We’ve just gone through a month of NFL playoff football and we’ve seen some teams that were heavily favored by the “experts” tank while other teams posted unexpected wins. There’s a lesson for those of us in business – it doesn’t matter what the commentators say; what matters is the quality of the people you have in the game and those who do the coaching and planning. That puts a premium on getting the best talent on your team. That’s obvious. However, some of the strategies to find and hire the top talent may be somewhat less obvious. Here are three tips to help you put together a team that will be competitive in the quest for your industry’s “SuperBowl.” #1. “Draft” the best players I’m going to continue my sports analogy as we go through these tips. If you follow professional teams very closely, you probably watch what they do on “draft” day. In football, for example, you may know that your favorite team needs to improve its running back corps. But when it’s time to make their first draft pick, the team selects a defensive end. “Whaaat?!” you shout to no one in particular. When team officials later talk to the press, invariably they’ll say that they selected the best talent available at the time. The team operated in a way that could be called “opportunistic.” Many businesses should adopt this attitude as well in their hiring practices. For example, I would be willing to wager that you know much of the top talent in your industry. When you find out that one of these “most valuable players” may be looking for another position or amenable to moving, would you be willing to make an offer – even if you didn’t have a position currently open? You need to be ready to take advantage of situations like these. First, adding a great player to your team will lift your entire business. Second, if you don’t make an attempt to hire this “star,” there’s a good chance your competition will. Keep looking for great talent, even when you don’t think you need to bring on another person. #2. Handle top recruits properly On the other side of this coin, you also need to be willing to recruit the best people into your business. The MVPs in your industry usually aren’t out hunting a new position. This means that you can’t push them into the same kind of hiring process that you would typical job hunters. Someone who is actively seeking a position will put up with a variety of inconveniences, such as filling out applications, submitting to several interviews and completing psychological profile testing. When you have an individual in your sights that you want to bring on board, you can’t expect the same willingness to jump through all of these hoops. In the same way, don’t expect individuals who you are going out of your way to recruit, to behave like job applicants who wander in off the streets. There may be some hesitation at first. It could be because they have been caught off guard, or it may be because they have no intention of leaving their current jobs. You’ll have to determine that as you go along. One of the best first steps is to set up a meeting with those on your team who will be working closely with this person. Let them “talk shop” and get a real feel for who you are as a company. This will let them assess both the technical capabilities of your professionals as well as understand your company culture. Also, if you’re the one knocking on their doors, don’t expect these candidates to have an up-to-date resume ready to shove into your hands. The important thing at this point is for both sides to get familiar with one another to see if the fit is good or not. When both sides agree that the fit is good, you can then start putting all the necessary documents in place and catch any of the normal hiring steps that you may have skipped over. #3. Crossing the finish line Another saying you hear a lot in sports is that “it’s not over until it’s over” and the hiring process for your new superstar isn’t over until he or she is in the building doing work. A lot can happen to derail the hire between signing an offer letter and showing up at the office. Further, how you handle the transition period can be critical to getting your new hire off to a strong start at your company. Generally, you will have shown this person a lot of attention throughout the recruiting process: don’t think your work is done when the offer letter is signed and you can move on to your next task. When your new hires are finishing out a couple of weeks or maybe a month at an old job, it can be a lonely time. They may find themselves being left out of meetings and perhaps even ignored by old “friends.” Further, if relocation is involved, family members may be the source of even more stress. Stay in touch and let your recruits know how much you’re looking forward to their arrival. Have other members of their new team contact them. Try to keep them assessed of what your company is doing and let them know you want to keep communication channels open so they can hit the ground running. While you’re at it, be sure these new hires have given official notice to their current employers and have set an exit date. And do you know how professional sports teams make a big press event out of it when they sign an important player? Do the same thing. Announce the addition to your team on your website and in your company’s newsletter. If you have any company events scheduled before any new hires officially start, be sure that they are invited. Your company has spent a lot of time and money to bring these individuals on board. The extra effort you make to be sure that their transition goes smoothly and they arrive on their first day with a great attitude is a smart investment that will pay significant dividends for you in the coming years. If you keep these tips in mind as you work to upgrade and expand your team, you will land the right people and find your company among the perennial leaders in your industry sector. Images: Author’s Own ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.