How to recruit talent for a turnaround mission. Some useful tips on how you can recruit talent for rebuilding your company.

How to Recruit Talent for a Turnaround Mission


When you’re a hot and promising start-up company, or an industry leader, a successful and known brand, such as Apple, Google, or Amazon, it’s relatively easy to attract and recruit top talent.

But what if you’re a company that has been having some bad years, and is now trying to initiate a turnaround? How can you recruit the talent you so desperately need to accomplish this challenging feat?

What can you offer that can compete with the more lucrative opportunities at successful, or up and coming companies? You definitely can’t offer more money, options, or other tangible benefits. In many cases, you can’t even offer them the excitement and pride of working on a breakthrough innovation or sexy technology. Nor can you attract them with a brand name that will make their resume much more valuable.

So what can you do?

You need to change your recruiting approach

First, you need to acknowledge the fact that you will not be able to recruit the best, experienced people. They have no reason or value in joining your company. You need to change your recruiting approach and go for potential and unproven talent and skills. You need to look for promising graduates, or less experienced people, who are looking for their first big break. Basically, you need to be willing to take some risks.

Successful or “hot” companies know that they’re in demand. They feel (perhaps correctly) that they don’t need to compromise on their requirements and criterion. They don’t want to settle. You need to qualify in all experience categories, and skills requirements to be even considered as a candidate. Few people actually do.

On the other hand, there are many talented people looking for their next step in their career development. Their first management role; more responsibility in product development. Perhaps they want to switch careers from engineering to sales, or marketing. These people typically don’t get these breaks unless it’s within the same company they are already working at. However, for you, they may be the best recruits.

In my view, the only thing that you can offer to attract talented people is a bigger and more challenging role. That is, more responsibility than they will get in other companies. An outstanding career development and growth opportunity.

It’s much like rebuilding an NBA team, who’s playing in a small market city. You need to build around talented rookies instead of proven NBA stars. And yet, when done right the results can be impressive. Look no further than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Unfortunately, there are no draft rules, or lottery picks in the job market. You need to search for your “rookies” at the right universities and colleges and grab them before others do. It sometimes means offering them a job while there are still in school. The advantage is that you lock them in early. And if they enjoy their job and work environment, they will stay with you for a long time.

However, for this recruiting strategy to be successful and result in a high-performance organization, you need to have strong and effective leaders in each of the company’s key functions, including R&D, marketing & sales, and operations. These leaders need to be able to identify and recruit the right talent, develop and coach them. They also need to lead by example and serve as good role models.

Who knows? With the right rookies and great leadership, your company might make it all the way to the finals in a few years. The Oklahoma City Thunder (then Seattle Supersonics) endured the worst season in franchise history in the 2007–08 NBA season, losing a team-record 62 games. This year, no one will be surprised if they win it all.

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2 thoughts on “How to Recruit Talent for a Turnaround Mission

  1. Thanks Ziv for your recent post on Recruiting Talent for a Turnaround Mission. It’s a great strategical thinking on start-up recruitment process. How ever we all understand the situation , but to keep in organized writing something great. I am your subscriber and found interesting reading. All kudos to you. keep it up. regards, pawan kumar singh , NOIDA, India

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