As a former Senior Recruiter with Morgan Hunter Corporate Search, I specialized in placing sales and marketing candidates. I clearly can understand the frustrations in the job market today on both sides. (The battles that companies are facing while looking for top talent as well as the candidates active in the job market searching for the right opportunity.) During this experience as a Corporate Recruiter, I have learned that engaging the top performers for my client was rarely about introducing the job description to them.  Who cares? Most likely the candidate was already doing basically the same thing, so why make a move? As a top performer, my success was accelerated by understanding what it truly means to the candidate to make a move. I understood the uniqueness that the candidate would look for in a new opportunity that they were currently not getting in their current position. By asking this question, I could easily identify if their current company was thriving or struggling. If their current organization was thriving, successful and they had a direct hand in growing the company, they were extremely loyal and not interested in making a move. Nearly 95% of the time, the candidates that I represented (VP/Director level) that were interested in making a move is due to the company culture.  It was never about the money.  The biggest complaint that the majority of my top performer candidates had was lack of collaboration among the leaders as well as the insecurity of noticing the continued high turnover. (It all goes “hand in hand.”) Therefore, their competitors that were thriving were far more intriguing to them.

If you are the hiring authority and you are seeking the top performers for your organization, my suggestion is, start focusing your budget into leadership development  and clearly showcase this “uniqueness” as a feature and benefit on your job description as well as make it known in your interview process. This is what the top performers are looking for! Also, make sure that you interview your candidates directly! If a top performer is required to interview with HR first, typically they will be gone before you even have the chance to meet them. (Trust me, this happens quite often.)

If you are a candidate seeking a new opportunity, I highly recommend that you make as many direct connections as possible through networking. Create an excel spread (of your collection of business cards) of who you meet. Consistently follow up with them, to re-connect. If you happen to meet a hiring manager at a network event, connect with them first during the first introduction by just having a collaborative conversation. Follow up a week later just to re-connect. I highly recommend that you do not approach a hiring manager directly to let him/her know that you are actively looking as you will immediately loose your uniqueness. Wait until you create an established relationship. If you are currently unemployed, make “networking” your new job until you find the right one. It is always better to have an advocate in the job market on your behalf then to become known as a “piece of paper” scanned over by either HR and or their system. (Also, check out New Landings. It is a local organization that could be a great resource for you.)

On a “side note,” if you are a President, CEO and or a member of an Executive Team, StartKC is interested in talking you. Please reach out to me as soon as possible regarding an opportunity for major media exposure.

Good luck!

Jamie Vaters
Business Resource Director, StartKC, Inc.