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The search for purpose: The recruiting challenge


Monday, 22nd July 2019 at 8:25 am
Leonie Cranney
Aligning purpose-oriented individuals with purpose-oriented businesses can spark joy, improve business performance and enhance job satisfaction. But how do you find these people? Leonie Cranney, marketing manager at Talent Nation, shares advice on how to find people driven by purpose for your organisation – even when they are not actively looking for a new job.


Monday, 22nd July 2019
at 8:25 am
Leonie Cranney


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The search for purpose: The recruiting challenge
Monday, 22nd July 2019 at 8:25 am

Aligning purpose-oriented individuals with purpose-oriented businesses can spark joy, improve business performance and enhance job satisfaction. But how do you find these people? Leonie Cranney, marketing manager at Talent Nation, shares advice on how to find people driven by purpose for your organisation – even when they are not actively looking for a new job.

Matching people to roles in the recruitment industry is not too much of a challenge. But finding people driven by purpose with the right skills and motivation to stay a while is where those tasked with recruiting require a whole other level of connection, expertise and experience.  

Especially challenging is when people are looking to transition from mainstream to a more purpose-oriented career. They could have the right skillset, feel passionate about the business and its mission, but find the transition comes with a discount on earnings (it usually does), which can be a tough pill to swallow. 

There is often a belief that the move to more purpose-driven work will bring with it an end to those bad days in the office – surely everyone will be so energised and motivated by the contribution they’re making to the world everyone will absolutely love coming to work? The reality is, these roles have the same challenges as corporate roles – budget pressures (big asks with little money), operational complexities and personality clashes, so candidates need to be screened thoroughly for everything from experience to motivation to expectations. 

Employing someone who really believes in what they are doing and is happy to show up to work every day is invariably a better situation than someone who drags their feet, calls in sick and needs to be constantly monitored in order for them to meet deadlines – of this there is no doubt. There is, however, also evidence that finding purpose-oriented people can have a significant impact on profit, job satisfaction and employee tenure. 

Recruiting people with a mindset that is aligned to the values of the organisation helps to really embed purpose into the organisation’s DNA, so that everyone working there lives it – it is evident in every project, every email and every activity the firm participates in (rather than it being a dot point on a PowerPoint presentation or a feature of a marketing campaign, communicated once and never spoken of again).

But how do you find these people?

Not just a network

We know the positive impact purpose can have on an organisation, and how aligning purpose-oriented individuals with purpose-oriented businesses can spark joy, improve business performance and enhance job satisfaction. Plus working with like-minded people can make the whole vibe at work more enjoyable. But where are these people hiding? 

Finding candidates for whom purpose brings a sense of fulfilment comes down to having an extensive, rich and diverse network to tap into, and knowing how to continuously build this network. 

One of the trickiest aspects of the search is the fact that more often than not, these people won’t be actively looking for a new position. The best people are found from building a network of people identified as purpose-driven through people you know, or through everyday interactions – conversations in the coffee shop, friends of friends who speak in terms that trigger the recognition of like-minded individuals. In other words, not just CV’s sent via email or a brief conversation over the phone. 

They may not be looking, they may never be looking, but keeping them on the radar and touching base from time to time opens you up to people they know who may share the same way of thinking and could be the right person for the role you’re looking to fill. There is a real purpose-driven community out there, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them. 

Look beyond skillset

Look beyond skills and experience when it comes to a candidate search. A qualified, interested candidate might be interested, but doesn’t have the specific experience the hiring manager is after. But if you dig a bit deeper you might find out this person has great experience working with smaller budgets, resilience when faced with knock backs and obstacles, and is great at finding innovative ways of getting things done. You wouldn’t realise any of these valuable attributes by looking at a CV or limiting your search to people who fit a strict criterion. Having even the largest network is not enough – it’s also about knowing each person’s story and what they can bring to a role beyond technical skills. That’s the secret to unearthing the hidden gems. 

Purpose-driven people working in roles they are passionate about is like adding accelerator to a small flame. The right chemistry (personality, workstyle and culture) can ignite something very special. There is no easy way to attract these individuals and retain them for longer, all the while meeting your profit and shareholder expectations. It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle with very human parts. You need the network, but not just any network. You need to know the stories of the people in your consideration set (or perhaps you need to re-think your consideration set) – to discover the things about them that just won’t come across in a CV, but will make them an amazing asset to your team. Someone who can truly drive your agenda forward, oftentimes even more than the most qualified, experienced individual.

About the author: Leonie Cranney works for Talent Nation, a Melbourne-based certified B Corp recruitment and executive search agency, specialising in the sustainability and environment sectors with a focus on and passion for not for profits. 


Leonie Cranney  |  @ProBonoNews

Leonie Cranney is the marketing manager at Talent Nation.


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