Attract & Retain

Overcoming The Recruitment Conundrum

A value proposition that moves you ahead of your competition

by Sarano Kelley

Mr. Kelley, co-founder of The Kelley Group, is a recruitment coach focused on the financial services industry and is co-author of the book The Recruiting Conundrum: A Consistent, Disciplined Approach to Attracting Top Talent. Visit
Part III in a four-part series.

When recruiting new talents to their firm, some managers have a prepared value proposition explaining the “why me” and “why my firm.” However, all too many of them just “shoot from the cuff,” hoping to lure top talents away from their competition with a generic recitation.


While I’m not saying the “why” isn’t important, it’s the big “WHY” that gets results.

An Individualized Value Proposition

Just as every prospective recruit brings a unique set of talents and skills to the table, their needs, desires and goals are just as individualized. In Part II of this series, we focused on the information-gathering process for identify the primary “hot button motivator” that influences a person’s decision-making process. While a prospect may be motivated by more than one, with further questioning, you’ll learn which is the primary motivator.

For example, if a person is motivated by:

1.) People – They need to know about the experiences others have had with your firm or will want to talk with someone in Sr. Management.

2.) Places – They’re looking for a better office location or setup.

3.) Things – They’re motivated by what they will gain, e.g. increased earnings, better hours, incentive and bonus programs

4.) Activity – Looking for educational opportunities (conferences, workshops) or group activities (company leagues, group volunteerism for charitable organizations)

5.) Information – They’re driven by company history, hard data, growth projections.

After learning which of these five motivators is a key factor when they make a decision, you’ll be able to address the big “WHY” in your value proposition.

As you have probably guessed, preparing just one generic value proposition won’t get the job done. Instead, you will need to take the time to brainstorm and/or research each of these factors.

For example:

1.) People –“Jim Doe joined our firm in 2021. Since then his business has grown exponentially. Would you be interested in talking with him about his experience.”

2.) Places – “You mentioned the commute from your current office takes over an hour in rush-hour traffic. Fortunately, you’d only be a half mile away from ours.”

Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging and education them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling...

3.) Things – “The firm offers immense opportunity to increase your income. I was recently able to build a cabin on Lake Witipiti. You need to come visit for the weekend.”

4.) Activity – “Each year our firm sends us to two conferences of our choice. We also have a point system where you can earn a trip for you and your wife.”

5.) Information – “Our company is solid. Last year alone overall revenues increased 30%, and it’s predicted we’ll see a similar growth this year.”

These, of course, are just simplified samples. You’ll want to sit down and make a more extensive list of all the features and benefits your company offers in each of these areas. Then, when talking to recruits, it will no longer be a “shot in the dark,” as you focus on what’s truly important to them.

The Importance of a Story

The final thing you need in your value proposition is sometimes the hardest to create as it draws from your emotions and experiences. It’s your story!

While we like to think our decisions are based on rational and unbiased information, According to Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education: “Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal”

Your story can be a game changer when done correctly.

Ask yourself:

  • Why are you passionate about your firm? About your job?
  • Why do committed to doing what you do?
  • Why do you care?
  • Who influenced your decision, and how?

As a professional speaker and trainer, I often share a childhood experience that motivated me to be the best I could be:

I went from growing up in a gang infested neighborhood, a stutter and someone who was considered learning challenged to entering a top college at 16 and at 23 producing $400,000 in my first year as an advisor on Wall Street. Then I have 4 children in my extended family who perished in a house fire. It was the single most painful moment of my life, but I vowed over their grave to pursue my passion for helping people to achieve their full potential while they were alive. That’s why I do what I do to this very day. That is why I choose this field and career.

Your story might range anywhere a childhood experience to how you overcame a challenge. Perhaps it’s about why you made the decision to become a financial advisor.

Transformation expert Laura Holloway suggests, “Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging and education them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling.”

As you approach potential recruits with your big “WHY,” you’ll find a bond develops between you that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve in such a short time. I encourage you to listen carefully and speak thoughtfully as you talk to potential recruits. In the end, you’ll find your efforts are rewarded.

In the next article, we’ll discuss advanced skills for overcoming objections and for delivering a powerful close.