How Hiring Managers Can Win the War for Talent


Improve your hiring strategies to find the right candidate for the job.


The low unemployment level is great for the U.S. economy. However, if you are a manager trying to make a hire in a high-demand skill set, it has never been more difficult to attract and retain the talent you need for your team. In a tight labor market, savvy companies rapidly alter their talent acquisition strategies to match the changing times. Here are three free ways you can compete for (and actually hire) desired employees.


First, figure out what is necessary for success in your role. I have recruited and placed thousands of professionals for my own teams and for my clients and have often encountered a true mismatch between the person the manager is attracted to versus the person who is well suited for the role. Successful hiring starts with knowing who is right for a role. The most common mismatch is the manager enamored with an extroverted president of the fraternity and captain of the football team type of candidate for every role – despite most roles not requiring this type of person. There is one CEO per thousands of employees at leading companies, and the sales teams are often only a fraction of the workforce necessary to run most major corporations. Successful companies are also filled with outstanding employees with varying skills and personalities that don’t resemble “the most interesting man on earth.”


Assess what technical and soft skills are required. For example, accepting the chain of command, being content with repetitive tasks, wanting to be liked by your peers, being comfortable with paper pushing and having patience or a high degree of tolerance for “doing things a certain way just because that is always how it is done” are all traits that are rarely in a job description but are often required for many positions. Be realistic about what your roles entails, and track the soft skills and personality traits that tend to thrive.




Why make this change now? The first obvious benefit of creating an accurate description, of course, is that you will recognize an ideal candidate when he or she comes along. Additionally, you are more likely to get that candidate to accept the role because you are offering a position that should be a good fit for him or her. And your thoughtful approach may actually open the candidate pool, since you are less likely to be searching for the small elite group of super professionals that everyone else is competing for as well. In summary, a glorious samurai sword, while capable of slicing a piece of paper, is clearly the wrong choice for cutting a stack of papers if scissors are available. Choose the right employee for the job.


Second, time is not your friend. We live in an instantaneous world. There are still a few companies for which most employees will wait months to see if they got an offer. Chances are, your company is one of the millions of small to midsize firms that does not carry that clout. Hiring swiftly is a free and exceptionally powerful tool.


Most job seekers are pragmatic. If they are offered a role that meets most of their needs, with a good manager and positive work environment, they will take it and close the job searching chapter. You want that advantage. Do whatever is needed before you start recruiting to ensure that when you meet the right candidate, you can come back with a written offer in 24 hours of determining you would like to make a hire. Verbal offers, while better than nothing, are not usually enough for a prudent candidate to give two weeks’ notice and consider their search complete.




Furthermore, a candidate on the cusp of being hired (by you) tends to interview with more confidence since they now have more options. Delayed offers often result in a continued search. If another employer expresses an interest, the job seeker now has the leverage of being in the final rounds with you – thereby incenting the new employer to hurry the interview process in hopes of getting its hat in the ring. In short, if you meet someone you want to hire, get it done now.


Finally, consider the candidate without a resume. I write resumes professionally – and the good to really great ones require a lot of work. While there is merit to a candidate taking the interview process seriously enough to invest in a powerful resume (whether written by an expert or crafted by themselves), most jobs do not require resume writing as a skill. If you are open to considering someone who has not yet prepared a resume, you may find a unique candidate who has not and likely will not hit the open labor market. Why? Because most managers will not interview without a resume, and most job seekers, if they can find a job that meets their needs without having to write a resume, will take that position. Simply enough, if you eliminate that requirement, you may see a whole pool of candidates before the rest of the market.


Hiring without a resume seems drastic, but drastic times require drastic measures. Success in competitive hiring shouldn’t only come down to increases in compensation. It is still critical to offer a compelling career opportunity with market compensation in a positive environment that fosters productivity and professional development. You attract and retain optimal talent when those factors are present. However, strategic managers also thoughtfully target the skills and abilities that result in effective hires, act swiftly and look to address hiring practices that may unnecessarily limit their candidate pool. When you improve your hiring strategies, you increase your chances of winning in the war for talent.