Tips from the new playbook of how to attract talent

Jun 20, 2022

It’s 2022 and everything you think you know about recruitment is wrong. The world of work has changed utterly in the past two years, talent is more mobile and scarcer (and knows what it does and doesn’t want). The old Playbook of how to attract the best people is now mainly redundant so it’s now time for employers to embrace this reality and respond with a new agile thinking.
Here’s my Top Insights on what employers need to be doing NOW to attract talent to their business.

1. Recruitment Speed
If your typical recruitment process takes 3 months, forget it, you’ve already lost a great candidate to a competitor. Why? Because they stepped in with a quicker offer and shorter start date than you. My advice is to aim for one month from start to signed offer and see the difference. For more senior positions that normally take 4–5 months this could be brought down to 2 months if a dedicated recruiter is assigned to the one position.

2. Don’t wait, search!
Search for talent, don’t wait for them to come to you. Executive Search companies are very good at mapping the talent available in a particular market. For mid to senior roles, it is difficult to argue with the logic of hiring a specific search firm to approach anywhere between 60 to 100 candidates and present you with the best 4–6 that the market has to offer. At a time when everybody agrees it is exceptionally difficult to hire specific high-quality talent when you need them, consider the new phenomenon of Subscription Model Recruiters where you hire a recruitment company to keep a watching eye on the market place all year round and they are paid for on a recurring monthly or quarterly basis.

3. Get the Language right
Most job descriptions are written in such a way that Barack Obama would feel nervous about applying, as he would feel under qualified. Avoid a meaningless word salad of buzz phrases and instead change the vernacular to be less ‘corporate speak’ and use more direct Plain English. This thinking also applies to interviews themselves. An open and honest conversation like this will always lead to a better rapport with the candidate. In most situations if a company has no challenges, why would they be looking for additional people?

4. The Empty Desk Test
Candidates now have the options of a remote working lifestyle, lots of job choice and less need to compromise. That’s a dilemma for the employer. Do they reject 90% of candidates because they are not the perfect fit and have delays of 6 to 12 months in the recruitment process. Especially if the position is revenue generating, you must weigh up the cost of having an empty desk for that period of time.

In a time of “Needs Must,” there’s an arguably more pragmatic approach. Namely, hire a person with 80% of the skill set you were looking for and who can be trained to meet the other 20% requirements of the role?

5. Make Perks Matter
Unlimited holidays? Why not? Maybe not for every person or at every level but telling a new employee joining a company that they can take as many holidays a year as long as they deliver, is very empowering. It screams ‘We trust you!’ Of course, there will need to be words in the employment contract around the issue to ensure that customers get what they need and colleagues are not taking up unnecessary slack on the days that they are off. However, most people, will not abuse this fantastic perk.

6. Invest in Salary and the Talent
Earning power matters especially at a time like now of high inflation and cost of living surges. Set clear parameters around salary scales, reviews, performance bonuses and so forth. But also look at other aspects beyond the financial. In my experience one of the most attractive (and often underplayed incentives) is career and personal development. Every letter of offer – no matter at what level – should contain an Educational Grant. And it should name a number i.e., €2,000 or €3,000 per annum for training or certification or a part-time course for the candidate to pursue and one that the company would benefit from. Not only will this set your company apart from others, it’s also a great retention tool.

7. ‘Walk in the Park’ interview.
People buy from people they like. The recruitment process is a transaction, you are buying talent they are selling their talent. The hiring manager needs to form a relationship with the candidate and the final step before an offer is made is to meet the candidate and quite simply go for a walk with them in a park. It is amazing after an hour chatting in such an environment both parties will know if it will be a good fit. This is not conventional, but it works now that we’re back meeting people in person.

8. “Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.”
Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s also true. Get this right and everything falls into place:
Decide whether you will recruit yourself (usually a mistake and will cost you way more long-term), use an internal recruiter, or hire a recruitment agency or dedicated search firm. If you are using a recruiter, sit down with them and agree timelines, who will do the interviewing and where. Have a letter of offer and contract templates ready to go, agree update meetings with the recruiter on a regular basis. The single most important step in the recruitment process is the briefing meeting where you explain to the recruiter what you are looking for and what you are not. That clarity of purpose will deliver success.

Executive Search

‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’ – Steve Jobs

Executive Coaching

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‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent’ – John Donne.


Why should you spend money assisting people who are leaving your company?