I've spent the better part of the last ten years interviewing talent scouts across the globe. I continue to be amazed at how many of them market themselves as having found the “secret sauce” for recruiting success through their vast knowledge and discipline demonstrated via use of the tools and tricks. Most of the time, I come away from interviews having learned something new or insightful. That said, I rarely hire a candidate who frames their skill set in this way.  Why? It doesn't align with my vision for the team nor where my partners see value.

So what's the “secret sauce?” Mission-driven hiring.

Very few recruiting tools are collaboration based. This creates the need for a requirements session (to review necessary skills, key words, competitors) between the talent scout and the hiring manager.  It's then followed by resumes to review, interviews, calibration and so on.  In addition to cheapening the value a professional recruiting organization can bring, this tools-driven, process-heavy approach actually makes the recruiting team's role more difficult. It doesn't adequately involve the people with the most relevant networks for the job the hiring manager and their team.

We've all seen it; top talent is elusive and becoming increasingly passive in their job search. The reality is that even the most capable recruiting organizations can't reach every qualified candidate for every role. Acknowledging this fact isn't a sign of weakness, but rather the first step in becoming a practitioner of mission-driven hiring. This approach positions the talent scout to become a true business partner.

In mission-driven hiring, managers are considered a de facto member of the recruiting team; engaging through social networks, calling former colleagues, pushing their teams to view recruiting as a vital part of their roles.  Strong hiring managers, partnered with a talent scout, keep their teams focused on the candidate's experience.  With talent scouts managing the process, hiring managers can operate with the confidence that their hiring partners are taking ownership of talent rather than just passively waiting for a magic recruiting machine to push out an endless stream of top-tier candidates.

On the surface, this notion of partnership might seem obvious, but getting results isn't easy.  It takes discipline and consistent attention to get hiring manager support, buy-in and participation.

Want to cultivate a Mission-Driven Hiring mentality within your organization?  Here are a few steps:

  1. Know Your Business.  You become a credible advisor and effective partner when you understand the products, services and competitive factors that drive your business. Hiring managers will pay attention when they know you are paying attention and looking at the bigger picture.
  2. Understand What Top Talent Looks Like. Make sure it is clearly understood by all, and be relentless about keeping your hiring teams focused.
  3. Communicate Honestly and Effectively.  Operate with transparency and integrity about status and results.  Hunting for unicorns is hard work.  If a search is taking longer than expected, be honest with yourself and your partners, take accountability. Managers will respond positively to your openness, and in turn build a partnership based on trust.

Creating an organization with exceptional talent is tough work.  Even the most seasoned talent scouts can't go it alone.  Creating high functioning partnerships with hiring managers and teams doesn't just foster solid teamwork.  It creates the foundation for an exceptional company.