7 Tips for Finding Great Talent

In great companies, recruitment is less of an HR exercise and more of a sales and marketing initiative. 

September 08, 2015
tips for finding A-grade best employees

There are many good remodeling companies, but only a small percentage become great. What makes the difference typically has little to do with the quality of construction and everything to do with objective factors, such as business acumen, as well as variables that are more difficult to define, such as leadership and company culture.

One area where I really see a stark difference between good and great companies is in the caliber of their employees. The higher percentage of “A” players in great companies is no accident; it’s the direct result of how those companies approach recruiting. In great companies, talent recruitment is less of a human-resources exercise and more of a sales and marketing initiative.

Here are seven factors you should consider when developing your recruitment strategies.

1 Use data to set value. Treat the recruitment of employees the same way you treat generating leads for prospective clients. That means balancing subjective perceptions about employees—such as “They are loyal,” or “They are hardworking”—with facts and figures, such as the amount of profit they can produce, the savings from avoiding mistakes, or the long-term benefit of delighting clients. In addition to analyzing all of the hidden costs of hiring (placing ads, interviewer time, onboarding, etc.), it’s helpful to track retention rates as well as job-specific data—weekly or monthly gross profit per carpenter, for example.

2 Make recruitment a priority. Until it is a top priority, you may be successful, but that success will be built on good luck. And when your luck runs out, if you don’t have the right people on your team, it will be hard to turn things around. If you understand that having great talent can reduce stress, create delighted clients, increase profits, and position your company for growth, then you will find a way to move talent acquisition to the top of your list.

3 Be a hunter, not a farmer. Good companies are like farmers who plant seeds and patiently wait for something to grow. Great companies are like hunters who put themselves in the right place at the right time, identify specific individuals, and actively pursue them.

4 Treat recruiting as a sales and marketing project. Good employees are like prospective clients: they are out there, but you need a marketing strategy to attract them and a sales pitch to sell them the value you offer. Some great companies regularly conduct “discovery day” seminars to identify prospects, then roll that into individual interviews. Others use PR campaigns to attract people to fill specific positions. Still others enter contests, such as “the best places to work,” to draw attention to their company. Some talk up their desire to hire great people at networking groups; others use blogs to post cool things their team and their business are doing.

5 Use both high-tech and high-touch approaches. Great companies use digital marketing and social media to create dialogue with great talent, then build a “talent database” they can turn to as needed. But it’s important to temper technology with a personal approach. Start with just getting to know each other over coffee or a beer. Follow the conversation where it leads, and if you think there may be a fit, suggest another meeting. The point is to develop a rapport that leaves the door open.

6 Tap your business partners. Alliances can be a great avenue for finding talent. As an example, if you call your top-five lumberyard contacts or reps and ask them each to give you one name of a salesperson or a carpenter, three out of five will come through. Subcontractors can also be a good source. Most know who the best carpenters or project managers or salespeople are, but they won’t know you are looking for employees unless you ask them. And don’t forget your clients. Many of them are businesspeople who can steer you to accountants and administrative staff.

7 Deputize your team. Another option is to put incentives in place that will encourage members of your own team to join the search for talent. A tiered reward system can work well—for example, $100 for a meaningful interview, $250 if the referral is hired, and $500 or more if the new hire stays for six months. However, incentives will work only if you first make sure your team understands the value that new recruits bring and the opportunities for growth that this creates; otherwise, they will see it as competition for their job.

Success may not come as easily as you hope, and even good companies fall into the trap of concluding that great talent just isn’t available in the marketplace. Great companies know that talented people are all around them, redouble their efforts to find those people, and start the dialogue. Then as they say, “the real work begins after the sale.” Happy hunting.  PR

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Mark Richardson, CR, is a business growth strategist and author of the best-selling book, How Fit is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.

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