Talent Rule #3: Enough about you… let’s talk about YOU!


As we know, along with a talent shortage comes an increase in candidate confidence, sometimes to the point of oversized egos. Whether it’s the understanding that the market is hot and people have more options then ever in the Bay Area, or just a false sense of security or entitlement that some say comes with the newest generation, one thing we know of for sure is people like to talk about themselves!  Yes, you, as the hiring manager, will have your spot to do that as well, but while you are courting top candidates, be sure to make the process about THEM!

In Talent Rule #1 “Sex Sells, and So Do Puppies,” we told you how to sell your role to the top players and that you need to realize you must sell to top talent for them to want to work with you. In Talent Rule #2 “She’s just not that into you,” we said don’t get side-tracked by “shoppers” or people not really interested in your role who may be using your offer to play it against another one. At this point, you’ve sold the sizzle and the value propositions, you have tested the candidates desires by using the tactics we discussed, and NOW you are ready to start the rest of the “recruiting process” and negotiate the details.


In other words, make them love and want you from day one, and then start deciding:

  • If you want to hire them
  • Who they will report to now that you know their personality better
  • What role makes the most sense for them now that you truly know what they want
  • What compensation really makes sense once you’ve done your references
  • What title is appropriate now that you’ve dug into their true long-term desires
  • What start date really works for YOU and YOUR company

Otherwise, by the time you’ve figured out what you can pay them, who they would report to, when they can start, or what their title is, they either wind up telling you they never wanted your role in the first place or you get into a bidding war about one of the above issues before you really know if you want them.  The most popular war that happens is that you become one of their offers who they describe as “great but low on salary” to their family or “exciting but not in love with the title and career path.”  Nine times out of ten the criteria above that they are now obsessing over is assumed and could have easily been overcome through negotiation!

The problem is people think the latter is the “Recruiting Process” when really you must land the candidate first and then figure out the rest of the details.  Yes, figuring out compensation and title is vital to the recruiting process, but if you do it at the beginning, you are losing.

“For the right candidate we are willing to be competitive… Now, tell me what you’re really hoping to get out of your career in the next five years?  We have both management and non management positions available, so what is it you really want?”  Teaching your hiring managers to use some of these recruiting strategies and tactics can save you HUGE costs in avoiding mis-hires.  Work with your Executive Search firm to give you some tips on how to make sure you are avoiding mis-hires and truly vetting candidates on the roles you are filling yourself.

Remember, most candidates have been receiving recruiting calls so they will want to just go right into these details.  Have them gain your trust that you will answer all of the questions only once you find out which role is best for them as you are a growing company with many opportunities (which is true for 95% of the our readers!).  So gain the candidates interest and make sure he or she is sold on the opportunity first, by making it ALL about him or her!  If you ask the right questions and punt on the rest of the details, the candidate will be more forthcoming about what he or she really wants!

What hiring managers MUST do to win top talent.

Again, let’s briefly discuss how you win them over before you dive into the rest of the recruiting details that they want such as compensation and title!

If you work in sales or marketing, you understand the importance of positioning, having a killer value proposition, and creating a compelling core story. These fundamental marketing lessons apply equally well to recruiting.


In marketing, positioning is about defining the attributes that make your product or service different from the competition. But positioning isn’t just about differentiation; it’s also about defining your target market. Specifically, this is done by clearly articulating what makes your goods the best choice for your ideal customer.

In recruiting, you have to position your organization. Who is your target candidate? What type of person are you trying to attract? Sure, you want someone with a proven track record of success, but what kind of person will be the best fit for your organization? And more importantly, why is your organization the best possible fit for that kind of person?

Value Proposition.

In sales, a value proposition defines the specific benefits your products or services offer. It’s the compelling reason why someone chooses to buy from you.

In recruiting, you have to clearly articulate your value proposition to each candidate—and be aware that your value may have to vary depending on the needs, wants, and motivations of each candidate. Compensation may matter most for some, learning and growth opportunities for others, and for some it will be about work-life balance. The key is to take a hard look at the opportunity you have to offer, and then see how you can improve the value to match the needs of your ideal candidates.

Core Story.

This may be a lesser known marketing strategy to many. A core story is an educational tale that captures the attention of prospective clients, gets them engaged in learning, and gently (yet persistently) conveys your firm’s value proposition.

In recruiting, a core story can be used to teach people about your culture and illustrate the importance of working for a firm that offers the kinds of unique value that you can deliver.

To win Top Candidates, you have to paint a vivid picture of the future.

While the typical lists of required skills and experience to a job description are essential qualifications for your interview process, you must first sell your core story. In real estate, an effective agent gets the home buyer to see him or herself in the home. They say “Once the client starts decorating the home, the sale is done.”

In recruiting, there’s no difference. Once the candidate starts envisioning—and gets energized about his or her career with your firm—you’ve made the sale. And only then can you really start the candidate-assessment process.

You want to make sure the candidate is 10 out of 10 on your company.  Yes, this is without all the information!  “Assuming compensation and title line up, how do you feel about what it is we are doing here?”

Make them love you as a boss. This is where selling the sizzle really comes into play on how YOU can make THEIR dreams come true. By now, in this candidates market, most people are into something they are passionate about and are hiring with the true excitement on getting someone else really good to help them get to the next level for everyone.  Paint that picture and sell that dream!

Once you know you have them, you can start to negotiate terms on your behalf.  Once they have agreed you are their top opportunity many potential problems solve themselves. All of a sudden, the three weeks they want off before they start goes away in that they feel they are missing out to not get started ASAP!

Now that THEY are sold…What do YOU want?

Now that you have the candidate 100% on board with working at your company, you can make it about your original wish list. Work with the candidate, as they always have other options if you are too rigid, but try circling back to what they had initially mentioned earlier in the process about how they have to make a certain amount or have a certain title.  Tell them why you are “willing to start them at X and then have them move to Y in compensation after they prove themselves, as their references confirmed they are light at ‘ABC’ experience.”  Do the same on title if that is the pressing issue.

Start deciding:

  • Compensation
  • Start date
  • Title/Succession plan
  • Personalities and culture fit

This is the time to sit back and decide if this person is a good fit for the role you posted or potentially another role. If you have done this correctly, you are positioned with the upper hand in each of these areas.  While you are flexible, present what works for your department and goals first, as ultimately that will benefit the candidate as well via the company being successful.  Again, paint a picture of why starting later might hurt them by missing out on training or a big meeting.  Talk to them about how if they come in as a manager and they don’t get to know the team as an equal first, new colleagues may be turned off or jealous. Ultimately, if you are really trying to make a great long term fit and do what is fair for everyone, you will do so by first having evened the playing field by removing this sense of candidate overconfidence due to the market – and end up making a decision in these areas that are best for everyone involved.

 For more tips and tricks on true candidate recruiting, visit http://ideas.fillmoresearch.com/. Fillmore Search Group is happy to answer questions and help train your hiring managers on what’s working in this “war on talent” to make long-term placements that are best for all.  Don’t hesitate to reach out directly if I can help.  


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