In seeking and hiring hard-to-find talent, the the top talent you already have in house can be a great resource in bringing more people in. Talented people tend to have talented friends, and more importantly, they tend to be good at convincing their friends to join them. Organizations that make talent-for-talent recruiting part of their recruitment strategy tend to be better at landing great candidates and more successful at integrating them into their companies.

The National Basketball Association in the United States stands as a powerful example of the benefits of talent-for-talent recruiting. In the fiercely competitive market for high profile basketball players, teams are aggressively courting athletes at every opportunity, and all-star basketball players are often used as the last bit of leverage to convince candidates that theirs is the team to join. Lebron James recently recruited Kevin Love to join him in Cleveland; before that Dwayne Wade had recruited James to join him in Miami for a few years; and the recently retired Kobe Bryant was frequently used during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers to recruit other athletes. This practice is so commonplace in the NBA that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak once said about Bryant, “When we recruit free agents, I’ll call Kobe and say, ‘Hey give this guy a call.’”

Talent-for-talent recruiting goes beyond simply setting up a referral program and asking people to submit candidates. What it does is focus on very specific profiles (perhaps already in the talent pipeline, perhaps not) and identifies which employee would be most effective in convincing a given candidate that a change of jobs is in their best interest. By having their best players use their skills, knowledge, and renown to entice someone to join them teams not only improve their odds of successfully placing the candidate, they also improve chemistry and retention after a person is brought on board because key relationships have already been established.

Most companies, when recruiting for talent, won’t face stakes as high as those of the NBA, but they could still benefit from borrowing the basketball league’s tactics of asking their best employees to convince others to work for them. If your organization hasn’t tried talent-for-talent recruiting here are four tips.

1. Identify employees who can help you recruit for hard-to-fill positions

Employees may have skills, networks, experiences, educations, etc. that are in common with positions you need to fill. Find where an employee may match and see if they can be of assistance to you.

2. Involve talented employees in recruiting early on

By inviting your best employees to contribute to recruiting at the early stages you help them to feel like they’re part of the team, and they may even have some quality candidates from their own network to give you right away. The more traditional approach of bringing your employees in at the last minute may work in some situations, but it runs the risk of making them feel like pawns in the company game.

3. Encourage employees to be candid with candidates

Recruiters, like salespeople, have the tendency to sugarcoat their messaging about the company they’re selling. To lend more authenticity to the talent-for-talent approach encourage your employees to be honest with candidates about what they like about the job and what they don’t. This creates realistic expectations and establishes a relationship of trust that can be quite influential for the candidate.

4. Celebrate hiring victories with employees

If an employee has helped you to bring a great candidate in celebrate with them. This helps them to feel appreciated and will make them excited to help in the future.

One of our mantras at Hello Talent is that recruiting is a team sport. When people work together to hire candidates great things happen. Talent-for-talent recruiting is an extension of that. By involving your best and brightest in recruiting more people who are like them you’ll place your company in a position to continuously succeed.

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