For a business, hiring a person is one of the most important decisions you can make. Selecting a candidate involves investing time, money, and staff resources toward attracting, recruiting, interviewing, and finally hiring the candidate. From there, it’s up to the hiree to bring value to the company. Strategic talent acquisition is critical to long-term success. Having the right process in place to identify quality candidates can mean the difference between someone working there for a few months or becoming a pillar of the organization for years.

When it comes to talent acquisition, it’s critical to consider how your employees fit as a part of your long-term company-wide strategy. How do you identify talent that can contribute not just in the ensuing months, but also for years down the road?

Below are a few best practices that you can follow to plan for the long-term when you’re engaging in strategic talent acquisition.

Hire a Person, Not a Set of Qualifications

When you’re looking to identify candidates, what is your starting point? Many HR and talent professionals view their open positions and then peruse job boards looking for candidates that match the specific qualifications for the roles they need filled. They rely on keywords to find the right candidate. From a long-term, strategic standpoint, this can be a mistake.

Your starting point should be aligned with identifying candidates who fit your company’s goals and value set. It’s smarter to hire talented, intelligent, and capable people and then help them gain the added skills they need to meet your qualifications. Making the right hire isn’t always about fitting a square peg in a square hole — sometimes, you need to relax your requirements if the candidate is outstanding enough.

For example, imagine you’re hiring for a manager position. Your job listing says you’d like someone with management experience. Let’s say you interview a candidate who has no management experience, but has a fantastic resume, great attitude, and clear aptitude for being a high performer. A person like that is likely highly coachable and therefore can be trained with the needed management skills after the fact.

It’s easy to find people with qualifications. It’s harder to find people with strong work ethics, positive attitudes, high intelligence quotients, and values that match what your company stands for. Take a chance on hiring excellent people and then being able to find a role for them rather than limiting yourself to what it says on your job posting.

Focus on Skill Over Credentials

Much in the same way that companies should value diversity and inclusion in the workplace as part of their diversity and inclusion strategy, they should also target candidates who hold skills over credentials.

Some jobs are going to require credentials as a prerequisite. There’s no getting around it in some cases. But just as you should hire a person based on their abilities rather than looking strictly for qualifications on a resume, you should also be looking for candidates that possess a specific skill set rather than an arbitrary set of credentials.

Does the candidate’s resume demonstrate a clear ability to get results? Do they have data to back up their accomplishments? Candidates who can prove they have a specific skill set you need — through aptitude tests, referrals, testimonials, and portfolios giving examples of their work — are stronger than a candidate who happened to go to the “right” college or university.

Pay Attention to an Individual’s Career Arc

Every resume (and subsequent interview) tells a story. What story is your candidate telling? Try to picture each candidate’s career as a narrative. Let them guide you through this during their interview, and try to see how that narrative might blend with the long term future of your company.

If candidates’ careers have trajectories, pay attention to the arc of their career. Have they shown an inclination for quick advancement? What kind of interest have they shown in your industry? Where have they taken extra initiative or gone above and beyond expectations to succeed? Evaluate their past performance, but also what you think they’d be capable of achieving with the resources of your company (mentorship, training, etc.) at their disposal.

Don’t Hire Based on Your Company Now, Hire Based on Your Company Five Years From Now

A common (and clichéd at this point) interview question is to ask a candidate, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” But it’s equally important for organizations to consider where they see themselves headed in five years when engaging talent.

If every employee has a career arc, it’s important to consider how you see your organization fitting into that story. How do you envision them integrating with your own corporate culture? Think about the direction your company is taking. If a candidate seems a bit under qualified or lacking in one area, but seems to be a high performer with a skill set that aligns with the company’s overall direction, hiring them could be a better long-term strategic decision.

Put Leaders in Every Role

Leadership is about more than being a project manager with direct reports and monthly expense reports to fill out. There are certain qualities — some of which are intangible — that a leader possesses. Part of strategic talent acquisition is looking for these qualities in every candidate you hire, no matter what position you bring them on for. It could be for an entry-level role. In fact, if you’re thinking of acquiring talent from a long term perspective, it’s actually MORE important to hire entry-level candidates with leadership skills. Every company defines leadership differently, but generally speaking, here are some examples of traits often found in leaders:

  • Proactive versus reactive. In sports terminology, playing with a lead is preferable to playing from behind. Leaders attempt to get out in front of issues as opposed to reacting once they happen.

  • Ownership. Leaders don’t pass the buck. They claim ownership for everything they can, professionally speaking.

  • Accountability. Leaders hold themselves and others accountable for doing what they say they will and following through.

These are some qualities to look out for. Candidates with these qualities are the type of people on which you want to build your company’s foundation. Opt for a cultural fit above all else.

Interested in learning more about how to plan for strategic talent acquisition? Reach out to see how Interseller can help and contact us today!