Why Should the Best Job Candidates Work for You?

Last Updated Jul 6, 2011 3:18 PM EDT

Even in the middle of a recession, the hunt for top talent is competitive. You can't just throw money at these difference makers and think that will be enough to lure them to come work for you. There needs to be something more on offer to entice the best of the best.

What high performers want to hear are compelling answers to four questions. My list is adapted (but pretty much pilfered) from Harvard Business School's Howard Stevenson, who lists the four answers that nonprofit donors want before signing over a big check.

  1. Are you doing important work? Does the mission and values of your organization match up with my personal goals and values?
  2. Are you well-managed? If I'm going to spending 3, 5, or 10 years in your organization, I need to believe that it will be well run, that management will allocate resources wisely, provide me with the support and team I need to be successful, and that the values of the organization will remain constant and at the center of what we do.
  3. Will my work make a difference? Tell me how my work will move the needle for the organization. How do you see my contributions expanding over time?
  4. Will the experience be satisfying to me? How will working in your company make me happy, fulfilled, excited to come to work each day, and financially rewarding?
If you can answer those questions, all four of them, in compelling ways, you stand an awfully good shot at landing the top talent you need to distance yourself from competitors.

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(Image by Flickr user Shayne Kaye, CC 2.0)
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.