Attracting Innovative Talent

It is more than just the rules that companies set to ensure innovation in the work area. It also includes a certain type of people who can do the innovation. Companies go out of their way to guarantee they attract the most talented and the most innovative employees. In my experience I've seen dozens of companies go down one of two routes:

  1. They don't understand innovation talent: This results in hiring profiles they understand, and often have long careers within their industry. This is a huge short coming, for innovation to work it must be given the breadth to think laterally. Hiring talent in the 'known circle' limits the possibilities of innovation, and adopts the incumbent thinking of the industry.
  2. They over promise; this is by far the most prominent behavour and can be seen in the high staff churn rates of corporate innovation teams. If you believe all the press releases and announcement, companies are backing innovation teams with tens of millions of dollars. But behind the scenes, teams have skeleton crews, and struggle with even the smallest of expenses. Add that to the incumbent political complexity of most industries, and you have a but of talented staff that have to go around begging just to get the resources they need to work. Disappointment often leads to the high churn.

Here are some ways on how to attract talented employees:

    1. Make early connections. A lot of good companies start early. They scout for young talents who are still even in the stage of doing internship. This way, they are able to find the best employees ahead and able to nurture them.
    2. Turn digital. Let’s face it: everything is digital now. The old way of inviting everyone for interview face to face consumes too much time and money. You’re also attracting applicants who are tech-savvy: perfect for jobs on innovation. If you want to appeal more to the younger generation, and you also want to show that you’re an innovative company, keep yourself up to date and go digital.
    3. Proper branding. Here’s something that some companies would forget: branding. A lot of potential employees look for something special about where to work and your company has to show them how unique and innovative your workplace is.
    4. Offer attractive rates—or experience. Millennials recognize that they are starting up, building up on either money or experience. The best way to invite the best talents is to offer them something they can’t resist: just compensation and/or the best experience to build their skills.
    5. Offer great work environment. In addition to experience, you should also consider a more dynamic environment and culture. We’ve talked about before how maintaining a culture of innovation can help produce great ideas for your company. Offer an environment that allows great talent to be nurtured. Placing innovation talent inside your typical corporate environment can be suffocating. Innovators want 'creator & collaboration' space, with regular prototyping and visitors. Ask yourself if your workplace empowers this approach.
    6. Listen and be flexible. This is something that requires a little more effort from the company. Do not forget to listen to what your employees need and haggle. It is more appealing to them if they know that from the beginning, you are supportive of your employees’ career goals by being flexible. Innovative talent often believe their purpose is to change the status quo, so make the best effort to allow that to happen.

What are your thoughts on this? Do these apply to your company? How else have you encouraged great talents to apply to your company?