Since I'm a frustrated Laker fan but a current recruiter, I watched how the NBA's free agency market for star talent unfolded this past week. The star of course was Kevin Durant and the team that out-recruited everyone else was the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers overpaid for reasonable talent but that's what happens when you don't know how to recruit.

The graphic describes the skills every hiring manager needs to possess to attract, assess, recruit and hire the best talent in the field. Without these skills managers will not see the best talent and, as a result, will wind up overpaying for reasonable talent.

 

 

As you review the factors, notice that strong interviewing is just a piece of the puzzle. Putting the full puzzle together starts with the right talent acquisition strategy.  

The right talent strategy is more important than strong hiring managers.

 

The big gorilla in the room preventing hiring managers from hiring stronger people is that the companies they work for have the wrong talent strategy in place.

From a practical perspective you can't use a talent surplus hiring process designed to weed out weaker candidates when a talent surplus doesn't exist. The problem with this strategy is that the best - and normally passive - candidates won't apply. I refer to this dilemma as hiring's Catch-22. It's described in the video. The big point is that to hire stronger people you need to attract them by offering career moves, not weed them out based on offering ill-defined lateral transfers.

Stop doing the wrong stuff before doing the right stuff.

 

One of the big problems with a surplus of talent strategy is the assumption that you can filter out weak candidates on their skills, experiences and competencies. While the skills and experiences are relatively easy to measure, having them in abundance doesn't predict on-the-job success.

More important, the best people tend to have a different mix of skills and experiences. Competencies, on the other hand, while important are hard to measure without knowing the context of the job. Both problems can be solved by replacing traditional skills-based job descriptions with performance-based job descriptions. The latter describes the actual work required to be successful as a series of performance objectives and how the required competencies are used to achieve these objectives.

Despite the logic in this approach, HR leaders make the excuse that it takes too much work to make this shift and/or that it doesn't meet the legal requirements. As this top legal mind contends the legal excuse is bunk. More important the too much work excuse is silly when the big strategic win is making better hires at every level in the company. However, the excuses are examples of the Catch-22 problem described in the video.  

It's Never about the Money - The Other Excuse

 

When you ask a top performer who had multiple career opportunities to choose from why he/she took your offer you'll usually get a list like this:

  • The job was more impactful than the other opportunities.
  • The work was more intrinsically motivating.
  • The people and the hiring manager fit better.
  • The opportunity to grow and develop was clear.
  • The compensation and benefit package was competitive.
  • The culture of the company matched the person's character, values and motivating needs.

However, if you ask a top person who's not looking for a job if he/she would consider your job the list of preconditions would be far different. The money would lead the list followed by the company name, job title and location. If these are satisfactory the candidate would agree to the discussion and the recruiter would then box check the candidate's skills, experiences and compensation requirements. If there's a match on both sides the conversation would continue.

But notice the preconditions have nothing to do with the career opportunity. They all relate to what the person has in terms of experience and what the person will get on the day he or she starts on the job. Yet if the person is ultimately hired little of this determines if he/she will accept an offer or not. Overemphasizing the having and getting in the first call is another great way to eliminate the best people from consideration.

I tell candidates and recruiters alike to put the compensation and everything else they get on the start date into the parking lot during the first conversation. Instead focus on the career opportunity inherent in the job. If it's not there the compensation, title, location and company name won't matter.

Unfortunately everyone has their own Catch-22 excuses that prevent them from ever having these kinds of long-term career discussions. They're all excuses though. The Lakers have their own and look what happened to them. The Golden State Warriors don't make them. And look what's happening to them.

 

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Published on: Jul 12, 2016
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