To attract the best possible workforce, put yourself in a would-be employee’s shoes for a few minutes. What sort of salary would a top 20% employee expect? How about a top 10% or top 5% talent? What kind of health insurance plans are you currently offering, and how do they stack up against your competitors? How many weeks of vacation are fair?

These questions are only the tip of the iceberg; a thorough, spot-on “talent brand” – how a company’s employees think about their workplace – is the cumulative collection of salary, benefits, and even out-of-office perks that can make or break your talent recruiting efforts.

Talent Tiers: Categorizing Would-Be Employees

Let’s first define the varied types of “top talent” out there. In order to get the best possible people on board, it helps to recognize the different kinds of employees. Each category has its own unique demands.

The young whiz-kid. Either right out of college or with a few years under their belt, this type of worker boasts a superior academic record and impressive productivity, even if the extensive track record isn’t quite there yet.

Recruiting strategy: They’re more attracted by a bigger salary; benefits and other perks aren’t quite as high on the whiz kid’s priorities – yet.

The solid, stable type. It’s increasingly rare to find an employee with more than a decade at just one company, but they do exist. Outstanding employees who fit the bill here bring an excellent job history to the table, along with more complex demands to the negotiating table. This top talent is also older than the aforementioned prodigy, which means different job expectations.

Recruiting strategy: If you plan to bring this kind of skilled talent aboard, prepare to offer some of those “built-in” benefits, like extra vacation, a solid healthcare plan (to cover an employee and their family), 401(k) and more.

The well-travelled veteran. The wily guru. The gun for hire. The one who’s been around the block more than once. This person has seen it all – and usually demands a hefty compensation package. If your company is considering a great employee with more than a quarter-century of experience and plenty of firms on their resume, please keep in mind you’ll need a sophisticated recruiting and negotiation plan.

Recruiting strategy: Often times, the well-travelled veteran is nearing retirement and isn’t as concerned about benefits. Pay, vacation and other perks (the ability to work from home, for example) are major considerations.

Attracting Talent

When your company grows and needs to fill twenty roles, don’t look at the need as a group effort. Look at it from an individual standpoint; you don’t need twenty employees, you need the perfect person to fill twenty different roles.

It can be a hard temptation to resist, but the goal isn’t to get a million applications; even the busiest HR departments have trouble keeping up with a flood of resumes. To get top talent, you’re looking to get a single person to fill a role. And not just fill the role, but to take their position (and your firm) to new heights.

To grab the attention of the best and brightest job seekers, you obviously need a competitive salary and benefit packages. But remember these three things, too:

Work-life balance. Work is important, but so is time away from the office. Flexible hours are a must – many top workers will look elsewhere if a solid work-life balance isn’t possible.

Cool, custom work spaces. As the economy evolves, so does the office and cubicle. Some companies even set aside a separate budget for employees to design their own work space.

Remote capability. One of the best perks going right now is “location independence.” In other words, the ability for employees to work from home. Even a few days a month of a work from home option can help convince that uber-talented applicant to pick your company over the other guys.

When Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

For startups and smaller organizations, getting high-end talent to consider your company is a challenging process. Because overhead budgets are rarely IBM-sized, and the vast majority of firms lack Apple’s considerable cash reserves, it’s a tough sell to attract the very best employees.

But instead of dwelling on the David vs Goliath aspects, tout your own strengths. What can you offer top talent that the big guys can’t?

Better communication. Small firms have minimal bureaucracy and a near-direct line of contact to upper management.

Intriguing potential. Unlike a well-established enterprise, the possibilities at smaller startups can bring in forward thinking employees.

Greater freedom. HR procedures are always evolving, especially at firms with few employees. One advantage of small companies is that new workers get the chance to shape favorable policies. It’s hard to put a price tag on a flexible, less rigid workplace.

We hope these ideas give you some food for thought when going after that small slice of super-talented workers. You’re not always going to get the absolute best candidate, but with a smart plan in place, you’ll attract top talent more often than not!

Leave a Comment