Talent Acquisition Strategy: The Path to Hiring the Best

March 29th, 2013

In the current corporate culture, nothing will affect the bottom line more than hiring the best talent in the marketplace. And nothing will enable hiring the best than identifying and interviewing the best. And nothing will impact identifying and interviewing the best more than a robust Talent Acquisition Strategy. When hiring “A” players becomes a priority, current employees will bring their game to the next level and more “A” players will populate the organization. Why? When organizations commit themselves to excellence in hiring, success follows. “A” players want to work with “A” players not with “C ” players, is the premise Steve Jobs built Apple on not so many years ago.

Talent acquisition requires top-down vision and decisions, either enterprise-wide or organizationally, with a common goal of increasing the level of talent hired.  “A” players:  high-quality, top-talent, and high-performance people. To have consistent results in attracting “A” players, develop a plan and proactive strategy, a Talent Acquisition Strategy.

  • First step is to predetermine how positions will be filled. The age old strategy of “seeing who we can hire on our own first” through internal talent acquisition/job board postings/social media advertising etc., does not fit in today’s progressive, talent-hungry organizations. What happens if a hire is made without proactively evaluating the “passive candidate” market. Interviewers are trusted to hire the best of the candidate pool identified, but even if they do, they end up hiring the best that applied, not the best in the market. Proactive planning and increasing the recruiting net will produce both the quantity and quality of candidates identified and at the same time, the speed of coverage.  Implementing a “Quality-of-Hire”-driven Talent Acquisition Strategy will remove the sins of the past and serve the needs of the company.
  • The key to driving a strong candidate selection process is organizing the selection, screening and interviewing process. The whole process requires planned interviewing: deciding who is interviewed,  how many interviews in each round, how many rounds, what is covered and by whom, who participates in first round, second round, etc. (using the same interviewers with each candidate required to ensure consistency) and this planned interviewing process must be executed by trained interviewers.
  • Finally, implementation of KPIs and metrics are required to determine if the Talent Acquisition Strategy is working . The most important KPI is “Quality of Hire.”  Other important metrics include: source of candidate, resumes put in the system (#s), interviews generated, candidates hired, cultural fit, yearly performance, promotions, and retention (how long were they there).  These key success factors need to be measured for 3-5 years to determine what is working and what is not.

Yes, years. Part of creating a high-talent team is focusing on where the top candidates come from, cultural fit, performance, promotions and retention.

If your “Quality of Hire” KPI is high, success will feed on itself. It will become a key motivator in investing more money and effort in a talent acquisition strategy; caliber of hires will be higher, and employee branding will be enhanced.

Many companies are still old school, using “Cost of Hire” or “Speed of Hire” as their key KPIs. Using these KPIs adds risk to Talent Acquisition by potentially rushing the hiring process or selecting lower-performing candidates to save money or time.

A well-planned talent acquisition strategy is well worth creating, implementing and executing.  The bottom-line effect over time will both avoid cost (through efficiency) and generate revenue/profits by identifying, attracting, hiring and retaining the best candidates in the market. If you’re looking for assistance in putting a customized Talent Acquisition Strategy together, contact Honer and Associates. We’d be glad to help.

Don’t Just Hire a Candidate That Can Do the Job: Hire the Best Talent in the Market

March 8th, 2013

How can managers balance the urge to hire the candidate who possesses the skills to do the job, but not the “A” player pedigree, caliber, or past performance? The answer to this question separates the exceptional hiring manager(s) and great companies from their not-so-successful counterparts.

The trap most managers fall into results from seeking immediate productivity, and understandably so. That is why the majority of managers go after skills instead of broader-based competencies. It is appealing to have someone new come in with the absolute and appropriate skills, hit the ground running, and be productive almost immediately. “Skills blindness” is never an optimal long-term play and almost never the best solution. Not truly assessing the candidate’s cultural fit and past performance plus skills is almost certain to lead to mediocrity. The team or company will always lack the ability to scale with a lack of internal depth for promotion, and when a higher-level position comes open, the pressure always exists to hire the person that can help now, so managers hire skills from the outside again and sell the future for the present.

Hiring for Competencies

Exceptional managers think of hiring as the most important responsibility and action they own. It is seen as an opportunity to improve and to bring in more talent, with “talent” being the driver. But pedigree, intelligence and caliber are the attributes important for the hire, not “skills.” Competency in a particular role takes precedence over skills, making the candidate pool larger and increasing the odds of finding candidates possessing those important attributes to hire. Candidates with the proper competencies will learn new skills very quickly, and by the time they have adjusted to the new corporate environment, they will have learned the skills necessary to excel in the role.  And considering the speed at which corporate America is moving/changing, odds are all unique skills will change or become outdated.

High-Performance Team Needs a Clearly Defined Hiring Process

To build a high-performance team or company with exceptional performance, look first at the hiring process. Everything is driven from here. What is the goal? What is the plan? How are candidates being interviewed? What is being achieved? The responsibility rests on the interviewing team to determine caliber, past performance, track record of success, depth of experience, accountability, competency and cultural fit.

Accurately assessing past performance and behavior holds the key to predicting the future, and the interview(s) must provide that data. It’s not “give me an example of your experience with JAVA applications.” It’s “Give me an example of the largest Internet application you have developed.” and “Give me an example of the last time you had to learn new skills to complete a project.” “Did learning new technology increase the length of the project?”

The next time the opportunity to hire surfaces, take advantage of the situation and join the Exceptional managers. Look beyond the job description (skills), open the spec and build a pool of candidates, plan the interviewing process to yield the results desired, and hire the best talent, not skills, for the role. The “best athlete” is always the best hire.

For those interested in enhancing your ability to hire the exceptional, call Honer and Associates. We welcome the chance to discuss this issue with you.