The Rule of 44 For Hiring “A” Players

We believe that hiring “A” players is the most important job within an organization and it can be one of the biggest challenges. To get and keep your top performers, you have to engage both their current skill sets and their future aspirations while demonstrating a culture of trust and respect.

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Rather than trying to identify what the exact answer is for you in your industry, we like to use ‘The Rule of 44.’   In four areas, have four different approaches that you take. Like gambling, you are trying to spread your risk and increase your chance of getting the big prize. Below is an example of what one North Carolina company does:


We have found that many “A” players, because of relationships, will not look for a job in the normal places so we have to find them as they begin to realize they want to look elsewhere. This is why putting an ad on a billboard or in some other non-hiring publication can be valuable.

Additionally, as there is a migration of population from north to south, or from economically tougher areas to growing cities, looking geographically farther afield has also been shown to get much better results.

A longer term approach that takes some time to cultivate may include college placement centers and professors. As you build trust with them, they can help you find both fresh new employees as well as identify alumni that not only have an education, but have experience.

Bottom line, there is no silver bullet that will make this easy. The effort a business puts into getting customers is similar to the amount of effort that is critical to finding the qualified employees. It is a marketing, sales and branding effort that must be continuous.

For that reason, as you identify good “A” and “B” players, you need to have a follow-up process where they are contacted by you 3-4 times a year. One contact might be a phone call from one of the leadership team. Another point of contact might be getting your company newsletter or a copy of an industry organization article you just read.

Much of this may seem too complicated for leaders and HR, however, we believe it is worth the effort. Steve Jobs, who was known for his perfectionism when designing his team, said that “the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1….A small team of “A+” players can run circles around a giant team of “B” and “C” players.”  Make certain to hire people who can do a particular role better than you and then absolutely trust they will get it done.

Some questions to consider:
  • Is recruiting a priority for your leadership team?
  • Do you dedicate time each month to interview potential candidates?
  • Do you have a detailed and thoughtful hiring process?

If your organization needs help with hiring and recruitment of “A” players, contact our expert guides at 1-800-786-4332 or email It only takes 30 minutes to get started!

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