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5 Steps to Attracting Exceptional Talent

 rawpixel-660716-unsplash-030655-editedSmall Giants know that people are our most important asset. But in this competitive job market, recruiting top talent is an ongoing challenge.

At a November 2017 Small Giants Fishbowl, Amy Whipple and Carrie Schochet of Purple Squirrel Advisors shared their playbook for attracting and recruiting exceptional candidates to bring on board. Purple Squirrel specializes in customized recruiting in the accounting, finance, human resources and operations functions for companies across industries, ranging from 8 million to 700 million in revenue. Through their experiences, they’ve identified the five most important steps for attracting the right individuals for your culture and company — plus a few common mistakes to avoid.

Ready to learn how to attract and recruit top talent for your company? Let’s get started.


1. Tell Your Company Story

We hear a lot about storytelling in business, so let’s break down what that really means. Telling your company story is all about setting yourself apart by articulating your ‘why.’ Why does your company exist? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What does it look and feel like to work for your company? Your company story should go beyond a one-sentence description of what products or services you offer — it should convey a compelling, clear snapshot of who you are as a company.

Share your company story in a way that captures the attention of top talent and piques their interest. Intertwine your story throughout the recruitment process — include aspects of it in job descriptions and on the company website, and talk about it throughout the interview process.

By putting your company story front and center, you’ll attract candidates who will fit right in with your company culture. If you’re looking for more inspiration on finding your “Why,” Carrie and Amy recommend Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action.


2. Leverage Your Company Culture

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Small Giants are known to have exceptional cultures, but how are you showcasing it for the talent pool? Purple Squirrel has identified eight aspects of company culture that matter most to candidates:

  • Strong leadership
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Team building
  • Meaningful work opportunities
  • Philanthropy projects
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Quality of life and health benefits

For each of these eight tenets, identify a few positive examples from your own culture to share throughout the recruiting process. Potential candidates should know the strongest aspects of your culture and have opportunities to interact with them throughout recruitment.

For example, if your team is participating in a community project, take photos and capture results to display on office walls. Talk about your philanthropic efforts during recruitment and ask what causes matter most to them. Top candidates want to know that they will have opportunities to give back, grow their skills, and build relationships — make it clear that your culture delivers on that promise.


3. Manage Your Social Media Presence

Many companies struggle with social media, so if that’s you, you’re not alone. Social media can be overwhelming, so let’s start with which aspects are most important for recruiting exceptional talent.

First, be prepared for how you’ll get ahead of and respond to negative reviews. Negative people are the first to go to Glassdoor and post a bad review, and they can be tough to overcome. It’s a great idea to encourage your current employees to post their experiences on Glassdoor, reviewing the company transparently and honestly. With more reviews to consider, potential candidates will have a more holistic view of what it’s really like to work at your company.

Second, make sure you have an active presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. In particular, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for posting jobs and building your brand. LinkedIn allows you to reach a unique audience by connecting you to candidates who are open to new opportunities, but not actively looking. It’s also a great place to connect with millennials who are less likely to search job boards.

Start by making a company page on LinkedIn where you can post and share job openings. Then, invite employees into the conversation by having them share photos and stories from your company culture to capture the full essence of your employer brand. Don’t try to go it alone — your employees are your best brand ambassadors. For more resources on using LinkedIn to reach candidates, check out LinkedIn Talent Solutions.


4. The Window into the Company

If eyes are the window to the soul, the hiring process is the window to your company. The entire process provides a clear view into the inner workings of the company and leaves candidates with an impression that will last a lifetime. No matter how casual your work environment, the hiring process is not the time to try and wing it. Every step of the process should be thoughtful and personalized. You want candidates to walk away with a positive experience, regardless of the outcome. Remember that candidates will likely go on to share the experience with colleagues, family, and friends, so you want it to be a positive one.

While the hiring process looks different from company to company, you should always be communicative, respectful, and transparent. These experiences are part of building your brand. Even if your hiring process is long, be timely in your responses and lay out a clear road map of what to expect. If it doesn’t work out, be respectful of the time they committed to the process by following up, showing gratitude, and providing feedback.

Finally, be transparent. Resist the temptation to create a rose-colored view of your company just to get candidates to like you. The right candidate will appreciate your honesty in sharing pain points and embrace the opportunity to tackle new challenges.


5. Job Descriptions

Job descriptions can make or break your recruitment efforts. An effective job description helps attract the right people and sets the stage for a successful onboarding and training experience.

Purple Squirrel has identified five key steps for writing an exceptional job description:

1. Meet with key team members.

For any new hire, take the time to meet with key members who will be regularly interacting with this individual. Through individual meetings or a group dialogue, try to understand what the relationship looks like now and how it should look in the future. What’s going well? What would they need in order to be more successful? After everyone has weighed in, compile the information and share it with the group to ensure everyone is in alignment.

2. Identify competencies, functions, and goals.

The next step is to identify the who, what, and how. How are you going to measure success 12 months from now? What will this person have accomplished in a year? What are the 3-4 objectives that matter most to this role? Once you have your answers, put those as key initiatives in the job description. If you get this part right, your job description will double as your guide for onboarding, training, and even performance reviews.

3. Be transparent.

Often, a job description is your first interaction with a candidate. We all want to make a good impression, but if what you say on your job description doesn’t align with what unfolds during the hiring process, you’re at risk of losing a great candidate — and developing a bad reputation. Your job description should be up-to-date, accurate, and honest.

For example, if you aren’t able to offer competitive compensation, the word ‘competitive’ shouldn’t be on your job description. If you make up for it with great benefits and unlimited time off, write that into your description. This is your opportunity to create a compelling — and accurate — case for why your company is right for them.

4. Define success.

Most job descriptions clearly articulate things like qualifications, responsibilities, and job functions. But many gloss over what success will look like in this role. Reflecting on your conversations with key team members, get specific about the outcomes a successful candidate will deliver.

Don’t be afraid to quantify success and include numbers when talking about results on a job description. For the right candidate, knowing expectations right off the bat is both a relief and a motivator.

5. Create a road map.

By the end of a candidate’s first interview, they should know exactly what to expect from the rest of the process. Create a road map for all candidates that lays out which individuals they will be interviewing with and for what purpose.

For example, if your HR Director will be interviewing them for culture fit, share that. If a department lead will be interviewing them for core competencies, let them know. Clear communication ensures that the candidate understands the plan every step of the way.

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About Purple Squirrel Advisors

Purple Squirrel Advisors recognizes that finding a good “fit” goes beyond writing a job description or screening resumes. Chemistry and culture are everything. We provide a consultative approach customized to meet the needs of each client. Our expansive and loyal network of industry connections results in candidate referrals not found through traditional sources. Every step of our “white glove” recruiting process is designed to create a positive client and candidate experience. We impact businesses every day with our product – exceptionally matched talent.