Spend your time recruiting
To keep the influx of talent at InnerWorkings constant, Belcher takes on the job of recruiting personally, noting that he spends somewhere between one-third and one-half of his time on the task.
But recruiting isn’t just visiting college campuses, sifting through old resumes or making a few phone calls to headhunters when big office jobs open up. Good recruiting begins when you start to see talent in fruit that may not be ripe for the picking.
“It’s not necessarily reacting to employment requests that come to the company but proactively seeking out talent,” Belcher says. “I feel as though in almost every conversation I have with somebody who is not employed by InnerWorkings, I’m wondering if there is a recruiting opportunity for our organization. So I would say a key trait of a successful leader is someone who is constantly looking to bring in the most talented individuals in the industry.”
That means putting time in on people who may not be on the active job market.
“It’s been my experience that many of the most talented people in the industry are gainfully employed and, in many ways and many cases, quite content with their current prospects at their place of employment,” Belcher says. “So the process of recruiting is not a 45-minute interview reviewing one’s background and resume. It’s keeping an ear to the ground to understand who is making a difference in the industry and then proactively reaching out and getting in touch with that individual.”
So you have to keep an eye on the all-stars you meet along the way, even if you don’t have a direct relationship currently. When you see someone with talent, find a way to build a better relationship.
“It can be an initial discussion to see if we might be able to reward some work to their organization or to reach out to them as a potential customer and get to know them in a personal way,” he says. “Over time, we help them to understand what our company is doing, the revolution, if you will, that we’re leading in our industry, and ultimately draw that talent into our world.
“So the process of recruiting for us is one that may take a year or longer from the time of the first meeting to ultimately being able to bring in a talented industry professional.”
The process clearly isn’t instantaneous, but it’s worth it to begin to build up a long list of people you can turn to when new opportunities arise.
“We not only are looking for individuals right now,” Belcher says, “but to develop a bench of people that we know well and draw upon in the years ahead as we look to round out our team.”