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Smart, strategic recruiting is an ongoing process. Nothing is less forward-thinking than waiting until someone gives notice to start searching for their replacement. Some industry experts call this “coincidence hiring,” because it’s pure luck that your ideal candidate just happens to be looking when you are. The more you think about it, the more you see how risky this is. Read on for our best tips for tapping into the top talent pool, including non-traditional sources.

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.

Many companies are finding the competition fierce when it comes to attracting and landing top talent. It’s tough to grow and thrive without the right workforce in place. Even worse, if you’re experiencing a chronic talent shortage, you could be slipping backward.

Besides, hiring to fill turnover is merely treading water. Aren’t you trying to grow your company? That requires an increasing number of great people. The right people will not only expand your internal talent pool, they can spark creativity and boost morale among your existing personnel. So, how do you actually start to find this top talent?

Evergreen Job Programs

Some employers continually advertise certain positions within their companies. Some of these positions suffer from chronic turnover and labor shortages (nursing and retail employees are good examples). But a number of companies are using this process to leave the door open all the time. This is a good way tobe available whenever a hot prospect happens to be looking.

Evergreen programs enable you to hire talented new people continuously. You don’t really have a specific opening for them, so you have to make their presence worthwhile (to them and to your company) until a bona fide position becomes available. You can use the time for training so they are fully conversant with your firm, processes, and personnel when they do move into a position. Or, you can give them one or several short-term assignments. You can also use this “excess” talent to finally launch new projects that have been languishing for lack of manpower.

BOLO: Be on the Lookout

Whether you implement a formal evergreen job program or not, you should always be on the lookout (BOLO) for opportunities to make your company’s case to potential new employees. Think of it as job networking in reverse. Even those who love their current position are smart enough to know there could be even better possibilities out there – perhaps at your firm.

Beware concentrating on “talent.” Instead try to think of prospective employees as live, individual people, not inanimate assets. People bring more to your company than furniture, vehicles, and manufacturing equipment.

Think Like a Startup

Alex Turnbull, CEO & Founder of Groove, wrote an excellent blog post describing how his startup “competes” with the likes of Google in hiring. Actually, they don’t. They cannot go dollar-for-dollar or perk-for-perk with gigantic competitors, so they have developed an alternative approach that could just as easily work for you. Your growing company has the same need for creative, diverse brainpower as a brand new company, doesn’t it?

You get what you look for, and what you emphasize. Hiring someone whose primary concern is top salary means you’ll lose them as soon as the next employer offers more. There is no question that competitive pay says “we appreciate you,” but the people you want most have other concerns and interests that are equally (or maybe more) important. So what’s your value proposition – what sets you apart you from other potential employers? You’re looking for value in new hires. The great ones are looking for value in their next company.

Focus on three differentiators:

  • The ability to make an impact. Whether their impact is felt internally among co-workers or externally via contact with customers or vendors, the best employees want to contribute and make a difference.
  • Autonomy and remote work. Remote working is on the rise across many industries and increasingly diverse types of jobs. Flexibility is a key concern among workers now, whether they work remotely or onsite. If that’s a hallmark of your company, tell people. And consider this: the ability to function with a scattered workforce – at least in some departments – vastly broadens your search area when it comes to attracting new people.
  • The company’s culture and values. A person with quintessential talent isn’t a good hire if they don’t fit your company. They won’t thrive, and neither will you.

Look Beyond the Staffing Agency

Search firms and advertising open positions continue to have value as sources of top talent, but you should also be tapping into social media and other non-traditional sources to get the word out about your firm as a desirable employer. The more you expand your reach, the more likely you are to connect with that special someone – or several someones – who will have significant, lasting impact on your company.

How much of your workforce is “contingent” these days? Contingent workers can do anything and everything. They can serve as interim C-level executives to carry you through a transition, or fix a serious problem. They can take on other higher level positions, on a short-term or long-term basis.

The entire concept of “temporary” workers has changed radically, no longer associated only with low- or mid-level office workers. As many as 70% of employers now rely on at least some contingent employees. Their sourcing opportunities are far broader, and they’re saving money typically spent on hiring, training and benefits.

Look Beyond the 9-5 Work Day

Long before Millennials entered your workplace, Gen X’ers were taking a hard look at work-life balance and coming down on the side of life. As a group, top performers are hard-working, motivated and loyal, but they expect consideration from you as well. Flexibility is a top seller when it comes to recruiting and retaining the types of people you want most.

Flexibility comes in the form of non-traditional working hours. It also comes in the form of remote work. The less rigid you can be about when people work and from where, the more doors you can open to untapped talent sources.

Look Outside the Resume

Does your company require all candidates to hold a post-high school degree? Why? Many employers believe earning a college degree demonstrates tenacity as well as a certain level of knowledge, but there are many reasons some people don’t attend college. You could be overlooking excellent candidates whose life experience brings a new problem-solving perspective and who possess valuable work experience and that all-important work ethic.

Transferrable skills come from all directions. You may have exactly the right person in your files right now, if only you look at their resume through new eyes.

Attracting Top Talent Takes Sustained Effort

Non-traditional talent sources could be your hiring salvation. And using diverse sources offers another advantage. You’re apt to gain a much more diverse workforce, something that can do wonders to boost creativity and innovation within your organization.

So always be on the lookout – for the right people, not just talented people. Alex Turnbull used his blog article to make a pitch: “P.S. Groove Is Hiring!” He went on to ask readers to tell their friends. Are you overlooking opportunities to make your pitch? You never know who’s listening.

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