Is Hiring ‘Top Talent’ A Trap?

Every organisation wants to hire ‘top talent’. We hear this every day. We want a “gun”, “the best”, “an A grade candidate”.

But what if hiring the cream of the candidate crop doesn’t always mean recruiting the top applicant?

Here’s how switching your focus to fixate on prospective employees can help your business break free from the top talent trap.

It goes without saying that every organisation wants to hire top talent. That perfect, often unattainable candidate that will take your company from mediocre to magnificent. But have you ever considered what hiring top talent actually means – and more importantly, how effective this strategy is for your business?

The concept of hiring top talent stems from the belief that hiring the best will in turn produce the best. According to this train of thought, the greater the experience or qualification; the bigger benefit the candidate will bring back to the business. But many hiring managers with prowess know that each individual business actually has their own interpretation of the type of top talent that will suit their company. In fact, hiring the cream of the candidate crop for your organisation doesn’t always translate into that applicant deemed to possess ‘top talent’ for another.

Top talent doesn’t guarantee future business success

This thought begs the question: why do organisations often consider top talent differently to their competitors? The answer is actually crucial to hiring the right candidate for your job.

If the term ‘top talent’ was a true indicator of business success, it would be easy to identify the hiring secrets of organisations performing at their absolute peak. Surely their floors would be full of superior staff, who if you traced back their resumes would have certainly made the cut to the elusive ‘top talent’ pile. In reality, whether a candidate lives up to their initial potential is often circumstantial, with a myriad of influencing factors impacting whether they actually perform to the standard they were hired for.

Adding further confusion to the concept, is the fact that a candidate that might be ideal for your competitor might not even score an interview with your company. This is because the very qualities that set your business apart from its field are also the reasons why a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach to hiring isn’t always the easiest option for your business in the long-term. Never before has the strategy of ‘top talent + our role = business success’ been more grey.

It’s clear to see why hiring managers have their work cut out for them, for the need to be attuned to identifying employees who offer the complete package for a specific company has never been more time-consuming. And even still, it’s common for hiring managers to go through this exhausting process and fail to come out of it with the right choice in candidate that provides the desired business outcomes as well as longevity in the role.

Choosing the right fit for your business

Determining the candidate which will be the best asset to your organisation starts well before the hiring process begins. When it comes to sifting through a huge pile of job applications, the key to selecting the perfect candidate for your company’s new vacancy is not to consume your choice with the candidates that your sector may be chasing, but to first identify exactly what you’re looking for to suit your specific business needs.

First, you need to establish the attributes and experience which will make a candidate an appropriate fit for your organisation – and why. Then you need to do something which many organisations devalue or overlook entirely – you need to view your workforce from the candidate’s perspective and consider whether or not your company is worth working for. That’s right – you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and scrutinise the job criteria.

Determining whether your organisation can offer prospective talent what they’re searching for as a professional in your field will help to attract the right candidate into the role. Can your company provide the candidate with the opportunity of career progression, professional development or potential further studies that could boost their skill set?

Commonly the standout candidates are actually out there looking for a new role, but what they’re asking for in return is often met with silence from the potential big business. Often, they resolve to apply elsewhere. To sort the standout candidates from the pool of second-rate applicants, hiring managers should also be careful not to dismiss candidates who are teachable and erupt with enthusiasm for your business vision – in addition to impressive expertise and credentials.

Switching your focus to fixate on prospective employees who not only have your desired talent, but are also able to complement it with passion that can be developed and groomed for succession will ultimately help your business break free from the top talent trap. In my experience, going the extra mile to exhaust all networks for candidates who are adaptable to different roles and thrive off any challenges their company will undoubtedly go through are worth their weight in gold.

Talent is specific to your industry and more importantly, the culture of your organisation. That’s why it’s invaluable to engage an experienced recruiter who is meticulous in identifying the perfect candidate for your specific sector.

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