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How to Identify Top Talent

It can be argued that people are the most important asset in any company. This makes the ability to attract top talent for every role a vital part of a successful recruiting process. Exactly what can top performers do for your company? A recent study found that high performers are 400% more productive than average performers. In highly complex occupations, this number jumps to 800%.

With this in mind, it is essential for employers to create a clear strategy to identify, attract, and maintain top talent. Employees that can be considered top talent in any industry have a combination of education, experience, attitude, industry skills, and soft skills that help them excel in a specific role. Still, these attributes can be subtle and remarkably difficult to recognize. Knowing how to identify top talent is not only something that comes from intuition. It is a clear-cut practice that defines specific employee traits and the methods you can use to identify top talent in any industry.

Traits & Skills Recognized in Talented Applicants

Performance and experience are important for any job role. However, with a critical talent shortage, it can be challenging to find applicants that check all the boxes. When seeking top talent for your organization, it is crucial to recognize the traits and skills that complement typical performance metrics for the complete package. Recognizing these traits and skills can help you identify top talent.

Traits that Display Value

  • Positivity: A positive attitude can be key in achieving goals, making these candidates top performers. They are less likely to walk away from difficult work challenges or problems. As a bonus, positivity is a trait also enjoyed by customers and fellow co-workers.
  • Innovation: The ability to introduce new concepts or ideas is a valuable trait when technology is evolving more quickly than ever before. This trait can be recognized in problem solving, openness to change, and development tactics.
  • Attention to Detail: Important details exist in written communications, numbers and accounts, and complex processes. Detail-oriented candidates are often organized, focused on the present moment, and willing to ask for help when necessary.
  • Teamwork Oriented: Teams that work together get things done, and employees recognize the importance of teamwork. According to McKinsey, 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project. Teamwork-oriented employees are also more apt to develop good communication and leadership skills.
  • Adaptability: As technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, upskilling is becoming essential in every industry. Employees willing to adapt to changes are more likely to excel in the role.
  • Goal-Oriented: Applicants focused on personal career goals, team goals, and company goals will work harder to achieve better performance metrics and production.
  • Calmness Under Pressure: In every company, external factors exist that challenge the quality of performance and the success of projects. Employees who can stay focused and still produce under pressure are an asset in any role.

Valuable Skills in any Industry

While applicants must have the qualifications to fill a specific role, there are a variety of skills that top performers display. These skills are highly sought after in the current job market.

  • Language Skills: As businesses are becoming more globally minded, the ability to speak multiple languages fluently is a plus. German, French, Dutch, Russian, and Arabic are considered some of the most beneficial languages to learn.
  • Software and Internet Skills: Software and internet fluency are not just for IT professionals. Computer skills are vital to communicate with artificial intelligence, recognize cybersecurity threats, understand and use analytics, use cloud computing, understand programming, and be prepared for future tech growth.
  • Decision-Making Skills: An employee with the ability to recognize problems and quickly assess available options for the best solution possesses skills that transcend beyond specific role qualifications. Confident decision-making with good outcomes is a sign of efficiency and resourcefulness.
  • Communication Skills: From listening and body language to discussions and collaboration, effective communication is a crucial part of every role. In 2018, 42% of all workers held jobs where social skills were most important. Top performers exhibit the ability to communicate well with co-workers, supervisors, authority figures, and customers.
  • Leadership Skills: Leadership skills include confidence, focus, effective communication, and the ability to create and achieve goals. These skills are not only useful for employees in management positions.

Methods for Identifying Top Talent

Noting specific traits and skills is one way to take a step towards recognizing top talent or applicants that have the potential for high performance. Yet, the hiring methods you use could prove to be even more effective. Methods for identifying top talent should be used throughout the recruitment process and for long-term performance metrics. Using these methods can help you identify top talent for all vacant positions within your organization.

Outline Your Expectations

From advertising to examining applications and conducting interviews, hiring managers must be able to define top talent to be able to recognize the most capable applicants for any position. Your job posting should clearly outline the expectations and requirements of the role. Similarly, your application review and interviewing process should clearly denote specific traits, responses, and expectations of your incoming candidates.

Use Data

Employee talent metrics show a clear picture of what an employee has actually accomplished in a specific period of time. Using firm numbers like production, satisfied customers, errors, and quality projects can help you determine how competently an employee performs in the current or past position. Data provided by software like Crosschq 360 can be used to help make smarter hiring decisions.

Recognize Soft Skills

While impressive qualifications and production are attractive assets in any role, soft skills can make the difference between an employee prepared for the future and one with a single talent. The traits and skills listed previously can mean an applicant with fewer qualifications is still a better fit for a specific position. Existing soft skills can often put an applicant in a position to quickly adopt the necessary technical skills for a position.

Look within the Company

The recruiting and onboarding process is one of the biggest expenses any business faces. Creating a company process that fosters internal learning can significantly reduce employee turnover and increase successful hires. Workers expect the opportunity to rise within an organization. When companies invest in programs to help educate and upskill existing employees for advanced roles within the organization, employee engagement improves. This engagement works to decrease turnover and increase production. 

Seeking employees within your company provides added recruitment benefits as well. Employers that understand and acknowledge an employee's long-term goals can connect these goals with the company mission so that employees and the organization progress together. The performance record of an existing employee provides you with trusted performance metrics to evaluate the potential for a new position. Data provided by Crosschq Analytics also helps with internal recruitment by early detection of Superstars, evaluating employee upskilling, and the promotion of current employees.

Leverage Trusted Referrals

Whether they come from existing employees or a trusted candidate referral network, such as Crosschq Recruit, referrals give you insight into an applicant's previous performance. Referrals often come from sources other than traditional job boards. This gives you the benefits of reaching passive candidates and new sources. 

Additionally, referrals place employers in a position to avoid many of the biggest issues in the recruitment process and gain the following benefits:

  • Competition in a talent-hungry hiring market
  • Boosted retention rates
  • Reduced cost compared to traditional recruitment techniques
  • Quicker time to hire
  • Insight into a candidate's past
  • Candidates that are a better fit for your team

Best Practices for Identifying Top Talent

Recognizing the top talent within an organization that values performance metrics often depends on existing data. Without utilizing similar data during the recruiting process, hiring managers have limited information. Luckily, it is possible to create a process that will provide a clear indicator of which employees are most likely to succeed in any given role with reports from Crosschq Analytics.

These practices can help you identify top talent during the recruitment process:

  • Carefully assess the job and your related expectations.
  • Create transparent, compelling job descriptions.
  • Establish key performance indicators to evaluate the success of your recruiting efforts.
  • Consider the benefits of upskilling current employees for new roles.
  • Utilize social media to accurately describe your company's brand and company culture.
  • Gather additional information from recruitment reference checks.
  • Set guidelines for the quality of applications.
  • Integrate flexibility into the hiring process.
  • Use a referral program.
  • Share information about company benefits during recruitment.
  • Engage with candidates during the application process.
  • Insert company culture into job postings and social media.

As millions of boomers retire from the labor force each year, the skills gap continues to widen. Talent shortages in a variety of industries create a competitive market for hiring. This means companies seeking top talent must improve recruitment tactics and rely on technology to improve hiring success metrics and reduce inflated cost-per-hire costs. 

To learn how Crosschq can help save you time and money by identifying top talent, schedule a free demo.

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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