Talent Inventory

Dear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter

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Dear Hiring Manager,

I understand that you’re busy. Probably more than ever since your company has likely remained lean following the Great Recession. That’s why I’m suggesting you take on an important task. One that may seem counterintuitive. Your company needs your help generating candidate referrals to fill your jobs.

You may be thinking, “This so-called hiring expert has lost his mind. I’ve already got a full calendar and a desk loaded with work.” A recent story about restaurant chain Cracker Barrel demonstrates why helping with referrals is in your best interest.

Cracker Barrel is known for it’s innovative marketing approaches. One of these has included managers picking random people from the local phonebook and inviting them to a new Cracker Barrel for a home-cooked meal on the house. As the company puts it, “Two weeks later, business picked up. All over town, people were talking about the new restaurant near the interstate and the manager who was calling people to invite them over for dinner.” 

So, how does this Cracker Barrel example relate to generating job candidate referrals? Being invited by a restaurant manager for a free meal is a welcome surprise. Being contacted about career opportunities is a welcome surprise and an ego boost. When you personally reach out to a potential job candidate, you’re sending a message. You’re saying, “You matter. I value you and your background.” You’re also showing people that your company and leadership style are different and attractive.

Why is this important? You have tremendous power. You have a network of colleagues who may fit current (or future) job openings. This same group of contacts can introduce you to dozens of additional people who could also fit your hiring needs.

Now, you may be thinking, “Our corporate recruiter or someone in HR could do this just as easily as I can.” No offense to them, but they cannot. You have something they don’t—shared experience. You have much in common with that prospective job candidate. You talk their talk and understand what they go through each day. This gives you immediate credibility and helps engender trust. A recruiter or HR can help you move things forward following your initial dialogue with someone. But only after you’ve built rapport and captured the candidate’s interest.

Generating referrals now, even if you don’t have any open jobs, will save you time. This part may seem surprising. However, think about what happens when a job opens. Most managers engage in the old way of hiring—keeping a job open until the right person shows up. That means they have to do their own job, handle or delegate the workload of the open position, and conduct interviews to fill that opening. Is it any wonder so many leaders are exhausted and overwhelmed?

When you engage in the new way of hiring—cultivating talented people and waiting for the right job to show up—the exhaustion and overwhelm go away. Spending 20 minutes a week reaching out to talented people helps keep hiring manageable.

So, help your company help you. Set aside a small chunk of time weekly to cultivate referrals. Use these referrals to line up people before you need them. Engage in the new way of hiring and make hiring delays a thing of the past.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Wintrip

Scott WintripDear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter
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How to Generate 20 Job Candidate Referrals in 20 Minutes

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People are generous. When you ask for their help in the right way, you’ll be amazed at the result. Including when you ask for referrals to top talent. In this video, I walk you through a four-step process that can land you 20 job candidate referrals in just 20 minutes.

Scott WintripHow to Generate 20 Job Candidate Referrals in 20 Minutes
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The Competitive Advantage of Being Talent Rich

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When it comes to success in business, one measure alone can accurately predict the future—wealth of talent. The more talent wealth an organization has, the more successful that organization will be.

We’ve all experienced the benefits of organizations that are rich in talent. These are the companies we’ve come to love. When we say we love a company, what we’re really saying is we love the work being done by the exceptional people in these organizations. People are the reason why Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon.com, and Starbucks remain some of the world’s most admired companies. That’s why having a wealth of talent is so important for all organizations. Talented employees who do outstanding work are the secret ingredients that make their companies great.

Just as there are levels of personal wealth, so too are there levels of talent wealth within companies. Organizations that are talent rich are the trendsetters and chief innovators within their industries. At the other end of the spectrum are those businesses that are talent poor. These companies scramble to be competitive and frequently struggle to survive.

The message is clear: In order for your organization to thrive, it must have great talent. And building a wealth of talent begins with assessing your organization’s current circumstances. You’ll start by determining your current level of talent wealth. Next, you’ll enrich your pool of prospective employees by improving the flow of top talent, as well as enhancing how you attract talented people to join your company. Finally, you’ll ensure that your organization can sustain success by always having highly qualified people ready to hire the moment a job becomes open.

INTRODUCING THE TALENT WEALTH SPECTRUM

Is your organization talent rich, talent poor, or somewhere in between? Accurately appraising your current level of talent wealth will guide you in taking appropriate action to improve or maintain your competitive advantage.

Determining and increasing your talent wealth begins with understanding the four levels of talent wealth.

  • Talent Rich 
    Organizations that are talent rich excel, leading the way in their industries. They don’t worry about the competition; they’re the ones other companies are aspiring to become. They’re constantly several steps ahead, generating new ideas, including the latest innovations to products and services.
  • Talent Strong 
    Talent strong organizations operate efficiently and succeed in many things they do. These companies win more than they lose, outpacing many of their competitors. They’re fairly creative, sometimes being the ones to create the latest, greatest version of a product or service.
  • Talent Stable 
    Organizations that are talent stable spend each day competing with others, laboring to maintain their position in the market. These organizations watch for the latest trends or innovations and do their best to add them to their offerings.
  • Talent Poor 
    Talent poor companies scramble to get work done. Often, these organizations struggle to remain viable. They’re several steps behind their competitors. Frequently they offer the same products or services year after year, only occasionally copying the new offerings being provided by companies in the same business.

If you’re ready to improve your talent wealth, download the free, full report on this topic from ChangeThis.com.

Scott WintripThe Competitive Advantage of Being Talent Rich
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How to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process

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Auditing your company’s balance sheet can tell you a lot about the health of your organization. Auditing your hiring process can tell you a lot about the health of how you choose your employees. Scott shares fives questions you can use to complete your assessment.

Scott WintripHow to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process
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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:

ENRICH THE FLOW

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.

HARNESS THE FLOW

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.

SUSTAIN THE FLOW

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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Keep Top Talent on Deck

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Keep Top Talent on Deck

Sports analogies are common in the business world. They usually revolve around notions of cooperative team play, work ethic, and the value of self-sacrifice in pursuit of a common goal. All those comparisons are helpful and good, and effective managers use them all the time to motivate their employees to accomplish the mission of a business.

There’s one analogy that I think is perfect, though, which you may have never heard before: effective recruiting and hiring in the world of business is a lot like fielding a team in Major League Baseball (MLB). Think about it. Both businesses and ball clubs have to assemble groups of people—teams—that are required to work together well. The success of the business, or team, depends on it. But I have to admit that whereas baseball has the process dialed in, businesses can do better—and they could learn a lot from the big league teams.

The baseball rule book states that on any given day, a major league team in North America can suit-up 25 players. But that doesn’t mean each team has only 25 players to choose from. In fact, they have more. Many, many more.

Every major league team has an expanded roster with fifteen additional players who are immediately available if needed. Every team also has a farm system of seven to ten minor league teams. This gives them another 175 to 200 or more players to call on.

Chew on that. On any given business day—meaning game day—a team has a talent pool of over 200 players to fill just nine spots on the field. In the language of staffing and business, that translates to over twenty qualified applicants per position per day.

It doesn’t stop there.

Teams can trade players with other teams. They also employ talent scouts. These scouts work in countries across the globe, funneling additional talent to both the major and minor league clubs.

This coordinated approach is why MLB teams always have someone to fill every role the instant the role needs to be filled. A game is never cancelled because there aren’t enough players, and there’s never an open spot on the field. There are always nine players in the starting line-up. That’s actually one of the few things you can count on in the world.

Leaders in baseball know that it is not a matter of if they will need additional talent, but when they’ll need it. So, they spend a lot of time and money planning for the when.

Let’s think about this in terms of your company. Your roster of employees—your daily line-up—is changing all the time. People leave; jobs are created; promotions happen; new business comes in. All of which generates open seats. Just like baseball, it’s not a matter of if a job will open, but when it will open.

An effective minor league system for companies rarely exists. And when it does, it usually cannot supply enough talent the moment it is needed.

Imagine if your company had a farm system of aspiring applicants waiting in the wings, ready to step in and immediately accept open jobs. That would be a dream scenario for managers and owners. Businesses need a system like this. They also need a well thought out process that quickly adds quality talent to their active roster, i.e. their group of working employees. An ideal system would include ways in which businesses could accomplish the following goals:

Enhance Candidate Gravity
Creating a stronger pull on the market, called Candidate Gravity, requires drawing in more top talent more quickly. Most companies leverage a handful of resources and rely too heavily on the same methods as their competitors. One or two job boards are often used by the same companies in the same market. This is like several major league clubs all vying for the talent on one minor league team. It would never happen.

A robust flow of talent requires eight or more different recruiting resources. While referrals are still the best source for the highest quality candidates, many businesses also need to run events like open houses and engage a wide variety networking strategies. An obvious place to start is social media. Here are five additional ways to create a robust talent flow that are regularly overlooked:

  • Sponsoring and/or participating in user or trade specialty groups
  • Conducting content-rich workshops tailored to your candidate audience
  • Hosting happy hours that attract like-minded professionals to meet and mingle
  • Marketing at churches and community centers near your employment location
  • Cultivating relationships with industry appropriate professional associations

Build Talent Inventories
Instead of waiting for a job to come open (remember the when not if maxim), internal talent scouts should build a Talent Inventory—a roster of potential employees that is ready to be called up at any time. Even companies with a small recruiting staff can do this. All it takes is prioritization. For example, key roles that directly impact productivity could be considered core functions. Talent Inventories should be built for these jobs first. Other essential roles come next. If time permits, an inventory of potential talent is then lined up for ancillary roles.

If time and resources are limited, building a Talent Inventory for one or two core roles can make a huge impact. When (not if) jobs for those roles open up, they’re filled quickly from the Talent Inventory, which allows more time to work on filling other open seats.

Partner With External Talent Scouts
Businesses should engage external talent scouts such as third-party recruiters and staffing firms who can provide additional talent that is available for on-demand hiring for both contract and full-time roles. Not only do good staffing firms have an extensive network of candidates, but many also guarantee their services, offering replacement talent for a specified period of time.

To select a quality partner, be sure to ask questions and check references. Zero in on the five following areas:

FlexibilityFlexibility: What types of flexibility do they offer for the shifting needs of your business?

AccuracyAccuracy: What percentage of their candidates have to be replaced? How does their guarantee work?

QualityQuality: How do they ensure a quality fit? For which other companies have they provided similar, high-quality services?

ValueValue: Does the company have a one-sized fits all approach, or do they offer value-based solutions that meet your specific needs? If provided, what are the specifics of their unique, valuable solutions?

ImmediacyImmediacy: How quickly can they deliver candidates? How swiftly can they have someone working?  What proof can they provide of these promised timelines?

A winning record in baseball requires a continuous flow of talent, ready to play every game. The culture revolves around the concept of next player up. Every team has a group of motivated, talented individuals chomping at the bit to get to the big dance. The businesses that develops a similar culture will be a step ahead of the competition. They’ll have a stacked roster no matter what happens, because they’ll always have a group of motivated, talented individuals who can’t wait to work for them. And winning—in baseball and in business—always comes down to having the right people in place at the right time.

Scott WintripKeep Top Talent on Deck
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Waiting for Talent is Unacceptable

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Scott's Monday Morning MessageWe live in an on-demand world. Every day, we access more and more products and services at the click of a mouse, touch of a button, or by dialing our phones. Many companies have installed apps, websites, and other devices allowing their employees to order food, report updates, and procure supplies the moment they are needed. This same convenient access must be applied to acquiring talent.

“Downloading” the next hire should not be a reactive process where people access resumes to begin a search. Every company can increase the flow of candidates. When a more substantial pool of talent is combined with better selection, interviewing, and quality checks, companies can build a Talent Inventory, people that are ready to go the moment they are needed.

Quick and decisive hiring (filling roles with greater speed, more accuracy, and less effort) should be a non-negotiable standard for leaders to keep their jobs.

Scott WintripWaiting for Talent is Unacceptable
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