recruiting processI was reading Margaret Heffernan’s recent article for Inc. “9 Secrets of Highly Successful Hiring“ and the #2 item on her list stood out like a sore thumb:

Know the talent you already have.

Seems simple, right? But so often it’s a critical forgotten step in the recruiting process. Think about it — do you really know your team? If not, it’s time to start learning. I don’t mean you need to know all the ins-and-outs of everyone’s life, but you do need to start paying attention. Knowing your employees’ skills, demonstrated accomplishments, areas of improvement, and attitudes will aid you in nurturing employee potential, retention, and development — both professionally and personally. All these things together will in turn help your company succeed by saving time, money, and resources.

For my blog today, let’s focus on how knowing your talent can have specific impact when it comes to hiring.

Recruiters/Hiring Managers: How many times have you been in the midst of a search and an internal hire steps up to be considered for the role? This is a common occurrence, and a good one at that. But at the same time, when an employee steps up while you are in final rounds or even mid-way through the recruiting process and gets the job, think about the time and resources you could have spent on another search. This cannot be rectified all the time, but knowing your employees can help.

If you know a current employee has the potential and skills to step into a role, take the time to let the employee know about the opening, and gauge his or her interest. Since internal hires are already familiar with company culture and engaged in company processes they usually greatly reduce ramp-up time, recruiting time and cost, additional training costs, and overall risk. It’s also great for company culture and moral. Let it be known that the company is open to hiring/promoting within to motivate employees. Additionally, if your employees are aware of internal openings, they are more prone to offer referrals. As the saying goes, “good people know good people,” and referrals are a great way to fill a role.

Knowing your talent also rings true for employees who want to transition into a new field, not necessarily congruent with their current one. This also happens often. Employees make lateral moves to new teams, or even to completely new positions where they need to learn a new skill set.

Another advantage and important piece of knowing your talent is knowing enough to realize when it’s necessary to bring in new blood.

For example, many individual contributors are terrible managers and vice versa. To avoid awkwardness (and the potential of losing an employee should they not be the best fit for an opening), be honest. If an employee steps up and voices his or her interest but is not the strongest candidate for the role, be honest in your assessment and give the internal employee feedback. An advantage of knowing your employees and their mindsets is the ability to work with them to nurture and help guide them to where they strive to be.

Next time you open up a role, think about your current talent first, and spread the word.

photo by: jeffk

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