Hire the Best Talent…Here’s How Successful Companies Do It

Nearly half of U.S. employers say they have a difficult time hiring employees to fill key positions in their companies (according to the latest Talent Shortage Survey from the Manpower Group).  This leaves little doubt that the competition for top talent is fierce – even in the face of 8.2% unemployment and a sluggish economy.  The result? More and more companies are hiring talent from the middle of the pact.

We all know what happens when our favorite sports team faces an opponent with clearly superior talent and it’s not pretty.  The same thing happens on the field of play in business every single day.

Even in this unstable employment market many people who already have good jobs are looking for new ones. In a recent survey by Salary.com, an alarming 80% of employees are either actively seeking a new job or are willing to entertain offers from other employers.  This begs the crucial question, if you’re an employer looking to hire and retain the best security professionals, how do you go about it?

For many years companies like GE, Google, Starbucks and Proctor & Gamble have been near the top of Fortune magazine’s annual rating of America’s Most Admired Companies. GE and P&G have long held reputations for managing and developing employees.  It got me to thinking, what could such a diverse group of organizations have in common?

My work as a security management search consultant has given me firsthand exposure to working alongside companies such as those listed above, as well as other large and small organizations with outstanding reputations for their ability to attract and retain talented professionals. In considering common traits among these types of firms it is clear from my experience and in talking with people who have worked for such firms, that their communication up and down the line is open, and more frequent, than in other companies. Also, top level management seem to be more accessible, which in turn, makes employees at all levels feel engaged in working towards the company’s outlined goals and objectives.

Second, these employers expect excellence at all levels and demonstrate accountability. People are empowered and given the resources needed to succeed. These firms are also committed to employee onboarding and cross-training — in order to prevent silos from taking root – and professional development opportunities to keep people fresh and feeling challenged.

That ties neatly into the third strength they share: Instead of preparing only so-called high-potential performers for advancement opportunities, they extend numerous chances for every team member to learn and develop — which means that when they need talent to fill holes, they can find it internally before looking at outside options.

During an economic downturn most companies will axe training and development programs with the blink of an eye. Forward thinking employers continue the commitment to developing people at all times. This provides good bench strength and helps to keep turnover rates low. In recessionary or slow growth times companies don’t want to see declining revenues accompanied by the costs associated with high turnover.

In order to successfully establish a culture which hires-from-within its own ranks, you have to begin by hiring the right people in the first place. Here again, the notable firms have an established hiring process from top-to-bottom.

Most often, the characteristics which employers mention to me that they are seeking in order to compliment the particular skills and experience they desire are quite similar.  They are not limited to, but include the willingness to embrace change, problem solving ability, a desire for collaboration, the ability to design and execute a plan, being a natural communicator as well as leadership talent. Hiring managers in these organizations are not looking for candidates with one or two of these characteristics; they will be looking for specific examples from candidates of their experience in all these key areas.

That selection process – and the emphasis on developing these key characteristics – helps make these firms standout against competitors when hiring and developing talent.

What are you willing to do today to help your department or company hire and retain the best and brightest talent?

David Lammert

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