Wednesday, Mar 07 2012

4 Ways to Ensure You Get Top Talent Before Your Competitors Beat You To It

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I just finished reading an article in a February issue of Business Journal entitled, “Young Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Lament Talent Crunch”. Armada’s clients, both large and small, encounter the same recruiting and staffing challenges noted in Shana’s article on the young entrepreneurs participating in a recent Stanford Panel discussion. I agree with Corey Resse’s contention that, “Recruiting is the most challenging thing in today’s market. There’s no one silver bullet in this market. Try everything.”  I would add that challenge is not unique to today’s market as it is ALWAYS difficult to find exceptional talent and you should be partnering with the right providers to ensure you are securing extraordinary talent.

Here are my thoughts around the value of partnering with a trusted recruiting firm:

Pay for Performance: Hiring managers frequently question the fees recruiting and staffing firms charge to deliver exceptional talent. Really, the question should be: “How much value is my partner delivering, what is that worth and more importantly -what is the cost to my company if I don’t secure the right talent?” Fundamentally, my belief is you get what you pay for and you should pay a premium for premium performance. Whether you’re talking about internal employees, partners or vendors, this is true. With the knock-down, drag out competition for talent out there, having the highest caliber recruiting firms working to secure top tier talent for you is absolutely critical. If you are working with a firm on a contingency basis, you only pay when they deliver results. The best recruiting firms have customers competing for the talent they represent; therefore, you want these firms as motivated as possible to make you and your company’s needs a priority and quickly deliver the talent you require. To ensure your partner advocates for your needs above those of your competitors (who are likely are customers of top notch recruiting firms as well) incentivize your recruiting partners to ensure that your needs are a top priority to them.

Utilize All Your Resources: Don’t solely rely on your company’s internal HR or recruiting team to deliver on all your hiring needs. Typically, internal recruiting teams are working hard to fill ALL the open requirements in the company. Positions that require a high level of technical expertise or require a skill set that is in high demand, are not easily filled and checked off the list. Therefore don’t always get the level of attention they require.  If your internal HR or recruiting team is working to fill requirements for Marketing, HR, Legal, IT, Operations and Administration, etc. it’s very challenging, if not downright impossible to successfully cover the needs in all those areas because of the fractured focus. When choosing a recruiting firm to partner with, choose a firm that specializes in the domain or technologies you need. Working with specialty firms who focus their time, skill and resources on the specific area of expertise will produce better results.

Invest Time Upfront: It’s critical that you take time up front to work with your chosen recruiting firm to ensure they understand your priorities and the nuances of your specific needs. Help them “sell” your company, team and project and give them the specific requirements for talent, which will make them an extension of your sales force. The more detailed information you arm the recruiting firm with, the better positioned they are to make your requirements a priority and get talent excited about your opportunities. Finally, make sure the firm you decide to partner with mirrors your sense of urgency and understands your process and interviewing methodologies.

Consider Contract to Hire: Finding top tier talent was the primary challenge noted in this article and the secondary challenge was not firing the wrong talent quickly enough. I would make the argument here for the value of contract to hire. This engagement model allows you to experience what working with someone will really be like, without as much investment or risk to the company or your current team.

I agree with Corey Reese’s advise to “Try Everything “and would add: 1) pay for performance/incent success – understand the cost of not having the right people at the right time; 2) develop a relationship with a recruiting partner that invests the time to understand what it is that you truly need. You want  a recruiting partner that sees your priorities as their priorities.

It’s always tough to find top tier talent, regardless of how the economy is doing, so developing solid relationships with exceptional partners to enhance your business is always a good investment of your time and resources.