The very act of recruiting can be traced back hundreds of years ago and then some. People were “recruiting” even before it became a concept and frameworks were created to guide everyone. Back in school, our gym teacher would select two captains and tell them to choose team members one by one. That was arguably one of the simplest forms of recruiting and sure enough we were not even close of being aware of how complex this would eventually turn out to be later on in life.

Today, we find countless recruiting models, each more suitable, more efficient than the other as claimed by their creators. The agency, the corporate, the insource, the outsource or even co-source models are just to name a few. Each time a new box is added to the workflow chart, a new model is born.

Here’s the thing. These models are in fact processes that have been put in place to tell people what and when to do certain things to get from point A to point B. Processes usually require more than one person to run them and most would agree that recruiting is a team sport. So when the CEO recruits, how can he or she be as efficient as a whole team?

Hint #1 – They invest time perfecting and sharing their story.

There are thousands of articles, interviews or talks with CEOs on a regular day. Readers and viewers find them interesting because they hold insights and possibly the secret of building a successful business but underneath it all they are stories. Sometimes they are just a paragraph and sometimes a whole chapter. The story gets people hooked, hungry for more and and if the storyteller is talented too, then the number of followers grows even stronger. Bottom line is if it’s compelling, people will be interested to be part of it going forward.

Becoming a great storyteller requires practice, practice and more practice. Sometimes the story needs to be written over and over again until the storyline is just right. Other times, telling the story multiple time is the answer to nailing down delivery. Few people can write and speak Shakespeare naturally and on demand. For the rest of us, practicing for days, weeks and even months is what it takes to deliver a good story.

It takes time and we know it’s a scarce resource in our modern age but at the end of the day, it makes a difference. Those who do not take the time will only present a chapter while other ones will present the whole story. Which one do you think will have more traction?

Hint #2 – They invest time to understand their team.

Each year the national hockey league organizes an all-star game where the best players from the west play against the best from the east in a friendly game. There is some heavy duty talent on ice for the most part fairly synchronized but that’s only the case because of the friendly nature of the game. In regular season, it would be wishful thinking to expect all these players and their personalities to be a good chemistry mix if they played for the same team.  

The same principle applies in a professional setting and that’s why the CEO will invest quite a bit of time to understand as best as possible the people and teams that make up the business and how they interact with one another. Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” There’s absolutely no gain in hiring only the greatest smartest people if they can’t work with each other so investing time to understand them puts us in a far better position to make the right judgment call.

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Hint #3 – They value referrals.

It’s hard enough to find talented people, keeping them is just as challenging. In general, “birds of a feather, flock together” and assuming we’ve done a great job at hiring top people, we can safely roam into their network to find more talented individuals. One of the biggest advantages of referrals is that a warm introduction wins most battles against a cold call. It goes without saying that the first hires are crucial as they will shape how the rest of the team will look like.

The other side of the medal really comes down to who these talented people want to work with as well. Today, if people don’t get along, the output suffers and forcing them to work together is simply not a viable option. That’s when referrals come in very handy, they let people choose who they want to work with given they have the skillset the business needs.

The art of recruiting is constantly changing and there’s no “one size fits all” model just yet. Telling a story, making sure the chemistry is right and pushing referrals are just part of another model, another framework that some CEOs have adopted over time and has seen its share of success. At the end of the day, the model we should apply is the one that helps us reach our objectives period.

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