There's a difference between hiring people and recruiting talent.
As an interactive agency, our biggest expense is our people. Hiring a new employee is a big investment, and potentially a risky one as well. This is made more difficult because the interactive industry is growing, and is highly competitive. There are lot of good companies vying for a limited number of exceptional people. Over time our approach to hiring has evolved based on a rather unlikely template. We've decided to approach hiring new employees more like college basketball programs approach recruiting talented players.
Why? College basketball is highly competitive. In fact, it's more competitive than most industries out there. Plus, everyone has to play by the same rules. This means that the biggest differentiator a team can have versus it's competition is the talent-level of their players.
So how do the great teams go about getting more talented players than their competition? College basketball teams don't post ads on websites and wait for the applications to flood in. They scout, identify and recruit talent that fits their needs. Great companies used to do the same thing with corporate recruiters. But, with the advent of tools like linkedin, it's easier than ever to proactively scout for talent. Companies can identify potential employees with nothing more than a few minutes searching.
But, changing from a hiring mindset to a recruiting mindset also shifts the way you approach the interview process. Each touchpoint with a potential hire is an interaction with your brand. It's the business equivalent of a high school athlete making a campus visit. If the applicant has to answer a series of generic pre-interview questions by email, is blown off by a distracted team member when they come for the in person interview, and has to sit uncomfortably in the lobby for an extended period of time; then the chances are the applicant is going to judge your company based on those interactions. And if those interactions are negative then you're at a disadvantage from the start. Talented people aren't really "hired" by companies, they "choose" to work there. If you give them a reason to say no, chances are they'll take it.