Talent Rule #1: Sex Sells. And so do Puppies.


There’s an adage in advertising that certain things always work. Sex. Children. Puppies. They tug at our emotional heartstrings and get people to take action.

Yet in recruiting, companies seem to think that dull and boring is the appropriate way to market job opportunities. While using sex in your job posts might be a bit much, it’s time to put something “sexy” into your recruitment marketing. If you want to attract superstars, offer something super.

Create the Sizzle

Creating a job opportunity that attracts top talent is not just about pay and benefits. While compensation is important, top performers can get that anywhere. Your strategy needs more sizzle.

For example, do you offer any of these benefits?

  • Skill development
  • Formal training
  • Mentoring
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Opportunities to be part of “something really cool”
  • Travel
  • Work from home or flex time
  • Opportunities to make an impact on society
  • Opportunities for acquisition or explosive growth that would create financial gain
  • Leadership at the project, team, department or strategic role level

Sell these benefits one-on-one to your top candidates. Understand what makes each individual tick, personally and professionally, and tailor the ideal package to suit them and their lifestyle. Find out what they’re looking for as they drive their career forward and how your company can help them get there.

Remember that the number one reason people leave their jobs is their boss! This hasn’t changed in years and will continue to be a huge part of retention as career opportunities become more and more abundant.  What does this mean for you? Sell yourself as a boss!  How are you to work for?  How will you help them reach their goals?  Who else have you helped and to what career results?  Show them that you care.  Discuss the importance of a partnership and what that means to you.  Remember, you don’t have to do this, but then someone else will and most likely get your top candidate.  Time and time again, I have candidates come back from interviews with clients to which we have sent them out and say to me that they either “love that job because their new boss would be so cool” or “didn’t click with him/her” way before they mention anything about the role or company itself!

Define Your Culture and Build Your USP

If you’re not sure what makes your company cool, ask your people. Conduct an employee survey to determine what makes your business a great place to work. Think like a marketer. It’s time to develop your unique selling proposition (USP). And if your USP is a little weak or “me too,” look at ways to strengthen your company culture or specific job opportunities to become a best place for top talent to work.

  • USP is the full complement of elements you offer employees in return for their contribution to your company. It’s the things they brag to their friends about outside work. Your USP must be unique, relevant and compelling.
  • It’s impossible to recruit for cultural fit or build your USP unless you know what your culture is. Identify the unique beliefs, behaviors and practices of your organization. When recruiting, present a strong message about what makes you the employer of choice. Find the cultural characteristics candidates are seeking and incorporate them into your strategy.

Sell the Sizzle

When a job seeker is interested in learning more about your company, be sure to sell the sizzle by creating a high level of brand desire tailored directly to each individual. Every posting, every ad, every candidate contact should leave an impression of “I would absolutely love to work there!”

But, most importantly, this needs to happen in person. Looking someone in the eye and having what feels like a “real discussion” about their future and how you and your role can help their career advancement is the “connection” type A for which players are looking. They don’t want to feel like you are a corporate robot. They don’t want to be formally interviewed and almost “disrespected” by the age old questions of “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” Don’t get me wrong, you need to ask them how they can play an integral part in the company’s growth and sustainability, what they bring to the table, and conduct an overall interview. You just want to do it in a way that seems like you genuinely care to find out if this is the RIGHT fit for both of you for the long-term, and then don’t be scared to show your cards a little in that you are surprisingly interested, having met so many people that were not the right fit.  People want to feel special so don’t lose someone by playing games. They want to know you are into them and if they do, they will take your offer more seriously then the others.

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s your choice if you have sold them on you.  But if you haven’t, it doesn’t matter if you want to hire them or not, they have already made the decision for you.

publishingsAisha Quaintance