From Lou Adler: How implementing a talent scarcity strategy can solve your common hiring problems

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3 mins, 47 secs read time

Lou Adler, CEO and founder of The Adler Group, is recognized as one of the best recruiters in the world. His highly acclaimed Performance-based Hiring methodology has been successfully adopted by numerous companies such as Lincoln Financial, The Medicines Company, Airbnb, and PPG. Lou is also the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire with Your Head and The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired.

In my recent LinkedIn blog post "Harvard Scientist Suggests a Major Overhaul to U.S. Hiring Practices Is Required" I came to the conclusion that most hiring problems are rooted in having the wrong talent strategy. The point is that if a company has a hiring strategy built on the premise that there is a surplus of top talent and a surplus doesn’t exist, it’s doomed.

A surplus of talent strategy involves casting a wide net in order to find as many skills and experienced and qualified active candidates as possible. With this pool of candidates, the objective is to then be fast and efficient weeding out the weak. A scarcity strategy is the exact opposite. In this case the idea is to attract a very small group of performance-qualified people and convince them that your job opening provides a 30% non-monetary increase. By spending more time with fewer candidates, you’ll improve quality of hire at the lowest cost and at the highest level of efficiency. This concept is captured in the video Staffing Spiral of Doom Catch-22.

Register for Lou Adler's webinar, The ROI of Making the Right Hires, taking place Wednesday, April 13th at 10am PT / 1pm ET.

Here are the 6 issues that need to be considered for any company that wants to hire top talent—the top 25% in any group—given a talent scarcity situation:

  • You need a great job to hire a great person. A great job is not a laundry list of skills, experiences, and “must-have” personality traits. A great job is a series of tasks and challenges the person being offered the job finds more satisfying than the compensation being earned.
  • You need to provide the person a 30% non-monetary increase to maximize performance and satisfaction. A career move consists of a new job that has more impact, more career opportunity, and more satisfying work. When these non-monetary factors exceed 30% you can be sure you’re hiring a highly motivated top performer.
  • You can’t negotiate the terms of an offer before the person knows about the job. When a job represents a true career move, the typical company name, job title, location, and compensation factors don’t matter as much. That’s why you need to begin each contact with an exploratory warm-up. Filtering on skills, compensation, title, and location prevents this type of conversation to even take place.
  • The best people have unique skills and experiences. That’s what makes them the best. Since we promote internal people based on their past performance, we should hire people from the outside the same way. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if the person can do the work and sees the work as a career move, the person will have all of the skills, experiences, and motivation necessary to succeed. This is not only how you hire top performers; it’s also how you hire for diversity.
  • You need a great recruiter to make the career case. Hiring the strongest talent is not a transaction, especially when it comes to passive candidates. It takes hours spread over weeks for a person to fully understand all of the factors involved in a career move. Recruiters need to persist and not let a person say “no” until the information is fully understood.
  • You need a fully engaged hiring manager. Not only do hiring managers hire in their own image, the best candidates accept jobs from managers in their own image. They want to work for leaders, mentors, and people who understand how to manage and develop others. Knowing the job, conducting an in-depth Performance-based Interview, listening actively, and fully engaging in the process are the prerequisites for hiring managers who want to hire stronger talent.

The surprising thing is that all of the typical hiring problems companies face naturally disappear when the right talent strategy is implemented. It all starts by correctly defining the problem before implementing a solution.