How do you identify the right talent? In this article, we offer suggestions on how to improve your ability to source the talent you need.

The Right Kind of Talent 

We get you. It’s not a question of finding any sort of talent: You need people with the right technical qualifications, that illusive on-the-job-know-how, a positive mental attitude, and the kind of character that is a perfect fit for your company culture. More than that, it’s about communications skills, activation energy and that ‘can-do’ spirit that gets jobs done; people who add more to your team than just getting the job done. How do you train your talent acquisition approach to get the right kind of people to serve your organization not just for today, but tomorrow too?

At Workspend we spend all of our time helping organizations to fashion talent acquisition programs that work – so we thought it might be a good idea to share some top tips on how you can get your talent fit right.


Our Top Tips

1. Understand your organizational culture

Thing of ‘culture’ as a term to describe the norms of behaviors of a community. It’s how people relate to one another, and every business has one. Before introducing new people, it’s essential to know what sort of culture you operate, and therefore the personality you’re looking for. Not everyone can cope in a small business with a very tightly-coupled culture where everyone lives in and out of one another’s pockets. At the same time, others would scream if they were asked to work in a toxic command and control culture that exists in some large corporations, especially at headquarter operations. 

One of the best articles to read to learn about organizational culture comes from Rob Coffee and Gareth Jones. In 1996 they wrote an article called ‘What Holds the Modern Company Together?’ for Harvard Business Review. In it, they came up with a simple model to diagnose organizational culture based on:

  • Sociability – a measure of the sincere friendliness held among members of a community. 
  • Solidarity – a measure of a community’s ability to pursue shared objectives, regardless of personal ties. 

These two categories may appear not to capture the whole range of human behaviors, but from a sociology perspective, they work. Plot your culture against these axes, and you start to realize how your organization differs from others.

How does it impact on the talent you hire? If someone likes to work in a close-knit team, they might not appreciate having to work alone. If another is accustomed to the dedication to a role that is possible in a large enterprise, they might struggle to do a jack-of-all-trades job that is so common in smaller teams where individuals will do ‘what it takes’ to get the job done.

2. Shape your plan against hiring patterns

With talent acquisition, it can take time to ramp up recruiting channels and resources. The more notice recruiters have of opportunities, the more time they have to plan and do a good job. If yours is a business that has known talent needs influenced by seasonal changes, for example, it’s good to plan early and maximize the time available to staffing agencies and internal recruiters to source the best-fit talent you need. It’s also important to think about possible sources and channels for different roles and skills. Examples might include:

  • Which universities do you hire from?
  • Which kind of staffing partners can you hire from?
  • Do you prefer to hire people who’ve worked for you previously?
  • Is there a possibility of extending the term of the assignment? Is it easy to place CWs from one project to another?

Map out a 360 degree view of candidate skills, qualities and characteristics

Additional to the above, the more you map out the detail of ‘what best-fit’ looks like, the more likely you are to find the right candidates, including: 

  • Qualifications 
  • Professional and technical skills
  • Experience and on-the-job skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Language competencies
  • Temperament, leadership, self-starter, and teamworking skills
  • Culture fit and experience of working in fast/medium/slow growth organizations
  • Awareness of project-based working and matrix management structures where appropriate
  • Ability to adjust quickly to new work demands
  • Ability to navigate through your operating policies and behaviors

It’s a good idea always to share your candidate requirements with some friendly staffing agencies and ask them for their opinion as to whether they believe it carries all of the detail you need.

3. Pay the right amount for your talent

It doesn’t really matter how good you are at scoping the right qualities of the individuals you’re looking for if you fall at the final fence by not offering a suitable income and rewards package.

4. Sell your brand 

You should appreciate that there are lots of organizations out there chasing the best talent. You are competing with all other options open to the candidates you are approaching. What will cause them to want to work for your organization? Yes, the pay packet and rewards go along way, but in many cases, the work environment, and the purpose behind the brand, etc. are just as important to the modern millennial worker.

5. Make sure your brand promise is delivered with integrity

I’ve known great candidates accept a role only to back way soon after when they found the ‘brand promise’ of their employer turned out to be completely untrue in real life. Candidates today are looking for employers and companies to work for as contractors that deliver on their promises. A lack of authenticity can be a game-changer for many young people entering the business world for the first time with the right skills and the knowledge they have a choice.

6. Don’t let your workplace let you down

Believe it or not, people care about where they work and the general ‘workplace experience.’ The average person spends more than 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work, and it affects their personal lives. It’s not ‘everything,’ but companies like WeWork and Regus have proved that people are sensitive to where they work. I know personally, I’ve taken roles myself in the past because I could see the rewards of working in a highly social and engaging workplace with good facilities, etc. Similarly, I’ve attended job interviews that made me realize as I stepped into a reception area, that I wouldn’t want to work for the interviewing company if it were the last choice on my list. Don’t let yourself down by doing everything else right to only lose your talent by not caring about your workplace experience. Yes, your premises are a detail, but it’s an important detail to your workforce.

Final thoughts

As with most things in life, fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s normally a mistake to limit your role coping to purely the academic and experience qualities you’re looking for. Early-stage planning and deep thinking into the personality behind the CV you’re looking for will always pay dividends by giving you the best possible chance of sourcing the talent you need.

About the Author

Ian Tomlin is a management consultant for Workspend Inc., specializing in workforce management, digital transformation and organizational design.  His business books about organizational agility (‘Agilization’), social cloud computing (‘Cloud Coffee House’), and the future of enterprise computing (‘Social Operating Systems’) can be found on Amazon and iBooks. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.