Attracting the right talent

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Written by Diane Coolican on 12 May 2015 in Opinion

There is an abundance of talent in your industry, but how do you attract it? What’s more, how do you attract talent that will complement your existing team but also fit in with your culture? Diane Coolican provides her top tips on how to attract the right talent

Finding the best talent can be a challenge and there is a fine line between attracting the right skill set and the right mind set. You want a harmonious team that thrives, so having team members that are passionate and driven to succeed is as important as skill and experience.

It is often the case in business that we want someone ‘who can hit the ground running’ – in other words, someone that we don’t need to invest too much time in. But we know that the best people don’t become the best without having time spent to develop and hone their skills and techniques. The number one question asked at job interviews is around learning and development opportunities and this does not change with seniority.

Employees want to feel that they have progression opportunities, a career path and the chance to learn new skills and so arguably, you are never taking on a finished product. Rather, you are taking on someone whose work ethic, values and background parallels your business and their skills will evolve. And therein lies the problem – too often our definition of talent does not give scope for those people with the right attitude who show potential and will thrive and grow in our business with a little appropriate support.

Simon Sinek, who wrote Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, said: “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them…Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job…they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.” This quote really encapsulates this theme of finding talent and whether we are searching for the right thing.

Skills can be developed through onboarding and learning and development programmes, so my top tips for finding talent that addresses your business challenges and has an impact on performance are focused around attracting the right type of talent.

Identifying what you need

Had someone leave and need to replace the role? Take stock and allow time to analyse the situation. What skills are you losing that are unique to this team member? What challenges do you consistently face that a new skill could alleviate? Perform a full diagnostic of what you really need and adapt your search. Consult your team on what they think is missing and them an input into the process – they might have a very different idea of what is lacking and how it can be resolved.

Looking in the right places

Once you have identified who you need to target, consider how you can reach them. Talented people are often ambitious and although they may not be looking for a move, they will be keeping a keen eye on the sector. Get your name out there by attending events, showcasing news and building an online profile. LinkedIn is a great tool for searching for skills and locations and it is increasingly acceptable to approach someone speculatively.

Looking in the wrong places

Dozens of CVs but none of them feel quite right? Make certain you’re looking in the right place and that isn’t necessarily always externally. Is there someone in the business who has the skills you need but is working in a different role? Could they transfer skills and, with a bit of support, move into the position you need filling?

What are you about?

To attract like-minded people, you need to ensure that they know what your business is all about. What are your values? Your USPs? What makes you a great place to work? Importantly, what is in it for them? How will they be developed? Show success to illustrate to potential employees that you are the best and ensure that your USPs are clear on external communication and in job application materials. Finally, make yourself stand out. In crowded marketplaces you need to have a point of difference that makes you desirable to candidates.

Get connected

Knowing people is the best way to meet new people. Consider who you know and, importantly, who you don’t know. If you work with someone already and you work well together, the chances are they know someone else who is like-minded. Ask clients and contacts for recommendations for people who would fit in your business. Get to know people that have an influence in your field or location who can give you introductions.


About the author

Diane Coolican is managing director of Redsky Learning


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