Professional Services Resources & Tools

Retool Your Recruitment Strategy
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Learn how to attract top talent that will be a good long-term fit for your business.

By Michele Meyer


In the next decade many of America's 77 million baby boomers will begin to retire, but only 44 million "babybust" or Gen X'ers, those born from 1965 through 1975, will replace them. In this climate, for a company without the name-recognition or funds of a larger firm, success will depend largely on attracting and retaining top-tier talent. Start thinking outside the box. Search for workers who are looking to change companies. Also look at lower profile universities with strong departments in your field because they might yield candidates who are the right fit for your company.

"A tremendous amount of talent can be found at community colleges and state universities," says Thomas J. Fuller, general managing partner at New York's Epsen Fuller/IMD International Search Group. So recruit from area business schools at career fairs — and alert the press of your presence.

Attract new workers by developing strong employment motivational tools such as career development plans, flexible work schedules, encouraging virtual teams and collaboration, and demonstrating a commitment to the community, Fuller says. It may also help to shift away from the "one-size-fits-all" management style found in larger organizations, he says.

Reaching the Younger Generations
To attract the attention of college graduates, add a twist to your typical hiring practices. Erik Darmstetter, CEO of Sales by 5 based in San Antonio, Texas, attracts fledgling hires for his client by focusing on the everyday reality of work at their companies. For this reason, recruiters wore everyday work garb instead of suits to campuses, and instead of corporate booths offering magnets and pens, the group has handed out T-shirts, given jump drives to select candidates and even raffled off an iPod.

It also adopted the informal Internet style of MySpace, through tsocareers.com, which provided nonscripted, nonrehearsed videos of interns and employees.

Recruiters can also entice grads by hosting quarterly, creative open houses with billiards tournaments, pizza parties or local executive coaches offering career advice. "Have your firm's key individuals present so potential applicants can interact with them," Fuller says.

Potential vs. Experience
Applicants with ambition and good attitudes can be trained - even if they lack skills and know-how for a specific job, says Patrick Sweeney, executive vice president of Caliper Corp., an international management-consulting firm headquartered in Princeton, N.J. "Without drive, all the training in the world will not turn them into people who can spread positive energy," he says.

By asking candidates how they've faced setbacks, you learn their take on reality, says Sweeney, co-author with Herb Greenberg, founder of Caliper Corp., of Succeed on Your Own. "Do they blame things on others or learn from negative experiences and turn them into defining moments?"

Despite their levels of self-confidence, showoffs should be turnoffs. "You don't want people fighting to be the smartest kid in the room," he says. "Look for someone who collaborates but also disagrees constructively. This creates a healthy environment where the team can come up with insightful answers."

Someone Who Can Grow with the Company
Know and share your firm's identity and values. "Feeling at home in your organization is a longer-lasting motivator than money," Fuller says. If a company is small or rapidly growing, you'll need high-achievers who are comfortable juggling roles and changing priorities, as opposed to those who only excel within structure.

That's why wowing to woo fails. "Sure, we'd all like to be known as a fun place to work like Google, but not every company is there just yet," says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, principal of Human Resource Solutions in Northampton, Mass.

And money isn't everything. A chance to make a difference within a firm appeals to some job seekers more than a large salary. Today, 86 percent of workers indicate that money is not the top motivator, while other factors such as work-life balance, career challenge, less travel, the opportunity to shape change and to make a true impact in an organization, are all important motivators in today's workforce, says Fuller.

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