Recruiting Top Talent – Ch. 1

When it comes to recruiting top talent, companies always want to recruit the best and brightest talent. Unfortunately, accomplishing this is easier said than done. 

It’s no secret that recruiting top talent eats up an inordinate amount of time and resources; sifting through hundreds of resumes, only to find possibly one or two promising ones (which aren’t guaranteed).

And that’s not even mentioning the cost that a bad hiring decision can have on your business. 

It ultimately leaves people wondering: Why is it so hard to find the right talent?

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of pitfalls that other companies fall into when trying to recruit top talent, which you can avoid. 

You’ll also learn about Behavioral Interviewing, and how you can use it to more effectively screen your candidates and find the best person for the job.

What’s Wrong with Traditional Hiring – Why Hiring is Broken

Reason #1: Using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ hiring process.

Nancy Branka

Nancy Branka shares: “Only the highly experienced need apply (to the entry-level job).

During a professional event, a participant shares that her 22-year-old daughter was preparing that day for her fourth interview at a company—for an entry-level job.

For many of us who have been in the job market for decades, we remember a different way. While that wasn’t necessarily better, the degree of performance and output during the hiring process that’s currently required should be evaluated with questions like:

  • Is this process producing a higher level of hire?
  • Do we test for qualities vital for the role, rather than, for example, the ability to whiteboard while anxious?
  • Is interview “homework” used strictly for evaluation?
  • Are the technical skills being tested applicable to the day-to-day work of the specific role?
  • Is the practice resulting in a diverse workforce.

Just as college admissions officers are questioning their use of standardized tests as a means of evaluating candidates, perhaps it’s time hiring managers could benefit from some soul-searching about their processes to create the best possible workforce.”    

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Reason #2: Hiring process is taking far too long.


Modern Hire shares “Candidate’s find the traditional hiring experience to be slow and cumbersome.

First, it’s fair to note that the traditional hiring process is broken for both employers and candidates. HR departments are constantly asked to do more with less. They are struggling to provide the data that proves how they have a financial impact on the company’s bottom line. According to McKinsey, 83% of Fortune 500 executives do not trust the effectiveness of their own hiring processes.

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Candidate’s find the traditional hiring experience to be slow and cumbersome. They feel lost and often wonder what the next step in the process is. According to Career Builder, only 32% of candidates would rate their experience as very good. In fact empxtrack reports that it takes an average of 27 business days to fill an open position and that top candidates are usually out of the job-seeking market within ten days. Ultimately, a broken hiring process results in missing the top talent who could add significant value to your organization.

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Why Is It So Hard to Find The Right Person to Hire?

Reason #1: Outdated recruiting methods

Jane Burnett

Jane Burnett shares: “More companies don’t think recruiting methods “of the past” are doing the job, researchers found.”

Glassdoor found that recruiters are often confused about where to advertise about open positions so top candidates apply.

The issues are consistent with 2016 findings by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which said that 68% of HR workers in all industries had trouble hiring full-time employees in 2016, compared to 50% in 2013. A staggering 59% of HR workers said candidates didn’t have “basic skills and knowledge,” with these areas at the forefront: the ability to speak and write in English, proficiency in math, “reading comprehension” and “basic computer skills.”

The same June 2016 SHRM report also shed light on how difficult it has become to hire the right candidates over time, saying that according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from the last year (citing data), the number of open positions has gone up while unemployment levels drop. This leaves fewer and fewer qualified candidates for open jobs.

“According To HR professionals, it’s getting harder to find people for the jobs they are trying to fill,” Jennifer Schramm, manager of workforce trends at SHRM, said in a statement, “the top reasons are a low number of applicants, lack of needed work experience among those that do apply, competition from other employers and a lack of technical skills among job applicants.”

SHRM research also found that HR workers said that “their local markets were simply not producing enough qualified candidates,” leaving them to have to search farther afield for good workers.

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Reason #2 Not understanding buyer’s market and hiring manager’s market

Blossom Cohen

Blossom Cohen shares: “In a Buyer’s Market – Companies Lose.”

When the economy is humming and jobs are plentiful, candidates feel like they can hold out for the best offers and the most appealing jobs. You have to win them over to your side, despite all the other opportunities they may have. The best people have their pick of the litter. And they probably know it, because the best hires tend to be fairly self-aware.

In a Hiring Manager’s Market – Companies Still Lose

Why is this true? When A recession hits, desperation increases, as does unemployment.

So while you might complain about having hardly any qualified applicants to interview during good economic times, once the hard times come, now you’ve got a stack of 500 resumes and no coherent process for sorting through them to find the best candidates.

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Reason #3. Unclear job descriptions

Mike Kappel

Mike Kappel shares: “Write clear job postings.”

Unclear job requirements lead to unqualified candidates — or at the very least, not enough qualified ones. In the Top Echelon survey, recruiters identified “inaccurate job requirements” as a stressor in their professional lives. That’s because inaccurate or unclear requirements make it more difficult to find quality candidates.

Spell out the job requirements. Don’t be vague by saying things like “Must be able to work with others.” Be specific. Will the employee need to communicate and get feedback from clients regularly? Will The employee need to complete projects with a larger team at your company? Don’t Leave your requirements and expectations up to interpretation.

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Understand Your Recruiting Needs

Need #1: Conduct a skills gap analysis

Karl Mankiewicz

Karl Mankiewicz shares: “Conduct a skills gap analysis.”

As you update and formalize job descriptions, conduct a skills gap analysis. This will help you see which skills your organization’s employees already have and identify any skill sets future employees will need to have.

Start backward when you conduct a skills gap analysis. First, identify the skills you’ll need in the future. Then assess the skills your employees already have.

You can get information on existing skill sets from senior management and team leaders as well as from performance reviews and employee surveys. Rate the desired skills on a scale (like a three-point or five-point scale).

When you discover skills gaps, prioritize the ones you want to address. You can fill some gaps by training existing employees. However, if the skills gaps are too big, you’ll want to add a new role to the organization.

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Need #2: Write clear compelling job descriptions

Lever Logo

Lever shares: “72 percent of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36 percent of candidates say the same.”

Job descriptions, or impact descriptions, shouldn’t just collect resumes. They should be tools that get candidates excited about a role, and that recruiters can use as sales ammunition throughout the rest of the recruitment process.

The average job description is an undifferentiated bucket list of skills. Effective impact descriptions, on the other hand, should be unique to your company and highlight results and impact, rather than requirements, so you get the right talent excited to jump in to the challenges of the role. Paint a picture of what the role entails and what success will look like, remove arbitrary requirements (like pedigree, years of experience, and skills that can be learned on the job), and don’t be afraid to strike a casual tone so your candidates perceive you as friendly and human.

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Generate a Continuous Flow of Quality Candidates

Step #1: Build Your Hiring Team


Accolo shares that your hiring team members must have: “experience with your most critical roles”

A member or members of your recruiting team need to have direct experience with your most critical jobs and/or hiring in your industry.

Some jobs are harder to hire for than others, and if your most crucial jobs are highly technical or require advanced degrees/experience, then you need a team who won’t have to start from square one. Every industry has its own conventions and you want recruiters who are acting the way candidates expect them to, not bumbling through the basics. Additionally, selling candidates on technical jobs will require your recruiters to understand what motivates talent in your industry.

Having direct experience with your most important roles can also mean that the recruiter has access to candidates who have applied for or are working the job you need filled. It also means that they have seen their fair share of people who looked like they were a good fit, but ended up failing in the end.

Someone on your recruiting team needs to understand your most crucial jobs, the role they play in your company and which unique demands will shape the profile of the person who is right for the job.

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Step #2: Engage Talent Scouts

HR Daily Advisor

Kelly Creighton suggests that you: “offer recruiters real incentives”

Even if your recruiters are contract-based, offer them real incentives to keep them motivated and working hard to find top talent. For instance, for every 20 employees who stay with your organization for more than 2 years, you could offer your recruiters a bonus. Or, you could offer recruiters real stakes or shares in your company so they are literally invested in its success. Whatever the incentives are that you offer your recruiters, make sure that they’re desirable to both your recruiters and your organization and that they’re trackable.

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Step #3: Hire a Search Firm to Source Candidates

Naviga Logo

According to Naviga, one of the advantages to hiring a search firm is that you: “Only interview the best of the best”

Posting an ad for a senior level position on a job board or on your company website means that you will be bombarded with hundreds of applicants, mostly from candidates who are not qualified for the role. It can take a lot of time to sort through all of these applies only to find that none of the applicants is a fit for the position.

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Executive search firms take all of the legwork out of recruiting and pre-qualifying candidates. Instead of sorting through and interviewing dozens of candidates, an executive search firm will narrow this candidate pool down to a more manageable number that only includes the best of the best. This process helps to streamline interviews and save time.

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So, returning to the question: why is it so hard to find the right person to hire? 

It’s down to a multitude of reasons, ranging from outdated recruiting methods, unclear job descriptions, and a misunderstanding of the hiring market.

Now that you understand some of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to recruiting top talent, it’s time to talk about the methods you must use to identify top talent.


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