October 2016

When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow

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waterfallYou’ll likely agree that hiring is one of your most important tasks. Get it right, you make your job as a leader easier. Get it wrong, you make your job harder—and possibly put your career at risk. The desire to get hiring right is why many executives and managers are slow to hire and quick to fire.

Problem is, you’re beyond busy. Every day is full. An open seat means extra work you either have to do yourself or delegate. Add the steps of the hiring process, and your already busy day turns overwhelming.

How can you balance your need to make good hires while managing your day efficiently?

It’s all about talent flow.

Enrich and Harness Top Talent

The importance of talent flow came up recently at global CEO summit I attended. After my keynote address I stood on a balcony talking with a few CEOs from the audience. We looked out over a stunning landscape. Mountains stretched into the distance, dotted by lakes and streams, the rolling landscape accented with the beautiful orange and red hues of fall foliage.

On one side, a particularly beautiful lake drew our attention. One of the CEOs, who lived in the area, told us it was his favorite fishing spot. He explained the lake was fed by a spring. The spring burbles up from an aquifer, pumping in millions of gallons of oxygen-enriched fresh water. Water that sustains the fish and nurtures plant life. On the other side of this crystal clear lake was a stream. The stream served double duty—it allowed fish to swim downstream to seek food in nearby lakes, and carried away dead plant matter and other natural waste.

“That’s why it’s perfect for fishing,” the CEO said. “The flow in and out creates balance. There’s just enough fish, plants, and nutrients to keep it pristine.”

As we were talking, I happened to glance in the other direction and see another lake—one that was quite unattractive. There was no spring feeding this lake, nor was there a stream carrying away debris. It was stagnant, covered by a large algae bloom and choked with dead plants. I pointed it out and asked the CEO about it.

“It smells just as bad as it looks,” he said. “No one fishes there. Even if they did, I doubt they’d catch anything good.”

I nodded my head, making a connection. I was about to speak, but he anticipated my thoughts with uncanny accuracy.

“These lakes are a good metaphor for hiring,” he said. “The effective hiring you described in your keynote is like the lake where I fish. Flow creates abundance. In the spring-fed lake, the flow of water creates abundant life. In a company, a flow of talent gives the organization an abundance of human resources which allows it to achieve strategic goals. Talent may flow out, but a continuous supply of new talent brings new perspectives and people who can do great work.”

He was spot on. If there’s a secret weapon behind successful CEOs and top leaders, it’s making talent flow a strategic imperative. From the top down, these leaders know it’s incumbent upon them, not just HR or the talent acquisition team, to maintain a strong flow of talented people. Savvy leaders understand having a strong talent flow is a strategic necessity. Without that flow, departments—or even the entire organization—could end up like that stagnant lake.

How can you incorporate improved talent flow as a strategic imperative? Here are three important details I shared with the CEOs at the summit:


Like the spring feeding the lake, make sure your company has a constant inbound pipeline of prospective employees. Take steps to keep it strong. Work to generate a consistent stream of talented, valuable candidates. Weed out the weak sooner so they don’t waste your time later.

Only 10% of organizations across the globe maintain a strong flow of quality candidates and tap into overlooked pools of talent. That’s where you start—don’t be one of the 90%.

Your growth strategy must include a robust talent flow strategy. Make it a requirement. Task department heads to continuously assess and enrich the stream of prospective employees. Require it before jobs become open, not after. Provide them with resources to tap into a wider pool of candidates. Lead by example. Show them how to enrich the flow by actively networking, referring new candidates, and pointing them toward the pristine, spring-fed lakes best for fishing.


The healthy lake is the candidate pool; the interview is your rod, reel, and tackle. Effective interviews are how you harness the flow of top talent. They’re how you catch and land top team members. Unfortunately, most interviews fail at identifying the best people.

Effective interviews aren’t conceptual. Companies operate in the real world of balance sheets, deadlines, and deliverables. Interviewing should be a reality check—a pragmatic and efficient process that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision based on facts directly related to the job, not on theory, abstractions, or cute questions that may or may not be relevant to the task at hand. Which is, of course, finding the right person for your company.

The prettiest lure in the world is worthless if it doesn’t land the right fish.

Get the facts you need by taking a rational approach to interviews. Be like a scientist: gather and evaluate the evidence; make a decision based on that evidence—not on what you project or how a candidate spins a particular aspect of their resume or work experience. Look for proof the candidate can do quality work. Ask for real examples from previous work projects. If examples aren’t available, have them generate a sample—right then and there—related to the job for which they’re interviewing.


As your company takes steps to enrich and harness the flow of talent, there’s a risk you’ll change too much at one time.

Patience is a virtue many of us lack. In today’s fast-paced society, impatience is the norm. We want things done now, not weeks from now. To drive change, we set tight deadlines and push everyone, including ourselves, towards the goal.

Fast change rarely sticks. It takes time to adjust routines and change habits. A rapid series of changes can overwhelm us. We reach a tipping point and give up, reverting to our previous routines.

Incorporating an improved talent flow into your strategic plans is a must, but you have to make the timeline realistic and achievable.

As a leader, creating a vibrant organization begins and ends with you. When your company is already like that beautiful, thriving, healthy lake, you have an advantage. If your company is part of the forward thinking 10% that maintains a constant stream of incoming talent, keep it that way. Don’t build dams; make sure the spring keeps flowing.

If your organization is more like that stagnant lake, don’t fret. A lake can be restored to its former beauty—so can your company and all the departments in it. Make it a strategic imperative to tap that deep aquifer. Enrich, harness, and sustain the flow of top talent. When you make this proactive choice, you’ll keep your pool of potentials stocked with skilled, resourceful people who do great work, help you reach your strategic goals, and keep your company strong and thriving.

Scott WintripWhen It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow
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Don’t Just Find Candidates … Create Them

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If you’re having a difficult time finding and retaining job-ready talent you’re not alone. Over 50% of employers report they have open jobs for which they cannot find quality candidates. No matter what industry you’re in, not having quality employees can hurt productivity, morale, and even your bottom line.

How do you go about finding job-ready talent? Your organization must tap into all eight streams of talent. I cover this in detail in my forthcoming book from publisher McGraw-Hill (High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant, being released on April 7, 2017). For now, I want to encourage you to tap into the most under-utilized talent stream – Talent Manufacturing.

Organizations that engage in Talent Manufacturing create candidates for their open jobs. How? Through “manufacturing” programs like internships and education, which provide potential hires with experience and new skills, and cross-training programs, which provide current employees with the skills needed for advancement.

Talent Manufacturing programs have typically been internal functions within an organization. However, there’s a new company called RightSkill that’s manufacturing talent for you.

RightSkill_Header_LogoRightSkill is an innovative partnership program between CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Solutions that is designed to deliver job-ready candidates who perform better, stay long, and cost less to find and train. And best of all, RightSkill candidates come with a candidate satisfaction guarantee.

I’m excited to share a project I’ve been working on with RightSkill as an expert consultant. I contributed to the course development and deployment of the RightSkill Recruiter Program, developed in collaboration with the American Staffing Association. This program, which is the latest of seven RightSkill programs, is designed to deliver junior-level staffing recruiters – an area which I know is in dire need of new talent.

The RightSkill Recruiter Program is similar to the other RightSkill programs as it builds a new pool of candidates by utilizing the CareerBuilder database and additional sourcing tools to access over 100 million job seeker profiles. Next, they screen them for the right attitude and aptitude and enroll them into the program. Once a job seeker is a RightSkill candidate, they’re introduced to employers. Once an employer decides to hire a RightSkill candidate they pay a fair per-candidate program fee, which is protected by the guarantee.

For the RightSkill Recruiter Program, developed in collaboration with the American Staffing Association, it was important to create a learning experience where job seekers not only gain the skills and knowledge for junior-level staffing recruiting, but also truly understand the role, career and exciting opportunity it holds.

Each job seeker completes the Essentials of Recruiting for the Staffing Industry learning experience where they’re introduced to the art of the Matchmaking Process and learn the skills necessary to be a junior-level staffing recruiter. They must pass a series of expert-built assessments to verify that they can retain and apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge. Before finishing the learning experience, job seekers review additional content and activities to further practice their skills and prepare for a successful interview. After they complete the online learning portion, they’re required to meet with a RightSkill Career Coach who will verify they’re job ready. Only then will they become a verified RightSkill candidate – and be ready to meet with staffing firms.

I couldn’t be more proud of the work I’ve done to contribute to such an innovative, comprehensive program. If you’d like to learn more about the RightSkill Recruiter Program, RightSkill.

As I mentioned before, the RightSkill Recruiter Program is one of seven offered by RightSkill. If you’re having a difficult time finding job-ready candidates in any of the following areas, visit RightSkill to see how they can help you:

  • Customer Service Representative
  • Retail Manager
  • Technical Support Specialist
  • Front-End Web Developer
  • Systems & Network Administrator
  • Information Security Specialist


Scott WintripDon’t Just Find Candidates … Create Them
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