Leaders frequently tell me they have a hard time recruiting great people to join their organizations. When I ask about their hiring process, I often find one missing element: sales.
Recruiting great people is similar to any kind of sales process. Your company is the product. Prospective employees are your customers. The recruiting process is not just about filtering candidates—it’s also your sales pitch.
Over the years, my team and I have found it’s much easier to attract the right people if we approach hiring as a sales campaign. Our team is now over twenty-strong, and we used this strategy all along the way.
In fact, we just brought aboard two highly talented players this month with this model. If you’re looking to attract great people, you can follow the same process in just five basic steps.
Step 1: Create the Product
It is much easier to close a deal if you have a great product to sell. If your business is the product, then how are you doing in building a company that other people would kill to join?
Identify why people should want to work for your organization. (This inventory is also critical for retaining talent.) Ask yourself some questions: How does your compensation stack up against the competition? That’s not just in terms of salaries, but also bonuses, health insurance coverage, and non-monetary benefits as well.
Do you offer generous time off? Do you encourage people to take that time off? How much flexibility do your people have in executing their work? Can they work remotely and work hours that fit the rest of their lives?
Do you assign tasks that fit with your people’s passions and proficiencies (what I call “Desire Zone” tasks)? That’s where people are their most valuable and most productive to your organization.
All of these elements are part of the product you’re offering and thus part of the sales pitch.
Step 2: Build a Landing Page
Just like you would approach any online product, it is a good idea to have a dedicated careers page on your website. You can see ours here.
This page should include your organization’s purpose, its story and core values, your current openings, and a call to action in two parts. People are invited to reply, and they get notified right away that their resume has been received, with follow-ups to come.
Step 3: Solicit Testimonials
If your product is your company, then your customers are your employees. Rather than toot your own horn, how about asking your current team members to talk about their experience working for the company?
You can bake this into your careers page. But we normally do this when we interview job candidates. We bring our people into those interviews to share their experience of working with the team (more on this in the next step).
It’s helpful if you determine in advance what themes you want to cover. For example:
- The company’s mission
- The work environment
- Their teammates
- Compensation and benefits
Step 4: Define the Hiring Process
Much as you would carefully design an advertising campaign, you want to have the hiring steps ironed out. It is best for your organization to get to know the applicant well before a job offer, but it’s not good for it to drag on too long.
Once you have good candidates interviewing for jobs, put them through their paces.
- Test for the right personality fit by using tests such as Kolbe, StrengthFinders, or Enneagram.
Have multiple members of your team evaluate candidates by conducting several rounds of interviews. Often with an initial screener, a hiring manager, would-be peers, or a senior team member. Get a sense of what several good teammates think of this prospect.
Get get to know the quality of an applicant’s work firsthand. The proof is in the pudding. Assign a real-world test project, and don’t be afraid to pay them for it depending on the scope of the request. It lets them know you’re serious and puts you ahead of most of the competition vying for great people.
Check references and do a background check. I have been surprised to see how often employers skip this. Don’t. It is crucial. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. We usually have job candidates help schedule these meetings with former employers.
Submit your offer in a formal letter. That way you and the candidate know exactly what you are offering. Include an expiration date so that they know the clock is ticking.
Step 5: Launch the Campaign
It’s important to push recruiting hard because one of the most effective ways to hire better people is to increase the size of the candidate pool. The more qualified people that apply, the better chance you have of finding just the right one for the job.
So go big. Of course you should send emails out to your network of friends, family, and coworkers to get referrals. You should also use whatever platform you have. Post an announcement on your blog and on your social media. Send an email to a dedicated list of people who have expressed interest in working for your company.
And get creative. If skywriting could guarantee good applicants in the door, it would almost be worth it. Let the world know that you are hiring, and why your organization is a great place to work.
If you’re offering a wow product, you’ll be surprised at the caliber of people who turn out.
Question: What key ingredients are you looking for in your hiring process?