Everyone wants to hire the best. For all the talk of high unemployment numbers, it remains a struggle for employers to find people with the skills needed to do great work. The leaders of the PROFIT 500 have hired a lot of people in the past few years; they created more than 34,000 net full-time equivalent positions between 2008 and 2013, so they’ve mastered the art of screening and bringing in candidates. Here their advice on how to recruit terrific talent:

1. Turn your employees into recruiters

“Our biggest success is hiring people who learned about us through our employees promoting open positions on their own personal social media accounts. When that happens we give the employee a bonus.”
—Christopher Thierry, president, Etelesolv Inc. (No. 231)

2. Don’t worry about credentials

“Hire for attitude and train for skill. Our staff interviews require multiple rounds with the candidate present to use to ensure we get the right people.”
—John Preiditsch, president & CEO, Six S Partners Inc. (No. 81)

3. Always be hiring

“We’ve flipped our way of doing talent attraction. We used to wait till we had a position open, advertise, skim through resumes and hire someone. Now we proactively recruit and interview. We’ve developed a pipeline of candidates before a position is available. LinkedIn allows you to reach out to possible candidates. We don’t focus on people who apply to work for us; we focus on great people who already have jobs.”
—Brendan Howe, president and CEO, TDCNet Inc. (No. 253)

4. Use some technology

“We use a tool called Jobvite. It helps streamline all of our HR recruiting. We can upload job descriptions and it blasts them out to the major job boards, applicants info gets pulled back into the system on our end. It helps manage potential candidates and it’s levelled up our recruiting strategy without hiring outside recruiters. We’ve seen more resumes and a decrease in recruiting costs.”
—Alkarim Nasser, managing partner, Bnotions (No. 16)

5. Get on the LinkedIn bandwagon

“This year we decided to tone down our use of recruiters and use LinkedIn as a different tactic. And for about $25,000, I’ve already hired about 13 people. And so from a pure dollars and cents ROI perspective, you can’t beat it.”
—Sean Murphy, managing principal, A Hundred Answers Inc. (No. 10)

6. Apply topgrading

“We hire based on some of the better topgrading principles. We hire like-minded individuals with predictable success, attributes within their personalities that give you some predictability as to how well they’ll fit into the team.”
—Bryce Stacey, managing partner, Ignite Technical Resources Ltd. (No. 235)

7. Stress what makes you different

“It’s really a meritocracy here. That draws in someone who prides themselves on marking a difference.”
—Emad Rizkalla, founder and CEO, Bluedrop Performance Learning Inc. (No. 260)

8. Tell your company’s story

“It sounds really simplistic, but I find when I have to interview people I communicate the values that our company is based upon, and how we make decisions. I communicate the vision that we have for the company and where we’re going, and I think we’ve got a very compelling story to tell, and it does a great deal toward attracting the right kind of employees, and people who want to be here. They want to be successful, within their company and within their professional careers, and I think we provide a great opportunity for that here.”
—Dave Eason, CEO, Berkeley Payment Solutions Inc. (No. 66)

9. Get ’em while they’re young

“We offer a paid apprenticeship program, in which recent graduates come in for three months and get paired up with one of our senior developers. And we work on a career plan with them to determine what area of software design or development that they want to focus on. They get put on a project team with us. They work on their skill development. Every day there’s time for reviews via a senior developer to check on what they’ve done. It has been really successful. We’ve pretty much hired every apprentice that’s come through that system.”
—Dominic Bortolussi, Managing partner, The Working Group Inc. (No. 137)

10. Tell them they’ll make a difference

“The sales pitch that I’ve used to potential recruits is ‘listen, there’s no such thing as this is how we do it.’ People get jazzed up because they get to be a part of finding solutions.”
—Troy Ferguson, president and CEO, Redrock Camps Inc. (No. 74)

11. Develop a referral program

“We are in hiring mode and we reminded all staff about our referral programthey get a cash bonus for referring a hire. It’s worth it, because those referrals have high probability of success. When those people come in for an interview they have a head start; they already know they want to be here.”
—Bill Graham, president and CEO, Rifco Inc. (No. 261)

12. Err on the side of over-interviewing

“We’re very careful in our hiring process. We always make sure there are three interviews. The first might be over the phone, the second is a 45-minute interview, the third would be a team interview to make sure they’re going to be a good fit into our culture. As much as it takes time, we want to make sure we go through that process to make sure we have success.”
—Nancy Mudford, CEO, Spa Boutique Ltd. (No. 86)

13. Be picky (and patient)

“We’re probably very picky in terms of who we want to hire. And when we’re looking for somebody, we spend sometimes years looking for them.”
—Mike Sandler, CEO, Epiphan Systems Inc. (No.226)

Click here for the complete 2014 PROFIT 500

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