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Why you lose the very best Candidate?

The three key questions you need to ask...

​The firms, great talent choose to join are not always the biggest, those that pay the most, nor organisations with the widest range of benefits.

While ordinary performers may be attracted by these factors, high performers choose to work in organisations that have really thought about the role. Firms that have considered its impact and overall fit with company purpose. Great talent makes great organisations, not just because of their higher productivity but also the influence they have on the commitment and standards of others. Great talent is scarce and as we head into more uncertain economic times, “The War for Talent” as framed by Steven Hankin of McKinsey back in the 1990’s has already kicked off. Whether you hire directly or work with a search partner, the process of winning great candidates, demands real attention to the full hiring cycle. The experience must be consistent and authentic. To attract really great talent needs more than the basics of a good recruiting process.

So here we outline three key questions to ask and steps to take to ensure the best candidates say ‘Yes’ to your organisation.

1.       What can your target talent pool read about you online?

If you have a talent acquisition team or marketing function, dedicate a resource to continuously evaluating how the outside world sees your firm. What compelling story will your target talent pool read about the difference your organisation makes to its customers and community? What messages can they see from current employees as advocates for working with you? Where does your target talent pool like to spend time online, is your message strongest here?

2.       What problem exists in your organisation by not having this role filled?

Role and Organisation Purpose is the number one attraction for the best talent to a new firm. Does the purpose matter enough to them and is your organisation the right place to be addressing it? Purpose makes great talent expend its discretionary intellectual and physical effort, this is why their productivity and return on investment is a multiple of ordinary performers. How will their expected contribution impact your organisation, other employees, and end-user customers? What difference can their effort make for stakeholders? These are your key messages externally and during your hiring process.

3.       What character elements does your firm seek in the hire?

A cultural and values match between a high performer and your organisation is essential. Losing a high performer over a lack of values alignment is optically poor and will reverberate internally and externally, never mind the loss of talent. Conversely, great talent can be extremely influential in changing the behaviour of those around them, so mapping the elements you seek before hiring is vital. In an excellent article entitled “Make Leader Character Your Competitive Edge” by Mary Crossan, Bill Furlong and Robert D. Austin of Ivey Business School and appearing in MIT Sloan Management Review (19th October 2022), the authors describe how character, when valued equal to competence, can result in better decisions and outcomes.

Their table on Virtues and Vices alone, which identifies three dimensions of character as Accountability, Collaboration, and Integrity, simplifies some root character causes of the challenges faced by leaders every day. Economic challenges are more now frequent and feel more complex each time they arise. Senior talent acquisition directly correlates and continues to be a serious concern for organisation leaders.

A January 2023 HRM report on Succession Management will describe how many firms, are not well positioned to draw upon key roles from their internal talent pool, meaning external talent hiring success will be crucial. Despite this, numerous studies suggest that 30% to 40% of critical hires, those roles where great talent is essential, do not work out.

Next time you hire externally, consider these three components, Communication, Contribution and Character, and put your own organisation first in the candidate’s decision process.