Competing for Top-tier Talent


To attract top talent, you must be able to provide candidates with compelling reasons to join your organization. This is most companies’ number one challenge.

In my 20 years in the staffing business, I’ve only had three companies who nailed this at the beginning. And guess what? They were able to attract top talent to their company and their time-to-hire1 was under 45 days.

Let’s take a step back to address this challenge. Top talent often isn’t looking for work, so when they get a call from a recruiter or talent acquisition professional, they need to be sold on why they should consider listening to this job pitch. Many companies want to send the candidate the job description, share the compensation and/or a link to their company website. This is nice—but the reality is most job descriptions are rather vanilla—BS degree, 5 years’ experience, excellent communication skills. Plus, the compensation piece is often what they earn now and the majority of companies’ websites require the candidate to click numerous times to find the information that is of value to them. Both of these steps halt the process as the passive top talent candidate got busy doing other things. So let’s focus on when you get this top talent on the phone—these candidates want to know why they should consider the job and company you’re calling about. Thus, the value of having three compelling reasons.

Why is this so important?

  • Top talent is employed and rarely actively looking
  • Compensation is not the top factor as these individuals are going to be paid well regardless
  • Attracting these individuals is a sales job. You need to sell them that your company has a better upside than their current employer.
  • Your sales pitch MUST change per candidate

Examples of Compelling Reasons:

  • DISRUPTION: You have a product or service that is revolutionizing how something is done.
  • PURPOSE: Why does your company exist? What is the value to its employees and customers?
  • CULTURE: Depending on the generation you are seeking to hire, culture plays a large part in selling the candidate. Below are key items to address:
    • Flexibility: What is your policy? How do you address work/life balance?
    • Social/Environmental Accountability: For millennials in particular, this is very important.
    • Professional Development: Share your training and development philosophy for employees. Do you have an educational reimbursement program?
    • Environment: Do you have areas for lunch, exercise, rest, entertainment, sports? If staff is going to work a long day, how do you accommodate this? Is there an area to blow off steam?
    • Daycare: Do you provide onsite daycare?
  • COMPANY GROWTH: Did you win a new contract or acquire a company in an expanding industry?
  • CAREER ADVANCEMENT: Show a defined career path. Discuss succession planning. Be cautious of having advancement be a higher job title—rather, focus on duties and responsibilities (along with compensation).
  • VOICE: Many jobseekers look for new positions as they feel their voice/opinions are not being heard by their current employer. Share how this is possible at your company.

So, remember. Most top talent is passive, and need to be sold on compelling reasons—which isn’t compensation, a link to a website or a simple job description. Compelling is the key here.

1 Defined as the day the company opened the job requisition to the day the candidate started.