When it feels as though finding qualified applicants is harder than finding a needle in a haystack, it’s easy to feel like hiring any one candidate with a pulse might be better than hiring no one at all. But the difference between recruiting success and failure often comes down to just a handful of overlooked gaps.
Many of the Best Candidates Are Not Looking
The candidates that you want to attract already know that they are highly sought. In most cases, their current employer would hate to see them leave. Indeed, many of the best candidates are not even currently on the job market. To attract top performers, you need to pique their interest.
Let’s imagine that you are a qualified candidate for a job opening for a skilled position. Which posting would capture your attention:
Option 1: A detailed posting of the objective job qualifications and technical proficiencies required for the position; or
Option 2: A professional, but personable listing emphasizing the attributes of those candidates who will thrive in the role?
Let’s face it. When candidates fail, it’s usually because of a lack of culture fit or a personality trait that doesn’t align with others. Rarely is the problem caused by a missing skill. Once you pique their interest, you can still share the technical description of the role.
Embrace Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose
In Daniel Pink’s #1 New York Times bestselling book, Drive, he shares research showing that employees seek environments where they can embrace autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Candidates will often choose opportunities with those attributes over ones that might pay a bit more but lack those elements.
Why? Because a job is so much more than money. Yes, a job needs to pay the bills, and yes, employees that deliver more value are often compensated accordingly. But work is the way we create things that serve our fellow human beings. It gives a structure to our day, a purpose for our actions, and a community to work with and work for. When you speak directly and honestly to these fundamentally human elements, candidates will clearly see that you take them seriously, that you value their time, and that you want them to genuinely flourish in their future roles.
If you removed the company name from your job postings, what story would it tell? Would there even be a story or would it sound like everyone else? Would candidates be able to identify your company and envision themselves in those roles or would it just be another copy of that same disembodied candidate wish list?
If the cookie-cutter postings are repelling the ideal candidates, then what can you do to attract that top talent? Instead of a posting that says, “Seeking a candidate with 5 years of experience in X, Y, and Z,” take a different approach.
Say something that genuinely reflects the culture and the aim of the role like, “You: An experienced top performer whose current work environment might have lost its appeal. You thrive in creative environments, encourage spirited, respectful debates with clients to discover the best way to solve business challenges and feel pride when you tackle a big task and exceed expectations. You want a career where the leadership cares as much about your personal and professional development as you do.”
You can still include the specific job requirements, but you need to get them to pause, to get curious, and to spark a different, more compelling vision of their future selves. The talent is out there but you need to give them a reason to come to you. If you do, you’ll start to attract not only those overlooked, underappreciated top performers but even the stars who still know there’s something better out there. That’s a big win for you and an even bigger win for them.
Recruit with Culture and Well-Being
You can either recruit based on salary or recruit based on culture and well-being. Those new hires you just lured with a 10% salary increase? They’ll be loyal to you up until the moment someone else offers them another 10% bump. Companies that recruit largely based on salary get the kind of candidates who leave based on salary. In the short term, it might pay off but over the long haul, it will degrade your culture and create retention issues.
The alternative is to recruit with culture and well-being, to take on the challenge of flourishing with a shared vision of place and expressed values. If you attend to the person by focusing on autonomy, mastery, and purpose, you will attract new hires aligned with your culture and values. Yes, the compensation needs to be competitive, but it won’t be the true separator for the kinds of people you want in your organization.
Tell Less, Show More
Many organizations say that they focus on personal well-being. But saying it and doing it are two different things. This brings us to our final point.
Understanding the environment and being able to identify the right person for the role depends in large part on personality-job fit.
Rigorous personality assessments like the WorkPlace Big Five Profileᵀᴹ give you insights into a role’s underlying behavioral demands and will identify where candidates get their most energy. When you match the person to the role, you help ensure their sustained success, engagement, and commitment.
Moreover, when you show them how you use tools as part of the hiring process to ensure a good fit now and as part of a broader development process, you demonstrate a differentiating commitment to their success and future career.
If you want to attract and retain top talent, focus on the personality attributes of your ideal candidate. Pique their interest and ensure that you demonstrate the importance of fit during the hiring process and throughout their professional development. If they can see that you are focused on their success and happiness, they’ll want you to be a part of their promising professional future and your organization will see the measurable, long-term benefits of increased retention, sustained engagement, and enhanced talent pipelines.
We Can Help!
At Paradigm Personality Labs, we are on a mission to offer high-caliber assessments and tools to help you understand your workforce. Our approach is people-centered, holistic, grounded in science, and outcome-focused. Visit our website to learn more.