3 Bona Fide Hacks for Hiring the Best Talent

3 Bona Fide Hacks for Hiring the Best Talent


Does it mean I’m a curmudgeon if I sometimes object to the use of the word “hack” to describe a shortcut or supposedly novel approach to something? More often than not, I find people’s “awesome” tricks for quickly chilling a beer or using a coat hanger in clever ways more hackneyed than hack-worthy, more odd than original, and not all that applicable to my life.

Searching for significant new methods or skills as an HR professional can trigger a similar response. Often those “extraordinary new engagement techniques” or “shortcuts to better performance” are trite or so generic they’re not apt — or valuable — for organizations facing specific people management challenges. 

With that in mind, I set out to see what kind of hacks were being touted for one of the most challenging areas of HR: recruitment. Predictably, I found more duh moments than aha moments among the tips and tricks. The strategies that did impress me also instructed and inspired. Here are three of my favorites:

  1. Venture out of your recruitment comfort zone. Or, as one site that deals with recruiting talent for start-ups put it, “Fish where the fish are.”

I especially appreciated a Harvard Business Review article by Erica Dhawan arguing that “connecting with today’s workforce no longer simply means going to the usual places and doing the usual things.” She suggests abandoning (or at least augmenting) more generic sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and opting for industry-focused platforms where people are having smart, relevant conversations and sharing knowledge. She gave some great examples: 

“For developers, that may be Stack Overflow, a question-and-answer site specifically for programmers. For the medical field, it may be Doximity, which 60 percent of U.S. physicians are members of. For millennial women, it might be Levo or The Muse. For people in other professions, it may be Quora, a website that hosts questions and answers on subjects from programming languages to fashion to the outbreak of the Zika virus.” 

  1. Tell the story of why they want to work for you. There’s a ton of advice out there about creating a great employer brand to attract talent, but the best ideas center on demonstrating “why” someone would want to be part of your team. I loved this explanation from entrepreneur.com.

“Staid companies start with ‘what they do,’ go to market with ‘how they do it better’ and rarely touch on ‘why they do what they do.’ Conversely, wildly successful companies, such as Uber, Starbucks and Apple, simply reverse the order. … Starting with the ‘why’ instead of the ’what’ connects your employees on a much deeper level to draw new recruits and diminish talent drain. After all, people aren't widgets through a system. They are emotional, creative, autonomous creatures, who feel first and think second.”

  1. Create your own talent pool. Stop waiting for the perfect candidates to find their way to you though traditional channels. You might be missing out on some really bright non-traditional talent. Bring motivated individuals to you. Give them an opportunity to show what they can do, so you can assess them for the positive attributes you need that might not show up on paper and observe how they fit into the culture. Consulting firm Parker Dewey recommends using micro-internships for college students. Others, like Genesys, start their own associate programs offering new college grads and experienced professionals intensive training, ongoing mentoring and the potential for a relationship that grows into a career.
Diane Landsman

Written by: Diane Landsman

Diane Landsman is familiar to many in the HR community as a former editorial director at Human Capital Media. Now an independent communications strategist, writer and editor she helps enterprises educate, engage, influence and sometimes even entertain their audiences. Her specialty is crafting original content across media channels, from websites that attract searchers and keep them engaged to email campaigns, articles that put organizations on the map, and executive-level whitepapers, speeches, and op/ed pieces.


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