Attracting Talent, It's All In the Story...

Employer of Choice, EVP (Employee Value Proposition) call it what you will but attracting talent to your business is a serious business and give it any cool name or anagram you like, it's also bloody hard!

So why do most companies suck at attracting talent and end up spending huge sums of money with recruitment companies, as usual, the answer is a leadership one. Those organisations who are phenomenal at attracting the best talent, have as their best talent guy/girl, their CEO. Couple of examples, Asda (in Archie Norman's day), HBoS, now I know he is much maligned now but back in the day Andy Hornby sucked in the best talent. GE, Jack Welch a phenomenal Talent Manager.

Put simply the ability for a company to attract talent is firmly and directly linked to the active participation by it’s leaders, as with most people stuff as soon as it comes becomes an HR driven initiative it is doomed to failure, notice I said HR driven not HR implemented!

So before we roll out the online funky stuff, the twittering, the blogging, what practical no cost steps can we implement.

1. Make hiring the very best talent a perogative for all your business leaders, they should prioritise interviews over any other meeting, they should be available for interviews at the drop of a hat

Bit of a story to illustrate this, when we doing our gig at Energis, they had an amazing Head of Marketing, called David Shaw now David attracted amazing talent…one day I was interviewing a stellar guy for an accounting role, half way through the interview it occurred to me that d’you know, his background may be accounting but he could do a great job for us in propositions. I stopped the interview and rang David Shaw, the conversation was short:

“David, hi. It’s Roger, I am interviewing a guy for Eamonn (CFO) but I think he’s perfect for your team, where are you?”

“I am in the building, what room are you in? I’ll step out of this and join you”

5 minutes later, David was interviewing the candidate, 24 hours later the candidate had accepted our offer and signed his contract.

Did you see it?

2.Nail Your Hygiene Factors - 24 hours and signed his contract…there’s another factor in attracting great talent, you have to have the hygiene factors nailed down, contracts need to be available immediately, get the salary range you can offer negotiated upfront so there’s no “sign-off” delays

3. 3.GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT! – great people sign up to missions, not pensions…what is your organization doing that is compelling, how do you treat people, do you empower them or control them…really it doesn’t matter which just get the story straight, be honest and exacerbate the “bad” bits. The Energis story went like this…”everything is broken, no matter how bad I tell you it is, when you come in you’ll say it’s worse, however we are building the brightest, most capable team in the history of telecommunications. You will be intellectually challenged by the size of the task and your peers. There is nowhere to hide, if you don’t deliver you will be fired, however everything you do will affect the company by 20% up or down every day, if you want to make a difference then you need to join us on our journey”…this story was not so much an attraction strategy as a selection one, like Marmite, you either thought it was amazing or a load of rubbish…guess who we wanted to hire. My point is this, you have to be honest, but find the mission, it can’t be money (you’ll hire the wrong people), it can’t be security (you’ll hire the wrong people), what is it? Are you changing the world, saving lives or like Energis just trying to achieve the impossible.

Attracting great talent is nothing to do with a slogan or an online campaign or advertising, you can start right now by doing 3 things:

* Measure your senior leaders on how good they are at recruiting, make hiring great people a strategic imperative and therefore their priority
* Make it easy for the business to hire great talent and the experience for candidates tough but swift
* Get your story straight and make sure everyone who touches a candidate is on message, everyone!

Attracting great talent, it's not rocket science but it might be Chemistry :-)


Views: 66

Comment by Chris Russell on July 6, 2009 at 11:08am
Its all about marketing your employer brand. Good marketing = easier hiring.
Comment by Becky Metcalf on July 22, 2009 at 11:36am
Love it! We try to scare the pants off of candidates for some of our positions (because they are challenging roles!). We give it to them straight, the good, the bad and the ugly. That way when they sign on, they've bought in for the long haul - and so we know the ones who don't have the stomach for it early on.


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