The Talent You Are Missing: Are You Hiring the Best in the Industry or Just the Best Who Applied?

As of October of 2019, the unemployment rate in the united states is 3.6%. Over the last 20 years, we have seen many shifts in the job economy, some due to technology, some due to our own nation’s economy. We have experienced downsizing, rightsizing, a talent war and now a talent shortage which includes reskilling. That’s a lot of focus on talent.

Over the last 20 years, five of which have been spent leading Exclusive Search Connections, I have experienced quite a few changes in how we recruit. I witnessed faxed resumes. I watched as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes revolutionized the staffing industry. My first job in staffing I won an award for discovering how to search out mailing lists from local graduate programs (sorry about that). I enjoyed the speed of responding to a client request while waiting to meet a different client for lunch — all on my Blackberry (remember those!).

An Influx of Leads Doesn’t Guarantee Top Talent

Now, it’s faster than ever to apply for jobs. Think of it — in just the last decade, employees used to be reprimanded for having their cell phones at work. Now they can apply for their next job on their phone (in three clicks or less) while leaving their office after a bad annual review.

Hiring managers spend billions of dollars a year on job postings. And as a result, thousands of resumes are flooding in — from the unemployed, underemployed, online bots and even over-protective mothers. What caliber of talent is really in the stack of leads you receive from the ads? Finding the top candidates is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Even if you are able to weed out the top candidates, are you really interviewing the best of the best?

Finding the top candidates is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

When you are interviewing candidates, how many of the individuals are passive job searchers? These are the candidates that aren’t actively looking for a new position, but they are open-minded to new opportunities. This type of candidate could be very valuable to your organization. 

Passive Talent: The Differentiator 

We can all agree — exceptional talent is a big differentiator. I’m sure you have several exceptional members of your team. What would happen if one day one of your exceptional superstars put in their two week’s notice because they got hired by your biggest competition? Ouch, it almost feels personal, doesn’t it? But it’s not, it’s passive. Your superstar was happy at your organization, but through various circumstances (or good networking) they heard about a new position. They interviewed for it and landed the job. Your loss, their gain, and your competitor’s gain.

To fill the newly open position, the cycle starts again. You post a job ad and review a stack of perfectly fine resumes. But you need exceptional. Where do you find it?

The cream rises to the top. You won’t find top-of-the-line superstars in the normal talent pool. Even with a culture that is focused on adding top talent, it’s important to have relationships with outside organizations that can help connect you with superstars. You need networking support. You need boots on the ground!

You won’t find top-of-the-line superstars among the normal talent pool.

You can keep trying to do it all yourself, putting your trust in algorithms and online funnels, or you can enlist reinforcements to fight for you in the modern-day talent war. It’s time to engage in a retained search. This is the hirings world’s equivalent of “digging your well before it dry.”
It pays to build up your resources and have someone foster relationships for your company around the clock (and around the block). You need an outside representative to act as the trusted liaison to exceptional candidates (before they even consider themselves candidates).

When you attract this caliber of talent on a regular bases, it’s a true indicator of your employment brand. This will, in turn, increase retention and overall production of your organization. That’s the goal, right?

6 Creative Hiring Strategies to Get Ahead for Q1

Finding really great employees is a proactive process. It should not be a reactive emergency.  Most people don’t wait until their car is totaled to buy a new one. The same should be true if you’re a hiring manager and are responsible for bringing on top talent.

Here are six strategies you should consider implementing to prepare for Q1 next year and stay ahead of the talent search.

1. Have a Plan to Create a “Nurturing Environment” for Employees

This is a long term strategy — but it’s worth the investment. Nurturing current team members for future leadership positions are not only a good idea for talent strategy, it’s also critical for employee retention. It’s important to keep your best talent, and to keep them engaged.

Replacing talent in your organization is expensive. SHRM estimates that it can be 6-9 months of salary cost to replace the person. When employees have a growth track in the company, they are less likely to leave and work for other organizations (or competitors). In addition, it decreases the cost of training and onboarding brand new employees.

From a human resource perspective, the single best way to be in sync with an organization’s leadership structure and long term vision is to build and execute on a strategic plan to enhance your corporate environment for employees. Your plan must include research, data and a timeline. It’s impossible to ask for a leadership team to buy into a plan without these things, because without them you are presenting ideas, which don’t seem real.

Spend some time mapping out progressive career paths for current positions in your organization. Determine the education, training and character traits required for each progression. Outline the salary increase and benefits of each progressive position. Once you have this on paper, you can share it with your executive team. They can champion these internal growth opportunities to up-and-coming leaders to create interest.


  • Develop proprietary training processes to equip current team members to progress within the company. You can task current employees to create these training manuals.
  • Implement incentive programs to reward employees for obtaining additional certifications or continuing education.
  • Create a mentorship program by matching senior executives and/or leaders with up and coming employees.
  • Listen to your employees. Are they happy in your organization? Do they know about growth opportunities at the company? Are they excited about them?

2. Update Your Hiring and Onboarding Technology

Millennial will makeup 50% of the nation’s workforce in just a few years. You must update your hiring technology to be relevant to this influential generation and capture their attention. Millennial professionals want to work at relevant, tech savvy companies. You may simply make your organization more appealing to these up and coming leaders by updating your hiring and onboarding process.

Here’s where an expert or consultant will come in handy. Identify a recruiter who knows the millennial mindset and can enhance your hiring and onboarding process. They have the knowledge about what is attractive to up-and-coming professionals and how to get their attention.

Make the onboarding process more efficient for new employees by sharing training videos and digital documents before they start their position. New hires shouldn’t have to spend hours in the HR office on their first day at the new job. Find ways to speed up this process so new employees can jump right in to their new position.


  • Engage a consultant or recruiter to freshen up your hiring and onboarding process.
  • Make sure your website and online application procedures are mobile friendly.
  • Digitize your employee handbook. Millennial don’t want to hang on to a big binder of “rules and guidelines”. They will be more likely to use it as a reference if it’s digital.
  • Allow “e-signatures” on the new hire paperwork to speed up the onboarding process.
  • Partner with your social media team to tell people what is happening, exciting projects that are coming up, what it’s like to work there – celebrate employees.

3. Budget for Competitive Offers

In the current job market, the candidate has a lot of power. It is imperative that you offer competitive salary and benefits packages. Be prepared to negotiate salaries and budget for this. In addition, make an allowance in your budget to offer raises to the rising stars on your team. Next year your key employee may receive a job offer from a competitor and you’ll need to entice them to stay.

If you find your self in this scenario, where you have to tempt top talent to stay, take it as a wakeup call. Proposing a counter offer is not a long term solution. You must shift your focus on your employees. Your retention plan may not be as affective as you thought. If you have to resort to a counter offer and increase their salary, at some point this will lead to frustration on one or both sides of the counter.

Be offensive in your budgeting and strategize ways your organization can add value to its employees and prospective candidates. Get creative and add additional value to your offer packages. Beyond salary and healthcare benefits, there are many intangible factors that contribute to the candidate’s decision to accept your job offer and join your company. Companies like Connect Delaware assist with relocation, and offer services to help the families of new employees transition well. This kind of intangible benefit is often the deciding factor in recruiting top talent.

Bring in expert consultants to improve workplace culture. The Fun Dept. in Wilmington, Delaware offers team building strategies to enhance employee engagement. These activities contribute to a healthy workplace, which is very attractive to new hires.


  • Budget to offer competitive salary packages.
  • Find creative partners to help you add value to your job offer packages.
  • Implement strategies to improve workplace culture.
  • Enhance your employee retention strategy.

4. Leverage Social Media to Keep Your Talent Pipeline Full

Gone are the days where social media is purely for family and friends. You must use social media for professional networking as well.

You may have met potential job candidates over the holidays at networking events, or even at your child’s holiday chorus concert. Make sure you stay in touch by connecting with them on LinkedIn or Facebook. When they show up in your feed later next year, you’ll be reminded of them and it may be perfect timing to reconnect and share a job opening opportunity with them. Your list of connections can become your “talent pipeline” database.

Post open positions at your company right on your social media timelines. Social media is the new“word of mouth” referral marketing. One of your “friends” on Facebook may share the post and their personal network will see it. Now your job post will reach a whole new — very attentive — audience.


  • Use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as tools to stay in touch with people you meet at networking events (or anywhere).
  • Post open job positions to your social media accounts. Ask your network to share the posts.

5. Use Your Employees as Brand Ambassadors

Current employees know the in’s and out’s of the products and services your organization offers. No one knows what it’s like to work there better than him or her. And you can be sure they are talking about it to anyone who will listen — whether it’s personal conversations with friends and family or public social media rants.Your current employees are your best ambassadors and your worst critics. You can trust their referrals for this very reason!

Find strategic ways to incentivize employees for quality referrals. CSC Global uses algorithms to make the employee referral process simple for their team members. Employees have a unique web link (that is connected to their name) they can share with jobseekers in their network. When a candidate applies for a job using the custom link, it can be traced back to the employee who referred them to the job post.If the candidate is hired, the employee gets a bonus!

Another way to make employees brand ambassadors is by outfitting them in “swag”. This is a creative strategy that cultivates pride in being part of the team. Think beyond pens and mouse pads (no one uses those anymore). Put your logo on high quality Under Armor polos, North Face jackets and hats your employees will actually want to wear!If it’s trendy, functional and well made, your team will wear them all weekend long, and be a walking advertisement for company brand everywhere they go.

SevOne does a great job at this. At their location on the STAR Campus in Newark, Delaware, they have a store where employees purchase apparel with company logos on it. There is so much pride in being a part of the organization that employees actually purchase clothing to “represent.”


  • Implement strategic referral programs.
  • Incentivize employees for quality referrals.
  • Make your team walking billboards for your company by outfitting them with company “Swag”. 
  • Build your brand by caring for the employees that will no longer be part of your organization by providing career consulting to ensure that they have a soft landing in their next role.

6. Bring in an Expert (Hire a Recruiter)

When it comes to filling an executive position, you may need help from an expert. A professional recruiter has a wider reach and bigger network than you. Your recruiter is an extension of your organization. They represent you to a different audience you wouldn’t normally reach. When you work closely with them, and outline expectations it’s a winning partnership (for your organization, for the recruiter and for the new person you hire).

  • Hire a recruiter to represent your organization.
  • Work closely with them to determine job position expectations and requirements.
  • Partner with them to develop your future talent pipeline.
5 reasons why the holiday party season is the “most wonderful time of year” to network

5 Reasons Why the Holiday Party Season is the “Most Wonderful Time of Year” to Network

5 reasons why the holiday party season is the “most wonderful time of year” to network

It’s the holiday season and in no time at all our schedules will be full of parties, celebrations, shopping and white elephants. It’s an incredibly fast two months to wind up a great year. Are you ready?

Every gathering and holiday errand is an opportunity to make a new friend or professional connection. If you’re a job seeker, you may just encounter a person who can get you an interview at your dream job. If you’re an HR manager, you may get the referral of a lifetime and find the leader you’ve been looking for. I challenge you to make the most of this season and raise your expectations for these types of events.

1. It’s Easier to Meet People and Have Genuine Conversations

If you are about to begin a career search or are in the middle of one, this time of the year is a gift for you! On the holiday party route, it’s the easiest time to meet people who are usually in good spirits, and these connecting opportunities are gold. Happy people, dressed up for a holiday party are more inclined to be kind and generous (unless of course, they are a Scrooge through-and-through). Take advantage of the “good spirits” and be genuine. Don’t be afraid to share about your current situation and the opportunities you are looking for. You never know who your new friend may be connected to, and the doors they could open for you.

The same is true for hiring managers. If you’re in HR, you know the value of networking. This is truly the best time of the year to network since people are overall “merry”. Don your “gay apparel” (or holiday sweater), drink some eggnog and prepare to meet potential new candidates!

2. New Connections are More Willing to Meet Up

Often people write off this time of year and assume that it’s not a good time to ask for a meeting. I challenge you to rethink this. New connections you met at the recent holiday party may be more willing to set apart some time to meet you. This time of year, everyone is out and about running errands or preparing for festivities. Consider setting up meetings before or after running to the Mall to pick up a gift (this time of year nothing feels better than checking an extra something off the “to-do” list). After you’ve made a new connection, don’t be afraid to ask them if they’d like to meet up at the Nordstrom cafe, or at a lunch spot near the Outlets. You’d be surprised at how inclined people are to meet and connect with you during this busy season.

3. Infinite Icebreaker Ideas

Do you have an icebreaker ready? Usually my “go to” is to talk about the weather. During the holidays however, there are so many more subjects top of mind for people that make starting a conversation more natural. Long check out lines, the latest must-have gadget, holiday punch recipes, ugly sweaters, fruit cake… the list goes on. These subjects transcend religion, background and profession. Nearly everyone you encounter at holiday parties has experienced something “seasonal” you both can relate to. Speak up, break the ice and make a meaningful connection!

4. Low Pressure Environment

At holiday parties, it’s a great time to meet people where the environment is not “high stakes” and “I NEED A JOB” isn’t on the forefront of your mind. On your holiday party route you will meet people on both sides of the conversation — those looking for their next opportunity and those who are looking to fill positions. These conversations may lead to your next opportunity, or you can open a door for someone else. Be open minded and listen!

5. Everyone is Thinking About New Year’s Resolutions and Q4 Deadlines

In the midst of all the holiday “hustle and bustle” there is still that reminder in the back of your mind of what needs to happen before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Hiring managers may still have a position to fill last minute. Or perhaps they are lining up candidates to fill a position on the 1st of the year. Regardless, Santa is not the only one who is making a list. At a holiday party you may find yourself in the right place at the right time and make a fortunate connection that will change the course of your career.

Now it’s time to “be merry” and tackle your holiday parties with high expectations this year. Happy networking and of course, happy holidays!

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