From the Desk of Brad Smart: How To Recruit A Players When They Are Hard to Find

You want to hire high performers, A Players, right? But what can you do if:

  • Seven million Americans capable of working are choosing not to work,
  • Help Wanted signs everywhere,
  • Quiet Quitting is almost an epidemic,
  • Studies show that most workers don’t like their job, and
  • Chances are you raised pay to stop employees from quitting and to recruit better people … but it’s not working.

Clients are saying things like, “There just aren’t many A Players anymore!” Or, “Gen Z are so spoiled that they prefer enjoyable life experiences and just don‘t have drive or ambition.” Does it sound familiar … and hopeless?

Be careful what you wish for. As I’m writing this the consensus is for a recession in 2023. Topgrading has lived through seven recessions, times when companies laid off employees rather than looking to hire high performers.

Fortunately, we know what to recommend:

Do NOT lower the bar just to get warm bodies. 

You’ve probably done that over the past two years, to keep the company alive. It’s understandable; desperate times call for desperate actions.

Hire high performers, A Players, with less experience and weaker ‘CREDENTIALS’ than what you want. 

Sure, you’d like for that sales rep job to be filled with someone that has a college degree and 10 years of experience. But you can’t find candidates with those credentials who are interested in the job. Seriously consider scratching the college degree requirement – for decades college degrees and college grades correlate very little with career success. Just look at the experience of Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and 50 other billionaires.

Of 50 common competencies, weight RESOURCEFULNESS the highest.

People high in resourcefulness, throughout their five-year career, are trainable, hard-working, never give up, ambitious, and absolutely determined to “put the points on the scoreboard!” They are winners – bet on their potentials. They will pleasantly surprise you again and again. Your customers will joke about your hiring of “kids that are not old enough to have a drink,” but soon say how great those “kids” are at serving them.

Do you agree … or disagree?  Please share your opinions.

As a PS to this blog, do not forget to do several other things our blogs have recommended:

  1. Recruit like never before. Get everyone in the company to go after A Player friends or associates they consider A Players. Pay for job boards to get 25 applicants or more per job. Use Topgrading methods to hire the best of 25 applicants because the “best” of four is almost never an A Player.
  2. Use the Topgrading Truth Motivator. Tell candidates, and have recruiters tell them, a final step in the hiring process is for them to arrange references calls with former bosses (when a job offer is on the table).
  3. Make those calls. There is no phone tag because candidates arrange the calls.
  4. Download the free Topgrading eGuide that further explains these “best of class” hiring methods.

Dr. Brad Smart is Founder and CEO of Topgrading, Inc. Topgrading is dedicated to helping companies of all sizes maximize the hiring of high performers. Topgrading assesses candidates for senior positions (where the costs of mis-hires are high) and trains all managers to create teams of almost all high performers.

Brad has seven published books on hiring; the most recent three (the first, second, and third editions of Topgrading) were all best sellers. On April 25, 2023 Brad, and President Chris Mursau’s new book, Foolproof Hiring (Forbes Books), will be released. Pre-order Foolproof Hiring on Amazon by clicking here.

Brad can be reached at

To learn more, download our free eGuide or attend our next Topgrading Webinar. Our webinar explains the most effective recruitment methods, how to immediately identify the most honest, high performing applicants, and how to (finally!) verify what candidates tell you (since reference calls are usually worthless).

Contact us to learn more.

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. Our proven hiring process will transform your selection methodology so that you get better hiring results across all industries, including hiring HR professionals.  Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow outstanding team members. Contact us to learn more!

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