The Importance of a Continuous Talent Conversation In Hiring Great People

Hiring talented workers, let alone top tier professionals, has become so competitive companies must be constantly on the lookout for unique ways to meet their talent needs. With more investment money pouring into new startups and into expanding existing companies, the talent market is becoming ever more hyper-competitive. That is making employer brand distinction, unique talent acquisition programs, talent technologies, candidate experiences and internal/external communication of core company values are more important than ever.

In order to remain truly competitive for the top available talent (active and passive) an organization must hack its current practices, strategies, capabilities, perceptions, and assumptions. Hiring can’t be an “as needed” event.

Hiring is reactionary

Yet for too many companies, talent acquisition is reactionary and not — in spite of being called so — strategic. Instead of treating the mission to hire top talent as an ongoing endeavor, most organizations don’t look for talent until there is an actual role to fill. As a consequence, they miss having an ongoing interaction with the talent market and evangelizing their brand.

Therein lies one of many opportunities for a venture to distinguish itself.

Ask any forward-looking CEO what the three most important jobs in the company are, and he/she will list hiring as the #1 or #2 priority. To a person they’ll say that in order to remain competitive and succeed long-term the right people must be on the deck of the ship. (Okay, so maybe nautical metaphors will not be used by all. But you get the point.)

So then what’s going on with the start and stop of hiring?

The common underlying thread is that talent acquisition does not happen in an organic, or natural fashion. It is most often a project or outsourced effort to achieve a specific hiring goal. Once this goal is met all efforts cease until the next need arises.

The sad fact is that this “process” has remained largely unchanged for as long as the word “recruiter” has existed. And since there is no easy metric to prove the (lost) opportunity cost of this method, it is difficult to make a business case for anything but the status quo.

Hiring is job 1

But the business case lies in the intensely challenging talent availability and the need for hiring to always be job #1.

Think about it this way, if a sales team decided to take the rest of the quarter off because they hit their sales goals nine weeks into the quarter, what would be the reaction? Heck no! Right? So why does recruiting take a holiday?

Because there is no current vacancy? I’ve never seen a CEO, CTO, COO, CFO or C-whatever pass on a top-tier candidate.

By leaving the door always open we are creating the opportunity to engage with the  community from which we want to hire, and demonstrate what is best about our company culture. Simply put, the “Continuous Talent Conversation” allows for the possibility for something special to happen. It allows you to build a talent pipeline you can tap when the need arises, or snag a top tier candidate when one shows up.

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Moreover, here is the good news: it’s easy. Here’s all you need to do:

Tip 1: Every thriving organization tends to have between 5 to 10 core positions. Always leave these open on your career site. “But we have no open headcount!” However, you do have natural churn, underperforms and future hiring goals. Our guess is that if a superstar walked through your door you could make the room. Alternatively, would you rather your competition reap the benefit?

Tip 2: For all those that still need a metric to validate our thesis, just look at the historic and ever increasing gap between demand and availability of qualified talent, and not just in tech but in any space. The time to fill a job is now measured in months in many cases.

The simple fact is that having conversations with talent makes sense now more than ever. We believe this effort to be essential to the immediate and long-term people needs of all organizations. It is also critical if you want to attract the top 5%-10% of great talent in any market. Why? Because the best don’t actively look for new opportunities on your hiring timeline.

Jason Elkin

Jason Elkin is the founder and chief people officer of WERKLABS, a talent acquisition-as-a-service venture that primarily focuses on startups in California.

With over 15+ years of experience developing lean & scalable solutions for some of the most recognizable names in tech, Jason brings a unique lens to the talent paradigms of today’s hiring challenges. In 2009 Jason pioneered the “Lean Organic Talent Acquisition” method for early/mid-stage startups. This method was a fist to incorporate Lean-Agile principles with Behavioral Neuroscience. This method blended a streamlined hiring process with a superior candidate experience to accelerate candidate acquisition. By integrating Lean Organic Talent Acquisition principles into the hiring culture of startups, Jason has been able to build best-in-class organizations for many companies.

Jason holds a BA from Tel-Aviv University and is currently working on his first book for millennial job seekers who are pursuing a career in the startup world.