Both job-hunters and head-hunters are in the business of attracting the attention of the right people, and turning that attention into results: a new position, or a great candidate for a job. Understanding how that cycle of attraction works is the key to a successful search on both sides of the equation.
Tip #1: Figure out your value proposition
If your search is for a new opportunity, you need to know what you have to offer. What skill set can you bring to the table? Get some help from trusted colleagues and mentors on this value question to see if there are skills you need to add to your resume to ramp up your worth in your marketplace. Ask yourself if you have skills that you haven’t been taking advantage of, like coaching colleagues or culture-building across internal teams.
The value proposition question applies to what you can offer, and also to what kind off value a prospective employer might be offering to YOU. In a post on the Harvard Business Review blog, business strategy guru Bill Barnett offers a 5-step self-assessment strategy that will work well for anyone, at any career stage.
If you’re in a search for talent for your company, what value are you offering to potential team members? What kind of benefits do you offer the people who work for you? The word “benefits” should apply to the kind of work your company does and the culture you foster, not just to salary-and-benefits packages. What would make someone with the skills you’re looking for sit up and take notice of what you’re offering? Attracting the attention of top talent means you have to match their desire for challenges and rewarding work.
And don’t think that if you’re not located in a major metro area, you’ll have trouble attracting top talent. If you’re playing an A game, you’ll attract A players, no matter where your offices are. If you can’t get top people, it might be, as CEO coach Cameron Herold says on AmEx’s Open Forum, “there’s plenty of top talent out there, they just don’t want to work for you!”
Tip #2: Details matter
If there’s a company you really want to work for, you’ve done research on them as a key part of your search, right? You know what their core business is, you’ve studied their leadership team, and you’ve read industry coverage of their work and their results. If you haven’t done at least that much due diligence, you’re toast as far as getting their attention goes, since your pitch will be very generic. You need to learn everything you can about their work, and build a connection strategy that shows you know their work. Reach out only when you’ve got all the details in hand.
On the company side, if there’s a top candidate you’ve got your eye on, learning everything you can about that person’s career goals is critically important. What kind of workplace culture do they operate best in? Do they have children, and want a flexible schedule to allow them family time? Do they love the road, or hate it? Making a personal pitch to someone you’re interested in, offering them something you know they want, will put your company at the head of the “ you’ve got my attention” line.
Tip #3: It’s the network
Are you taking full advantage of the networking tools at your fingertips? This is true for both sides of the job search: candidates and companies seeking top people. Using what you’ve learned from Tip #1 and Tip #2, look at your network of colleagues and connections to see who might be able to amplify your attention message to the right people.
If you’re in the candidate camp, nothing moves you ahead of the pack faster than a referral from someone that the hiring manager or recruiter knows and trusts. If you’re that hiring manager or recruiter, and you’ve identified an ideal candidate, who can help you get their attention and kick off a meaningful conversation?
Use your connections to move your attention-getting search strategy forward.
Tip #4: Know what you want
If you don’t know what you want, you won’t meet with much success. That’s true in any situation.
If you’re in the market for a new job, you must have a clear idea if what kind of opportunity you’re seeking. What kind of company culture are you looking for? How about work schedule? What about benefits? Do you want to telecommute, or do you work better in the company of co-workers? What skills do you want to exercise every day? How do you want your next gig to stretch and challenge you? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready to play the attention-seeking game.
Company recruiting requires the same level of self-knowledge: why would top talent want to come to work for you? What kind of environment are you offering, what kind of rewards will someone reap by joining your team? What kind of opportunities for growth and challenge can a talented person find within your walls?
Understanding your strengths, deciding where you want to go, and drawing a clear strategy for how to get there is the pathway to success for both job candidates and companies seeking terrific people.