How To Find and Attract Rare Talent for Your Business


Whether you’re a young and ambitious company that wants to multiply the size of its team, or an older-generation established business who is catching up on technology, you might have the need to hire people with an uncommon stack of traits and talents. I’ve spoken to a number of businesses who want to hire tech-savvy financial professionals, with an entrepreneurial mindset, have 1-2 years experience in public practice accounting, and who will stay long-enough with you to become a future leader within your company. Can you get more specific than that? How do you find people who meet all these qualifications?

You can use traditional hiring strategies, which are quite hit and miss:

  • Advertise on SEEK and receive a hundreds of applications. You don’t have time a review them all, so you abitrarily select a small sample, and miss out on good quality candidates.
  • Get your recruitment agency to hire a candidate for you. This costs on average 15-20% of the first year salary, so it’s about $25,000. That is a lot of money to give recruiters, and there’s no guarantee the new hire will be a good fit. It makes you wonder if there’s better ways to spend your money.
  • Hire graduates, and train them up, so when experienced staff drop out, your graduates can fill the gap. However, most graduates are not yet clear about their career path, want to experience working in different organizations, especially organizations with a bigger brand name and a more attractive pay package.
  • You know a friend who is a perfect fit for your firm. He is a “passive candidate”, because he is “somewhat” satisfied with his current full-time job, and would consider switching to another job. You want to hire him, but he’s not interested in updating his resume or going through a series of formal interviews prescribed by your firm’s hiring policy. Your friend’s dissatisfaction with their current job, such as a less than perfect boss, or working with legacy systems, are small in comparison to your long and painful hiring process.
  • You hire a candidate based on their resume and interview performance. You discover later that they cannot actually do the work for your business, even though on paper it shows they are experienced and should be able to.
  • You’re recruiting today to replace a team member who just left, but your ideal candidate has taken a job a month ago. You have missed the golden opportunity.

Alternatively, you can adopt strategies below:

  • Warm up your candidates. Instead of waiting till you’re starving of talent because of staff leaving or your firm taking on additional client projects, you should have a ready pool of candidates, including passive candidates, who would consider working for your firm. However, passive candidates may be turned off by outright job offers because of the huge emotional commitment required of updating their resume and going through a lengthy interviewing process, on top of their full-time job. Therefore, lower the cost of them interacting you by having an informal conversation with them. This can be attending a meetup event, or inviting them to have lunch with your team. Then you can talk about your company, ask them what they’ve been doing recently, and what might interest them. This allows you to develop a relationship with that person. So when the time comes and you need to hire someone, you can filter out the people who are happy with their job and won’t dream of changing jobs, so you’re left with passive candidates who would consider switching if you offered them a job. This is a continuous process. If you procrastinate on this today, then in future you won’t be able to hire anyone and you’ll rely on more traditional hiring strategies.
  • Create work sample tests. Instead of asking questions about the kind of work they do, have candidates actually do the work. Instead of asking a candidate if they’re tech savvy, ask them to go on a web-based video conference call with you. Then take a portion of your day-to-day job, and turn it into an assessment that can be done within 2 hours. For example, asking a candidate to build a re-usable spreadsheet model for making a decision for your business.
  • Offer an incentive program. You can retain the value of your top employees by rewarding them with autonomy and equity entitlement to the revenue of your firm. If they’re entrepreneurial and want to set up their own practice, you can incentivise them to become a franchisee and business partner instead. In return, they pay a subscription fee to gain access to your proven lean-cost structure and not have to deal with the cost and administration of setting up their own practice from scratch.

You should ask yourself – do you have a continuous recruitment process and business model providing you with a ready supply of difficult-to-find candidates, or do you wait till you hit a bottleneck and must urgently hire someone? If it’s the latter, then you have an opportunity to reduce hiring costs and improve the quality of your hires by using alternative strategies.

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