This is the second in a series of three blogs explaining the principles of building what my Growth Whisperers podcast partner Brad Giles and I call an amazing people-magnet machine – to make sure you attract a flow of awesome people to sustain your growth.

The first was about establishing your brand as an employer. Here is the second principle to help you to attract a flow of awesome people.


Proactive Recruitment

Most companies have a low success rate hiring and promoting high performers because they don’t have enough great people from whom to choose. They scramble to find people and then make choices out of scarcity or desperation. Better to have an abundance of excellent contacts.

I’ve met a number of leaders who are excellent at proactive recruitment, and it is a game changer. Here are a few strategies:

Keep a prospect list.

This is no different from the prospect list on which your sales team constantly works.

This isn’t an HR project. It’s for senior leaders and managers to work on and is as simple as reaching out to have a chat. It might take one, three or five years before a prospect is ready to make a move because high performers are almost always employed, and well taken care of by their companies. When they decide to change, you want to already have a relationship and be top of mind.

In an interview we did with Topgrading™ CEO Chris Marsau, he shared research that, in a pool of suitable candidates, 80% are willing to have a conversation. (More about this later when we talk about using recruiters or headhunters.)

One CEO has a list of the country’s top performing people, in his industry, and constantly has coffee dates to chat and build relationships. He’s priming the pump for the time when they are open to something new and interesting.

Ask your best people to recruit from their networks.

This strategy is often missed because people are either too busy or think recruitment is HR’s job. Not the case. HR can support and drive the process but, generally, managers are a big factor in successful recruitment.

It can be as simple as reminding people to reach out to their networks. One construction company asks employees to stop work for a few minutes to forward a pre-written text to a bunch of their contacts to try to flush out candidates. Another leadership team uses a half hour of strategic planning meetings to ping people on LinkedIn, to ask if they know of anyone who may be interested in a certain role.

Use a recruiter or headhunter.

The best will either have a database of people who could be excellent for a role or will proactively contact people. You don’t need to get a recruiter to run job ads for you because that’s not usually the best strategy and you could do that yourself. Get them to put their energy into reaching out to people who you believe are in companies and roles suitable, to see if they may be interested. Make sure you’re specific about the companies and roles or titles in which you are most interested.

The Challenge

  • What do you need to do to be excellent at proactive recruitment?
  • Who are you going to work with to get 10 to 20% better?

For more on this topic, check out Episode 37 of The Growth Whisperers podcast.