What It Takes to Attract A-Players

Sabrina Starling Commentary

What It Takes to Attract A-Players

If you’re struggling to hire and you find the hiring process tedious and time-consuming with disappointing results, you are not alone. Pre-COVID, hiring challenges were rampant. COVID brings additional challenges. It’s challenging to hire. It’s even more challenging to hire “A-Players” if you are following traditional hiring practices.

What is an A-Player? A-Players are resourceful. They take initiative, go the extra mile and seek to work smarter. You can trust them to get the job done. A-Players are good communicators who work as a team to accomplish goals. Their “can-do” attitude is contagious on a team.

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When working in a role with a clearly defined result aligned with their strengths, A-Players can be 900-1,200% more productive than “warm body” team members.

Why is it so hard to find and hire A-Players? You can expect that about 10% of the population are A-Players. This means about 90% of applicants you encounter are not A-Players if you follow traditional hiring practices, which set us up to mis-hire 75% of the time.

Traditional hiring practices are as follows: deciding you need help, posting ads, collecting applications and resumes, interviewing, checking references, and making your hiring decision based on who applied, interviewed and had solid references. If your pool of applicants is not good, you are choosing the best from a poor pool of candidates.

Traditional hiring practices are out of alignment with the psychology and behavior of A-Players. You need a recruitment and hiring system that aligns with A-Player psychology and behavior.

Here’s what you need to know. A-Players:

► Are rarely unemployed. They move from one opportunity to the next via their network and word of mouth. They likely are not seeing your ads because they are not looking for a job.

► Hang together. Define what an A-Player looks like for your team and strategically increase your visibility as an “employer of choice” in their networks.

► Want to work where they are respected, trusted and have the freedom to choose the best way to accomplish results. Are your policies and procedures aligned with A-Player behavior, or are they designed to keep poorly performing employees in line?

► Are highly motivated to improve themselves. They want to learn and grow. Professional development opportunities aligned with their strengths and interests are very appealing to A-Players.

► Thrive on overcoming challenges. Do you have a big vision and goals? Share this with your A-Players. Invite their input.

► Crave opportunities for advancement. If you have success stories of team members who started at entry level and moved into leadership roles, publicize these stories. This will be highly compelling to the A-Players you want to attract.

How do you solve your hiring challenges? The sustainable solution lies in becoming an employer of choice for the A-Players you want on your team. This means intentionally designing and cultivating your culture to align with what is motivating and appealing to A-Players, while becoming more visible in their networks.

As a start, ask the A-Players on your team:

  1. What do you appreciate most about the opportunity to work with us?
  2. How would you describe our culture to a friend?
  3. In your opinion, what makes a great place to work?

Pay particular attention to the responses to the last two questions. How closely aligned are the responses to question No. 3 with the responses to question No. 2? If you notice a gap, you now know what to work on to improve your culture to be more attractive to A-Players.

Sabrina Starling is the author of the “How to Hire the Best” series and founder of Tap the Potential LLC. She shares more strategies at tapthepotential.com/toolkit. She’s also part of the Arkansas Business Women’s Leadership Summit on Oct. 19 in Jonesboro. You can register to attend at abwomensleadership.com.