Small business owners can learn how to hire top talent even without a big human resource department. As challenging as it is to find good candidates, persuading an “A” candidate away from a secure job to work for you is just as challenging.
One of the main reasons for attracting and hiring “A” candidates is that research suggests top performers are roughly four times as productive as average performers.
“Their stories typically involve unicorn chases, the quest for candidates worthy of their company. But few admit to the other side of that equation: how hard it is to persuade the best prospects to stake their careers on your idea. In other words, it’s one thing to find those unicorns. But it’s quite another to talk them into following you into the thicket,” said Thomas Goetz, CEO of Iodine.
Hiring and retaining the best talent is as tough as it’s ever been, with projections indicating that, for the first time in U.S. history, the number of younger workers entering the labor market won’t be enough to replace those who are leaving. By 2006, one in six workers will be over the age of 55, while the 25-to-34 demographic will have shrunk by nearly 9 percent, according to a study by the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers.
1. Make a case for your business
Business owners have to make a compelling case for why a candidate should work with them. If your industry has larger companies to compete for talent with, you need to craft your case in such a way as to entice them to join the team. Think through what’s in it for them and be ready to articulate the answer.
Depending on the level you are hiring, here are a few examples:
• An executive. That person might want equity in exchange for the risk of joining a smaller or growing company.
• A middle manager. Your message should convey staying power and security.
• An entry-level worker. Show your company promotes from within and as you grow there will be many opportunities for advancement.
Regardless of the type of employee, you’ll need to show how their skills can contribute to the success of the business.
Another way to capture a potential employee is explain to them what problems you are trying to solve by hiring. Walk them through what you are trying to accomplish. Engage them enough so they want to be part of the team, to collaborate and build something with you.
2. Identifying Your Winning Team
Before bringing someone on, think about what your team will look like. Think through what your team will look like so you can hire accordingly. Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” slogan “begin with the end in mind” tells us we need to know where we are headed before we start out.
This approach will
• Give a clearer sense of who will fit best with the current employees
• Identify Skills and experience needed for this job
• Identify the top priority needed to accomplish in their first 90, 180, and 365 days
• Consider what you expect this person to achieve
Examine a winning team you admire.
• What do they have in common?
• What are some of the attributes they exhibit?
Now think of your team:
• What is working and what isn’t?
• Look for the commonalities and build on them.
• Identify what hasn’t worked in the past, and assess talent against what does and does not work in your company.
3. Assess your talent pool
Stop relying exclusively on staffing or executive search firms as the primary source of new talent. A company looking for more “A” candidates needs to know first-hand about the talent that is available. You won’t know unless you are doing your own recruiting.
Manpower recently documented that 52% of American companies are struggling to fill open positions. Should you look for employees with talent or ones who have a lot of potential?
While talent is the natural ability to do and perform, potential refers to the possibility of doing and performing an even greater job function – but the abilities are not quite there.
While it can be enticing for you to want to mold someone into a larger role, are they able to be coached and trained to naturally grow into that role?
Performance and potential both matter, but performance should count for a lot more. Performance is real; it can be measured objectively. Potential is always subjective, and may never be realized.
Top Performer Traits
Top performers usually have similar qualities. When hiring, watch for these traits:
• Problem solvers. These are people who try to find a solution before depending on other’s to solve a customer’s problem. They figure out how who can provide the best answers. They don’t rely solely on a company manual to resolve customer problems.
• Strong communicators. To provide customers with a great experience it’s all about developing strong relationships which need strong communication skills. Hire people who are able to easily communicate online, on the phone and in person.
• Conscientious. Hire people who take pride in their work. You can’t train someone who thinks of the delighting the customer.
• Enthusiasm. Look for people who are positive. Upbeat and optimistic employees create a working environment that is unique, spawns new ideas and, just as important is enjoyable for the other people involved.
• Even keeled. Stressful jobs can be challenging to those who are easy to anger. Seek people who tend to let things roll off their shoulders.
Small business owners and hiring managers can have better success by being prepared, positioning their company in such a way as to encourage job seekers to want to join a growing organization, knowing what talent is available for the position, and seeking desired traits that will sustain time.
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