Hire for Attitude Train for Skill, How to Optimize Your Sales Force in the New Millennium

Is your company in a talent crunch and wish you knew how to attract more rock stars? You’re not alone!

In this booming economy, there are more companies pursuing top recruits than seem to be available for hire. But it wasn’t always this way.

During economic downturns, like the Great Recession of 2008, A-players in most fields flocked to anyone that was hiring – at half the pay-rate. Today, the tables have turned. Companies are beating a path down to the front door of A-player recruits in hopes that these new hires will give them the competitive edge in their market.

Indeed, statistical research confirms that top talent provides a huge boost in productivity, which leads to increased overall corporate success.

A study conducted by McKinsey reports, “A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes found that high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones.” They also reported that this productivity boost skyrockets to 800 percent in the corporate world for highly complex jobs such as software developers, managers, and similar roles. [1]

This productivity boost is the slight, or not so slight, edge that takes companies from good to great. Attracting top talent is what fuels corporate domination in any given market. The competitors, who attract second-stringers and bench-warmers struggle to keep up; others starve; and still others become cautionary tales.

Still not convinced top talent matters? Let’s talk sports.

Think of the impact the ‘big 3’ made for the Dallas Cowboys in the mid-90s; or the 3 recent championship titles of the Golden State Warriors led by Stephen Curry, Clay Thompson, and the newest ‘X’ factor hire, Kevin Durant! What happens every time Lebron James moves to a team? They either win a title or contend for it. What’s the common denominator? Top talent, hands down.

Your company needs the edge to magnetically attract the best and brightest in your market! We’ll take a look at some of the key strategies to gaining this ‘attractor factor’ without selling off the whole farm.

First, why do companies struggle to recruit top talent, in the first place? There are many factors that may come into play. Factors include: a highly competitive market, unknown business, poor corporate reputation, bad location, lame benefits packages, Culture and more.

Whatever the case may be for your company, by adding one or more of these 7 strategies to your recruitment process will increase your magnetic draw of adding top talent.

Strategy #7 – Set Yourself Apart from the Crowd

When the recession hit and there were massive layoffs, top talented workers could be hired on the cheap.

They could choose from the cream of the crop, when there weren’t jobs. Since then, the economy has bounced back and now there is more demand for top talent than there are highly skilled professionals.

How can companies stand apart from the crowd? By building their reputation as a top place to work.

This is not just about throwing dollars around, even though you do need to keep pace with the competition on salary range for the various positions you’re filling.

Becoming best place to work is about investing into your corporate culture, throwing in company perks that make people feel cared for, and fostering social harmony and inclusion.

Strategy #6 – Become the Change You Wish to See

Certainly, you’ve heard the principle, “become the change you want to see,” right?

This concept certainly holds true with companies that attract the cream-of-the-crop personnel. While compensation and benefits have and always will be important considerations, a study conducted by Glassdoor https://hbr.org/2017/01/what-matters-more-to-your-workforce-than-money actually found, “compensation and benefits were consistently rated among the least important factors of workplace happiness.” [2]

After weighing the results of over 615,000 users of the platform, Glassdoor analyzed their findings of professionals that wrote reviews about their employers from 2014 up to 2017. They found that while compensation, benefits packages and work-life balance should be in the range of other companies, it’s not the deal-maker for the best-of-the-best.

Instead, company culture, the quality of the senior leadership of the company, and defined paths for career development and advancement were game-changing factors for attracting, and keeping, A-players.

Corporate culture includes things like fostering a fun environment where workers feel respected, valued, safe, like a vital part of a bigger vision and the like. These are all non-salary-based features you can build up to set yourself a part from the crowd and create stickability.

Strategy #5 – Maintain Rigorous Screening Standards

In an economy where it’s tough to find the highly qualified hires you seek, management may begin to compromise their standards in order to secure second-string players. While this strategy does ‘keep the bench warm,’ it also starts a downward snowball effect that may downgrade your company in short order.

Instead, be resolute. When the going gets tough, you have to hold your ground on your hiring process. Keep your standards on who you interview and perform due diligence tasks. These tasks may include skills tests, background verification, and reference checks to ensure you get the professional you’re paying for.

Strategy #4 – Go Remote

Name-brand companies tend to settle their facilities in urban areas that attract top-shelf professionals – particularly, recent graduates. Companies that are located on the out-skirts of the town or older industrial parks just don’t have that ‘X’ factor top professionals have a taste for.

Still, all is not lost. You can hitch your wagon to the growing trend of remote employment and allow recruits the opportunity to telecommute. Since the hour-long commute is dreaded universally, by everyone, you can quickly change the game by offering a telecommute job opportunity for top talent.

Strategy #3 – Spice Up Your Benefits Package

When browsing job listings and making considerations, the top 5% of professionals will yawn when reading that same tired “competitive pay, 401(k) matching, blah, blah, blah.” Even if you can’t offer top pay, you can more than reconcile this weak job ad with a little creativity.

Let’s dream a little bit about how you can blow your competition out of the water and attract the top 1% of professionals for all your positions. What about offering a monthly stipend as a part of your ‘wellness program?’ Even better, how about offering fitness classes or building a state-of-the-art gym on site? Consider free membership to a local luxury spa, top museum and season tickets to see a top local sports team!

Some companies offer generous maternity, paternity, flex time, you name it. You can make your company job listings sizzle by throwing just a few more of these saucy ingredients into the mix to attract winners.

Strategy #2 – Forget the Rock Stars, Recruit Great Potentials

Companies that focus primarily on hiring rock stars may develop slim pockets in the long-run. Why?

You see, rock star employees are usually seasoned professionals who’ve risen to the top of the heap, one win at a time. After a decade of success, and watching a company grow, these A-players may begin to feel invincible. They may imagine themselves corporate demigods – if left unchecked.

When your focus is on luring too many of these types to your company, they may demand salary and benefits packages that are far too expensive. Even worse, knowing they’ve got ‘pick of the litter’ and not feeling especially loyal to you, they may jump ship as soon as they sniff a pay bump down the street with your competitor.

On the other hand, when you hire a stronger percentage of team members who have high potential, they can be attracted with much lower starting salaries, developed, and steeped in heavy doses of culture traits – like loyalty.

When focusing on recruiting top talent, you’re looking more for soft skills than hard ones. Factors like leadership, entrepreneurial drive, initiative, adaptability, and motivation make solid soft skills of future company leaders.

Notice, I didn’t suggest that you don’t need ANY super-stars. Remember our sports conversation above? A Lebron James or Kevin Durant type player can ‘change the game’ for your business, fast. However, you don’t necessarily need to assemble a team akin to the crew that challenged Thanos in ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ You may find yourself far overbudget and, well, still coming up short!

Strategy #1 – One Hire That Solves ALL Hires

 One of the best ways to solve your problem of recruiting top talent is to simply hire a top-notch, super-star recruitment firm. Taking this approach is a proven way many leading, smart firms are covertly filling their quiver with the sharpest arrows with far less splinters.

One mistake most companies make when choosing a recruiting firm is hiring two, three or more firms to help fill company positions. This is the diversification method – believing that spreading your options ensures success.

On the other hand, what happens is that recruiting agencies give 30 – 40% effort to filling your position, knowing they are one of many. When you give exclusive rights to a single recruiting agency, they naturally give 100% effort to attracting and delivering the best and brightest to your company.

Adding one or more of these strategies into your recruitment approach is a surefire way to moving ahead of the pack towards the top spot in your industry.

For more information on how to optimize your sales force in the new millennium feel free to email me at rstaats@s4searchpartners.com

References:

1.      Meaney, Mary and Keller, Scott. November 2017. McKinsey.com. Attracting and retaining right talent. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent

2.      Chamberlain, Andrew. January 17, 2017. Harvard Business Review. What Matters More to Your Workforce than Money. https://hbr.org/2017/01/what-matters-more-to-your-workforce-than-money

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