• Matt Raskin

01 | Talent Foundations: Art & Science

Updated: Oct 29, 2020



The task of defining, finding, selecting, on-boarding & growing talent is time, energy & capital intensive. Often, an organization's most substantial expense will be acquiring, paying, retaining, and replacing talent.

The talent we select as part of an organization makes a direct impact on our performance & culture. When we get it right, amazing things happen to an organization. When we get it wrong, it can set us back months, quarters or even years.

Recruiting is as much a science as it is an art. Below, we have outline several elements to consider before, during & after we hire an employee.

Virtual & In-Person

As workforces continue to diverge geographically, virtual teams are becoming more of a norm versus an outlier. The ideas and approaches work for both virtual & in-person experiences. We'll dive deeper into better practices for virtual recruiting tactics and on-boarding in a future post.


Foundation 01 | Clarity & Alignment: Organization & Role

Before we can find the right humans to join our organization, we need to provide clarity on our purpose and the orientation of the organization. We should ask ourselves...

  • Why do we exist as a company?

  • Where are we headed as an organization?

  • What are our goals this year?

  • What are our values?

  • Who do we help? Why?

  • Why us?

The more clearly we can define the purpose of the organization and role, the greater the chances that we find the right talent, on-board more fluidly and increase employee success, growth, and retention.

Looking for help with alignment & clarity? Check out the previous post: Clarity @ Work to help get on the right path. These exercises should help build the foundation of a job/position description.


Milestone: Role Clarity Checklist  We have a clearly written position/job description?  We understand the goals of this role?  We defined a salary range for this position?  We understand the required skills & experiences we must have and would like to have for this role?  We have the budget confirmed?

Foundation 02 | Compliance & Regulation

Before we start recruiting, it is important to understand federal, state & local compliance when it comes to hiring and staffing employees. Beyond compliance, it is smart to have key documents created and ready before we hire an employee.


We recommend most organizations identify an internal or external certified HR professional to help understand regulations, compliance & best practices. Don’t know where to start? Check out Best HR Outsourcing for Small Businesses in 2020.


Milestone: Compliance & Regulation -  Areas of Focus & Conversation  Required Insurances  Company Handbook & Policies  Government, State & Local Reporting  Agreements  Non-Disclosure  Intellectual Property  Employment 


Foundation 03 | Total Rewards & Motivations

The size and status of the organization will impact the types of benefits that be can offered. Each company is unique and one-size will not fit all. Most importantly, we should build a philosophy around total rewards across the three-buckets.


Here are a few ways to think about the various rewards we might provide to prospective & existing employees.


Clarifying our philosophy across these three areas helps define what we can offer current and prospective employees.

Milestone: Total Rewards & Motivations - Philosophy  Compensation: Base, Variable, Bonus, Equity? Benefits: Health, Dental, Vision, Time?  Experience: What is it like to work at our organization? Why is that important?

Foundation 04: Recruiting Workflow & Candidate Experience

A | Candidate Experience

Before we start recruiting, consider the candidate experience we want to create for the talented individuals we select or reject.


Potential Areas of Focus

  • Communication: How will communication work throughout the entire workflow?

  • Clear Milestones: What are the key milestones and how will we keep candidates informed throughout the entire experience?

  • Interview Expectations: How will the interview be conducted ( Zoom, Google Hangout Etc.) and how should they/we prep for the conversation?

Milestone: At the end of the recruiting workflow, how should the candidate describe the experience? Why?

B | Recruiting Workflow

Defining our recruiting workflow clarifies both internal and external expectations & timing. This helps clarify the expectation and focus for each phase of the recruiting process.



In the scenario above, three significant phases/milestones are part of our workflow. We established two candidate video screens focused on intentional topics and a final long-form interview (which can be delivered virtually or in-person) with deeper discussions and a review of a presentation or project.

Recruiting: Define Roles, Goals & Expectations for Those Participating.

Once we have established and communicated the process, we need to understand our part in moving candidates along our defined path. Here we want to think about our roles, goals & expectations.

  • Roles: What is the job?

  • Goals: What does success look like?

  • Expectations: How do I behave? What tasks do I need to accomplish? Why?


  • Recruiter: Responsible for partnering with a hiring manager to define, create, and drive a recruiting workflow that sources and identifies the right talent.


  • Hiring Manager: Responsible for defining and aligning the goals and needs of the role while partnering with the recruiter to screen, interview and select the right talent.


Milestones: Recruiting Workflow  What are the conversations that need to happen with candidates? Why? Who and how will those conversations be conducted? Why? What questions will be asked? When? Why? Who?

Next Steps

Our goal is to build a workflow that identifies and selects the key behaviors, talents, and motivations that will grow the right performance and culture within our organization. And to do so equitably.


Sometimes we have to slow down in order to go really fast. If we have the opportunity (or can create it) this serves as a valuable area to spend a few additional cycles clarifying, aligning & preparing to share.


Sharing the process and what we are looking for and providing that clarity, makes us look like we actually know what we’re doing and instills a sense of confidence in those who are interviewing and their potential co-workers.


01 | Organizational & Role Clarity  Ensure we have strong clarity on the direction of the organization and role we are looking to hire.
 02 | Create Clarity with HR Work with an HR professional to build a foundational checklist to ensure we are ready to source and onboarding talent into the organization equitably and legally.   03 | Basic Total Rewards & Motivations Define your compensation philosophy (the mix of Compensation, Benefits & Experience provided).
 04 | Recruiting Workflow & Candidate Experience?  Build a workflow that finds the right talent for the organization and build clear roles, goals and expectations to source and select the right talent.

In our next post, we’ll talk through developing a pipeline of great talent, moving talent through that workflow, qualifying, and great behaviors to exhibit during the interviews.


NEXT: 02 | Talent Foundations : Recruiting - Planning, Prep & Talent Attraction




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