The 3 C's of Hiring A-Players

Here’s the million-dollar question:

And here’s my multi-million dollar answer: If your business stays focused on the 3 C’s, you will find each other.

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“I define the 3 C’s as Culture, Compensation, and Career growth. Others have defined the 3 C’s with words like character and competence. I can’t argue with those. They are valid points, but they tend to place too much emphasis on the candidates and what’s expected of them. The recruitment and retention of top talent involve a symbiotic partnership between the company and the candidate. As with any relationship, it needs to work for both parties. I’m going to take a closer look at each of the C’s, but first, let’s talk about our target: the A-player.”

What is an

Group 279A-player?

In his book, The A Player, Rick Crossland defines the term with these 5 points:

  • Number 1
    An employee in the top 10% of their profession or on an industry-wide basis for the salary paid
  • Number 2
    A person on your team who you would enthusiastically rehire
  • Number 3
    The employees at an enterprise who drive all the profitability and growth
  • Number 4
    A person of high integrity who delivers on commitments
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    The employee every organization covets

    So what do I think?, I think all of Rick’s points are on point. But I don’t think it’s up to me or Rick or anyone else to define what an Aplayer is for your company. It’s up to you. Because the true definition of an A-player is the one that is true for your business. After the first printing of his book, Rick Crossland added a sixth point to his definition:

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    The employee who fits your company culture and models your core values and behaviors

Okay, not to take anything away from his first five points, but point 6 is very important. Because point 6 is about how well an employee fits into your organization. And that is a huge, if not the hugest factor when you’re looking for A-players.

An A-player for your company is an employee who can help achieve your company’s goals. So I guess you can say the A stands for Achieve.

As Rick Crossland writes in his article on, “A players are the most productive people in your organization. A little-known

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corporate-culture 1
1. Culture
welfare 1
2. Compensation
goal 1
3. Career Growth
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A-players don’t just want to join a company. They want to be part of a culture. A candidate will only thrive in your company if they feel a connection with the culture. They must feel like they can say, “I not only work here, I belong here.”

Every company has a mission, just as every candidate has a mission. Whether or not they are aware of it, and whether or not they’ve ever officially expressed it, they have at least a perception of their mission. They believe in something, and they have a desire to accomplish something significant in their professional life.

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What is the number one factor in a candidate’s decision to accept a job offer? By far, it’s compensation. What is my salary? What about the rest of the package? If I accept a job offer, what am I going to get? Of course, the other two C’s are important when it comes to who’s going to be a good fit. But compensation plays the biggest role in helping people achieve their desired quality of life and standard of living.

If your compensation is not competitive, you will not be able to compete in the war for talent.

  • goal 1

    Career Growth

A-Players didn’t become A-Players by being complacent. A-Players like to learn new things and take on new challenges. They like to keep moving onward and upward.

When a top candidate chooses your company, he or she is not just looking at your company as a place to work. They are envisioning a path forward. It’s the responsibility of your company to ensure that the employee keeps moving in that direction.

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When you cover all the C’s, you can discover your A’s

If your goal is discovering and hiring A-players, the first thing you should do is define who an A-player is for your opportunity. Once you know who you’re actually looking for, then address the 3 C’s as they relate to that individual.

Emphasize the attributes of your company culture that would be attractive to your candidates. Put together a compensation package that is competitive and includes all the benefits and intrinsic rewards the position offers. Finally, make sure you have a plan in place to facilitate your new hire’s onboarding, training, and career growth. If you can cover every C for your candidates, you’ll find it much easier to hire those A-players.

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