J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Strategic Talent Acquisition

Strategic Talent Acquisition

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"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." -- Michael Jordan

I've been asked recently about competitive talent acquisition strategies.  I'm not a recruiter and I don't play one on T.V., but I thought I would share what I've seen work in the real world.

People are the life-blood of any company.  They generate new ideas and find new ways to create value.  I’ve seen teams, orgs, and companies grow or die based on the people they acquire, and their talent management strategies.  Brain drain, as we call it when top talent leaves, is a very real threat to any otherwise big, bold, goals and initiatives.

Here is my five-minute brain dump on what works when it comes to attracting top talent:

  1. Be the company people want to work for.  You’re effectively building a tribe whether that’s Amazonians, Googlers, Softies, etc.  People want to belong to something that’s worth it.
  2. Have leaders that people want to work for.  People really do “follow the leader.”  In fact, a career strategy for many smart people is to “ride the coat tails” of people that make things happen.
  3. Live the values that create compelling work environments and world-class leadership.
  4. Do work that matters.  People spend way too much of their life at work to work on things that don’t matter in some way, shape or form.  Nobody likes to be a cog, unless it’s a meaningful cog for a wheel that matters.
  5. Map to business strategy, objectives, priorities, and outcomes.  When you get a bunch of smart people on the bus, with nowhere to go, people get used or abused or neglected.  Aligning talent to the future business is a great way to skate to where the puck will be.
  6. Evaluate against ROI.  This forces thinking through the value and what good looks like and how to measure, which are all good things.
  7. Recruit from academia and try-before-you-buy with internships and temps.
  8. Provide flexible work styles so anybody can work from anywhere, anytime.  It’s a digital economy and there’s a new world of work.
  9. Set a high bar.  Top talent likes to work with top talent.  People love the chance to work with other great people.   Just watch how many great directors and actors stick together, or how many actors took a role for the chance to work with XYZ.
  10. Surround them with smarties.  Smart people are addictive.
  11. Provide competitive compensation, but differentiate through the promise of unique work experience and by working on the world's top problems for your niche in the market.
  12. Co-involve hiring managers reduces surprises on both ides.
  13. Do pro-active sourcing.
  14. Work with top talent recruiters.  They’re tapped in.  It’s a business where capability, results, and reputation shine through.
  15. Make employment branding more than lip service.
  16. Draw from a holistic talent pool.
  17. Reach around the world to find the world's best at what they do.
  18. Drive from an integrated talent management technology platform.
  19. Dive deep on marketing intelligence and leverage smart social networking.
  20. Connect to succession and workforce planning to align to growth plans.
  21. Make on-boarding as hassle-free as possible, whether that includes relocation, or whatever.

Note, I didn’t plan on 21, but I’m glad I landed there. 
How lucky.