Click to Print

How to Recruit Top Talent

Having trouble attracting quality applicants? Your business's culture may be to blame.
July 11, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/78598

Hiring and retaining the best talent is as tough as it's ever been, with projections through 2012 indicating that, for the first time in U.S. history, the number of younger workers entering the labor market won't be enough to replace those who are leaving. By 2006, one in six workers will be over the age of 55, while the 25-to-34 demographic will have shrunk by nearly 9 percent, according to a study by the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers .

Despite this workforce trend, it's still possible to attract more talent than your company needs. Consider Southwest Airlines, which, according to one company insider, recently received more than 50,000 applications for 500 available positions! Cultivating a company culture that attrac

Hiring and retaining the best talent is as tough as it's ever been, with projections through 2012 indicating that, for the first time in U.S. history, the number of younger workers entering the labor market won't be enough to replace those who are leaving. By 2006, one in six workers will be over the age of 55, while the 25-to-34 demographic will have shrunk by nearly 9 percent, according to a study by the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers .

Despite this workforce trend, it's still possible to attract more talent than your company needs. Consider Southwest Airlines, which, according to one company insider, recently received more than 50,000 applications for 500 available positions! Cultivating a company culture that attracts top talent, such as Southwest's, is just one of five best practices the top 10 percent of U.S. companies have in common. And it's a practice your company can adapt.

Try following these four tips for creating a desirable company culture:

  1. Put your employees first. Researchers agree that the best way to hire and keep top talent is to create a company culture where the best employees want to work, a culture in which people are treated with respect and consideration at all times.

    A classic, big-business example of someone who used the power of respect is David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. Packard always showed unfailing respect for everyone who worked for him. He defined the HP culture and positioned his company as an enduring preferred employer. He also exemplified the pacesetting leadership style by setting high performance standards for himself--and his employees followed suit.
     
  2. Maximize your best employees. Although you may not be able to fill every position in your company even if you have a strong corporate culture, researchers say that one sure way to maximize your best employees is to place them in positions of great influence.

    For example, when unemployment in the Washington, DC, area dropped below 2 percent, David Grissen, Marriott International's eastern region executive vice president, met with his managers and decided to focus the company's hiring efforts on front desk employees because of the enormous impact they have on hotel guests. The resulting "Front and Center" hiring initiative brought together managers of every Marriott hotel in the region to improve the company's recruiting, selection and orientation programs for front desk positions. Potential employees for these positions must now undergo a minimum of four interviews and achieve a high score on a standardized evaluation metric.
     
  3. Stay involved and use emotional intelligence. Research indicates that one of the worst employment moves a small-business owner can make is disengaging from the hiring process. After all, it's your culture, your company and your leadership--why allow someone else to make your hiring choices?

And when you're in the process of hiring a new employee, remember to carefully assess your applicants' emotional intelligence (EI) along with their intellectual capability. Research shows that an IQ assessment doesn't predict job success nearly as accurately when used alone as it does when combined with assessments of the cognitive and social abilities that comprise someone's emotional intelligence. An EI evaluation offers a strong indication of how well an applicant may fit into your organization.

Staying flexible is also important. If an employee you hire proves to be a good fit for your company but not for the specific position filled, try moving them to another position that capitalizes on their strengths and experience. Employees who are a good fit organizationally can be hard to find.

While there's no guarantee that putting your employees first, maximizing your best workers, staying involved and assessing emotional intelligence during the hiring process will fill every open position in your company, solid research of the top 10 percent of U.S. companies clearly indicates that it's the most successful way to go.

ts top talent, such as Southwest's, is just one of five best practices the top 10 percent of U.S. companies have in common. And it's a practice your company can adapt.

Try following these four tips for creating a desirable company culture:

  1. Put your employees first. Researchers agree that the best way to hire and keep top talent is to create a company culture where the best employees want to work, a culture in which people are treated with respect and consideration at all times.

    A classic, big-business example of someone who used the power of respect is David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. Packard always showed unfailing respect for everyone who worked for him. He defined the HP culture and positioned his company as an enduring preferred employer. He also exemplified the pacesetting leadership style by setting high performance standards for himself--and his employees followed suit.
  2. Maximize your best employees. Although you may not be able to fill every position in your company even if you have a strong corporate culture, researchers say that one sure way to maximize your best employees is to place them in positions of great influence.

    For example, when unemployment in the Washington, DC, area dropped below 2 percent, David Grissen, Marriott International's eastern region executive vice president, met with his managers and decided to focus the company's hiring efforts on front desk employees because of the enormous impact they have on hotel guests. The resulting "Front and Center" hiring initiative brought together managers of every Marriott hotel in the region to improve the company's recruiting, selection and orientation programs for front desk positions. Potential employees for these positions must now undergo a minimum of four interviews and achieve a high score on a standardized evaluation metric.
  3. Stay involved and use emotional intelligence. Research indicates that one of the worst employment moves a small-business owner can make is disengaging from the hiring process. After all, it's your culture, your company and your leadership--why allow someone else to make your hiring choices?

And when you're in the process of hiring a new employee, remember to carefully assess your applicants' emotional intelligence (EI) along with their intellectual capability. Research shows that an IQ assessment doesn't predict job success nearly as accurately when used alone as it does when combined with assessments of the cognitive and social abilities that comprise someone's emotional intelligence. An EI evaluation offers a strong indication of how well an applicant may fit into your organization.

Staying flexible is also important. If an employee you hire proves to be a good fit for your company but not for the specific position filled, try moving them to another position that capitalizes on their strengths and experience. Employees who are a good fit organizationally can be hard to find.

While there's no guarantee that putting your employees first, maximizing your best workers, staying involved and assessing emotional intelligence during the hiring process will fill every open position in your company, solid research of the top 10 percent of U.S. companies clearly indicates that it's the most successful way to go.