Not long ago I was in a meeting with the Executive team of a Silicon Valley company when the focus turned to their recruiting problems. They were facing what almost every company in the Valley faces--the challenge of attracting and hiring great technical talent when the supply is extremely low and competition for talent is at an all-time high. Their offer declines were increasing, and they were having a hard time getting top talent to even answer their calls.

As the meeting progressed, many ideas came forth to solve the problem: increase their employee referral rewards, hire some new search firms, revamp their career site, and hire more recruiters. The team also suggested putting hiring managers and recruiters through training to confirm they were best equipped to attract and close candidates consistently and that they had the most up to date information from investors about the great future that lies ahead for the company. Then something really interesting happened.

As the team started to think through how they would improve the effectiveness of hiring managers and recruiters, it became clear that they had no consistent answer to a key question candidates were asking: "Why would I want to work here?" While there was no lack of answers to this question in the room, there was a clear lack of consistency in the answer.

While this may seem obvious, few companies, including ones that have been around for decades, have a clear answer to this critical question. To help the leadership team sort through the issue, I asked if they had ever discussed this question before (they had not) and if they felt they had a shared view of the answer (they were not sure). The team admitted that they had all assumed they shared the same point of view about why the company was great and that the answer was self-evident. The team quickly got to work on building a collective answer to this question and after the exercise, you could feel the energy increase in the room.

This exercise was of great value to the leadership team because, not only were they able to produce a great focused answer to the important question that they all really believed in, but they also bonded in the process and became more focused as a team on one of their top priorities: growing the company. Once they distilled the answer, they ran it by many employees in the organization to solicit feedback and found the final product was even better.

If you operate in a part of the world where competition for talent is intense, it is imperative for your organization to invest the necessary time to answer this question. Don't take it for granted that everyone is on the same page. While it may be blatantly obvious to you and your leadership team why your company is awesome, being clear collectively on why someone would want to work in your organization is a worthy investment that will pay great dividends.

Published on: Oct 1, 2014