Over the last few years I have read plenty about “top talent” and how to recruit for these elusive candidates or organizations will go into a death spiral never to recover and fall off the face of the earth. While I agree that companies can fail because of poor talent in the ranks or the lack of leadership within the top ranks, I disagree with the notion that certain sources or certain types of candidates are the best available.
Unlike the sports and entertainment world where there are a finite number of players with a very formal funnel process in place to ensure that the best of the best win awards and supposedly make it on our TV screens, ipods or tablets, the “working world” does not have such a process. We do not have the Heisman, Golden Glove, MVP, All-Star, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, or Tony awards. We have an infinite pool of workers and it is nearly impossible to determine who the best of the best is and even then it is subjective. There is not an annual awards show that comes on during prime time viewing to go through the various categories. Business magazines and blogs may try to rank individuals but each one has their own method of ranking and usually there is some kind of flaw or a “pay to play” nomination process.
The common question I see out on LinkedIn group discussions, or blog sites is “how do I know I am attracting top talent”? In my opinion the question comes from those that lack confidence in their ability to recruit effectively, or feel that they are somehow missing out on something, believing the hype about passive vs active or secret sources versus common candidate pools.
As a recruiter if you know your company culture, understand the business/industry, believe in where the organization is going and can identify a solid slate of candidates that meet the requirements, have documented success in their field and fit the culture then you have identified top talent. Keep in mind how many Heisman trophy winners failed miserably at the NFL level. Sure some have gone on and done great things and the point is that though someone may have top talent within their organization it does not mean they will be in yours.
When I conduct a search I look for key things on the resume that will give me insight but I keep in mind the candidate created the resume. Therefore, when I pre-screen them I challenge them on points, make them explain the projects or claims of success listed and rarely accept answers at face value. It is my role to investigate the candidate and flush them out. I pick up on nuances while they explain their answers to determine fit or see if there is something I should ask to ensure I have as complete a picture of the candidate as possible.
It would be great if when someone applied they were ranked like tennis or golf players by looking at a central list of every player. Our roles would be very different. We would be more like sports and entertainment scouts with contracts and exclusivity and less like investigators with a sales twist. We do not have the rankings on every accountant, sales person, call center rep, or recruiter.
So, we do our best to source, screen and identify the best available talent for our organizations. This means that I will evaluate candidates from any source, keep abreast of industry trends, not dismiss a candidate because of the source or status and not get caught up in hype but evaluate its fit into my sourcing strategy. By doing this I will move my organization forward confident I have identified great talent.
I welcome your thoughts.