The following is an excerpt from a column on recruiting best practices that Kristina Nakanishi, Vibrant’s vice president of human resources, recently wrote for top tech site Dice.com:
Technology’s the place to be right now. Think about it – the overall economic recovery (or should I say, “recovery”) has been painfully slow, yet the sector thrives. Against all odds, the level and pace of innovation is all but unprecedented. It makes for a great show, and those of us working in tech and media are especially fortunate to play key roles.
Of course, if you’re on the staffing side of things – and since you’re reading this, my bet is you are – you’re also part of what might feel a bit too much like survival of the fittest. After all, despite still-rampant unemployment around the country, the tech hiring environment has never been more competitive. Just last month, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Silicon Valley employers expect to see a 15 per cent bump in tech jobs over the next two years. So if you want to win the race for top talent, your team better be ready to bring its A game.
Why all the hiring? As Alice Hill wrote earlier this year in the Dice Report, “the colliding forces of strong demand, talent shortages, and restless employees have sparked a frenzy that hiring managers and recruiters say will only get more intense this year.”
She couldn’t have put it better. The competition is fierce, and at the same time, HR has never been more integral to business success. As we know here at Vibrant Media, any entrepreneurial company in an emerging industry only flourishes with a stellar team, at all levels. There’s no margin of error, especially for those of us doing the hiring.
So how can you help your company win over the talent you want? Here are tips that will make your hiring pitch as perfect as possible:
- Plan your attack. With each new candidate, market and category in which you’re recruiting, develop a strategy for outreach. In your initial conversations with potential hires, speak authoritatively about the role you’re recruiting for and the business overall. That way you’ll establish trust and credibility from the outset. Candidates with whom you connect early on are more than twice as likely to stay interested in your company.
- Know your business, inside-out and top-down. Stay plugged in to management. Internally, ensure that HR serves a core, rather than a peripheral, function. Make sure you have full exposure to how different leaders within your firm are presenting your company, and their key objectives. The better aligned your messaging is with theirs, the clearer the prospective employee’s picture of the company will be.
- Know your candidates (homework required). Think about which characteristics of your company will resonate with each candidate. Top programmers are likely to recognise the value of your tech team’s credentials. A graphic designer might appreciate the fact that your creative department is integral to the development of new products. Speak your target’s language – your pitch to a salesperson shouldn’t sound anything like your pitch to a developer.
- Prepare for your own interview. Be ready to answer questions as well as ask them by having a clear understanding of your company’s reputation in the industry. Search blogs, social networks and news sites to see what others are saying about your firm, for better or worse. Now is a good time to leverage any awards and best-of kudos your company might have attracted. The third-party validation will lend your sales pitch added credibility. (For instance, I never fail to mention Vibrant’s appearance on AdAge’s Best Places to Work in Media & Marketing list.)
- Pitch until perfect. Repeat. Candidates will respond to your authentic passion for your company, but how it’s presented can be honed and refined. Practice your pitch with colleagues. Try it out, too, on the hiring manager and his or her team members. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Follow up with candidates who decline your offer to determine what might have changed their mind. Follow up with those who accept about what closed the deal. And as your business evolves, so should your pitch. Stay connected with management to make sure you’re a step ahead of where the business wants to be.
There’s no question that a frenetic hiring environment like today’s demands as much of us recruiters as it does of candidates. Without a strategic HR team, it will be impossible to attract the professionals your business needs to innovate and lead in your industry. So let the games begin – and may the best recruiters win.