en finding a competitive edge in a competitive environment is key to business success, engaging top performers in your field is more important than ever. 

But the recruitment world is in flux and has seen almost every traditional marker of “success” change in the last few years, especially in regards to what unique balance of characteristics, skills and passion makes a top performer and a high-performing team. 

Indeed, there are quite literally thousands of thought leadership pieces on what now constitutes top performance, or what bosses need to do to guarantee top performance – from the rise of soft skills to revamping agile workflows, from unlimited leave policies to de-hierarchies within work.  

But, as any storied HR pro knows, every new workplace policy, tool or metric needs a willing team to make it a reality. And in the realm of performance, being able to identify, engage and hire willing, flexible and ultimately top-performing people becomes central to success. 

So how can modern recruiters – connected more than ever to potential candidates but overwhelmed with the increasingly high-pressure demands of hiring talent – make sure they’re continuing to identify and hire the best-in-class people? 

The trick lies in leveraging what we already know works, and simply using it better.  

What are the markers of contemporary top-performing workplaces? 

In our digitally dominant new normal of hybridity, high turnover, and upward pressure on wages (not to mention stagnant growth and productivity inefficiency) the measure of effective workplace performance has to be more than simple KPI recording, value-added or profit made.

The markers of top performance within workplaces in 2023 are now well established: psychologically safe workplaces, open communication cultures, diverse workplaces, clear feedback and goal setting, and clarity of business purpose.  

These markers have developed in the wake of the pandemic, digital innovation, and the rise of Gen Z into positions of considerable influence. 

But as the markers of business success and sustainability change, so too do the requirements of and pressure on, recruiters to deliver results. Those results are the hiring of the best people for a role, and those people have to be high performers.

What are the markers of a top performer? 

A quick dive into contemporary thought leadership tells you everything you need to know about top performance in 2023.   

According to those paragons of talent identification Indeed, the traits of a top performer are: 

    • Positivity
    • Goal focus
    • Accepts constructive criticism
    • Growth-oriented
    • Leadership focused
    • And, can find a healthy work-life balance.

In HBR’s piece on “How to Spot — and Develop — High-Potential Talent in Your Organization”, they focus on 3 key behavioural metrics to identify top performance: 

    • Cognitive quotient (CQ): how they leverage their intellect.
    • Drive quotient (DQ): what motivates them and how they apply their energy.
    • Emotional quotient (EQ): how they interact with those around them. 

The piece goes on to describe that while “intellect, motivations, and interpersonal style” are key markers of top performance, it’s measuring “how people use these qualities on the job…to gauge…potential, regardless of candidates’ depth of experience” that makes all the difference.  

The mechanics of an ATS, and how it tracks candidates.  

We love an ATS at Rectec. One of the reasons we do so is we intimately understand how critical an ATS is to modern hiring effectiveness, and central to that lies in an ATS’ ability to track candidates in increasingly more effective, streamlined and predictive ways.  

A basic ATS will do the grunt work of automating and highlighting specific talent within a talent network based on scanning and sorting job applications based on specific criteria such as keywords, skills, and experience. Simple.  

But more advanced Applicant Tracking Systems now deploy a range of tools to help identify top performers, and we advise any recruiting team or HR leader to consider the following elite ATS solutions as a must-have in a recruiting toolbelt: 

    • Ultra-define your job requirements, criteria and keywords: the first stage to truly maximising your ATS output is by not expecting your ATS to do all the heavy lifting for you. The most effective way to do this is by utilising customisable ATS platforms that let you prioritise or rank applicant potential by giving different keywords or criteria certain values. This creates a more fluid, more personal system of talent identification based on a unique prioritisation of skills. 
    • A CV isn’t perfect: by this, we mean setting up your ATS to not immediately disqualify a candidate because of a missed word, a spelling error or quirky formatting. As any effective modern recruiter knows, CVs are simple vectors for talent identification – they are not the ultimate arbiter of talent appropriateness, skill or potential. Creating processes of inclusive, rather than exclusionary, keyword vetting will help identify more quality candidates.  
    • Contact keyword evolution: an ATS should never be a fixed asset, nor should the criteria you judge candidates by stay stuck for months on end. Creating a simple keyword analysis drumbeat – and fixing dates of keyword evolution into your process planning – should make sure your candidate vetting is up-to-date, fair, and ultimately competitive.  
    • A self-contained employer brand ecosystem: some ATS providers can create a seamless employer brand and hiring ecosystem, bringing together sometimes disparate employing tools to create a market-leading hiring environment. This means creating career pages that include pre-vetting questionnaires, employer brand videos, glassdoor reviews, FAQs and employee testimonials, with easy-to-access application calls-to-action. 

  • Don’t forget internal communication and the power of advocacy: it’s easy to think an ATS is an outward-facing talent magnet. But an ATS can also target company employees, automating new opportunity emails, and sending them directly to specific employees in an effort to leverage their contact network. Top performers tend to know top performers, so forget your internal network at your peril.  

The sheer variety and customisability of Applicant Tracking Systems means not only can applicants be contacted faster, and with more personalisation, but they are more accurately shortlisted and prioritised. In effect, the cream rises to the top. 

The bottom line. 

The true effectiveness of an ATS lies in any given company’s ability to identify their own needs, and critically analyse where maximum new hire impact can be made. 

But hiring the wrong person for a role is more often than not worse for company health than hiring no one at all, so accurate vetting is more important than ever.  

If you’re looking to identify the Best Applicant Tracking System for your business, then be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to the Best Applicant Tracking Systems (2024).

In the war for talent, an ATS is the perfect weapon – not only can the nuts and bolts of candidate contact and talent maturation be managed, but they can be leveraged to truly source, engage and pre-vet top performers.  

 A quick, responsive process is what you need to attract and engage the best talent. 

At Rectec we help organisations to find the best Applicant Tracking System or best Recruitment CRM to suit your needs, accompanied by our unique complementary technology marketplace, to help you build the perfect recruitment tech stack for your business.