Make Hiring Great Talent A Leadership Priority

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As a Talent Maker, a CEO has three roles for three different constituencies. Each one is critical.

Great leaders know that talent propels a company’s success. Talent drives innovation and sets a business apart, giving it a competitive edge. Yet far too often leaders relegate hiring to their recruiters and pay little attention to getting the right people in the right jobs. But if you want to attract great competitive talent—people who can choose to work anywhere—then the CEO needs to be directly involved in hiring. He or she needs to make hiring a top priority and become what we call a Talent Maker. This is a fundamental shift away from the traditional concept that talent acquisition is the role of recruiters.

As a Talent Maker, the CEO has three roles for three different constituencies. He or she is a talent leader to the organization; a talent magnet to the people that the company wants to hire; and a talent partner to the internal recruiting team. Each role needs some explanation.

Talent Maker as Talent Leader

A talent leader builds and leads a culture of hiring in the organization. He or she sets an example for anyone in the organization who may wonder what it means to support a culture of hiring excellence. As a talent maker, a CEO promotes and pays off the concept that hiring—when done extremely well—is a ticket to greater things. Here are other ways that a CEO can act as an effective talent maker:

• Make sure that recruiting gets meetings with the CEO when they need the input;

• Put hiring-related topics high up on the agenda when the CEO holds all-hands meetings;

• Hold hiring managers accountable for their hiring goals, instead of leaving hiring solely to recruiting;

• Show managers how to be part of the hiring team. Don’t allow them to turn responsibility for hiring over to recruiting; and

• Make it a stated goal within your company to support internal promotions and demonstrate that it is to everyone’s advantage to fill open positions with internal talent.

Talent Maker as Talent Magnet

As a talent magnet, the CEO becomes personally engaged in attracting and pursuing top talent—both candidates and prospects. The purpose is to help build the organization’s hiring brand by getting out there and telling the company’s story.

The best C-suite leaders use their megaphone to speak directly to the talent they want to attract. Whenever you give a keynote to a thousand-person audience or appear on a podcast or television show, you’re telling the story of why it’s great to work at your company. Every time you do a that, you’ll hear feedback on your website or from candidates currently interviewing: “Oh, I saw your CEO at that event and she sounded really smart,” or some similar comment. It’s a role that only business leaders can play—not leaders from recruiting.

Here’s something else to think about: imagine that there’s a highly qualified, sought-after professional whom the CEO wants to add to the senior team. They’ve interviewed at a few places and have rejected more than one offer. Now they’re down to two companies that look quite good—yours and a competitor. The recruiter from the other company calls the prospective employee and says, “We’re really excited about you. We can’t wait for your start date. What questions do you have?” Instead of your recruiter, the CEO as the leader and talent magnet makes the call to the prospective employee directly, saying the same thing. Which call will resonate with the prospective employee the most – the call from the recruiter or the call from the CEO showing how much they care about their employees? Which company seems like a more desirable place to work?

Talent Maker as Talent Partner

The third role of a Talent Maker is to be a partner to the recruiting team, enabling them to do their best work. It comes from realizing that the way to be successful at hiring exceptional talent is to have an exceptionally supportive business side for recruiting efforts.

Most recruiters are being asked to do too much without enough resources, which is what happens when recruiting is regarded as a bureaucratic cost center. At the same time, it’s a highly dynamic and competitive environment. The hiring environment has changed radically in the past dozen years. However, recruiting areas have not kept up with the times. Part of showing a CEO’s commitment to great hiring is giving recruiters what they need: provide the right technology; staff them appropriately; pay them well; and listen to what they ask the CEO to do. We are not saying that the CEO should let recruiting run the show. It is not caving in when the area most directly responsible for great hiring is fully supported. Plus remember: when recruiting receives a higher level of support, the CEO can reasonably hold them to a very high standard.

If the CEO accept the role as Talent Maker, he or she has an important job ahead. Great hiring – if done well – is not easy. It’s competitive and dynamic. As the nature of work has shifted and great talent has more power than ever, hiring has emerged as a reason why some organizations enjoy outsized success. In other words, the ability to hire great talent at will is still very much a competitive advantage.

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