Securing top talent is a priority, as business success depends on hiring the right person. The smaller your organisation – the greater the imperative to get the right person onboard, as one wrong hire could dramatically impact your results.
Yet in spite of understanding the need to hire right, the Michael Page SME Hiring Challenges Survey, noted that up to 50% of SMEs said that they settled for someone who is okay, as opposed to someone that was fantastic and struggled to secure top talent, during the recruitment process.
In the meantime, in the ‘other world’ of Certified Master Resume Writers, we are engaged by top talent, as they are struggling to secure a great job.
Now, I’m not going to say that everyone I’ve worked with is top talent. I would say it is split 20/40/39/01.
- That is 20% who are genuine top talent and you should grab while you can;
- 40% who are solid performers and given the right opportunity could shine;
- 39%, I’m sorry that I made them sound so good on paper, when I know they are not going to contribute in a massive way to your organisation, and
- The 1% that we all want to fire.
To make my point that many employers/recruiters are missing out on top talent because of their recruitment practices, I’m going to provide a few case studies to illustrate my point. These are as follows:
- A Senior IT Project Executive that had led budgets of more than $65M per annum and had won multiple awards for their work in government.
They had gone into semi-retirement and after a short time away, decided they were not ready to hang up the boots. By closing some of the employment gap, and culling out some of the older work history, at least on paper, they were younger.
Lesson as an employers/recruiters: Your unwarranted age biases are resulting in you turning away some of the best talent on the marketplace. And recruiters – an employment gap, or not being employed, does not mean their talent is in anyway diminished.
- An experienced training professional and manager recently returned home, with an outstanding record of propelling training organisations to superstardom.
The entire resume was rewritten and focused on accomplishments, turning this client into hot property.
Lesson for employers/recruiters: Most people are lousy at writing a resume and LinkedIn profile. Yes, I know you need to make shortlists very quickly, but if you want to snap up talent before others do, you need to read between the lines. If someone secured multiple promotions within a company, (which is what this client had), there is a very good chance they are good at what they do, even if their resume would make a better paper dart, than a personal marketing document.
- A family lawyer, who had vast experience within Child Services and was a top performer within the Department, securing multiple secondments due to their performance.
The work history was reshaped to further emphasise their strengths and the name was anglicised.
Lesson for employers/recruiters: Everyone makes biased judgements. If you want to make effective hiring decisions, you need to be aware of your unconscious biases. Most people are not consciously judging candidates on the basis of their name, but it is clear that this is happening (a lot). In this case, an anglicised name resulted in job interviews within days.
- A successful entrepreneur that had recently completed their MBA and was looking for a role within innovation.
The resume focused on lots of accomplishments and was key word optimised, as the target was larger organisations.
Lesson for employers/recruiters: I’ve yet to meet a job candidate that aligns their resume successfully for each job advertisement, including incorporating relevant keywords. Yet the modern Applicant Tracking System and LinkedIn demands this (as LinkedIn is just a search engine). Yes, I know, companies can get inundated, and you need an effective way of sorting job candidates, via Applicant Tracking Systems. Just be aware that by using these systems, you are culling out not only clear misfits, but also top talent.
- A former defence member, who had managed large logistic projects and had organised high-stake operations within enemy territory.
The resume was reshaped to focus on accomplishments and all defence jargon was removed, using language familiar to Civilian Street.
Lesson for employers/recruiters: Most employers have a very narrow view of what former defence members offer. Some top-notch talent is being overlooked, simply because of a lack of understanding of the amazing training and experience they offer. You need to look at the transferable skills and if someone has gone behind enemy lines and organised advanced logistic projects, not only are they very resilient – but smart.
All of these clients, without exception, would be people I would hire in a heartbeat. Yet recruiters and employers overlooked them, not even providing them with an opportunity to interview with them. Yet after working with them, they all secured employment.
If you are struggling to secure top talent, keep the following in mind the next time you go on a recruitment drive.
Recruit for diversity
Recruit for diversity, as you are missing out on so much talent as a result of your unconscious biases that you have in regards to age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion and disability.
Read between the lines when reviewing resumes / CV’s
Understand that most job candidates are lousy at marketing themselves, so you need to ‘read between the lines’ to identify talent. Just because someone can’t write a resume, does not mean they’re not talent. Are you hiring them for their resume writing skills, or capacity to write code, penetrate new markets, manage accounts, graphic design, or oversee major projects?
Understand the limitations of Applicant Tracking Systems and LinkedIn keyword searches
Don’t just rely on Applicant Tracking Systems and LinkedIn key word searches to do the heavy lifting for you. There is more to recruiting top talent, than key words and data.
Talent generally does not arrive in pretty packages with exact skills matches
Understand the transferable skills on offer. If a person already has a foundation in project management and team leadership, the fact that they don’t have skills in some software program within your sector, should not be a reason to remove them from the running. Do you want an A+-Grade staff member that will outperform others, (once they know the ropes), or a B-Grade staff member, that you don’t have to train, but will always be B-Grade?