Don’t Play Checkers if Your Competition is Playing Chess!

The game has changed when it comes to hiring, engaging, and retaining the best talent. The statistics for new hires who quit within their first six months continues to increase. Turnover is extremely costly when you consider work not getting done, deadlines not being met, and the increased time it takes to hire and train a new person. When it comes to your recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes, you can’t afford to play checkers if your competition is playing chess.

execunetselect-businessman-board-gameChildren are often taught the game of checkers first because it is easier to learn. The twelve round game discs are identical for each player, rules are easy to understand, the pieces are only set up on the dark squares and all pieces have the same rules except the crowned king. Wouldn’t it be great if hiring the best talent for open requisitions was this simple and predictable?

Checkers and Chess are somewhat similar, but there are distinct differences. Let’s start with the similarities which include the number of players, the fact that they are both board games, patience is required to play, and the objective of both games is to win.

Recruiting efforts can also be very similar to your competitors if you advertise open jobs on your company website or pay for job board ads. Both of those methods attract the same 15% of the workforce who are unemployed or conducting an active job search.

If you and your competitors are requiring potential hires to complete an online application as the first step of your hiring process, this could eliminate candidates who are busy doing a great job for their current employer. Your hiring process could also resemble your competitors if you have not made major changes in the past two years.

Top talent is on and off the job market very quickly. If you are not conducting virtual interviews, panel interviews, or if your hiring process is too long, you could be losing out on hiring the best talent. The current workforce knows they are in demand and are not as simple or predictable as the game of checkers.

The game of chess is more complex, strategic, and takes longer to learn and play. Each player has sixteen pieces made up of several different types of pieces that are set up in consecutive blocks on the first two rows directly in front of the player. They are placed on both the dark and light squares. There are multiple types of captures allowed. There are also different rules and movements that are assigned to each type of pieces in the game of chess.

Just as in chess, there are different priorities with each generation in the current workforce which complicates your recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retention process. Don’t be surprised if a potential hire asks more questions about career advancement, personal development, company culture, and philanthropic causes you support, than about the current job opportunity during their interview. Also expect questions about flexibility, remote or hybrid working arrangements, and unique perks.

When you step back to strategically review your hiring process you might find yourself asking, “Where is all the talent?” The answer to that question is complex. The great resignation, parents quitting to help their children with virtual learning, the demand for flexibility, and remote work, and companies like Uber, GrubHub and Instacart are allowing individuals to work where they want, when they want, and make a decent living. You are also competing with the flexibility of hours and unique perks offered by companies like Amazon.

To win in this very competitive job market, you must think and anticipate each step in your hiring process like a strategic chess player. See your company and hiring process through the eyes of today’s candidates who have many choices. This might involve implementing changes in your recruiting, hiring, onboarding, mentoring, or individual development processes.

In chess, you can’t make the same moves and expect different results. That is the same reality in hiring top talent. You can’t “post and pray” as your recruiting strategy, which only reaches a very small percentage of the workforce. You must strategically recruit the talent you need to hire by proactively recruiting passive candidates or partner with a third-party recruiter who specializes in the type of talent you need to hire.

Timing is critical in chess and dramatically impacts your hiring process. At least in chess the pieces don’t talk back, change their minds on what moves they will make, or ghost your calls. Often, life happens when your candidates are in the process of making a career move. Part of your strategy must be to stay informed by leading every conversation with, “Has anything changed since the last time we talked?” Also realize when you are ghosted by a potential hire, they did not see the benefit in talking to you or the job you pitched did not match their priorities, so they accepted another opportunity.

In chess, every move can produce either positive or negative consequences. The same holds true in your entire hiring process. New resources for talent need to be consistently identified, your interviewing process must be consistent and efficient, and offers need to be competitive if you want a positive outcome.

A checkmate occurs when a king is placed in check and has no legal moves to escape. When a checkmate occurs, the game of chess ends and the player who delivered the checkmate wins. Hiring top talent does not end when an offer is extended. Engagement and retention begin with your recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process, but the game continues throughout their two-week notice, your onboarding process, and once they’ve begun their new job. To ensure a long-term win, assign a mentor, conduct stay interviews, and keep in touch with the candidate to let them know you care about them, they can trust you, and your company will deliver what was promised during the hiring process.

If you become a strategic chess player, you will view your hiring process differently, while your competitors might still be playing checkers!



Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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