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Recently, I’ve heard many human resources leaders complaining about how difficult it is to recruit top talent. Some chalk it up to today’s low unemployment and tight labor market. However, there’s one simple reason you may not be attracting the best candidates available.
The Dangerous ‘Talent Tower’ Assumption
For every job position, there is a universe of potential applicants. Naturally, when you advertise an open position via a job board, internal posting, social media, on your website or through word-of-mouth, a certain segment of the total universe will see that opportunity. A (much smaller) segment will apply for the position.
The problem is that the best-qualified candidates available in the market are not seeking new opportunities on the job boards. They are most likely happily employed in a decent role at a good company. This means that your universe of potential candidates is skewed to the lowest common denominator. If you imagine your universe of potential candidates as an office tower with 10 floors, where each floor represents a quality ranking on a scale of 1 to 10, your “talent tower” is missing the top floors.
This doesn’t mean that top talent wouldn’t be open to a good opportunity at a better company; rather, they are not motivated to actively seek out a new position. Often, it is a question of timing.
Why Is The Talent Tower Assumption A Problem?
Without higher-quality candidates in the mix, the recruiter’s perspective becomes seriously distorted. Having graded on the wrong curve, you assume you hired an 8 instead of a 4. When the 4 shows up for work (assuming they passed the drug screening) it becomes immediately apparent something went wrong. As recruiters, we naturally blame the error on outside variables, such as a tight labor market, the candidate’s outstanding interviewing skills or a resume riddled with exaggerated experience. While those factors may have played a role, the overriding reason you didn’t get what you expected is that you didn’t compare the candidate against the known 8s already working in your company.
Over time, this practice will significantly dilute the talent within your organization and negatively impact your company culture.
The high-performing 8s working at your company will become frustrated by the influx of lower-quality 4-level employees who are receiving the same levels of compensation and rewards. They will gossip to their 8-level friends on sites like Glassdoor, effectively repelling top talent from your company.
The 4s, meanwhile, will be as happy as clams and begin infiltrating your organization. They will tell all their 4-level friends, who will apply for open positions vacated by the disgruntled 8s. Soon, the lower level of employee quality becomes your organization’s new normal, and the message in the marketplace.
Bypass The Talent Tower
To avoid this fate, you need to adjust your approach. Begin by looking around your own organization and identifying the high performers. Then use their common qualities to build an archetype of your ideal candidate you can target in your recruiting efforts.
This is where the aforementioned timing challenge can work to your advantage. By making recruiting an ongoing, consistent habit, you will no longer be constrained by those candidates actively considering a career change at that moment. Through continuous, relationship-based recruiting, your organization will be top-of-mind when the rock-star candidate is ready to seek a new opportunity.
To scale the talent tower, never assume those candidates who answer your recruiting ad represent the best and brightest in your field. Take timing out of the equation by making talent search a priority and a consistent habit. Spend just 20 minutes a day in cultivating long-term relationships with high-potential candidates, and you’ll transform the talent tower from a dangerous assumption to your competitive advantage.
March 7, 2019 at 08:16AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs