It took me 30 years to find out where all of the best people hang out. I then drew this map. If you look closely, you'll find them all in the Talent Sweet Spot in the upper right corner of the map. Most managers are still looking for them in the lower left and wondering what the problem is. They're either using the wrong map or don't know how to read the right one. So if you're a hiring manager, or know one, give them these directions. They'll all thank you once they arrive.

A Manager's Guide for Hiring in the Talent Sweet Spot

  1. Know what you're looking for. As soon as you get them on the phone, the best people will quickly ask you to describe the job, why it's open and some of the big performance objectives. Here's how to describe the job as a series of performance objectives. Then only hire the people who are both competent and motivated to do the work required.
  2. Create a contagious vision for the job. The top four reasons the best people switch jobs are what they'll be doing, learning, becoming and who they'll be doing it with. This is all in comparison to their other opportunities. The top reason they decide to engage in a conversation is the importance of the job and long-term impact they can make. You need to describe this in the first few minutes of the first discussion.
  3. Don't assume the best people are applying to your job postings. Ninety-two percent of the best people find their jobs through some referral or they've been recruited. If you don't have a great employee value proposition, referrals or great recruiters won't help much. In this case you need to accept the fact that you'll only be hiring the best of the people who applied, not the best available.
  4. Make sure your recruiter knows the job. Don't let your recruiter talk with a single candidate unless he/she knows the actual details of the job, expected results, deal-breakers and vision. If not, they'll be screening out the best people for the wrong reasons. Evaluate your recruiters using this competency model to determine if they can handle your search requirements.
  5. Delegate the screening. Stop reviewing resumes. If your recruiter can't select the best from the pile of resumes, get another recruiter.
  6. Stop seeing more candidates if the first few are off the mark. If the first 2-3 candidates aren't hirable, figure out the problem before seeing any more candidates. It's probably one of the other ideas listed here.
  7. Insist on a 2:1 passive to active sourcing mix. You know you're seeing a representative sample of the total talent market if two out of every three candidates are referrals or recruited. This will need to be a higher ratio if you're looking for high-demand talent to fill critical roles.
  8. Build your own pipeline of talent. Hiring managers need to take responsibility for hiring the best people. Part of this is spending time finding and nurturing the best people and ensuring they're available whenever the need arises.
  9. Slow dance. It takes time for a discriminating person who's not looking to fully appreciate the upside potential involved in a job switch. Spend the time. It starts by learning how to slow dance.
  10. Offer a 30% non-monetary increase. Don't compete on compensation. While you're slow dancing, you need to demonstrate that your opening offers a 30% increase in terms of job stretch, job satisfaction and job growth. You achieve this by listening, not talking, and once achieved you'll discover compensation is less important.

The best people all hang out in the Talent Sweet Spot. To pull them out takes a great job, a strong recruiter and a fully engaged hiring manager. These 10 steps describe what it takes to be fully engaged.