Monday Mornings with Madison

How to Find Talent Today, Part 2

Word Count:  1,845

Estimated Read Time: 7 1/2  min.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, wrote that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”  Regardless of what a company does, having top staff is essential to every organization.  From mortgage lending to manufacturing and from waste disposal to web design, companies need good employees in order to execute.  But, with the overall unemployment rate at a historic low of 4.1% and with the bachelor’s degree-holder unemployment rate holding at 2.1% in many gateway and key secondary markets, it places serious constraints on the ability of companies to grow or thrive.[1]

According to Steven Lindner with The WorkPlace Group, “With fewer unemployed people in the market, recruiting qualified candidates becomes more difficult. Employers must now begin to consider including other tactics in their recruitment strategy.”[2] To compound matters, a thriving economy prompts companies to expand, requiring even more staff just when there are fewer candidates available.  It’s a perfect storm of decreased supply and growing demand.  That’s when HR Departments and Hiring Managers must get creative with their recruiting efforts.  Not only do they need new strategies for attracting and retaining talent, they also need innovative sources for talent.  Fishing in the same waters as everyone else will surely produce a smaller catch at the end of the day.  It’s time to try new fishing holes.

Fishing for Talent in Lesser Known Streams

Last week, we looked at strategies that savvy companies are using to identify talent that is beyond the standard posting of openings on job boards.   Those included:  networking at trade association conferences and events; posting ads on trade association job boards; using universities with programs in the area of study as a pipeline of just-graduating, raw talent; offering internships and then using that as a pipeline for talent as they develop their skills; finding talent in fields that are related and can cross-over; and relaxing the requirements in order to spot talent that is lacking in one area but may have other compensating qualities.  That was a good start.  Here are seven more sources.

7.  Promote from within talent that wants to shift to a different or more challenging position.

Fish in your own pond.  Promoting from within is a strategy that some companies overlook.  There may be raw talent available within the organization ready and eager for a chance to do more and shine.  Any employee that has been in a position for over three years is likely ripe for a challenge or promotion, especially if the person started in an entry level position.  Millennials who see no chances for upward mobility will leave if they don’t have opportunities to grow.  A desired promotion does wonders to keep them on board and excited.  Promoting from within also has the added benefit that it allows trusted individuals to grow and keeps the entry level openings for positions that require less skills and training.

8.  Lure back talent that has left the company to ‘fresher waters’ but may want to come back with the right incentives.

It is a smart strategy to lure back the “one that got away.”  Every company has some employees who they wish had never left.  Likewise, fresher waters aren’t always fresher when employees change jobs.  People will leave a company lured away by the promise of money or benefits, but then realize that their old job was actually pretty great for a whole lot of other reasons that have nothing to do with money.  Or perhaps the company realizes the value of an employee and decides they are worth a bump in salary to bring him/her back.  Many companies rehire old employees, and for good reason.  These people require no onboarding or ramp up time to become productive.  They know the company’s culture and how to work within the organization to get things done.  There is little downside but a lot of upside to bring back respected, trusted talent.  People who leave a company on good terms are usually welcomed back with open arms by management and coworkers alike.

9.  Create a job referral program that rewards employees who bring talent to the company through their own connections.

Invite everyone in the company to drop a line in the water and help increase the catch.  Companies often have a business referral program for employees who refer business to the company that results in sales.  Why not do the same for employee referrals?  If a company is willing to pay a recruiter for a solid hire (after 90 days) or pay a job boards to advertise openings week after week, why not offer some type of incentive if an employee brings in another employee that works out well for the company.  The compensation could be offered after a 90-day probation period.  Who knows.  The company may also discover someone with a talent for recruiting or who has a wealth of connections.  The best companies figure out what talents and assets each employee has and then leverages those for maximum value.

10.  Attend Business Networking events.

If one pond doesn’t have a lot of fish, it’s time to try other ponds.  It is always a smart idea for professionals to attend networking events, especially leaders and top management.  But often the events they attend are trade or industry-specific, such as Realtors going to property and construction-related events.  However, a hiring manager or HR leader may have more success recruiting different types of talent, such as accounting, sales or IT, if they attend networking events that are more open-ended and have people from various industries in attendance.  Different ponds will produce a different catch.

Business Networking International, MasterMind, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimists, Women in Business Networking, and LinkedIn Local are all organizations that have regular networking events which can provide an excellent source of such talent.  The benefit of networking events is that a hiring manager can check out the talent in a person and cull those that are clearly not a fit for the organization, such as a flip-flop and t-shirt wearing salesperson who might not fit well with a more conservative company that caters to high net worth clients.  This helps accelerate the hiring process, which is a must in a tight, hot job market.

11.  Recruit people who are unhappy in their current job.

Some human resource experts have described a natural cycle most every employee follows in their career.  When they start a job, they are happy and excited with the job.  This trajectory takes them up a bell curve as they learn and grow in their job.  If, however, at some point, they start to get passed over for promotions, slighted on raises or don’t get to work on the best projects or if they feel stifled and unchallenged, they hit the peak of that curve and start heading downhill.  At some point on that downward slant, they will begin to be open to other job opportunities.  They might even begin looking for another position if that downward spiral picks up speed.   When they hit the bottom of the curve, they move on at which point they begin the upward cycle again.  Companies in competitive fields, such as the construction market during the real estate boom of 2003-2007, looked for individuals who were on the downward slope of that curve… the unhappy employees.  Recruiters in Silicon Valley are constantly in search of programmers who are on heading downhill on that “job satisfaction” slope.

While this might seem like an unfair approach, it actually is a win-win-win for all involved.  Anyone who is unhappy in their current position is likely not performing at an optimal level for that employer.  The person may be very talented but not a good fit for the organization or for that manager.  It is a service to both the existing employer and the employee to end that relationship sooner rather than later.  It may not seem like that to a company losing a key employee at that moment, but in hindsight it is usually a blessing.  In any case, no recruiter is ever going to “steal” away an employee who is satisfied with their job and bonded to their manager and company, unless they offer a huge raise and benefits, in which case the recruiter will likely not need to “steal away” talent.  Companies that pay very well attract top talent naturally through word-of-mouth and reputation.

How does a hiring manager spot employees who are unhappy with their current job?  Look at Glass Door company reviews by current and past employees.  Obviously, careful screening is needed to weed out troubled employees, but most hiring managers and HR departments check references anyway.

12.  Leverage Employee Connections

Most companies have some staff who are particularly well-connected on social media.  The company should leverage the power of employee connections to get the word out about job openings. A well-connected person/influencer on LinkedIn might have as many as 5,000-30,000 LinkedIn Contacts and an even greater number of Followers.  When that employee posts information about a job opening with their network, that post might be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom will be in the general geographic area of the job.  This is fishing with a HUGE net.  It provides massive targeted exposure that costs the company nothing.  Employees with huge social media networks are worth their weight in gold.

13.  Under Served Audiences

Making this a baker’s dozen of suggestions, companies should look at groups that may be under served in the employment sector such as recently discharged Veterans who need to reintegrate into the workforce, disabled people who may have physical limitations that have no impact on job performance, and people who are part of the long-term unemployed.  These are groups that are generally overlooked or shunned by hiring managers and HR departments because they don’t fit a typical mold, but who may be among the most loyal and eager employees a company can hire.    There are a multitude of organizations that work with these specific groups to help them hone hard and soft skills in order to qualify for jobs.

Bonus Tip:   Stop trying to hire talent for positions that have high turnover and try to find companies that can partner to provide that support.

For many companies, turnover is their biggest expense and headache.  Having to constantly recruit-hire-train employees just to do that again and again every month or two can be quite costly and painful.  There are times when non-essential processes are better off outsourced to a vendor partner who can come alongside to deliver the service without the HR headaches.  That way, current staff can focus on tasks that are core to the organization.  For example, a mortgage lender can outsource certain processes that are necessary but don’t add value to the bottom line, allowing remaining staff to focus on growing the business.

Quote of the Week

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” Lawrence Bossidy, GE

[1] February 2, 2018, By:  Phil Ryan, Job creation continues, with little sign of near-term change, U.S. Employment Data and Trends, Jones Lang LaSalle LP,

[2] August 4, 2014, By:  Steven Lindner, Low Unemployment Rate Sparks New Tactics for Recruiters, The WorkPlace Group,


© 2018, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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