There's no doubt that recruiting is among the most important things you can do to build a strong company. If in doubt, consider some research from the Boston Consulting Group. Their recent study found that companies that excelled in their recruitment efforts had 3.5 times greater revenue growth--and twice the profit margins--than those who were less adept at hiring talent. On-boarding, retention, and managing talent were also found to have large impacts on the bottom line.

But how do you go about finding the right people for your posts and convincing them to join your company? While you may think that the answer comes down to identifying your industry's A-players, we take a different approach to procuring talent at Pluralsight. Here are three strategies we recommend to bring the best people on board, no matter what business you're in:

Start with the end in mind. Many companies approach recruitment by evaluating each candidate for specific skills-based strengths and weaknesses, attempting to separate the great from the merely good enough. While this may be practical on a certain level, searching for talent based on objective criteria alone--without having your company's value system as a backdrop--is a strategy that reflects short-term thinking. Instead of hiring only to fill a certain skill set, start your process instead by identifying your company's core values. (If you're not sure how to do this, read "The Best Way to Discover What You Stand For.")

Core values should represent the best of your company--qualities in your current employees that have led to the organization's success in ways both tangible and intangible. For example, at Pluralsight, we noticed that many of our company's strongest players exhibited qualities of being truth seekers, entrepreneurs, and eternal optimists, so we locked those three traits in as our core values. Once you've gone through this exercise, it becomes much easier to hire the "best" employees for your company, because you'll be basing your hiring decisions on finding people who truly represent the qualities that are most important to the organization long-term. By framing your recruiting efforts with that end in mind, you'll ensure that you maintain the best of the culture that you've already started to build.

Rethink "A-players." Another common approach to recruitment is to target your efforts on finding industry A-players--people who are already considered high performers or top talents. While traditional A-players may indeed qualify as the "best" when it comes to purely objective measures, these rock stars often come with their own baggage as well, such as caring more about their individual performance than that of the larger group. To avoid this hiring bias (as well as the problems that come with it), you can shift the way you think of "A-players" and hire for signs of commitment to learning rather than star performance out of the gate.

At Pluralsight, an A-player is someone who is truly passionate about continuous improvement, and that's a key quality that we hire for as well. That's because a person's initial individual performance isn't nearly as important as his or her future potential. Someone who might be considered an "average" performer in certain skill sets today--but who represents our core values and craves getting better on the job every day--is a top candidate in our eyes. What's important for this recruitment strategy to work is to make sure that you design effective systems within a culture of ongoing improvement. When you create the right systems, then "average" people have the opportunity to evolve over time into the very best people for your company, even if they don't start at the top in terms of numerical performance.

Hire up a notch--from you. The reason that many leaders fail to assemble the strongest team possible is that they let their egos get the best of them. They believe that when it comes to certain functions, they're already the best of the best--so they limit themselves to hiring automatons who can do their bidding, rather than hiring people who are better than them in specific disciplines, from whom they can really learn. The only way to get the best people to join your team is to admit that others have more knowledge and experience than you in certain areas, embrace the opportunity to empower them, and work together to level up the entire team.

By keeping your mind open and being willing to learn from others' expertise rather than being threatened by it, you can build a world-class group that goes far beyond your own way of doing business. If you can overcome this common leadership pain point and keep your pride from getting in the way of the company's future, than the talent you court can push the group forward to a whole new level. No longer stymied by capping the company's potential with your own, you'll unlock the potential of the organization to evolve in a faster and healthier way--with the best people collaborating with you across the board.

Published on: Feb 24, 2015
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