Guest post from Jennifer Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth. July’s featured author in the Verizon Author Series. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
It is never easy to find the right people at the right time. For a small business owner, the challenge to keep the talent pipeline filled and flowing is constant. I’ve found to maintain a steady supply of people at all levels of my firm, I’ve had to go beyond the traditional recruiting methods of headhunters and Internet job sites to create my own talent ecosystem.
Photo by Arnold Adler Photography
Engage the staff. Make sure your staff understands that talent spotting is their job, too. Too often, staffers think recruiting is some mysterious process that happens behind closed doors in HR. Emphasize that you expect everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for great people who should be brought on board.
Be creative in job creation. One way to build a pipeline is to create interesting jobs and internships for young people. Look for ways to use them that are interesting and give them a taste of what it’s like to work for your company. A summer spent slaving away over the copy machine is not very inspirational. If you hope that some of these young people will one day want to work for you, come up with ways to involve them in the real work of the firm. Also, don’t be constrained by old-fashioned job parameters – look for new ways you can make room in your company. For example, we don’t just offer a summer job; we also have 90-day internships during the school year.
Talent spot constantly. Don’t just make this a process for “flush” times. Even when you are not expanding your staff, you should be on the lookout for great candidates. Get to know people. Understand their goals and what they might offer you. Then, when you have talent needs and your budget allows, you will be able to move quickly. One of the biggest mistakes business leaders make is to hire in a panic. Often, it may seem to the business leader that the situation can’t be helped – the new person is needed and speed is of the essence.
But my point is this: if you are constantly talent spotting, then when your business requires a “right now” hire, you can proceed without taking a big risk and bringing in someone in a hurry. Time invested when you don’t need the help will pay off later.
Measure your results. It’s like the only saying goes: You get what you measure. If you do not measure your abilities to build a talent pipeline, you will probably never know for sure if you’re doing your best work and how your efforts could be improved. Keep track of the time and resources you spend on spotting and engaging potential talent and measure how well you’re doing in this process over time. You may be amazed to see places in the pipeline process where you can refine and improve your efforts. But without measurement, those opportunities may go unnoticed.
When you can make the talent pipeline a process rather than a pipe dream, that’s when the value really flows. How do you find talent for your business? To read my other guest post on keeping employees click here.
If you are interested in more insights, join my live webinar next Wednesday at 2 p.m. E.T. It’s free and if you can join me live, you’ll have the chance to ask me your question(s) and get a copy of my book. Click here to register for the webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.