By Dan Simmons

On my way to visit a client, I drove by two feed mills owned by two different companies in the feed industry.  The two factories looked nearly identical, except for the name and logo affixed to the side of the building.  Often, this is the situation which top-shelf job candidates find themselves in; trying to determine what is really inside, when they are on the outside.

Top candidates are often in the process of receiving comparable offers from two (or more) companies.  They have to decide which company would be the best one to work for.  Savvy employers use the interview process to set their company apart from their competitors and show why someone would want to join their team.Stand Out

So how do you as an employer set yourself apart from the competition?  How do you convince the best and brightest employees to work for you?  What are the factors that will sway the talent you need to increase your productivity, market share and bottom line?

Have you…

  • Explained your corporate culture?
  • Provided a career path?
  • Shown ways that this person can further develop their skills and or management potential, or at least increase their income?

To illustrate this scenario, I’m going to use two fictitious feed mills: Reward Manufacturing and Run-of-the Milling.

These companies work side-by-side in the same town and they compete for the same candidates.  One of the companies consistently attracts more quality candidates than the other.  Below you’ll find an overview of these two companies.

Starting with Reward Manufacturing, you’re sure to see why they are more successful at attracting top talent.

“The officials at Reward Manufacturing make it a priority to communicate to their employees the direction of company.  This is done through a variety of ways, verbally during interviews before the employees are even hired, during production meetings with key personnel, and during annual performance reviews; and non-verbally through the company newsletter and on the company’s Web site.  Reward Manufacturing has a mission statement and has defined their core values and that mission statement is displayed prominently throughout the company offices.

“Their mission statement and values are more than just plaques hung on the wall and forgotten.  The officials at Reward Manufacturing drive home this culture through their actions and their words.  They’re committed to operating profitably, of course, but profits do not determine every decision.  Reward Manufacturing’s officials are also committed to developing a culture of innovation, to ensuring that the relationships they have with their customers are the best that they can be, to investing in their employees and developing their talents and skills, and to promoting the exchange of ideas.”

Here is a brief description of Run-of-the-Mill’s mode of operation:

“The officials at Run-of-the-Mill are a focused group, a little too focused, as a matter of fact.  They don’t like to take their eye off the ball long enough to let their employees know what’s happening inside the company, or what will be happening in the future.  Employees are just supposed to do their jobs and not ask a lot of questions.  If Run-of-the-Milling has a mission, it’s not in the company’s employee handbook, because the handbook doesn’t exist.

“Run-of-the-Mill’s number-one, overriding consideration is to turn the biggest profit possible.  All other considerations, whether they involve the employees are not, are secondary.  Run-of-the-Milling doesn’t make many client visits, either.  Once they secure somebody as a client, they usually don’t give them much of a thought—until it’s time to send out invoices.  Investing in employee training is also not something that Run-of-the-Milling does, because it detracts from the bottom line.”

After reading these descriptions, which of these companies do you think candidates would want to work for?  Sure, money and compensation are important, but there are other things that candidates put a lot of stock in, as well.

Remember, if you have a great company culture, make certain prospective employees see it, understand it, and fit into it.  This will surely help you attract top performers.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at