Do You Need to Recruit A-Players and Unicorns? A Simple Guide to Finding Great Employees

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>In This Guide You’ll Learn</h2><p><ul><li>Why you shouldn’t chase the ‘perfect’ applicant.</li><li>Some of the requirements commonly used to find the right applicants.</li><li>How you can make your set of requirements less stringent in order to give yourself more people to choose from.</li></ul></p>

Don’t Look for A-Players & Unicorns

When you’re recruiting it’s really tempting to want to find that perfect applicant who ticks every box. But the more you ask of applicants, the fewer you’ll have to choose from and you might end up chasing unicorns!

Businesses often want to recruit the “top 10%” – perhaps those who’ve graduated from top universities or worked for shiny Silicon Valley start-ups. But fixating on this select group is time-consuming and expensive. Most importantly, it ignores the other 90% who could contain great potential employees.

Look for Great Performers

A much more effective approach is to look for people who meet Minimum Acceptable Standards. Great Performers regularly meet them, and these people aren’t necessarily drawn from that group of elite applicants (though if you can get one of those “top 10%” without too much sweat, then great!). In guide: Writing a Job Descriptions (aka a Great Performance Profile) I show you how to create a Great Performance Profile, which defines the standards needed for someone to be a Great Performer.

Great Performance Profiles focus on Measurable Outcomes and competencies and it’s these that should guide your hiring. But at the very start of the process, along with these competencies there are some more basic requirements that you’ll need to consider when trying to locate the right pool of applicants.

Be Realistic

You’ll need to make sure that you’re not asking for too many competencies given the available applicants. Common requirements that you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Location: are there enough applicants within commuting distance (or in the right time zone in the case of remote working)?
  • Competencies: do enough people in the right locations have the competencies you need?
  • Sector experience: do enough local, competent people have the right experience?
  • Affordability: can you offer qualified applicants a competitive remuneration package?
  • Motivation: are well-qualified applicants likely to accept your offer or go to a competitor?
  • Availability: as business sectors are sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy are there enough qualified applicants out there right now?

The recruitment problem can be pictured as trying to find people in the area where all the circles overlap in the above diagram. To get an overview of your recruitment challenge, try drawing your own version. A greater number of requirements makes that area of overlap smaller. If you’re having trouble finding qualified people you might want to loosen or remove requirements to give yourself more choice. You could try doing the following:

  • Not asking for sector experience. People have transferable skills and specific knowledge can be picked up on the job.
  • Removing required competencies and giving training instead.
  • Adapting the job so that you don’t need really rare competencies.
  • Using remote staff if practical.

You could also enlarge your pool of applicants by:

  • Increasing your job advertising budget to attract a greater number of applicants.
  • Offering a better remuneration package (while being aware that offering more to a new recruit may have implications for existing pay grades).

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>Key Takeaways</h2><p><ul><li>Don’t hold out for the perfect applicant. They might not exist and you’ll waste time and money trying to find them.</li><li>Instead look for people who meet the Minimum Acceptable Standards that are relevant to your job.</li><li>When searching for staff, you’ll be looking for people that satisfy your key requirements, typically those to do with location, competencies, experience, affordability and motivation.</li><li>If you’re having trouble finding people, you may need to lower your requirements, increase your advertising budget or pay more.</li></ul></p></div>

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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.