I continue to be concerned that far too many small and medium-sized business leaders are not recruiting perpetually. Constantly recruiting increases your ability to succeed in an era of talent shortages and even talent wars, where one company raids another of their talent. I see many Managers and Leaders who only post positions and interview when they have a job open. Unfortunately, only recruiting when you have an approved position open is a recipe for failure. Whether you call it On-Decking, Talent Pooling, or Perpetual Recruiting, you need to get out front on this. If you don’t proactively recruit all the time, the competition is going to eat your lunch. People are our most valuable assets and to recruit and attract the best talent, we must change our approach. To maximize our potential for success in a rapidly changing economy, you must continually be marketing your company as a “Great Place To Work.”
I Don’t Have an Open Position – I hear this a lot and, the point is, it doesn’t matter. You CANNOT wait until you have an approved, open position posted to begin your recruiting. Doing so relegates you to only getting to interview and select from the folks who are available at this minute. The size and depth of that pool of candidates is small and shallow at the exact moment when you want the pool to be deep and wide. The bottom line is that in today’s employment market, only recruiting, interviewing and hiring when you have positions open, reduces your effectiveness. You cannot compete these days, by reacting. To excel today, you must become proactive and recruit perpetually. It really is that simple. We’ll cover the benefits of this approach later. For now, commit to marketing for talent regularly, and scheduling informational interviews constantly.
Hone Your Message – When you’re meeting with 3 or 4 people each month to conduct long-term informational interviews, you’re going to get an enormous number of opportunities to tell your company’s story. Become a master storyteller, and as you describe your culture to a prospective future hire, weave stories about your company into the interview that provide clues as to your culture. Candidates are always looking for some combination of the same elements, and you want to be sure that you address them all during your interview. Great companies like yours provide a two-way street that offers associates a great career opportunity that includes excellent open bidirectional communication, competitive compensation & benefits, career development plan coaching and a relentlessly safe, positive & fun work environment for starters. In addition, great companies provide alignment between organization goals, team goals, individual goals and core values. Everything gets wrapped up in a little bow when you mention that your company prides itself on winning the right way by recognizing contributions, rewarding excellent performance and providing teammates autonomy & great challenges that stretch the individual & support them to become their best. At the end of the day, if you’re not selling the culture of your company, you might be doing this wrong, or you might be working at the wrong company.
How Can I Interview with People When I Don’t Have a Job to Award? – I understand the confusion about this, but really, this isn’t that difficult. You have to be clear with people that you would love to do an informational interview, and see where things lead. Be clear that you’re NOT immediately hiring. You can discuss a position that may become open in the future, that’s a good option. Alternatively, you can position your discussion as a reflection of your belief that great companies interview great people whenever they are interested in talking about your company. Be careful not to overstate the case and make promises that you cannot keep. Some potential candidates will no doubt conclude that they do not have time to interview for a position that isn’t currently open. So be it, you cannot change that. Still, on the other hand, if your company is growing (and it SHOULD be, right?), new positions are consistently being created, and opening up as individuals are promoted to greater responsibilities. Therefore, it stands to reason that there may well BE a position open in the future. In my experience, the most desirable talented candidates are looking not just at the position, but also at the Leadership Team and the Company Culture when they are deciding where to make their next career move. Interview continuously to access those most desirable candidates! You will begin to build a deeper appreciation for the available talent in the market, and you will gradually build a pool of interested, talented people who will be right for your company when the time is right for both of you. Only interviewing when you have a position open, is a sure way to get access to a much smaller, and usually significantly less desirable pool of candidates.
What Are the Benefits? – If you’re proactively recruiting and interviewing candidates even when you don’t have a position open, you will receive multiple benefits that make it all worthwhile. See a list of some of these benefits below:
- When you need to hire someone, your turnaround time will be shorter since you have good candidates in the pool.
- The morale of your team will be higher because the filling of the position will not drag on for weeks or months. It will be filled quickly.
- You will make better hires because you were able to recruit and interview with time to do it right, rather than rushing through it in your spare time.
- You will spend less money on recruiters to help you headhunt for a hard to fill position.
- You will gain valuable experience interviewing and additional repetition that helps you to perfect your interviewing methodology and your concise description of why your company is a great place to work.
Interviewing perpetually also exposes you to a much wider and deeper pool of talented candidates, because you interview people who are interested in learning more about your company, but not necessarily looking to make a change immediately.
The key here is to adopt a new mental approach to recruiting. You make a commitment to yourself, to your team, to your organization, that you’re going to budget time every week to meet with interested parties who might well one day become your next high-performing associate. This works best when you are candid and honest with the people you want to interview with. Tell them about your company, your culture, your team, and the potential positions that might open in the next 6-12 months. Pledge to keep in touch, and you will be off and running!
Michael is an award-winning Business Advisor and Executive Development Coach in Minnesota. Michael is passionate about helping companies to become “Great Places to Work” by helping their Leadership Teams build an amazing culture and transform managers into skilled leaders who know how to attract high-performance employee associates. It’s always about the people in a business, isn’t it? If you get the culture right, everything else just seems to fall into place so much more easily. If you’d like to speak with Michael about Transformational Change within your company, contact Michael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.