Where is the Top Talent? Hiding in Plain View.
By Kim Shepherd, CEO, Decision Toolbox
Those companies who slashed 10-20% of their workforce in late 2009 to hunker down and “keep their powder dry” in 2010-2011 are probably finding themselves in a pickle by now. For many, these workforce cuts were made to their A players who were earning the higher salaries – leaving them with a team of B players from which they need more output. Now feeling the pain, many are looking to add A players back in, but don’t know where to find them.
The A players are really all around us. Many are in candidate databases, others can be flushed out with strong company and job branding (Note: archaic job descriptions will be summarily ignored!), and most importantly, the magic of ongoing, effective NETWORKING cannot be underestimated.
Networking: It’s Not All About You
Working and playing in the recruitment solutions space for more than 20 years, I have noted some interesting behaviors. I attend lots of meetings, such as those of Employment Management Associations. These meetings are attended by companies/hiring or talent acquisition managers looking for certain talent, as well as certain talent looking for work. Funny thing, many of these hiring managers are not effectively networking, they are selling themselves rather than looking to be sold. Thus, they don’t connect the dots and see the potential relationships and opportunities (current and future) that are right under their noses.
If you’re in a hiring position, social and professional events should always include networking, and networking should always be about building a virtual bench. Whether you’re actually ready to bring someone new on at any given moment matters not, you should still be working meetings, conferences, cocktail parties, and other events with an eye to build relationships with superstars who could someday come work for you. This way, when you are ready to hire, you already have a stable of A players from which to start your search.
So, once you identify your future A-list employees, how do you develop a relationship where you won’t forget about each other? You must make a plan to “touch” these people with some kind of frequency. Add them to your email list receiving daily quotes, invite them to read your blog, send them articles or informational tidbits on topics that you know to be of interest to them. As you court these A players with regular contact, after a time, you have built a bench of superstars.
A few key networking tips to remember:
- Most people attend networking events just to network themselves, shift that perspective to networking to build a virtual bench
- Constantly keep your eye out for the A players you would like to someday join your team
- Once superstars are identified, go to LinkedIn to see their social networks, find out their interests, etc.
- Create several avenues to touch them monthly – send them industry info, your blog link, daily quotes, etc.
- Take them out to lunch, coffee or for a glass of wine once a month/quarter
- When you’re ready to hire a superstar, go to your virtual bench and have at it!
Decision Toolbox has been building a virtual bench for years. We’re always on the hunt for top talent, and that’s how we’ve built our growing team of superstars.
Proof is in the Proactive Pudding
After your next networking event (conference, cocktail party, etc.), ask yourself how many people you added to your virtual bench. If the answer is zero, then it was not a networking effort on your part, it was nothing more than show and tell. Next time, use these events as opportunities to proactively search for top talent. Heck, make contact with and start courting your top competitors – after all, anyone who’s potentially better than you, you want on your team.