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  • How Small Business Owners Can Attract ‘Top Talent?’

    Line Up for Job photo from ShutterstockEvery start-up would love to have the influence that Google has in attracting ‘Top Talent.”  After all, who wouldn’t want the absolute best talent in the industry clamoring to join your ranks? First thing you can do is recognize the strengths start-ups inherently have and capitalize on those areas. Then you should learn more about the established tech firms like Google’s hiring practices. Discover what they offer that you can also offer. And finally, know your limitations as a small firm and offer something that employees can’t get at the bigger firms.

    Start-ups (and smaller business—under 1000 employees) have the ability to offer employees more ownership of ideas and a sense of being a force behind the firm’s mission. These firms tend to have simpler organizational structures that in general tend to have fewer rules and less bureaucracy. The smaller the firm the easier it is for management to empower individual employees. Fewer buffers exist between employees and managers so it’s possible for everyone to be more involved in decision-making and have increased power to use their judgment and their intelligence.

    Make sure your marketing campaign takes full advantage of the benefits you offer from being small such as giving more autonomy and purpose for employees and valuing their creative input. Get testimonials from employees on your company website that reiterate this and place it in your company’s LinkedIn profile in a section that describes your company’s culture.

    Another strategy to attract top talent that you could model after the big firms is making your firm a cool place to work. Be creative in creating a workspace and an atmosphere that appeals to ‘top talent.’ The idea is to know your competition and copycat all the good things about them wherever you can. While you may not be able to offer new hires a Google salary, you could still offer many of the things they offer on a smaller scale. For instance,

    Emulate Aspects of The Culture at Google to Attract Top Talent

    Google is well-known for its dynamic culture and for allowing employees ownership of projects. Employees are encouraged to pursue their creative ambitions and are given time every week to work on a project of their choice.

    1. Set Out to Attract Top Talent

    It’s not to say that you could actually compete with Google in attracting the cream of the crop but being more selective in your hiring practices could pay off in the long run. Employees at Google know they’ll have the opportunity to work with other top talent as the companies known for attracting the best and brightest people who stand out for their character and their abilities. It’s worth investing in high quality employees as it adds prestige to your firm’s reputation and makes it more enticing for other ‘top talent’ to work for you.

    2. Look for What Google Looks For in Hiring

    Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless… We found that they don’t predict anything.

    Google’s hiring managers focus on character traits that they feel are predictors for successful employees. They pay for what you can do with what you know and they don’t care HOW YOU LEARNED IT. This means you can recruit people from less prestigious schools as long as they have a track record for being collaborative, adaptable and solving complex problems.

    While being an expert matters in certain fields like programming and engineering, Google focuses equal if not more emphasis in hiring people who possess certain soft skills including leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. Employees who possess these traits tend to be more trainable and are often the ones who strive harder to make a difference and learn from mistakes.

    3. Leadership

    Google wants to know how you’ve flexed different muscles in different situations in order to mobilize a team. This might be by asserting a leadership role at work or with an organization, or by helping a team succeed when you weren’t officially appointed as the leader. They seek people who when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, step in and lead at the appropriate time. And just as critically, they look for people who know when to step back and stop leading, and let someone else lead. They reason: Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.

    “Intellectual humility is a critical trait. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It’s why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.

    “They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved… What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.

    4. Role-Related Knowledge

    Look for people who have a variety of strengths and passions, not just isolated skill sets. Make sure that new hires have the experience and the background that will set them up for success in their new role. For engineering candidates in particular, look to check out their coding skills and technical areas of expertise.

    5. How You Think

    Hire people based on how they think. Today, Google’s hiring managers are less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think. Managers ask candidates some role-related questions that provide insight into how you solve problems. They want applicants to show them how they would tackle the problem presented–don’t get hung up on nailing the “right” answer.

    6. Ask Yourself, Will This Candidate Fit In Your Company’s Culture?

    Look for signs if this candidate will fit in your firm? Is he comfortable with ambiguity? What’s her bias to action and does she have a collaborative nature?

    7. Collect Feedback From Multiple Employees from Different Departments

    At Google, employees work on tons of projects with different groups of Googlers, across many teams and time zones. To give employees a sense of what working there is really like, some interviewers could be potential teammates, but some interviewers will be with other teams. This helps hiring managers see how a prospective new hire might collaborate and fit in at Google overall.

    8. Use Independent Committees to Ensure Hiring For the Long Term

    An independent committee of Googlers review feedback from all of the interviewers. This committee is responsible for ensuring their hiring process is fair and that they’re holding true to their “good for Google” standards as they grow.

    At Google they believe that if you hire great people and involve them intensively in the hiring process, you’ll get more great people. While involving Googlers in the hiring process does take longer, they believe it’s worth it. While a small firm might not have multiple teams to review a single candidate, you might have several managers review prospective new hires to look for signs that this person would be a good fit.

    Emphasize That You Choose to Be Great Rather than Big

    The Inherent Benefits in Staying Small

    Bo Burlingham, the Editor-at-Large for Inc. Magazine’s recent book Small Giants: Companies That Choose to be Great Instead of Big, showcases businesses that chose to do great things which required them to remain relatively small. He shines a light on a handful of business practices that he admires, and which he believes are the reason some companies consistently do better than others. His research in spotlighting businesses that give back to their employees, suppliers and their community reflects his personal values. Other businesses could take notice of these businesses so they model them in some way and may find that employees appreciate working for a small firm because the possibility for seeing the impact of their work and for having a relationship with upper management is greater than with a large firm. In a small firm it’s more likely that employees can own a project and have the opportunity to say… that’s mine, I made it.

    Small firms could benefit from incorporating certain tactics that the big tech firms use to attract top talent in order to increase their chances for hiring someone who will fit into the firm and bring value once they’re on board. The advantage that small firms should emphasize in their recruiting materials and when talking to prospective employees are the distinct benefits of working in a more close-knit setting. When individual employees feel they have a voice they tend to feel more motivated and engaged at work. It’s okay to emphasize that this is a desirable attribute of your firm that’s harder to find in a larger organization.

    While some big companies do this, it’s far easier for employees in a smaller firm to feel they’re a part of their firm’s missions because there are fewer buffers between them and management. Fewer layers of management results in the opportunity for closer ties between co-workers on all levels. This is an inherent advantage for every small firm and an enviable quality that many large firms struggle to obtain. Advertising the benefits of being small could help you attract top talent and enhance your company’s brand for choosing to be great rather than big.

    Beth Kuhel, M.B.A., C.E.I.P., Executive Leadership and Career transition coach, writes about leadership strategies, career advancement and improving the workplace for Forbes, Huffington Post, Personal Branding blog and has been featured in Business Insider, Entrepreneur magazine, Tiny Pulse, U.S. News & World Report. Beth’s weekly career CJN career column was sponsored by Weatherhead School of Management. https://www.linkedin.com/nhome/ Follow Beth on Twitter at @BethKuhel

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