Jon Stein, founder and CEO of Betterment, wrote an article in Fast Company called How to Win the Talent War. In this article Mr. Stein was talking about start-ups, but the points he made are applicable to all companies. He makes a distinction between three different types of candidates: A-players, brilliant misfits and future stars. I will let you read his article for the distinction, but obviously the desired candidate is the A-player. So how do you get this A-player? Stein offers a list of techniques, which are below with my comments.
- Be obsessive about networking. With this he means go beyond the use of LinkedIn. Go to where your brilliant employees hang out. To me the most important thing to realize is that everyone in the company is a recruiter, but most especially the head person.
- Look for the love. He makes an excellent point that if the candidate is not interested enough about the company to have learned about it before the interview then the match will not be there.
- Stay close to home. This means don’t forget your user groups or customers. Let them know you are hiring they might have a good referral for you.
- Hire Specialist. Actually he means to hire flexible specialists. Hire people who are good in several areas. Flexibility is key in smaller organizations.
- Pay for talent. This one can be tough for many companies, but Stein cites Steve Jobs saying “…the difference between an average programmer and a great programmer as being at least 25:1. Given these odds, paying 30% more for talent seems like a bargain.”
- Be Timely. He says that A-players don’t wait around and he is correct. One organization I knew took 19 weeks to hire someone and then wondered why they didn’t have the best talent. DUH. But at the same time this does not mean you need to be injudicious. Don’t avoid steps in your hiring process, just make them go faster. Being timely does not mean being sloppy. Stein concludes saying that you don’t need to waste time trying to decide between two A-players just hire them both. Sometimes you just have to take a risk.
All of Stein’s tips dovetail well with my tips. These include:
- Understand the culture of the company by understanding the core competencies necessary for anyone to be successful at your company.
- Understand the job you are trying to fill. Not last years job description but the “right now” job description. This is not only understanding the tasks involved but understanding the competencies necessary to perform that work.
- Understand the goals of the department the person will be working in. Are you trying to introduce something or trying to make something fit.
- Construct an interview around that information… yes that means prepare your interview!
What other advice would you offer?
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