How to Attract Great People

How to attract great people; think strange!

International figures show that a bad hire costs 15 times the annual salary that would have been paid to that person. So understanding how to attract great people is vital.

Across New Zealand, the number one issue facing businesses, especially those wishing to grow, is having the right people in the right job.

To attract great people – the A players who are most likely working somewhere else – you need to have a strong culture and strategy. I recommend forgetting the job description and hiring people that are downright strange. After all, if your competitive advantage depends on your people creating something valuable and distinctive, then your workforce can’t be normal.

We all have a tendency to hire people who are most like ourselves, which means you’ll end up with a company of lookalikes. All companies need a well-rounded team, but the individuals within it need to be specialists in particular areas. If you find someone who is talented in one particular thing (and it’s the thing you need) then that’s your person. If they are quite bad at other things, so be it. After all, would you hire your local mechanic to build the mechanical elements that would send a spaceship into orbit?

International business expert Verne Harnish, in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0: Scaling Up, says that to stand out and live a differentiated strategy, you can’t hire, compensate and have the same HR systems as your competition.

Forget the job description

When hiring for a key position, create a Job Balance Scorecard – not a job description. The job balance scorecard is a list of specific and measurable outcomes the person you hire must achieve in the first one to three years. A job description tends to list what a job entails (at best they are good for helping new team members get their feet under the table), whereas a job balance scorecard talks about specific outcomes.

The next most vital hiring tool is the list of candidate competencies that align with your company’s culture and strategy. This is the next biggest challenge for all businesses the world over – New Zealand included. All good leaders know that it’s more important to hire for fit rather than specific skills, so long as the person has the capacity to learn and grow into the position.

It’s also important to hire people that can deliver on your company’s brand promises and the major activities that underpin your strategy.

Googles-cryptic-billboardThink outside the box to get noticed

Research suggests you need at least 20 applicants for a job to enable you to hire one great person (an A player). To get this magic minimum number, use your marketing team to attract them in the same way you would attract top-grade customers.

So, what does an A player look like and what do you need to do to attract them…and why involve the marketing team?

The perfect candidate is not going to fall into your lap, so get clever – utilise your marketing team and start to grow interest in your company and the job by thinking outside the square. Guerrilla marketing is key here. Your A player is most likely working elsewhere, so you need to fish where the fish are.

For example
Australian software company Atlassian hired 15 buses to tour European cities known to have a high talent pool of developers. Each bus was sign written with “Europe: we are here to steal your geeks.” The tour attracted a lot of media attention, which in turn attracted a good number of highly qualified recruits for the company.

The above image was an advert that Google placed to attract coders that could work out the problem on the billboard. The genius was not that the formula weeded out everyone who didn’t have what it takes to succeed in Google, it was the placing of the billboard, across the street from Yahoos head office!

Guerrilla marketing is within the reach of every company, regardless of its size. You just have to find an original idea and an approach that fits with your culture. Think outside the box and really put some thought into where the A players might currently be – then get their attention.

By using a combination of these approaches, combined with in-depth interviewing, you will be more likely to hire the exact strange person you have been searching for.