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Recruitment — it’s all about selling

I’ve worked with a lot of high growth businesses and I’m sure most of them would say the one thing that slows down their revenue and growth is attracting the right people. The bottleneck in their business isn’t customers, or finding new customers, it’s actually having the right employees to do the work. If revenue is constrained by talent, why haven’t most companies got a deliberate plan to attract the best out there?

To get businesses to think about this in more detail I sometimes ask: “are you struggling to hire great people?”

Almost everyone says, yes. Then we start to hypothesise around what their next best talent would look like.

Are they currently doing and being successful at the job you want them to do for you? Yes.

Are they working for a competitor? Yes.

Will you pay them more money to work for you? No.

So, these great candidates are working within your industry already, doing the same job you want them to do for you, and you want them to give that up and join your company for no extra money?

Then I have to say: “why the f**k would they do that?!”

That honesty can sometimes cause a bit of anger, but what I’m trying to do is get people to think. To run through a process that works out what they really want from a new member of staff and how they’re more likely to attract them. There has got to be a reason why they would join your company. If you don’t want it to be money, then you have to find another compelling reason. And you need to sell yourself! These prospective new employees are currently blissfully ignorant of you and your opportunity.

“Recruiting talent is no different than any other challenge a startup faces. It’s all about selling.” — Vivek Wadhwa, technology entrepreneur.

How to sell your company:

Great culture

I know I bang on about great workspaces but they do make a huge difference (I’ve got a blog on that too!). Great cultures attract great people. If you’ve got one company that’s located in a boring, dull, box of an office then another that’s got a pool table, free coffee, pub, garden, lounge area….. which would you be more excited to join? Which are you more emotionally drawn towards?

What about social media curb appeal, like weekly work parties or get-togethers. These are all things that will draw in prospective employees.

We can’t underestimate how important cultural fit is. A 2005 analysis revealed that employees who fit well with their organisation, coworkers, and supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organisation, and showed superior job performance.


Social Media

What’s the first thing a candidate does if they’re thinking of applying for a job? They search for the company online. It means we have to make sure our online presence — especially social media — is appealing in some form.

Take a look to see how you’re performing on Glassdoor. If you’ve never heard of Glassdoor, why not?! If you run a business this site is essential in appealing to prospective employees because it rates your company. Staff, both past and present, get to write reviews and you can see what people really think of working there. Ratings are given on a scale of 1 to 5 so you’re looking for a score of 3.8 and above. The CEO also gets rated. Here, you’re looking for a score of 85 or above.

You can also post pictures and have clients rate your business. It’s all about showing you’re a great place to work.

It’s the same with LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Make sure your company pages are up to date and show what it’s like to work there. The fun things you get up to as well as the business side.

Don’t forget candidates will also be searching for you, the individual, too. They want to know more about the hiring manager, the CEO, the person that will be interviewing them. So go through the same process as you would for the company — make sure all your social media channels show what a great boss you are. Do they make someone think — I want to work with them?

An example you say? I can’t show you the before but the after is here: Wirehive has an attractive careers page on their website, and the CEO, Rob Belgrave, has a great profile. Nothing happens by accident. Plus, the company has updated content on LinkedIn. Nothing says we don’t care like a page with no posts since 2005.


    If you build a great reputation it’s more likely you’ll attract better talent. Enter awards, like Best Companies or Great Place to Work. Just being nominated gives you something to talk about. To show off. Get involved in outreach projects. If someone stumbles across your work they’re more likely to research what you do, and then if you’ve got vacancies they might be motivated to apply.

    I think that if you’re advertising a job and you’ve publicised some of these things, the marginal candidate might be persuaded to apply whereas otherwise, they might not. You get a CV from a great person as opposed to not getting a CV at all. And you might even get some direct applications.

    Again, back to Glassdoor — check to make sure you’re reputation isn’t getting hammered there by people who work/have worked for you. Candidates will be checking and will see that.

    Here is how it’s done well — A 3-star accreditation for the past five years. A consistently excellent place to work. The reputation for being a fantastic employer keeps the CVs coming for James and his team.

    Job Adverts

    Dull, dull, duller and even duller. That sums up most job adverts. Try writing the first paragraph to appeal to the marginal or passive candidate and show an understanding of their current frustrations and how you can fix them; shorter commute, better manager, appreciation, professional development or career progression.

    Interview Process

    What’s the interview process like at your firm? If I were to fill in a form online how quickly would someone get back to me? Perhaps do some competitive shopping of your own organisation — go on your own careers page and apply for a job! Do you have to upload a CV, why? Could you instead ask for their name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile — what more do you need? It should tell you everything you need to know there. How quickly do you get back to people? If someone applies for a job you want to get back to them as soon as possible. It’s like a sales lead — in five minutes that’s amazing, inside an hour pretty good, if you don’t get back to them inside 24 hours you’re probably better off never ringing them ever again. Because by then they already know you are rubbish and you’re just going to be ringing up and apologising for being rubbish.

    Think about what you would want if you applied for a job and it’s then going through that process to make sure it works. I bet a large number of business owners and managers reading this are unaware just how difficult it is to apply for a job at their company. Or how the information requested is not right.

    It’s also important to look at who will be interviewing the candidates. Great people will not join a company if they are interviewed by B or C players during the hiring process. They want to know your company hires the best, so put your best in front of them.


    Author, Daniel Pink, says that there are three things that motivate people — autonomy, purpose and mastery. By offering elements that fit those categories we can make our businesses more appealing and motivate them to apply.

    Autonomy Purpose Master graph image

    Autonomy — Candidates will be trying to work out whether they can direct themselves within the role that’s offered. They will be trying to work out what kind of company you are. Are you a Theory X company which thinks everyone is lazy, only doing the job for the money, and won’t put in any effort? Or Theory Y, where everybody is an adult and trustworthy. You could offer flexible working or home working. How about unlimited holiday or set your own salary?

    If you are a company where you have to clock in and clock out you attract a certain type of person. If you’re more Theory Y then talk about it. Make sure prospective candidates know that’s what they’ll be getting. And if you want to find out more about how unlimited holidays and set your own salaries can benefit a company — then take a listen to my podcast episode featuring CEO of Makers Academy, Evgeny Shadchnev who offers that level of trust to his staff.

    Purpose — It’s becoming more and more essential for a business to have a purpose. People want to work somewhere that has a desire to have an impact. They are looking for an ethos that isn’t just about making the company, or the owners, more money. Here at Foundry 51 our desire is to find the best talent to help companies grow. And at Foundry Media my purpose is to help entrepreneurs work out what they want, and then help them get there. To make lives better. The team is motivated to reach the same goals.

    Mastery — Are you offering staff the chance to better themselves? Do you offer training or coaching? Are there courses you can complete? I think that’s all part of the narrative of what type of person you want to attract. Do you want someone who’s trying to become the best at what they do, or someone who’s happy to sit back? Offering training, coaching, whatever it might be, not only helps attract new staff but will also work towards helping to retain the workforce you already have.

    We can raise the talent bar, but you have to do something different. You can’t do what you are currently doing today.” — Lou Adler, Grammy Award-winning American record producer.


    If you’re not going to pay at the top of the market for your talent, if you’re going to pay an average salary or a median salary, then one of the things you can do to stand out is offer exceptional benefits.

    You can appear much more attractive if you have a wide range of benefits, in fact, ICIMS found that, ’92 percent of full-time employees believe that companies that offer non-traditional benefits are more likely to recruit top-tier talent.’

    It could be anything from yoga classes (something we do weekly here), massages, paid sabbatical, paid sick leave, bring your dog to work, great pension contributions, health insurance, childcare vouchers… pet insurance! You get the gist, anything that might make you stand out from all the other businesses out there. Offering six weeks holiday would be a massive incentive. If you give them that — maybe even eight weeks — then why would they ever leave?! They wouldn’t get that anywhere else.

    Summing up….

    I know there is quite a lot here, but each one of these ideas will help attract the best talent. You don’t need to do everything, but every little helps, as Tesco would say. Keep aiming to create a consistent aura of amazingness around your company.

    Some of you will already be doing a lot of what I’ve set out but are not shouting it loud enough! Make sure you know your story and advertise it. Because if people can’t see it, they don’t know it, and we want them to see it.

    Sell the COMPANY. Sell YOU. Attract GREAT people.

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    Written by expert business coach Dom Monkhouse. Found out more about his work here.

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