Selecting Candidates from the Cream of the Crap

Nov 16 08:31 2009 Brad Remillard Print This Article

If your hiring process is excellent at doing this, then you might want to consider tweaking it a little.

Does this sound like your hiring process:

A position opens up in your company and the scrambling to fill it ASAP begins. A job description is quickly written by the hiring manager,Guest Posting it gets approval, then HR takes the job description and reformats it into an ad. HR then posts the ad on the different job boards, Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Craiglist, Ladders and maybe a few others. A couple of weeks go by, you receive hundreds of resumes, spend nights and weekends reviewing them, whittle the pile down to 20 or so and start interviewing. After weeks of interviewing you have 3 possible candidates, one so-so, one okay if no one is better and one back up candidate. Not willing to compromise you ask HR to rerun the ad and the process starts all over again. You get the same results and do it again for the third time. The position has now been open for 2 or 3 months, work is backing up, long hours are stressing you and your staff, mistakes are happening and projects are being put off. After all this time and energy you have three good solid below average candidates. At this point something is better than nothing. You are desperate. So you do what we refer to as “pick the tallest pygmy.” You settle and ultimately hire the “cream of the crap” or the “best of the worst.” After 6 months things aren’t working out and you are asking yourself, “Why did I hire this person?” It is now time to either hold them accountable, manage tough or start the process all over again.

In our best selling book on hiring top talent, we refer to this methodology as, “crap shoot hiring.” Its like rolling the dice and hoping you hit the number. Companies often run ads, cross their fingers and hope a great candidate will be motivated to respond to the posting. It just rarely happens that way. More often than not great candidates are turned off by company ads. Top talent read these ads and think, “I already have that job. Why do I want to respond to this posting?” So the only candidates that respond are those that are actively seeking a new position or unemployed. Sometimes companies do hit the jackpot and a great candidate responds, however, they are often off the market before most companies get through the stack of resumes.

If you want to attract top talent you have to understand what motivates top talent. Similar to advertising for customers, the ad must be about them, not you. Most job postings are a list of demands that are all about the company and nothing about what is in it for the candidate. Consider creating what we refer to as a “Compelling Marketing Statement.” (Click Here for some examples)

There are three things that all top talent is looking for:

1) Top talent always want to be learning. They thrive on expanding their knowledge. Growth is not just moving up in a company. Growth has to be personal. They have to be challenged, given opportunities to learn, take on new projects outside their normal function, be stretched and be learning something new.

2) Top talent need to make an impact. Maintenance roles are not for top talent. Companies have to ensure that top talent have the opportunity to really impact the organization. They want to improve earnings, open new offices, introduce new products, grow a business to new heights or take on a project that will change the company.

3) Top talent want to become something bigger than what they are. Maslow came up with this in the 50’s. He called it self-actualization. Top talent strive to be something more. They want to be all they can be. Personal growth is critical and if their personal growth flattens out they immediately start seeking a position that will continue their growth.

If candidates don’t seek these, then by definition they are not top talent.

What this means is if you want to attract top talent you have to motivate them. Posting the boring job description doesn’t address any of these issues. You need to think like a Madison Ave. advertising company that knows to display the benefits to the reader. Here are three things you can do to motivate top talent in your ad:

1) Include the vision of your company. The goals, objectives, and where the company is going. Top talent want to be a part of a growing, energetic company that has a vision.

2) Don’t list duties and responsibilities. Instead discuss how they will contribute to the vision, provide challenges that will ensure they learn and how this role will help them reach their goals. This is what excites top talent and differentiates you from the thousands of jobs listed on the board.

3) Challenge them with specific objectives they will accomplish. This is the learning and growing that all top talent want to achieve.

Top talent will then read your ad and think to themselves, “That’s what I’ve been looking for. That is what is missing in my current position and company.”

Remember top talent could care less about what you want. They are interested in “what’s in it for me.” Post an ad that demonstrates that and top talent will start responding to your ads.

For more information on how to attract top talent visit our website at

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Brad Remillard
Brad Remillard

IMPACT Hiring Solutions is a best practices hiring company that provides retained executive search, job search coaching and programs for companies that help them attract, hire and retain top talent.

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