3 High-Impact Strategies for Reframing Your Recruiting

Sure, recruiting talent can be discouraging, stressful, and even paralyzing at times, but you have far more power than you realize. Take the first step. Release your attachment to “how things have always been done” in order to embrace the new, perhaps counterintuitive approaches that can actually work.

Le Anne Harper
Head of Advisory Services, Creative Talent Endeavors
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Aug 21, 2022
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Last updated on Jul 29, 2022

THE BAD NEWS….  isn’t as bad as you might think. True, if you work with talent, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the various struggles people are facing amid the Great Resignation. Or maybe you yourself have bemoaned the challenges of this candidate-driven market when told to fill ## new roles - often without any additional resources. Oh yeah, and big thanks to Google and Netflix for those mega salaries and perks that eclipse our humble (by comparison) offerings! Yes, recruiting talent can be discouraging, stressful, and even paralyzing at times. The news isn’t all doom and gloom, and here’s why.

THE GOOD NEWS…. is you’ve got far more power than you realize! YOU and others on your team are already sitting on a goldmine of expert insider’s knowledge that can help you find and hire great talent. These 3 strategies can help shift the paradigm through which you view talent so you can cast a wider net and introduce more exceptional talent into your pipelines, increasing your hiring options exponentially.


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THE CHALLENGE…should you choose to accept it - is to first get comfortable being uncomfortable. We’re going to disrupt the status quo to help you be relevant and resourceful, so take a deep breath and (at least temporarily) set aside “the way things have always been done” so you can explore infinite new possibilities.

1. CURIOSITY


Let's start by holding up a mirror...not with judgement or defensiveness. Adopt a spirit of curiosity. Let go of who your organization wants to be and take stock of how your organization is actually doing when it comes to talent. Don't let shame or blame creep in because it'll create friction and what you want now is questions and honest answers. It's about uncovering and appraising your employment brand and value proposition, so you can improve what you can and capture those stories in compelling ways with your target candidates! 

Re-frame any fear or anxiety that arises as anticipation and curiosity. On a physiological level, fear is nearly identical to excitement, yet the stories we tell ourselves (and the meanings we attribute to them) make us experience those states quite differently. So, rather than getting discouraged or stressed by potentially “triggering” scenarios, embrace them with a spirit of wonder and open-mindedness.

Start by asking yourself what grade you’d give your current recruiting efforts. Then accept that whatever you’re doing could be improved, because that’s a nearly universal fact. Let’s examine our existing hiring practices from a candidate’s perspective. Let’s challenge some assumptions so we can start with a clearer playing field.


I’d like to challenge the ubiquitous “talent shortage” idea. Yes, tech behemoths like YouTube and AirBnB are probably hurting your efforts, but not necessarily in the way you think. Their deep pockets and killer perks probably aren’t stunting your hiring efforts. None of us can you really compete with that! How they do hurt us is when their omnipotence erodes our hiring confidence and creativity. So shed that defeated mindset and redirect that energy to understanding your company’s strengths to highlight what will be most compelling to candidates. Sure, money matters, but Daniel Pink’s motivation research revealed that candidates care as much or more about a company’s “why” and the meaningfulness of our contributions. So, ask yourself what your talent strategy is highlighting. Is it serving you? What assumptions is it based on? Are they still relevant? How can you get people engaged in this exploration around talent?


2. COURAGE

This part is simple, but definitely not easy (or everyone would do it), so expect to be uncomfortable at times in this part of the discovery process. Whether or not they know and accept it, your company’s leadership may be one of the biggest obstacles to finding and landing great talent. Will it be hard for leadership to hear and accept this? Let’s push through the discomfort to start addressing it!

Many companies haven’t examined their hiring practices or employment brand in years or decades...because good enough has been good enough and people like what’s comfortable. These well-worn, often antiquated ways of thinking about talent could use an infusion of self-awareness, reality checking, and inspiration. Don’t worry, most leaders CAN handle the truth because they want tangible business outcomes and revenue growth and you need TALENT for that, but YOU might need courage to pose the questions that can uncover these uncomfortable truths. 

Some questions to uncover potential blind spots and opportunities for improvement:

  • Are the familiar, somewhat effective recruiting tactics signaling that you’re stuck in the past? If so, how are you hurting your employer brand among candidates and their evolving priorities?
  • How compelling is your company story and is it getting shared with enough potential candidates?
  • What percentage of your company’s talent is a friend, in your friend network, or a top-tier pedigree?
  • How high do you make candidates jump to join you? Do referrals have different criteria? 
  • Would you find the typical candidate recruiting experience inspiring and engaging? What’s missing?
  • How would you know if (often unconscious) interviewer/hiring manager bias are keeping wonderful talent from applying to, or being hired by, your company?
  • What makes your talent offering unique or better than competing offers?
  • What percentage of a candidate’s technical skill and motivation are you willing to sacrifice in order to make a fast hire? i.e. how much patience can you muster to hold out for the right hire?
  • If someone visits the company website, will they recognize themselves in the messages and images? Will they be able to assess if their values align with the company’s?
  • How many people have left your company? What are you doing to understand why?
  • If employee diversity representation isn’t reflective of your customer base, can you change that?

Bottom line, taking stock takes courage. Letting go of what you know takes courage. Guess what, you already know this and know how much there is to possibly gain. Frankly, if everything was fab you likely would have skimmed past this post. Please know that you’re not alone.

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Release your attachment to “how things have always been done” in order to embrace the new, perhaps counterintuitive approaches that can actually work. What you know for sure is if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results. So, take stock of what’s ACTUALLY working – audit the talent sources, hiring data, and retention numbers and leverage these insights to keep what’s working and retire what’s obsolete. 

Yes, this means trying things like a new external partner instead of the safe, legacy firms. You might have heard the saying, “No one gets fired for hiring Korn Ferry,” which might be true, but how often are those predictably pedigreed hires disruptive game-changers or envelope-pushing innovators? You’re probably going to have to go out on a limb a bit to discover that type of talent.

Paraphrasing Toni Morrison, things of value are seldom the safe choice.

You might try looking at new talent pipelines, like interns/co-op programs, returning to work or fractional employees, asynchronous or offshore talent, and non-degreed talent for example. And, while we’re at it, here’s a shameless plug for introverts, neurodiverse talent, and those who are technically proficient but not necessarily great interviewers. We’ve all been fooled at one time or another by a great interviewer who didn’t have the technical chops…and the opposite can be just as true, so don’t overlook these less conspicuous communities.

3. COMMITMENT

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Commit to recognizing and discharging the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness that can set in when talent challenges seem too big. Like the adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” even the most gung-ho and committed people leaders can’t solve an organization’s talent woes overnight. Remember and remind those with you on the journey to commit to a long game mindset. Commit to the belief that you can drive big change through small, cumulative actions so you can break big obstacles into smaller, bite-sized problems.

If you’re tempted to abandon new ideas for fear of failure or embarrassment, you’ll need another type of commitment – patience and faith. When I’m trying to gain buy-in and bolster my team’s resolve through tough periods, I like the guitar-playing analogy as a frame of reference. How many of you have taken music lessons of some kind? It doesn’t matter how many YouTube video demos we see or teachers we hear play a song perfectly, we can only ourselves learn to play an instrument by playing it really badly at first (my early days on the violin were literally painful- just ask my family). After practicing ad nauseam, hitting lots of sour notes, earning some calluses and hand cramps, our perseverance can yield beautiful music that is all the sweeter for the commitment it embodies. Swap in any difficult skill here – learning to walk as a baby, learning a new language, learning to drive. What initially requires a LOT of effort and intention can become second nature if we stick with it long enough to build muscle memory and gain mastery, so stay committed. Imagine how proud you’ll feel down the road to have been instrumental in this talent transformation.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS AND REMINDERS

  • You already know what your current recruiting strategies can produce, so you don’t have much to lose by trying some new things.
  • You’ve got this, so embrace the discomfort and get in the fight.
  • Seemingly small changes can lead to huge impact.
  • It’s okay for things to get a bit messy while you uncover some of the gaps, blind spots, and missed opportunities. 
  • Keep at it - one bite at a time.
  • Stay attuned to shifts in the talent landscape and evolve your tactics as needed. Iterate, investigate, and amplify.
  • This is a long game (that doesn’t necessarily end), so pace yourself and engage peers and external partners to build a community of resources.
  • Others have forged these paths and success leaves clues, so research the companies you admire and see what you can learn. 
  • Use feedback loops and metrics: ask candidates for experience and process feedback, identify and track relevant data (e.g., successful sourcing channels, conversion rates, market comp surveys).
  • Celebrate movement in the right direction – that’s a WIN (especially if you’ve been stagnant for a while)!
  • Your current employees benefit from this talent self-reflection exercise, too. The insights can inform development and retention programs that help you keep the great talent you already have.

RESOURCES

You don’t have to do this alone. Especially when you’re growing and scaling, it may be too soon to build this type of expertise in-house. Know when and how to strategically leverage subject matter experts and external advice to accelerate your efforts and ROI. For example, CTE helps clients get faster behavior change through interactive, roleplaying hiring workshops, and TroopHR is another excellent community for crowdsourcing ideas and recommendations when you need support.

REWARDS

Your newly developed lenses can help you “discover” talent that may have been in front of you all along, as well as entire communities you might have overlooked. Reap the rewards – hopefully you’ll have a line of talent waiting to get in the door - and use that inspiration to continuously learn what works best for your organization.

Want to learn more about committing to a courageous talent strategy? Reach out at info@creativetalentendeavors.com.

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