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Bright minds: draw them in or risk losing them


Succeeding in business today doesn’t just require good talent – it requires great talent.  It also requires great products, a smart strategy and an internal desire to innovate and thus stay ahead of the competition.

But let’s focus our attention back on talent.

After all, it’s one of the most important components of business today and all around us we hear about talent wars and the shortage of talent.

With more than a decade in or around recruitment and talent selection, I am a big believer that employees are one of the, if not the, most important asset to a business. If they are happy, functioning well in teams, supportive of the vision and culture, and productive, it has a big impact on the bottom line of the employing business.

But despite those obvious benefits, I’m stunned that many organisations still overlook the importance of their employees. And particularly the talent selection process.

Given the value brought by great talent, I would argue the recruitment process is the single most important function for any business. After all, we all know the impact it can have on business if we get the hiring decision wrong: the fallout can directly hurt the bottom line and damage the organisation’s culture.

To ensure the people factor receives the right amount of attention, businesses should stop for a moment and look at the amount of effort and investment they put into recruitment, and compare it to what they put in to product development, strategy, finance and other core business processes. The truth is, people should get similar if not more investment. After all, most businesses will spend between 50-60% of their revenue on staff costs, so getting the right people is critical.

Sadly though, when times get tough, the recruitment budget is often one of the first things to be cut, or worse, it is cut completely. To be frank, recruitment is one of the worst places to start cutting, and doing so can often lead to bad hiring decisions that later impact overall productivity and staff morale.

Did I mention that a bad hire will cost a business tens of thousands of dollars?

Recruitment is all about investing for the future. It can take time to find the person who really fits the bill. But when you do, you can reap the long-term awards. A good hire who fits the business’ culture will perform better and typically stay with your company longer. A reduction in staff turnover and developing a strong recruitment reputation will also assist the business in attracting talent. Remember, if you hire and retain great talent, that usually attracts more of the best talent. And if you are in an industry where there is a war for talent, reputation becomes  a very competitive edge.

It’s not enough for businesses just to recognise good talent and engage them. To put yourself on the candidate’s prospective employer list, you need to ensure you bring something of value to the table. That all starts with the recruitment process and how you onboard successful applicants.

With all of this in mind, I always stress to business owners they need to ensure their recruitment process is appealing to applicants. I have three guiding principles.

1. Be strategic

With recruitment, always remember to think long term, not short term. As I mentioned earlier, businesses should never seek to simply fill the vacant seat as quickly as possible. Doing so will often result in a bad hire, which will lead to more costs and loss of time when that person leaves the company prematurely. Instead, you need to think strategically about the specific role and what type of person should fill it.

To do that well, you must seriously consider breaking with traditional hiring practices. Reading resumes and manually selecting candidates for interviews is no longer the way. Instead, recruitment managers are now looking to predictive software technologies to evaluate candidates on a range of measures to ensure they are the right people for the role and the company.

2. Brand image

A business’ reputation is still its most important hiring asset. It’s simple – people want to work for companies that have positive brand image.  Word-of-mouth reputation can be great, but brand image is more than just reputation.

Nowadays, when people are on the hunt for a job, they are looking for brands that will resonate with them and that share similar values. It’s no longer just about the money. People want to work for businesses that will inspire and ‘get’ them. The more effort you put into screening them against critical cultural benchmarks, the more likely you will be to get the right match.

3. Be quick

Even when a candidate comes along and ticks all the right boxes and is a great fit for the company, businesses often delay hiring due to manual processes. Or worse, because they hope someone better may come along. This baffles me!

In a market that is short of talent, it’s always going to be extremely rare to find the absolutely perfect candidate. Rather than delaying the process and most likely missing out on a great potential employee, the recruitment process should be quick and key processes automated so that candidates remain engaged and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

So, take a moment to think about your recruitment process. Are you still reading resumes and making decisions from them alone? If you are, it may be time to re-think your strategy, especially if you are suffering from high staff turnover.

With people being so important to the success of your organisations, you need to be hiring for attitude, ambition, work ethic, personality, temperament and cultural fit. Research tells us the majority of new hires fail for reasons of attitude not skills, which in any case can often be taught. Hiring for attitudes can avoid damaging your work culture and ensure a happy workplace with staff who ‘gel’ together… and that’s priceless.

About the author

Dr Glyn Brokensha is the chairman and co-founder of Expr3ss!


  • Cindy

    Great article, thanks. Absolutely agree about doing a process in a timely manner. Brand image is often destroyed by not responding to applicants (a pet peeve for many people and far too many companies are shocking at this!!) and I don’t necessarily agree with all the comments in the first point about being strategic though. I do think that companies should consider innovative ways to find the right talent but l don’t necessarily think recruitment software is the answer. People can load their resumes and cover letters with key words useful for software recognition but that doesn’t tell us their story and may miss clues about people. As an ex HR Manager I like to work with managers on a recruitment process to ensure they think outside the box and are aware of their own biases (e.g. they’re overqualified or must have worked in our industry!) when conducting a selection. Yes it can be time consuming but preparation is vital and can save time in the long run.

  • Cindy

    Great article, thanks. I agree that brand image or company reputation is vital and I think many companies damage their brand by treating applicants poorly, mostly by not acknowledging their applications or providing any information about processes or even if their application is unsuccessful. This is a pet hate of nearly everyone who is an applicant and I just don’t think there is an excuse for companies not to provide information. I also don’t necessarily agree that traditional hiring practices are no longer the way. People can fill cover letters and resumes with key words to satisfy recruitment software but I would prefer to work with hiring managers to prepare for a recruitment exercise and give them the skills to recruit well. Preparation is king! Looking at culture and their own biases (e.g. overqualified or they must have our industry experience) and finding out an applicants story to determine a good fit is crucial in finding the right person. Cindy