Whether you are looking for the ideal hire or the perfect mate, becoming an expert at attracting talent is a key component. To be successful at hiring, recruiting, or even dating, we have to attract, or draw, potential candidates, or talent.

In this series of three articles I will address two forms of employment: hiring and recruiting. By hiring we mean a job where you get paid a salary and are considered an employee. The skill of hiring is different than recruiting because you have an exchange of money for the completion of work. The definition of recruiting in these articles assumes that there is not a paycheck involved, as in sub-contractor or commission-based positions. The skill of recruiting is different because the offer is not a paycheck. The value to someone who is not receiving a set salary is different and requires a different set of skills.

Let’s start by examining what the word attract means. According to dictionary.com, it means to draw by appealing to the emotions or senses, by stimulating interest to cause to approach, by exciting admiration.

When I think about Talent Attraction I think about dating. I like to use the dating analogy because even if you aren’t on the dating scene you can still remember what it was like to date.

There are many principles that are similar to dating and hiring or recruiting. Before I define the principles, I want to start by making the claim that hiring or recruiting is just like dating: it is a strategy. Doesn’t this make you laugh? Have you ever really thought of dating as a strategy? Well, I was single for 30 years and it took me a long time to realize that the strategy I was using wasn't working. When I changed my strategy I finally found the one!

So, what is a strategy? Why is this important?

A strategy is a plan of action. One of the primary mistakes I see in hiring and recruiting is not having a plan or a consistent system. We must have a powerful plan of action to be effective. Additionally, regardless of whether you are in hiring, recruiting or dating, you are in a sales conversation. These conversations are strategic. What I mean is the setup at the beginning is critically important and so is each part of the process. Setting the stage is as important as the interview or the offer.

Let’s go back to our dating example. If we don’t define what we want in a mate and what a good fit is for us, how will we ever know if we find it?

Before we talk about how we would handle a prospect or a candidate, we must first generate a job description, talent profile and a list of candidates to call or meet with. This requires a lead generation strategy and system. At Talent Attraction Experts, I developed 8 Talent Generators to help find great candidates.

When you think about dating, what sources are there to generate candidates?

  • 80% of people meet their partners online: Match, Bumble, Tinder
  • 20% meet through their network, friends, family, or a chance encounter

This is similar to hiring, sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor are great ways to attract candidates. However, my recommended methodology includes a conversation with your network to ask, “Who do you know who might meet the job description and talent profile?” This can generate immediate candidates that are already known by someone you trust.

Once you attract candidates, there are six key principles that will help you make that great hire or love match. Let's review each of the key principles.

Principle 1. You have five minutes to make a great first impression. What is your elevator pitch? How will you differentiate yourself? This conjures up many dating images. For example, when you meet someone for the first time, regardless of whether you are hiring or dating, you have five minutes to make an impression. A great example of this is speed dating. At a speed dating event you have seven minutes to connect and engage with someone. They either agree to continue based on the first few minutes of conversation or not. The same is true for hiring or recruiting. You have five minutes to engage and connect so that you have the opportunity to continue the conversation. Or in dating terms, to continue on to the first date.

What you say to a potential prospect or candidate has to arouse enough curiosity that they want to know more. You have to spark their interest or it will go nowhere. Your elevator pitch can be used across various channels – phone, online, face-to-face.

To create your elevator pitch, start by asking yourself: what will attract someone to you, your company, or your brand? Questions to consider:

  • How does my company appeal to the type of people we want to hire?
  • What do we do that stands out and makes us different?
  • What do we offer that sets us apart from our competition?
  • Who is our competition and what do they offer?

Consider this: if you are like everybody else, how will you get anyone’s attention? It’s the same with dating: what makes you stand out? Is it your accomplishments, interests, how you look, hobbies, or life experiences that distinguish you from the rest of the dating pool? If we are like everybody else, what happens? They see us the same as everyone else and they don’t notice us: they swipe left instead of right. While it might sound counter-intuitive, if you are like everybody else you aren’t attractive and you don’t stand out.

As a company, by asking, and answering, the questions above you can begin to develop a narrative around what makes you different. Incorporating this into the hiring process and any online ads or branding will help you throughout the entire process. At Talent Attraction Experts, we call this “incultureation.” This means using what makes you different as part of a hiring strategy and system whereby the actual process itself begins to introduce the candidate to the culture of the company. The hiring system you use can be a competitive advantage. This is why we created the Talent Quest Signature Program.

In our Talent Quest Hiring System, we have created an easy six step process that you can implement to help you define and find the best candidates for you and your company. The six steps are as follows:

  1. Create a Talent Profile: an easy form to determine what you want in a candidate
  2. Conduct a Pre-screen: talk to people on the phone using specific questions to determine if they match the Talent Profile
  3. Conduct your Interview: meet in person and use action identifiers to determine if they should continue in the process
  4. Conduct Due Diligence: an innovative approach to gathering third-party research on a candidate to determine if they fit
  5. Identify Key Behaviors: using behavioral profiles as part of the hiring process
  6. Make Offer and Establish Conditions of Performance: make an offer and establish the working relationship prior to start date

Having a Talent Profile and the ability to speak to what is important and different will immediately set you apart from other companies of a similar size. Your hiring system forms the foundation for not only attracting the best people but also differentiating your organization.

Remember, the goal of the elevator pitch is to spark immediate interest so the candidate will continue in the process with you. Your ultimate goal is to determine if they are the right fit for your company, the role, and the culture. It is up to you to demonstrate, during the process, how you are or are not the right fit for them.

Principle 2. Don’t fall in love on the first date

One danger of hiring and recruiting is falling in love on the first date. What’s important as part of the Talent Quest Strategy is to hold back in order to stay intriguing. You can do this by focusing on the other person, by asking questions and then truly listening to their wants and needs to determine if you are a good fit. Whether in recruiting or hiring, I warn people, “Don’t fall in love on the first date.” Just like dating, neither of you are going to know on the first date whether you are a good fit.

At Talent Attraction Experts part of our TQ System is an in-depth needs analysis, which is part of a customized six step process. The questions are designed to uncover what is most important to the candidate or prospect: thought-provoking questions that are not strictly business related. We can find out a lot about what someone values by asking them about their personal hobbies and life philosophy.

Both in hiring and dating, many people say too much too soon. They immediately start to talk about themselves or they start to present before they know the pain points or hot buttons of the person they are interviewing. This is like telling someone you love them on the first date. I also like to call this the kiss of death. If you don’t spend time on the front end discovering what is important to someone and you begin to present too soon, you can potentially lose the prospect’s interest.

How many times have you been pitched intently when the salesperson doesn’t even know if you need the product or what you do need?

In both recruiting and hiring, the presentation should be customized to what is important to that individual. Completing an in-depth interview or needs analysis is the key component of this principle. Remember: people are always on their best behavior on the first date or at the first meeting. If you find yourself saying you love them or they are the perfect candidate after one meeting it is a warning sign that you might have lost your objectivity.

Once you have determined what you want using a talent profile and had your first meeting, you will want to build the relationship, conduct your due diligence, make an offer, and finally discuss conditions of satisfaction. Join me in the next two articles as we continue the conversation about how hiring is like dating.