How to hire the best staff and win the talent war

Hiring talent can be difficult and since competition can be fierce for great talent, you need the right strategies in place so you can hire the best staff.

However, while there is general acknowledgement about how important it is to hire great staff, the truth is most start-ups and SME fail to dedicate sufficient time to hiring. As First Round Review so succinctly noted:

On top of this, the Startup Muster 2017 report, noted that only 7.4% of start-up founders considered themselves strong in HR /Recruitment, only 14.2% incorporated HR /Recruitment as a Full Time Employee Job Functions and most tellingly, not one of the recommended books in relation to start-up success related to hiring and workplace culture.

Yet, hiring, maintaining and developing people is one of the toughest challenges you will face when building and running a company and the best people can make or break your start-up or SME.  So if you want to hire the best people and win the talent war:

View HR as much more than an administrative job

Stop seeing HR as an administrative function that looks after payroll and your Applicant Tracking System. Smart companies understand that good HR is much more than this and can play a critical role on improving company performance by being engaged in the right strategies.

It was noted by Joseph Iannicelli of Standard Life Canada  ‘’I always preach that people are our most non-easily imitated competitive advantage and HR is a huge contributor to the talent we bring in, our development programs, talent deployment, engagement and motivation. …The talent piece has become an integral part of our strategic planning process – do we have the right people to carry out what we want to do? HR is a big part of this. Simply put, I think people are everything”

View HR and hiring as vital to securing this competitive advantage, so you can bring the most awesome people on board, get the right culture, ensure staff get better at what they do, and deploy talent exactly where you need it. People and your company culture, will make or break your company.

Devote the time and energy to the recruitment tasks – there are no shortcuts

Hate to break the bad news, but unless you can find help, such as using a recruiter, or you hire someone to do the job, there are no shortcuts to building the dream team you want. Dedicate at least 50% of your time to hiring and recruitment. You need to start mining your network, capture inbound interest with a dedicated website page, build a target profiles and seek out relevant talent, go to meetups and events, where your targeted talent hangs out and cultivate the right candidate experience.

In the First Round Review, 39.6% of founders spent less than 10% of their time on hiring and a further 32.3% spent less than 20% on hiring.  That means you can out compete and out perform other start-ups and SME within your industry and lure top talent.

When working on branding, simultaneously create an employer brand

Most start-ups are aware of the importance of branding, including the concept that your brand is your promise to your customer. Hours will be spent on the company’s mission, benefits and features, the qualities you want associated with the company, a great logo, tagline and brand messaging.

While all of this is being created, work on your employer brand.  Put simply, an employer brand is used to describe your reputation as an employer. What is your value proposition for employees? Every engagement you have, every contact with a potential job candidate counts. Spend the additional time, so you have a compelling employer brand to attract the right talent.

Have a compelling vision and story

Having a vision that you want to make lots of money is not compelling. People want to join something that is bigger than their daily lives and is bigger than just getting a pay slip. People want to work for something that matters and means something. Story telling and a compelling vision is one of the strongest ways to engage with candidates in a very intentional way. If the story is compelling enough, you will attract talent based on emotion and how it makes them feel, rather than just a salary and bonus package.

Create a recruitment process and stick with it

If you want to hire the right staff, you need to engage in a structured recruitment process. Every step needs to be planned out, from determining what you need in a job candidate, writing a job advertisement that will attract the right talent (including diverse talent), creating a structured interview process, managing rigorous screening and taking the time to evaluate each person based on your needs. Don’t ever abandon a rigorous process and make sure you focus on candidate experience. If you want to secure top talent, your recruitment process needs to be highly coordinated and highly intentional and structured.

Don’t lower your standards

No matter how frustrated you are with the hiring process or the need to hire quickly, don’t lower your standards. To grow you need the right people and talent will not stay at a company, if there are under-performers or folks on your pay schedule that should not be there. If you are an early-state start-up, or SME, focus on potential, recruiting for diversity and growing people. But don’t ever lower your standards and hire people that are not a good fit – it is bad for business in the long term.

Ultimately, if you want to win the talent war, you need to invest time in recruitment and HR and putting into place a structured process. There is no magic bullet – the solution is investing sufficient time and investment into a task that will ultimately reward you. If you spend more time, you’ll be so happy you did. People are EVERYTHING and are your ultimate non-easily imitated competitive advantage!

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