The Merchology Blog

How to Recruit the Best and Brightest

February 22, 2017

merchology recruiting

Whether you are running a small start-up out of your apartment or you are responsible for building a team in a Fortune 500 company, you have most certainly pondered over the challenge of “how to recruit the best and brightest.” In a successful business, there comes a time when more people are needed in order to grow, expand, and improve. As a leader, you want to recruit people who are smarter than you in various aspects of business. This is easier said than done, but a few of our tips in this three-step process may help you in your search.

  1.     First Impression of Your Business

In the internet age, talented professionals will Google and look for social media on your business in order to learn about you. These decisions are made consciously and subconsciously from the moment they see (or don’t see) search results on Google or graphics on your Twitter page. It is important that your internet presence is attractive to potential hires.

We aren’t implying that you have to be active on every social media site, and you certainly don't need a website that was designed by Vincent Van Gogh, but we are stating that in order to attract the best and the brightest you must ensure that your company is attractive at first sight to the people you are trying to attract.

This could mean:

  • Using real photos of your team in action on your web page, rather than obvious stock photos that seem to keep your culture a secret
  • Having updated graphics and a well-designed web page, since your website is a representation of the company’s care in their own business
  • Posting content that shows in plain color your company’s culture, fun projects, team atmosphere, or philanthropic activities

Attracting top talent is easier than you think, but it starts with the first impression, and that first impression will be how your company looks and feels online. Make sure that your internet presence clearly reflects your intended perception.

However, many of you are likely working for a company or in a position where you can’t control your company website or social media. If that is the case, then you should put extra effort into creating a quality job description for your job opening. Phrases like “seeking a talented team member to interface with our valuable customers and help solve interesting problems and grow our business” are better than phrases like “seeking a customer service representative with 3+ years of experience.” And phrases like “we are seeking a motivated person with college degrees in math and economics and strong analytical skills because we have challenging accounting problems to solve” will attract more than, “seeking financial professional with a Bachelor's degree.” If you can’t control your web page or social media profiles, you can at least control your job description. Making sure that the job description shows the value they would add to the business, rather than a list of requirements, will ensure that you hire those who want to help solve problems, not just check the box.

  1.     Finding the Best Candidates

Once you have made your job posting as attractive as possible, you are ready to start searching for great candidates. You can start by posting your position on your company website, on social media pages, and on all of the common job boards, such as Monster, Indeed, and Careerbuilder. If you’re in the market for entry-level talent, we also recommend checking out nearby college career fairs, particularly at programs who train for the skills and backgrounds you are seeking. Check out our Merchologists at the North Dakota State University career fair! After sharing the position availability in these formal channels, your next step is to work your own network and your employee referral network.

According to this report from iCIMS and Hanover Research, “88% of employers rank referrals above all other sources for quality hires,” and you should too. 

Hiring a referral means two things:

  1. At least one other human being thinks that this candidate is great and will fit in to your company; and
  2. This candidate will have more “insider information” into your company, and thus, will understand what he or she is getting into before accepting a job offer, which will lower the possible chances that he or she leaves later due to unforeseen factors.

In short, you should still post the job broadly, but also take matters into your own hands and work your own network for referrals. Statistics show that employees who are referred into the company by a friend or colleague will stay with the company more than twice as long as employees who are not referred. To encourage referrals, consider paying your employees a “bounty,” like we do at Merchology! Besides, who doesn’t like working with their friends?

  1.     Selling the Opportunity and Building Excitement

Now that you have established a pipeline of potential hires, you will begin the interview process. In the past, your image of an interview likely involves two people sitting across from one another at a table in a florescent-lit room while the employer, hiding behind a notepad, asks a series of challenging questions to the candidate.

Most interviews are archaic and regimented. We suggest taking a more casual approach to the interview process. Ensure that your candidate can experience your company’s culture. Let him or her sit with other employees and observe them work and interact with one another. Walk them into the production area or R&D workspace and let them see where the magic happens. Have a list of questions prepared for the candidate, but don't be committed to asking them if the conversation steers to a more beneficial place. If the candidate can carry a great conversation and discuss his or her skill set and interest in the role and company, then let the dialogue flow naturally. Move your interview to a comfortable coffee shop, or do it outside at a picnic table if the weather permits. Show the candidate that your interview tactics are not boring nor rigid, and neither is the position for which they are interviewing for.

Once you have identified that this candidate would be a great hire, make sure to sell the opportunity to him or her. Do not end the interview with “we’ll be in touch,” while you are secretly holding in your excitement. Instead, be open to sharing your excitement with the candidate! “It’s been great meeting you today. You have the experience that would help us out a lot and I think you would fit in so well here. I don’t have a final decision right now, but I am really impressed with our interview today and I plan to follow up by (insert date/time). I think this position would really help your career and that you'd genuinely enjoy the work.”

Don’t let good candidates leave your office without feeling positive reinforcement. They are interviewing you as their potential boss as much as you are interviewing them as your potential employee. And besides that, great candidates are rarely available in the job market for longer than a few weeks, so don’t lose them to another employer while you take your sweet time trying to make a decision.


Attracting the best and the brightest talent isn't easy for most, but if you follow these three steps, we believe your candidate pool will improve and your hiring will be successful. And of course we have to mention – we are hiring at Merchology, so check out our Careers Page if you want to learn more!