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How to find hidden talent

How to find hidden talent

You’re tired. Your brain hurts. And if you have to sit through one more interview where a candidate’s phone goes off, you’re going to snap.

Finding new talent can be tough. Finding good talent can feel next to impossible. Finding exceptional talent? Well, that’s about as difficult as a game of Where’s Wally? at La Tomatina. 

So, where did all the good candidates go? WHERE? 

Well, perhaps the question you should be asking is: why aren’t they already working for me? 

People need a purpose.

People want more from their places of work than a nice, big pay cheque at the end of the month (well, most people do) - they want to work for organisations that are disrupting their industries with exciting new innovations, or reinvigorating their local communities by investing in programmes or initiatives, or fighting global warming by reducing their carbon footprint.

But it’s more than just actions - people want a purpose to get behind. At a time where review sites like Glassdoor and Yelp are in common use, job seekers already know who you are and what you’re doing - they’re far more interested in the why. 

Why does your organisation exist? Why do you do what you do? How are you contributing to society as a whole?

It’s this why that goes on to influence every decision, action and approach your organisation makes. 

For instance, the French clothing company Lacoste’s purpose is: “Sharing our vision of casual elegance, and our optimism and faith in the future.” 

Lacoste put the latter part of their purpose statement into action by temporarily replacing its iconic alligator chest patch with 10 different endangered species to raise awareness for wildlife conservation. (All proceeds went to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.) Why wildlife conservation? Because it ties in with their purpose – to have “faith in the future.”

And explaining why you do what you do will naturally attract the right talent to your organisation. A recent study by Deloitte found six in 10 millennials said a “sense of purpose” was part of the reason why they chose to work for their current employers.

As well as attracting talent through a compelling purpose, it’s also worthwhile challenging the way you currently find, select and assess candidates to unlock hidden talent pools:

1) Start looking outside the box.

When it comes to taking on board new candidates, hiring managers tend to focus a little too much attention on skills and experience - but the right candidate needs a lot more to succeed in the role than what’s written down on their CV. 

For instance, they’ll need to be able to communicate effectively and build strong relationships with colleagues and customers. They’ll need to be have the ability to persuade and influence others – managing a fine balance between empathy and drive. And, most importantly, they’ll need to be passionate about what they’re doing – and passionate about what your organisation does.

So, when you carry out your talent search, don’t fixate on finding someone who ticks all the boxes - try thinking outside the box altogether. 

For instance, a number of high profile organisations such as SAP, Microsoft and EY are running autism recruitment programmes, not because they want to “give someone a chance”, but because there’s real value in hiring people who think and act differently. 

Prioritise finding people with the right mindset for the role, and with softer skills like enthusiasm, determination and a strong work ethic – even if they don’t meet the original brief. 

Our psychometric tool, Pulse, unlocks data-driven insights about candidate’s underlying preferences, drivers and motivators, and examines how people respond to different situations and demands, allowing you to make unbiased, fact-based decisions.

2) Don’t pigeonhole people.

At a red carpet event, the actor Mayim Bialik, who plays neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the American TV show Big Bang Theory, was asked by a reporter if she ever gets mistaken for having the same smarts and skillset as her character on the show. This created a very awkward moment, as Bialik had to remind her interviewer that she is a neuroscientist as well as an actor. 

My point? When you advertise a new role, you will undoubtedly receive your fair share of irrelevant or unsuitable candidates, but try to give people the benefit of the doubt.          
People have backgrounds, experiences and capabilities that you won’t always be aware of, so don’t pigeonhole people by assuming their suitability or unsuitability for the role without doing your due diligence first. 

3) Invest in your people.

Crucial to attracting and retaining valuable talent is to create a working environment that encourages employee development and growth. 

From mentoring and coaching initiatives, through to training and networking opportunities, modern employees are eager to benefit from new experiences and take on board new skills.

It’s also worthwhile making an active effort to identify people with leadership potential and enabling them to grow and develop. Our Leadership Blueprint tool helps you map out and evaluate individuals across your organisation to define and identify leadership potential.
Also, invest your time in supporting people who aren’t living up to their full potential. While it might not always seem like it, most people want to do a good job, so when an employee is underperforming, think clearly about whether you’ve given them the right opportunities to do well before automatically writing them off. 
Finding top talent can be tricky, but there’s plenty organisations can do to ensure they remain attractive in the eyes of the employee, from establishing a purpose to investing in an employee development strategy.

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