happy employees diverse

It’s hard to find great talent. This has always been one of my top challenges, but never more so than now when many tech giants and startups lead recruitment by focusing on the perks. How many job listings have you read that start with: free lunch, a game room, and unlimited vacation? But even though we don’t offer complimentary dry cleaning or supply craft beer on tap at our company, we have managed to find A-list people who are excited to work for us. Here’s how you can do it too.

Rule 1: Tout The Perks of Being Small
Smaller companies usually have a flatter organization with closer relationships between leadership and employees, which makes it much easier for individuals to get things done and have a direct impact on the success of the business.

What the candidate hears: I’ll be more directly involved in planning and strategy, there will be a place for my ideas, and I will have room to learn and grow. I‘ll be able to make a real impact.

Rule 2: Be Authentic
People sense when you’re not fully present in a conversation. They also know when you’re asking scripted questions and giving rehearsed answers. Free yourself from distractions and be engaged—and human—during the interview.

What the candidate hears: This person is genuinely interested in learning about who I am and how my interests and experience align with their organization. I can envision working with/for them.

Rule 3: Go Easy on The Kool-Aid
The world is full of game changers, paradigm-shifters, and marketplace disrupters, so be sure to take off the superhero cape long enough to discuss what you really do and what you’re looking for in an employee. Should you talk about vision? Of course, but provide the business intelligence to back it up.

What the candidate hears: It’s refreshing to interview with a company that spends less time writing on the walls and talking about how they’re changing the world, and more time talking about their business.

Rule 4: Set Expectations
Of course generous equity packages, organic meals, and on-site gym facilities are all very enticing to candidates. But so is having a life. Often, fringe benefits come with a hefty price (i.e. the expectation that you never leave the office). If you don’t have an on-site barista, but most of your employees spend less than nine hours in the office per day—point that out.

What the candidate hears: All the over-the-top perks in the world won’t make being chained to my desk something I can live with. I want to be at a company that encourages its employees to work hard andhave a personal life.

Rule 5: Make Them Work For It
If you’re bending over backwards to convince someone to work for you—something is wrong. Have you challenged a potential employee to demonstrate how they will add value to your business? Give them a test and see how they do (Are they even willing to do a test?). Tell them good work means hard work and you only want the smartest people on your team. If they’re not excited by this—they probably aren’t a good fit.

What the candidate hears: This is a company full of A players and they are looking for more of the same; it’s a great opportunity for me to be pushed, challenged, and surrounded by other smart people.

Once you have the right candidate in place, you need to make sure they stick around. According to research from Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt at CEB in Washington, DC, employees are 40% more engaged day-to-day when they can answer the question: How does what I do relate to what the organization wants and can accomplish? The best talent will expect more because they give more, so you need to keep them engaged and committed to high-performance and this is one way to do it.

Create an environment where people enjoy coming to work every day because of what they contribute, and you may just find top talent flocking to you.

Laura Schooling

Laura Schooling is the Chief Marketing Officer of Jumpstart Automotive Group—an expert digital automotive marketing and advertising company and division of Hearst Magazines—Laura Schooling drives marketing, creative, product, and insights.