At least once a month, I have the opportunity to spend three hours with CEOs talking about LinkedIn. I respect their insight, feedback, and questions. In a recent group, one CEO expressed his frustration with having two salespeople poached and his displeasure with LinkedIn.
I’m not sure if my answer satisfied him, but I, and several others in the room, expressed that LinkedIn has created a more transparent recruiting landscape. The reality of recruiting in a highly competitive, transparent world means sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
This is not a new topic or concern for most business owners and CEOs. In LinkedIn and the Paranoid CEO, I wrote about this same concern. Yes, it’s worth reading and considering how you are doing as an employer of choice.
Is it a brave new world? Maybe. It’s also a highly competitive world and when employers like Under Armour roll out an employment branding campaign to attract top talent to their company, and to Baltimore, you probably want to take some time to think about how you stack up within your area and industry. LinkedIn’s stats show Under Armour ranked as the 17th best company at attracting and retaining talent. And, even given that, Under Armour launched a new campaign to sharpen their image, as well as Baltimore’s image as a great place to live and work.
In his article titled, 5 Tips to Hire Your Competitor’s Best Salesperson, Eliot Burdett discusses how to best approach hiring salespeople within your industry. Each of his five tips is spot-on and they take away the stigma attached to pursuing good sales talent. I specifically think his approach of viewing talent the same way you view clients and customers is worth thinking about. It makes sense. With unemployment hovering under five percent and a workforce that is skill-handicapped in many ways, hiring top talent is critical to business success, especially sales professionals. Having a strategy to continually attract the right kind of people should be a focus. Great employees increase revenue, build your brand, reduce waste and position you for greater success. Finding them should not be an afterthought, it should be a strategic initiative.
And, when you reach out to passive candidates, those already with pretty good jobs, they are vetting you at that moment as much as you are vetting them. How do you look? Would you work for you?
My colleague, Erin Miller, has written about treating potential candidates as you would a client or customer. They are. We stress this repeatedly to our clients when we are sourcing talent for them. Be responsive, transparent and mostly, respectful of their time, skills and willingness to have a conversation. The days of “We’ll get to back to you” (and then you never do) are now damaging. A company’s willingness to treat potential candidates well indicates how they treat employees, suppliers, and clients.
I was talking to an executive in career transition just the other day, and she shared startling stories ranging from no response to a CEO walking in and claiming point blank, “You are not a culture fit for my organization” before the conversation even began. That company wasted their time (as well as hers) and their money flying her to their corporate office. Whether they thought she would be a culture fit should have been vetted through a call or Skype interview without a ridiculous face-to-face meeting.
Companies need to choose what kind of company they want to be, think about why they exist and how they can attract the talent that will ensure that they grow and thrive for the long run.
And, just like business development, recruiting should be an ongoing activity and designed to reach beyond a recruiter’s efforts. Maybe we need to reinvent the language to better reflect a changing philosophy. If the preferred term for sales is business development then perhaps the preferred word for recruiting should be talent development. Regardless of the term, the attracting, nurturing and retaining talent needs to become an ongoing initiative for all companies.
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