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3 Approaches to Recruit Top Talent

These 3 candidate assessment approaches help you to classify talent and demonstrate a method for finding top candidates to fill your positions.
Are you wondering if hiring a jack-of-all-trades is a good idea? The answer is no. We’ve all made hiring mistakes. Hiring the best talent starts with a recruiting strategy. The number one hiring mistake that small business owners make is having unrealistic expectations when they bring on help. They tend to want employees who can do a little bit of everything. This is a natural mindset when you’re starting a new business, since you want to hire as few people as possible at the beginning. However, this can leave your business with a stable of generalists, none of whom shine in any particular area. Instead of looking for jack-of-all-trade candidates, consider using one of the following hiring models to identify true specialists who can bring their highly-developed skills to the job at hand.

Approach 1: Capacity talent vs. cul-de-sac talent

In the book The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, author Gary Keller identifies two types of employees: capacity talent and cul-de-sac talent.
  • Capacity talent are people who can not only do the job they’re hired for, but can also grow beyond it and adopt new responsibilities and  tasks. These are employees who can think beyond the job’s basic requirements and take into account how their actions will affect the entire business.
  • Cul-de-sac talent are people who can do the job well, but will never grow beyond it. These are employees who will diligently perform their core job tasks, but are unable to see the big picture and progress to a larger role in the future.
For example, imagine you’re planning to hire a new ISA (Inside Sales Agent) to source leads and book appointments. If you hire cul-de-sac talent to fill this role, you’ll end up with someone who performs as expected, bringing in enough new leads to meet quota. However, if you hire capacity talent for an ISA position, you’ll get someone who proactively works on improving their sales skills and develops new sales and administrative processes to help the entire business run better. Capacity talent gives you employees who are not only capable, but also work with an eye to the company’s overarching needs. With their initiative, they’ll help grow the business much faster than cul-de-sac talent would.

Approach 2: T-shaped people vs. I-shaped people

The concept of T-shaped people is popular with professional recruiters. It describes a person who is capable in a number of different areas, but also an expert in one particular area. Such a person is likely to also be “capacity” talent as described in the previous section with their ability to think outside of a narrow range of specialization. In this hiring model, the T-shaped person is contrasted with the I-shaped person who has expertise in one area but no other skills (and thus may well be “cul-de-sac” talent”), and the generalist (represented by the cross bar at the top of the T), who has a range of skills but isn’t really expert in anything. Strive to hire T-shaped people since they make better employees than the I-shaped single discipline specialists and cross-bar generalists. They’ve cultivated secondary talents that make them far better collaborators. Common secondary T-person skills include “soft skills” like empathy, the ability to understand and appreciate others’ points of view. At the same time, they also have expertise in a single area to help meet your company’s specialized needs. Hiring individuals with these soft skills will benefit your organization as it grows. In fact, these individuals are uniquely suited to help you grow.

Approach 3: The Three-Legged Stool

The three-legged stool model refers to building a hiring approach that’s supported by three requirements:
  1. Strategy — First, the three-legged stool model requires that you consider the current state of the job market. When unemployment is low, it’s hard to find employees, particularly the superstars. Conversely, when poor economic conditions lead to a flood of unemployed candidates, you’ll have a much easier time attracting even the best candidates. However, the challenge will be one of identifying those superstars among the vast number of less talented potential employees. Using an assessment like DISC to screen for top candidates can help.
  2. People — Then you must take into account how the best employees tend to think about their careers. A highly talented individual is much more interested in career growth than in making a lateral move, so the job description and other hiring documents inn your recruiting process need to emphasize long-term opportunity so as to attract such prized employees. For example, capacity talent and T-shaped talent would likely be interested in jobs that let them do a number of different tasks rather than focusing on a narrow range of responsibilities.
  3. Process — Finally, you must bring together the first two factors in a well-designed, scalable hiring process that minimizes the amount of time and effort you and your employees are putting in on hiring, and maximizes the chances of finding and identifying top talent.
This three-legged approach to designing hiring models is complementary to both the above talent classification models. The classification models help you understand how the most desirable candidates think, and the three-legged stool helps you build a talent acquisition model that will attract those top-tier, perfect candidates.

Finding The Right Talent

Each of these three candidate assessment approaches to find new talent has its own way of viewing and classifying talent, but they all emphasize the need for finding truly talented top candidates to fill your open positions. That means hiring specialists who have not only mastered a particular skill set, but have also learned how to use those skills in a variety of ways. Adopting one or more of these recruiting approaches will help you take the guesswork out of hiring. Wouldn’t you rather know than guess? The life of your business depends on it. Ready to find talent?


Kathy Bentz

Find your people. Grow your team. Meet your Wizehire.