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How to develop a competitive advantage through recruiting - Part 2

In this series, we're discussing key aspects of building an effective recruiting process that can give your organization a sustained competitive advantage.  For part two, we'll focus on a few fundamental philosophies and mindsets that are critical to your success in recruiting.  

Commit to Hiring the Best Talent and Fit

We use the term “A-player” to define the best.  In the book “Topgrading”, Dr. Bradford Smart defines an A-player as a candidate in the top 10% of available candidates for a given role, considering all factors...including the responsibilities, company, compensation, location, etc.  
recruiting success

Recruiting SuccessAfter conducting several surveys which included respondents including companies such as Boeing and Rockwell among dozens of others,  he concluded that the average cost of a mid-level manager “mis-hire” is 15 times annual base salary on average, and the cost increases the longer the person is in the role.  To quantify: a mis-hire with a $100K annual base salary costs the company $1.5MM!  This sounds outrageous, and it is – but true. 

Consider all of the potential cost impacts that a senior level manager can have: driving the top performers to leave the organization due to discontentment with leadership; lower levels of productivity, innovation and quality; a greater potential for costly mistakes, such as a warning letter or worse; not to mention the direct costs of recruiting, compensation and severance. 

Sadly, in this situation, your best case scenario is that a bad hire only performs below your expectations, stays under the radar and doesn’t produce the results expected.  The worst case scenario is all too often much more damaging to an organization. 

On the other side of the spectrum, when you commit to hiring the best, it not only brings you immediate measurable results, it also creates a winning culture that improves the quality of candidates attracted to your organization.  Top performers attract other top performers in several ways – through their network, through the fostering of a company brand known for its success and high standards of talent, as well as by having an organization full of managers who can more effectively identify and manage the top performing candidates. 

Hiring the best must be a company-wide commitment, and that means getting buy-in from your executive team, all levels of managers, individual contributors, human resources and search firms.  This needs to be more than them just agreeing on the principle, but should result in taking the steps necessary to implement a robust process that produces results. 

It is not easy and takes significant effort to begin with – but it will benefit you, your career and your company more than you can imagine. 

Develop a Robust Recruiting Process
The recruiting process is a funnel - you want to ensure that you have the largest possible pool of candidates going into the top of the funnel from which to select the best candidates, with an ultimate result of selecting the best from the group, as well as having them choose to join your organization.   

Before you start the recruiting process, you should know and document in detail exactly what the role is – What are your expectations?  What are the outcomes and accomplishments that you expect this person to achieve in the first 6 months?  1 year?  2 years?  What behavioral and technical competencies does this person need to possess in order to be successful in this role? 

A successful recruiting process includes casting a broad yet targeted net, having a rigorous screening and interviewing process, and selling candidates on the company and opportunity throughout the entire process – especially after they start.  Hiring decisions are all too often taken too lightly, with the resulting negative consequences.

Constantly Assess the State of Your Organization
Knowing your organization’s overall mission, the skills critical to get you there, as well as the current makeup of your group is fundamental to building and developing the team that can best deliver on that mission.  This may seem like common sense, and it is – but formally identifying and tracking this is critical for succession planning as well as adapting your organization to an evolving mission.

You should always be evaluating the direction of your organization and what you expect your hiring needs to be in six months or a year out.  Identifying competency gaps or those lacking depth in your organization should be a part of your recruiting plan, making those competencies that you will want to seek in new hires.  Succession planning is another key area that is integral to this process – this is not just the problem for global multinationals either.  Just like Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs worry about who will replace them, you should be honestly asking the same hard questions to yourself, especially for your star performers today -- the one’s that you cringe when you think about having to replace them. 

Always Be Recruiting, Constantly Build Your Talent “Bench”
Budgets and organizational factors can shut down your ability to hire from time to time – but that should never stop you from developing and cultivating relationships with candidates that you’d like to hire at some point.  As the economy improves, it is more likely that people from within your organization are going to be looking to make a move and leave.  If and when that does happen, it is imperative that you jump start the recruiting process and shorten the time it takes you to backfill or even grow as the market expands. 

Recruiting can be one of the more frustrating aspects of leading your organization – but it is something that can be developed into a sustained advantage if you know the “how” and the “where”. 

In my next post, I will discuss sourcing - how and where to find the A-players.

The RG Search Blog discusses recruiting best practices: sourcing, interviewing and hiring A-players.

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