January 20, 2016 | by Bob Knopik, founder and president of The Leadership Search Group

Beyond Salary

New tools for selling your organization to recruits in the midst of the “war for talent”

Finding and securing good candidates in today’s environment is difficult. In 2013 and 2015 my recruitment billings were nearly equal, yet research costs in 2015 jumped 14%.

It’s probably no surprise that money is still the driving force in an offer package to attract and acquire top talent. But as metals companies put increasing focus on attracting high potential team members, there are other aspects of an offer package that can make the difference in securing your top candidate and losing out across all levels of hiring.


These new talent acquisition tools go beyond the conventional components of an offer—signing bonuses, paid vacation, and 401K matching, for example. The best part is, these new tools come at no additional cost to the employer! To gain strong talent, companies should include the following intangibles in their selling strategy: upward potential, company culture and location.

Today’s leading job candidates look for the opportunity to progress in the organization. What is the promotion track—and how fast is the progression? Even at top levels, the ability to go beyond and potentially move around in other parts of the company is very important. For instance, will there be a chance to progress from the top position in subsidiary A to run the larger subsidiary B?

Company culture is also a key factor. Candidates will want to know how people and departments are grouped, and information about the environment and atmosphere. Is it team oriented? Is it top down or bottom up management? How much room is there for free expression in ideas, activities and product development?

Another consideration is location. Younger recruits are especially focused on proximity or travel time to and from the office. For this reason, the opportunity to work from home or work hours that allow for a less stressful commute can be especially attractive to a new hire. If the person has to relocate, he or she is much less likely to accept the job because there are many additional costs to take into consideration—like moving or selling and buying a home. Homeowners in a down housing market will be especially leery of a move, as it’s quite possible they will at best break even.

Because these elements are intangible, it’s important to sell them to potential employees. It’s no different than selling a product and asking probing questions. The interview process, therefore, should not only help employers determine if the candidate is a good fit for the open position, but also identify the interests, needs and goals of the candidate.

If an organization is struggling to hire top talent, they should be quick to reflect on the cause. First, is the industry as a whole experiencing the same difficulty, or does the problem seem to be isolated solely to the company itself? It could be that fewer people want to go into manufacturing than in investment banking, for example. If it is the company itself, the leaders must take a hard and honest look at what is keeping them from attracting candidates. To do this, ask former job candidates why they rejected the job offer.

To be successful, companies must not only be decisive in the interview process but approachable and friendly as well. They must sell their environment and culture, as opposed to solely seeking only what the candidate can bring to them.  

Bob Knopik is founder and president of The Leadership Search Group, a search firm that identifies, assesses and recruits top business leaders across the United States and Canada in all manufacturing industries, as well as metals service centers, processors and traders. 

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