and they can improve and raise the bar of a company’s current culture. By doing this, maybe your company’s competitive advantage becomes having a top talent roster, vs. having the best culture.
And here’s an insider’s tip on the whole culture thing anyway – stop trying to sell an “A” player on culture. A true “A” player isn’t going to be motivated by your company’s culture, in order to make a move. Yes, it’s a relevant factor, nobody wants to work for jerks – but it’s not the driving or deciding factor, and it shouldn’t be yours either in your consideration process. This guy doesn’t care so much about wearing a matching shirt, and taking a group picture at a company happy hour. He cares about providing value, about positively impacting and improving your organization, and about growing personally and professionally, so that he can better the quality of life for his family.
Focus on showing him how to accomplish that, and you’ll increase your chances of landing him.
SOLUTION: Keep your eye on the prize, on your hiring objectives, and focus on what the candidate needs to accomplish in the role.
A good way to measure this is by:
- Figuring out what you need the candidate to accomplish in the seat, along with what skills and technical aptitude are needed.
- Look at their track record to see if they have done something similar in the past. Past performance doesn’t always = future performance; however, if a guy or gal has knocked the cover off the ball for the last 5-10 years, chances are, he/she will continue to do that with your organization.
#5 – PARTNER WITH THE RIGHT TALENT AGENT WHO CAN: (1) FIND, (2) ATTRACT, AND (3) DELIVER THE “A” PLAYERS.
Yes, maybe we all went to the same school but not everyone graduated with honors. The same applies to your world – not all of the software vendors for a niche land on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.
There’s a top 1% of every craft, every niche, every industry, and then there’s everyone else.
There are a lot of recruiters out there, who have wasted your time and have not delivered great results (again, because if you’re implementing a contingency recruiting model, they are racing against time to win the placement, and deliver the low-hanging fruit first).
Your talent partner is critical to helping you build out your team. If you’ve had a mis-hire in the past with a bad recruiting firm, remove the fear and put some trust into a professional talent partner who will execute a different process, and yield different results.
If landing “A” players is of value to you and your organization, then partnering with the right talent professionals for the job should be a high priority.
And just to clarify, the game changers, the top producers, the “A” players of the talent pool, aren’t:
- Applying to your company’s job postings.
- Applying to your company’s LinkedIn job postings.
- Reading or caring about how awesome your “culture” is.
- Responding to calls, emails, LinkedIn Inmails, pings/winks/pokes from your internal recruiting department.
Why? Because they’re heads down focused, with their nose to the grindstone – doing what they were hired to do for their current company. To win and succeed in their current role.
A true talent agent has the ability to: (1) find these under-the-radar executives, (2) attractthem to come up for air and have a business conversation with your organization, and (3) deliver 3-5 of these game changers, so that you can make the best hiring decision from the best pool of talent.
More importantly, delivering the right candidate for the role yields dividends for years to come.
SOLUTION: Partner with talent professionals who aren’t scared to share in your mission and vision, and know how to find, attract and deliver the “A” players. I mean heck, if it’s the recruiting fee that has you in a tizzy, take the fee off the table and offer equity – maybe then you’ll realize that the top 1% of any craft aren’t only motivated by money. They are the top 1% because they love what they do, they have passion for their craft, and because they love serving and delivering value to both candidates and clients. Do you think Lebron James spends his time worrying about how much his agent’s commission is, especially after his agent has landed him $75 million in yearly contracts? Or do you think Lebron just focuses on what he does best – being one of the top in his game? Working with the right talent partner allows you to remain focused on what you do best, and instills trust to allow them to do what they do best.
Finding a true “A” player doesn’t have to be a mission impossible. Simply become aware of your internal recruiting process, and take the steps needed to adjust/implement a winning hiring strategy.
Just like the movies, set yourself up with the right plan and players and every mission is possible!