This post by Dorie Clark first appeared at Forbes.
We’ve all heard how brutal the competition for top talent is. But some companies, like Google and Apple, hardly have to try, because top performers are already desperate to work for them. “Their pull is irresistible,” says Roberta Matuson, consultant and author of the insightful new book Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace that Attracts and Keeps the Best, because they’re not recruiting talent – they’re attracting it. So how can your company draw in the best employees, even if you’re not as famous or sexy as the Silicon Valley giants? Here are three tips Matuson shared.
Understand who the best employees are – for you. “Everyone has talent,” she says. “Talent Magnetism is about attracting the right people to your organization. Be very clear on the traits and competencies that the most successful people in your organization have in common.” In other words, one company may want to fill its ranks with out-of-the-box entrepreneurial thinkers, while another may value thoughtful, deliberative, consensus-driven executives. There’s not one universal standard for the perfect employee. Says Matuson, “Right for you may be very different than right for me. Thank goodness or we’d all be trying to marry the same person!”
Hire under-appreciated stars. As humans, we’re often foiled by pattern recognition– our desire to impose previously identified (and sometimes erroneous) patterns onto new situations. If you fight this impulse, says Matuson, it can become a source of competitive advantage. “Talent is often overlooked because of biases. For example, hiring managers may automatically assume that because someone is over the age of 50, they are not technically savvy. In many cases, this couldn’t be further than the truth. I tell my clients that they should think of Disneyland when they think about recruiting. A good majority of guests walk through the entrance gates and go right. What if instead, you went left? Great rides, same food, shorter lines! When looking for people, go left. Take a closer look at mature candidates or people who are re-entering the workforce. Be open-minded and you’ll be surprised how many great people there are out there. And the bonus for you is that there won’t be a long line of employers in front of you trying to snag the same employees.”
Be careful who you promote. You’ve heard the adage: people leave their bosses, not their companies. It’s true, says Matuson, and if you’re savvy, you can prevent that from happening. “Be very selective when promoting people to management and be sure to reward them for the right behaviors,” she says. “Provide opportunities for continued growth so they can fine-tune their skills and be the kind of leader that even you would be proud to call your own boss. Good leaders…treat people like they’d like to be treated, and they do whatever it takes to help their employees shine.” If you promote people carelessly, they harm the entire organization. “In the past few weeks, several long-term employees have sent me notes, telling me that they just resigned from their position,” says Matuson. “Not one of these people had jobs to go to. They told me they simply couldn’t stand working for bosses who were either inept or jerks, or in some cases both.” Your organization doesn’t need to make the same mistake.
Your company may not make iPhones or self-driving cars. But using these techniques, you can ensure top talent seeks you out. What’s your talent attraction strategy?
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.