Companies who can consistently attract and hire the right people generate a meaningful competitive advantage in their market. Entrepreneurs who seek this advantage must first understand that recruiting is both an art and a science.

In my experience, the reason that companies struggle with attracting and retaining a high-performing team is because they’re usually good at one aspect of recruitment, but not both. The founders of the business may be fantastic with the art of recruiting, but don’t give the science side much credence. The human resources leader might be amazing with the science of recruiting, but struggle to deliver with it comes to the art.

How can companies be good at both the Art and the Science?

The Art

Recruiting is, at its core, a sales process. Your goal as the entrepreneur is to convince someone to leave their existing job for the promise of a better experience with your company.  In this sense, “better experience” could mean any combination of improved compensation, a better culture fit, more generous perks, a more interesting professional challenge or an enhanced career path, among many other factors.

The entrepreneur and the candidate are both working hard to earn the trust of the other person, and the stakes are incredibly high. If the entrepreneur makes the right hiring decision, they’re going to get an immediate lift in the business, and life gets better.  On the downside, a hiring mistake could cost the entrepreneur vital cash flow, disrupt the sales pipeline, hurt customer relationships and, with management misfires, cause an exodus of top talent.

This transfer of trust between you and your preferred candidate is subtle.  Entrepreneurs who excel at the art of recruiting are masters at trust-building during the hiring process. To assess whether or not you are successfully executing the art of recruiting, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your employment brand speak to this candidate in a way that inspires them to action?
  • Do you make it really easy for someone to apply to your open positions.
  • What is the feeling the candidate gets when they step into your office and interact with you and your team?
  • Has the candidate had a positive candidate experience throughout the recruiting process?
  • Have you rallied them to your cause, and explained your vision for the company in a way that creates an intense desire to be a part of something special?

The Science

You may be exceptional at getting candidates excited to join your team, but hiring motivated team members who can’t deliver is not a formula for business success. That’s where the science of recruitment kicks in.

The science of recruiting is not unlike an insurance underwriting process.  Think about it: State Farm doesn’t need to meet you in person to know that if you have a 16 year-old driver in the house, a sports car in the garage and a spouse who’s had five prior accidents that you could cost them a lot of money.  They know that people with that risk profile are exponentially more likely to get into accidents and file insurance claims.

State Farm may bombard you with advertising that inspires you to do business with them (Aaron Rogers, anyone?) but they don’t simply sell a policy to everyone who wants to buy.  They get you excited (the art), but then they run you through an underwriting application that tells them whether or not you’re a fit for their business model (the science).

To determine whether or not you’re executing well on the science side of recruitment, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your company have a standardized recruiting process, with defined steps?
  • Are you defining the specific, measurable outcomes that you want as a result of this person being hired? (i.e. generate $500K in new customer sales)
  • Are managers using scripted interview guides to ensure consistent measurement of candidate qualifications?
  • Do your candidates take a pre-hire assessment that measures their fit for that specific job?
  • Are candidates hired based on an objective, score-based criteria, versus “gut feel?”

The art of recruiting is what brings top talent to your doorstep, wanting to learn more. When you’ve mastered the art of recruiting, you’ll attract candidates who are as much as six times more likely to be a top-performer. The science of recruiting is what you leverage to make the right hiring decision. When you’ve mastered the science of recruiting, you can increase your hiring results by as much as forty percent.

When your company has mastered both the art and science of recruiting, you’ve created an operating advantage that few of your competitors can match.