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How You Out-compete Rivals for the Best Talent

by Nov 8, 2013, 6:30 am ET

You’ve got to understand what your employees want.

Your employees too have desires and needs, of course. And these aren’t all the same. Your key hires and top management and team leaders have got to be getting what drives them out of the employment contract. Especially in sectors like technology, where there is low unemployment and an improving economy, the competition for top talent is acute.

Hiring managers need to understand that in this market to be competitive in acquiring top talent it might take some personalized creativity in the offer. All the competitive technology companies are offering the gamut of cool bennies: free lunches, complimentary gym memberships, flexible/virtual work opportunities, etc. And of course competitive compensation is always at the forefront of landing candidates. But these days some creative extras go a long way.

Tailor your employment offer.

When you know who you want to hire, you know what you are willing to pay. But how creative can you be and how can you tailor the offer to win the employee? It often is as simple as really listening to the candidate, or recruiter you’ve partnered with, to learn the candidate’s true desires. A candidate may be particularly interested in continuing graduate work or professional certification; others are looking to relocate down the road. Some candidates desire to work remotely, and some are yearning for a green card. Others may be dying to work directly underneath a particular manager, while others dream of personalizing the technology stack used. For many of these in-demand candidates, securing their loyalty and commitment is more about personalizing the package then about general benefits.

Just because you’ve never tailored your employment offer in a new way, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Not only is it pretty easy to offer partial or full educational reimbursement for the talent you want to hire, it may well cost the company less than trying to win them over with a bonus or salary bump. And in all probability, a creative solution will secure you a longer, more deeply committed relationship.

Listen and have a discussion with your candidate. Design an incentive program that ties the reimbursements to the results you expect from this hire.

Are you hiring on the East Coast but your candidate tells you that in all honestly his goal is to prove himself and then move to your West Coast office? If this is the person the company wants, design high-level goals and let him prove himself and achieve his location goals. The company gets the best out of the talent from the get go, and then gets to keep the talent in the West Coast office, with deeper ties down the road between coasts.

Designing personal incentives that are tied to company objectives over time is a way for everyone to win. If it turns out that the goals weren’t achieved, you’ve still secured the candidate you wanted and you haven’t had to provide the creative incentives. Not only can creativity land you the candidate you want, you can build in incentives to perform and to stay.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Megan Stanish

    I’m almost embarrassed to say that when I started reading this article, I was ready to disagree 100%. I was prepared to rail against the idea of establishing a job offer designed on incentives, built on promises of “stuff.” However, the sample offers you list seem focused on professional development, growth, and finding ways to meet the needs both of the potential employee and the employer, presently and in the future. To me, that speaks volumes and clarifies, brilliantly, the key behind the type of personalized offers you espouse. It’s important to make sure that the offer reflects not just the desires of the future employee but that it reflects and helps align the employee with the values and vision of the company.

    Thank you for this well considered piece, Rob.