SI Review: March/April 2014


Expert’s Corner: Attracting the Best

Why a job opportunity is like a personal ad; ultimately, both parties need to be interested

By Chris Beckage and James R. Stronach

Which would you prefer: To hire employees who simply do their jobs or those who do their jobs extremely well? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the vast majority of recruiting and hiring practices today actually attract average employees. In addition, the top talent you most want to attract may not even be seeking work.

Consider for a moment the characteristics of high performing employees. These employees exemplify what top talent looks like:

  • Continuously take on projects or tasks that increase responsibility within each role
  • Work output that adds greater value than cost
  • Accomplishments that have tangible impact on the organization
  • Consistent performance ratings that exceed fellow employees
  • Proactively seek advancement opportunities and challenges

The best workers will be enticed by opportunities that have clearly defined answers for three fundamental questions:

  • What does top performance actually look like?
  • What impact will talent have on the position and organization?
  • What value will the role and organization bring to the table?

Simply put, top talent wants to know the challenges they will face, that their work will have a measureable impact, and that their career will grow.

Define purpose. Start by developing meaningful answers to the aforementioned questions. Every role has a purpose and will affect the organization. So consider and outline the true objectives and the ultimate impact high performance can have on the department and organization.

Consider this exercise: Create a performance review of an imagined top performer at the end of his/her first year. What specific goals/objectives would have been achieved and how would excellence be defined? The benefit of this exercise is that the information can be repurposed within job descriptions, used to educate potential candidates, set clear expectations, AND drive goal-setting once an employee is hired.

Define value. The next step is to define the value that the role and organization will bring to a top employee. Remember, top talent isn’t typically looking for a job; however, they will always consider a better, more compelling opportunity. It’s the company’s job to paint the forward-thinking growth picture. Top talent needs to be sold on the organization and the opportunity. First, start with the organization as a whole. What is the company’s value proposition? What are its differentiators, competitive advantages, organizational goals and vision?

Hook the candidate. Next, consider the value the position will bring to talent. What is the environment like and how can it be represented to attract people who would thrive in it? Why would top talent want the position? What impact can top performance have on the individual’s career? What is the growth potential? How will top talent be challenged and developed? What will they learn?

Effective job descriptions that attract the interests of top talent — which is often comprised of passive jobseekers — may follow this roadmap:

  • Company-specific value propositions, competitive advantages and differentiators
  • Compelling reasons to work at your company
  • Corporate culture definitions
  • Position-specific values and impacts to the employee’s career
  • Desired performance metrics
  • Competencies and basic qualifications

Of course, this is just the first step in laying the groundwork for acquiring top talent. Truly in-depth and developed answers to the three fundamental questions will provide a foundation for every subsequent aspect of the hiring process.

Chris Beckage is vice president, North Region, for Superior Talent Resources. He can be reached at James R. Stronach is director of RPO at Superior Talent Resources. He can be reached at


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