As an organization pyramid narrows as it approaches the president/CEO level so does the supply of experienced executives with tenure managing success at that level. The data center market is fortunate to have a multitude of traditional education and professional development institutions to support the majority of IT/NOC-related functional knowledge. While the data center hosting market competes with more traditionally recognized enterprise employers for this talent base, the larger challenge is to find and attract talent specifically experienced in the nuances of the non-IT related functions in the hosting and managed services business.

From a broader perspective we need to consider the evolution of motivations associated with the current candidate demographics. In its simplest terms, and obvious example, the social media tools running rampant in our very data centers reflect the community orientation of users who also thirst for instantaneous information and feedback on their everyday activities. While individuals are more forward about sharing personal information, they expect a trusted community will handle this information in an appropriate manner.

This generation of talent maintains a strong orientation toward a “we” community in which mutual sharing and support is a way of life. Will your organization seem outdated to candidates when it needs to hire talent from outside the company? Are you using generic company and job descriptions to compel prospective employees to join your business? Given the current “buyer’s market” condition, your window of opportunity for competitive advantage is closing.

With this in mind, let’s review a few tenets of a healthy approach to talent acquisition:

  • Not all talent is created equal. As with all other demographics, a bell curve exists. The minority of higher value talent is in demand by a majority of companies. The highest value passive talent is improving the success at their current organizations.
  • Actively recruit passive talent. Passive talent responsibly keeps aware of fortuitous growth opportunities on a consistent basis, particularly when their current organization shows signs of stalling. You have no control over when this is going to happen to them. The success of your recruiting efforts shouldn’t be left to chance … like roulette.
  • Passive candidates are the buyers. In order to compel them, you need to sell them. Recruiting is sales. All of your employees are salespersons. All of your salespersons should say fairly consistent things to prospective candidates.
  • Recruit all the time. Review your culture with everyone in the company and decide what you’re all going to say to everyone that interviews with you.
  • Commit to hiring talent … not hiring an available candidate. Scrutinize why, in an overemployed market, a talented individual is conveniently available at the time you are looking to fill that role in your organization? A suave HR VP once told me if you want to peel back a candidate’s reply to a question, ask, “Why?” three times.

Commit to hiring talent and you will create a great organization. This is a collective (all hands in) acknowledgement that you have to work to compel better people to consider your organization as a career alternative.

Passive talent is more interested in the state and stage of your business maturity and growth trajectory than they are in reading a job description that reads like a laundry list resulting from an internally created restrictive environment. Let the revelation of your organization’s culture get established first, then advertise the role on the team that you want to compel great people to join. What does the team look like? Who are they joining? Where will they work? Who will they be working with?

Here is a great example of an organization that prides itself on its unique culture and is willing to put the candidate in the midst of their work environment.

Culture statement: Finding incredible opportunities is simply part of the atmosphere at company A. The endless pursuit of life’s adventure is as much a part of our professional lives as it is our recreational ones, although thankfully, the line between the two does blur. What we enjoy is an organization founded on innovation in all facets, be it the product we make or the global distribution we manage. (Author’s note: There’s that “we” word again!)

Employment opportunity excerpt specific to the location: Welcome to Lower Manhattan! SoHo is the area south of Houston and north of Canal Street on the west side of Manhattan. Within only a quarter of a square mile, SoHo has an estimated 250 art galleries, four museums, nearly 200 restaurants, and 100 stores. SoHo is known for trendy shopping, art galleries. and cast iron architecture. NYC has so much to offer to tourists and residents alike. It’s the city that never sleeps. In September 2005, company A opened its first store in NY. It brings the soul of business to the heart of the city. The store even has a cold room where you can try out your gear in frigid temperatures.

People join companies and leave managers. Does your company description accurately portray and reflect the unique characteristics and personalities that comprise the “we?” You can sufficiently self-select like-minded persons with a common interest and sense for the character and pace of your organization. Provide details about the company’s strategy and direction to add context to the job description? What’s compelling about you? How deep do you go? What’s your employer appeal?

So you’re a hosting company. You have employees who work in certain locations, and you take great care of your customer’s IT infrastructure and assets. How do you further describe yourself? Let me count the ways. Oh, we have great redundant infrastructure with all newly updated racks, cables, PDUs, etc., with the latest and greatest UPS this and electrical system that. We’re alliance partners with Cisco and Parallels and Microsoft and Red Hat. We provide managed services and private label opportunities for our exclusive channel partners. Yep. And so does every other technologically relevant, current, and competent hosting provider in the business.

What is constant in the mundane paragraph above is the word we. The we in every organization brings customer service, impressions, propositions, equipment performance, and provisionings to life. We is more often how something is done more than what is done. After all, it is a foregone conclusion, given the nature of the industry, that advertising four ’90s or greater reliability, is going to work on your behalf, Mr. Customer.

The lesson here is to kill your job descriptions. Describe the practical work environment you are attempting to compel someone to work in. The data center market is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing markets in the world. We’re building the information superhighway where all of the bits and bytes, past and present, reside, travel, and interact to support all means of our future economy and culture. Give yourself some credit … sell the experience … give it a lift!!