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VIEWPOINT: 3 principles to acquire the right talent

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I have spent much of my career in the search for great talent, both in boutique recruiting firms and in-house with a large public accounting firm. I consider it a privilege to spend my working hours helping the right candidates and right companies connect and flourish together. The right person in the right role changes everything.

But over the past two years, I have seen many of those perfect matches fizzle out under today’s extreme competition for talent. Finding the right technical skillset and the right cultural fit at the right compensation level is hard enough. But once you’ve gotten that far, how do you successfully keep that candidate engaged and interested?

Rhiannon Poore is the founder and CEO of Forge Search. (Photo/Provided)Through hard-won experience and some stumbles along the way, I’ve developed three broad principles that offer a higher chance of successfully closing a search process.

1. Human beings want to be valued: Court your candidates.

I have found this to be perhaps the most challenging adjustment for executives and hiring managers. Historically, the employer has held most of the power in the hiring relationship. The candidate was expected to convince the hiring managers that he or she was the right fit for the job. But this world as we knew it has flipped upside down. As an employer, you now must persuade the candidate that the organization is the right fit for them as well. . . while still vetting out the fit at the same time.

To do this, I have found it helpful to think about the hiring process as a courtship. Put yourself in the shoes of the candidate and ask what you would want to know if you were considering taking a job. How can you show off your company culture? Your corporate strengths? An invitation to a candidate to simply come sit within the department and watch the team work together is a great way for a prospect to learn more in a natural, authentic work setting.

With a high-value candidate, I often recommend the CEO or other top leadership get involved in the process. A phone conversation with company leadership sharing about a candidate's future at the company can go a long way towards a prospect's feeling valued.

2. Human beings need time: Respect the process.

True story: my now-husband told me he could see us getting married on our first date, which happened to be in a McDonalds drive-through. (Although we were broke college students, I do not recommend this approach!).

Committing to taking the time to learn about a candidate and to allow him to learn about you requires patience. It means that you don't move directly to the "sell" until you've offered enough to attract some interest and engagement.

It is crucial to note that respecting the process does not mean to move slowly. As an old mentor of mine used to say, “Time kills all deals.” Juggling a commitment to the process and to moving with intentionality creates tension at times. 

The best solution I have found for this tension is to prioritize communication. Set expectations for the process and be clear about timelines and steps. Let the candidate know how many rounds of interviews and with whom, and when a candidate can expect to know next steps or decisions. Without communication, we all create our own stories, and sometimes those stories are false or at least incomplete.

And finally, be clear about a "no" or "yes." Most people in the job market are OK with almost any news, except for no news at all.

3. Human beings want to believe in something: Know your sizzle.

Quite simply, why should someone want to work at your company? What position is your company in the present market, and how will that change for the better? Is your culture "different" from others in the same industry?

Work through an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from an employee perspective and be prepared to articulate to a prospect what a career might look like at your firm and how it could develop. Often we will create a slide deck for clients that walks candidates through the opportunity. It gives candidates something tangible they can show a spouse or another family member. 

While these principles will help you develop a hiring process that attracts the best talent, the most important thing you can do is remember the human in each situation.

Rhiannon Poore is the founder and CEO of Forge Search, a professional recruiting firm that primarily recruits within the fields of accounting and finance, marketing and sales, and HR and operations. Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/rhiannonpoore.

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