As an employer, it's harder than ever to compete for talent, but let's get one thing straight: Finding and attracting high performers will always be a challenge.

By definition, this is a group who has options. The power dynamic is the opposite of what employers might be familiar with: High performers get to pick which work environments they want to be in. As an employer, how do you attract high performers to come work with you?

First, your company is not that interesting. Once you realize this, you are more likely to keep your ego in check during the recruiting process. In many jobs, employers sit back and wait for candidates to impress them. While this attitude is never a good look, it's even worse when you want to attract high performers. High performers have little patience for games. They know their value, and will move on if your behavior shows a mismatch in philosophy. They simply won't waste their time.

Once you realize your company is not the holy grail, you can begin to do the real work of selling and marketing the role. To be clear, I'm asking you to shift your posture to proactively wooing your candidates. This is not about perks, and that's a good thing: You can't compete with Facebook and Google when it comes to perks anyway. High performers are not just looking for a foosball table or free catered lunches.

Instead, connect with them on a deeper level by showing why a role is an opportunity to solve interesting problems that will fuel their growth. High performers tend to be experts at their craft, have an eye for details others would miss, and a compulsion to do work they are proud of. They are change agents who increase the average of any team they join. They value continual learning, feedback, being around other smart people, and the opportunity to create and build.

So how do you attract this type of employee? The key is to deeply understand the worldview and psychographic profile of your ideal candidate. To gain insight, here are questions you can ask yourself:

  1. What's the story this candidate tells themselves about their career path?
  2. What will they tell their friends if they choose to join your organization?
  3. Why will joining you feel like an upgrade from what they're doing now?
  4. What were frustrating elements in their previous or current roles? Why will those be non-issues with your organization?
  5. How is the role simultaneously about what they love doing and are good at, but also a chance to sharpen the skills they want to improve?

As humans, we make decisions emotionally, then rationalize afterwards. By hitting on these psychographic elements, you'll cut through the noise with high performers and reinforce their view of themselves. To summarize, don't simply list the responsibilities in your job description. Share a story about how this will help the right high performing candidate level up faster than they would otherwise be able to do.

Competing to get high performers on your team can make or break your growth. To gain an edge, shift from a passive approach to actively marketing and selling why a role will help a high performer become even stronger. This will increase your chances of attracting a team of A-players.

Published on: Jan 28, 2019
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