Attracting and Hiring Top Talent

The “Art and Science” of attracting and hiring Top Talent

By M. Lynn Cooper, Milynco Financial and The Newburgh Group

Every organization with whom I have been associated and worked with desired to locate and hire the best talent available at the best price. So how is this accomplished?

I often recruited top talent to come and work with me for less money than they were making at the time. Why? How? Most importantly, they wanted to work where they felt appreciated, challenged and could see the room for career growth. They also wanted to work for a company that is growing or had immediate plans for expansion. Lastly, they wanted to be compensated fairly for the position.

So, how do you attract and successfully hire top talent? The following are factors and proven methods that are critical to your success.


Are you offering a fair compensation package relative to a similar position in a similar sized company? Unsure, then obtain the information you need from an executive recruiter familiar with your industry, a compensation specialty firm, your state and national trade association or SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) organization.

If you are comfortable that the compensation package is competitive, then the other factors in recruiting this talent are the most important aspects for successful recruitment. If your compensation package is below average, then “The Sale” becomes the most critical element to your ultimate success.

The Sale

If the compensation package is acceptable to the candidate, then his or her decision becomes more focused on the following.

YOU the CEO, Manager (or the hiring authority) is the most important sales person in the company. You must take sufficient time with the candidate to ensure his or her questions are answered, along with any questions you may have as well. How much time is sufficient? I usually had breakfast or lunch with the candidate outside the office to learn more about them “one on one”. I also ensured I spent one hour or more with them in an actual interview with no one else present. Meetings were scheduled with my management team for the day allocating approximately 1 hour or less with each. You will need to coach your senior management team and indicate they should make the candidate feel special and try to answer all of the candidate’s questions, particularly as it pertains to the interviewer’s responsibilities. One half hour or more should be spent with HR explaining benefits. At the end of the day, I typically met with the candidate to see if there were any lingering questions that I could help answer and to gauge their interest in the position.

Executive Recruiter

These professionals can help you “sell” the position, the company, the community, and the ultimate move if applicable. These professionals should ask you the appropriate questions about the “perfect fit” for this position in order for them to recruit the best talent for you.

The visit is more critical than you may think. You have heard it said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” which holds true for the first in-person interview. If the candidate will potentially be relocating, this should be a well-planned day. I would use the following steps:

  • Assign a capable assistant to be the primary contact through which your candidate can communicate. Provide the assistant’s name, email, business phone and cell phone. This assistant should plan the day for the candidate from the moment they arrive until they leave. A written agenda should be developed and provided before the visit.
  • Encourage the candidate to bring their spouse and/or significant other for this trip. (It is suggested that the children, if applicable, come for a visit at a later time if this is the chosen candidate)
  • Plan a tour of the community for the spouse/ partner with the best person (Chamber of Commerce type) to ensure they see the best the community has to offer and provide lunch with the best spokesperson in the community. Suggest you have a sit down meal at a nice restaurant. Also ensure they spend some time with a quality realtor with whom you have coached suggesting they show your candidate the best residential areas of your community.
  • Find out as much as you can about the interests of the candidate AND the spouse/ significant other. If they like golf, show them the country club, golf courses, etc. If they like the arts, philharmonic, theatres, obtain as much information as possible about what your community offers as it relates to their interests. Obtain a “newcomer” kit from the Chamber for the candidate.
  • If possible set up a dinner at the end of the day with your spouse and the candidate and their spouse or partner to gauge both of their interests in the community.

The "Fit"

Use an evaluation sheet provided to each of your management team that met with the candidate. A grade should be given regarding the candidate by each interviewer, based upon those areas you feel are most important. They should then turn the completed evaluation form into HR for compilation. This is a fair method of evaluation based upon the factors that you feel need to be considered before initiating an offer to the candidate of your choice. (Our company provides this personalized form if the search is handled by our firm)

Personality Profile

This is a short list of questions whose answers are completed by each candidate that relate to the position for which you are recruiting. This profile often provides indicators of the candidate’s ability to fit into the position from a personality standpoint. These profiles are just another tool to use in the hiring process. (If requested, our company provides these for you on each candidate if we are engaged in the search)


Comprehensive reference checks are very important in the hiring process. These references must be asked important questions in the correct manner. Often times, untrained staff are assigned to initiate these and your results don’t point to potential problems that may be uncovered by skilled individuals, like executive recruiters.

Background Checks

These investigations become critical to ensure you make a good hire with no known baggage. Do you initiate these in your company? Is it comprehensive or is it produced relative to your community, your state, the U.S., etc.? You should know. (Our firm handles these for you if we are engaged in the search.)

Drug Screens

If drug screens are required in your company, most professional executive recruiting firms can handle these for you upon request.


M. Lynn Cooper
President and CEO
Milynco Financial Partner, The Newburgh Group

Cooper, a 40-year career banker is the owner of a bank consulting firm and a partner in an executive recruiting firm formed in 2000. He has held numerous positions in banking including bank CEO at age 28 and a senior executive for an $8 billion bank holding company.