Everybody Says They Want an “A-Player”, But Here’s Why Most Companies Can’t Hire One

Every organization, whether a fledgling startup or a Fortune 500 giant, aspires to have its ranks filled with these high-caliber professionals. Yet, the irony is palpable. While everyone desires an A-Player, many companies consistently fall short in securing them.

Let’s uncover the reasons why top talent remains elusive.

  1. Misunderstanding the ‘A-Player’ Concept

Contrary to popular belief, an A-Player isn’t just about skill sets or impressive resumes. They’re defined more by their fit within an organization’s culture, their ability to lead, their alignment with company values, and their propensity to drive growth. Many companies mistake experience for excellence and credentials for competence, overlooking the holistic nature of what makes an A-Player.

  1. Inadequate Compensation Structures

It’s a competitive market out there. A-Players know their worth and are pursued by many. If your compensation package isn’t compelling—encompassing not just salary, but benefits, work-life balance, and growth opportunities—you might lose these top-tier talents to better offers.

  1. Failure to Provide Growth Trajectories

A-Players are characterized by their ambition and drive. They’re not just looking for a job; they’re looking for a journey, a place where they can grow, innovate, and influence. Companies that fail to illustrate clear career advancement paths or professional development opportunities often fail to entice these high achievers.

  1. A Reactive, Not Proactive, Hiring Approach

Many organizations only think about hiring when there’s an immediate vacancy. This reactive stance limits their access to a talent pool that might not be available when they’re looking. A-Players, due to their demand, might not be in the market long. Companies that are always scouting, networking, and building relationships stand a better chance of identifying and securing these individuals.

  1. Lackluster Employer Brand

Company reviews, culture insights, and employee testimonials are just a click away. A-Players do their homework. If your employer brand reflects high turnover, employee dissatisfaction, or any negative press, it can deter top talent from even applying.

  1. Lengthy and Tedious Hiring Processes

A slow and cumbersome hiring process can be off-putting for many candidates, especially A-Players who are likely juggling multiple offers. Companies that fail to respect candidates’ time, or don’t communicate promptly, risk alienating potential hires.

  1. Not Being an A-Company

This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect. A-Players are drawn to challenges, innovation, and environments where they can make a difference. If a company is resistant to change, mired in bureaucracy, or lacks a visionary direction, it might not be an attractive destination for top-tier talent.

Why would an A-player want to make the switch to a B-company? Most companies do a bad job of delivering their unique value proposition.

Here’s the issue – they haven’t thought deeply about what the message is and how they will deliver it. Why do people come here? Why do they stay here? Don’t give vague and undefined responses. Give real responses and give metrics and stories. Really good candidates will pick up on that and walk away.

Hiring an A-Player isn’t just about spotting talent; it’s also about introspection and readiness. Companies need to evaluate if they’re not just looking for top performers, but also if they are prepared to offer an environment where these individuals can thrive.

Remember, attracting an A-Player starts with being an A-Company. Cultivate an ecosystem of excellence, and the best will come knocking.