The Art and Science of Recruiting Exceptional Leaders

Who wouldn’t want to work here? This question underlies a counterproductive hiring mindset that often prevents companies from hiring great candidates. It’s a confusing approach given the intensity of the current job market, but it’s one we encounter in the retail industry with surprising frequency. In an economic climate where there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them, attracting top talent requires work on the part of the employer. It may seem obvious, but even with the most compelling global brands, it’s often overlooked that top talent prospects have choices and your company may not necessarily a candidate’s first choice, yet. There’s an art and science to managerial recruiting that can be extremely effective in attracting well-established, high-impact talent to even the most difficult positions. Companies that consistently hire exceptional talent understand this and codify it into the candidate experience.

So what are these companies doing right? To hire great leaders, consider these critical factors when embarking on a search:

1. Align your vision - Before diving in, it’s important to articulate a clear vision that will guide your team’s actions and decision-making throughout the process. Calibrating commitments and expectations up front is critical. Great candidates know they have options and are far less tolerant of cumbersome interview processes, inconsistent communication and lengthy timelines. Your team should be equipped to act swiftly and decisively after a thorough investigation.

2. Cast your hiring committee wisely - The saying ‘people work for people, not companies’ is particularly relevant in recruiting. The people a candidate meets and the quality of those interactions during the interview process are leading indicators of acceptance (or the alternative) when an offer is extended. Less is more as it pertains to the number of individuals in the interview process, but that more is more when it comes to time spent. Too many voices can drown out the ones that matter most – the hiring manager. The longer and more convoluted the process, the less likely they are to stay interested.

3. Consider your blind spots - There are many internal and external factors that top candidates evaluate when considering a new role. Public perception of the company, its leadership, the industry, on-line reviews, the location are key considerations many companies overlook. Talented people have choices and well-loved brands can struggle to hire top candidates if they don’t acknowledge this fact. The QSR sector loses talent to the full service segment. Vancouver-based companies lose talent to locations with lower costs of living. To recruit the best, companies need to take an honest look at the role from the candidate perspective and craft an authentic value proposition and compensation package that highlights opportunities while proactively addressing foreseeable concerns.

4. Take the lead and close the deal. Recruitment partners are brand ambassadors, influencers and advocates, but our impact is limited to the quality of interactions candidates have during the interview process. When you meet someone you’re interested in, it’s time to take the reins. Promoting and marketing the opportunity and it’s something only you can do. Sometime all it takes is a strategically timed phone call or an encouraging text message, an offer to go to lunch. Small gestures help form human connections.

Ultimately, cultivating a positive candidate experience is both an offensive and defensive strategy. Consider your candidate experience, and ask again: What are we willing to do to bring in the best person?