What Your High School Crush Teaches You About Recruiting Talent

Jun 26, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 11.26.54 AMWhen I was about 15 years old I discovered something that would change my way of thinking about attracting talent forever: my first high school love. We’ve all been there. Think about that boy (or girl) in high school that you adored. There seemed to be this glorious shine around him. Women wanted to be with him, men wanted to be like him. You were sure he was the love of your life (even though your best friend tried to talk you out of that). There was no doubt that you needed to be with him; otherwise you might not make it.

Thanks to chocolate and chick flicks, I’ve made it past high school heartbreak and am looking back in time to realize a striking similarity: attracting talent is like trying to appeal to your high school love. It’s possible they don’t even know your name, but you if you work hard enough to make them notice, you can score the date (or job interview). With just a few tips, you can be on your way to true (recruiting) love in no time.

  1. Get their friends to like you. Find out as much as you can about your target group. What are the habits, wants, and needs of the candidates you want to attract? Check out their social profiles, take note of former employers and experiences, read through popular sites like Reddit or Topsy, and sign up for blogs where your audience spends time. Think back to high school — if you want to be with the football quarterback, first you’ve gotta figure out where the team sits during lunch.
  1. Hang with the cool kids. Gossip makes the world go round — in high school at least. To get noticed, you need to get people talking about you. Involve influencers and make it easy for yourself by convincing those who are already heard. Whether it’s mothers, friends, social media influencers, professors, peers, or career service centers at universities, once you have convinced them that your company is a good fit for the job candidate the multiplier starts and you will have a much easier game of talent management.

  1. Speak their language. Let’s go back to the talking about the dreamy quarterback — during football season, you know he has got one thing on his mind. If you approach him, you know better than to talk about anything else but touchdowns and tackles. As a recruiter, speak the same language as the audience you are trying to attract. Especially when you approach students, recent grads, or young professionals, you have to use a voice that appeals to them (and with this I don’t mean using what you think is “hip” wording). Be authentic, honest, and direct. If you need help figuring out what this voice should be, look back to the first point on this list — check out things like blogs and social media to find out what’s cool.

  1. Make your move. And do it fast. In high school, love moves quickly. Don’t give the quarterback any time to notice that new cheerleader … ask him to the dance now or never! However you decide to contact the talent — texting, calling, LinkedIn, Facebook, or email — you have to be fast. If it takes you a week to respond, it can be obvious that you’re not totally head over heels. Acting quickly shows you care and tells the talent that they’re special to you. There’s a reason it’s called “instant messaging.”

  1. Show flexibility. Sure, you’ll go see that boring superhero movie with your Romeo even though you really wanted to see Julia Roberts’ new chick flick. Maybe next time you’ll get some Channing Tatum in return. Today’s generation is all about flexibility — careers especially are becoming more and more individual as employees have the opportunity to craft their own roles. By asking your talent what they are looking for instead of offering them a position that is already created, you’re offering them an opportunity to show their strengths and weaknesses and hence increase your chances of scoring them for your company.

  1. Don’t be pushy. Everyone knows the three-day rule — after the date, you better not call right away! Wait three days or risk scary him off with your desperation. Give your job candidates the same courtesy. Allow them to inform themselves about you (because after you contact them, we promise they’ll Google you and find out all your dirty little secrets). Don’t ask for commitment right away; strong candidates might have several options. Being too pushy might therefore push you out of the game before you’re ready to say goodbye.

  1. Build trust. It can’t be said enough that relationships are all about trust — even the ones in high school. If you can convince them that they’ll be happy working with your company, you can ensure they’ll stay longer and be more loyal. Nowadays everybody wants to be in a happy place, and oftentimes the happiest places are the ones with the most honest relationships.

Ever been in a similar situation? Comment and tell your story! I’d love to hear it!

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