For some organizations, recruitment is like trying to hit a dartboard bull’s-eye with a spatula, wearing a blindfold. If it sticks, it’s a miracle. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Many companies have little idea how to attract great candidates to their organizations and hang on to them. For these employers, finding a top performer is more a happy surprise than a proven strategy that works.
You can’t retain top talent if you can’t attract them in the first place. It’s not impossible to staff your company with the best and brightest, and keep them coming back. It’s an art. Successful organizations do it all the time. Here are five suggestions to help you ensure your hiring is intentional, targeted, long-term and successful, not just sometimes, but all the time.
know what you’re looking for now
Don’t wait until you have a critical role that needs to be filled. Go beyond creating a shopping list of skills and requirements to create a job description based on what the role and your organization really require. Think about all the elements of your organization, what you do, what you need, your corporate culture – everything. Start with big picture thinking, and then drill down to specifics. What are the specific skills that are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves? Base your job description on the actual role and the capabilities of the people already doing it. Once you identify your ideal candidates, start marketing your role where they ‘live’.
diversify how you search for candidates
You never know where you might find great candidates. Not everyone hangs out on the same platform. Step outside of the box, and look for talent everywhere. You might just find a gem that you would have overlooked by sticking to the same old recruiting grounds. Look at job boards, recruiting firms, your internal networks, passive candidates, in-house recruiters, and referrals from colleagues. Leave no stone unturned. Successful hiring depends on a marriage of technology and the human touch to make you immune, regardless of whether the candidate pool is shrinking or expanding.
be proactive, not reactive
Make a habit of identifying current and potential industry, market and hiring trends, and understanding their potential impact on the availability of top talent. Counsel your hiring managers so they are sensitive to the hiring process and how yours might affect candidates. Candidates who survive a hiring process feeling bruised or dehumanized are unlikely to accept a job offer, regardless of how great it seems. Would you, in their place?
hone your employer brand
The importance of your employer brand in attracting and retaining exceptional candidates can’t be overstated. Like your clients, prospective candidates do their research. They know which organizations they want to approach and which to approach only with a ten-foot pole. In other words, your reputation – good or bad – precedes you. Smart organizations leverage their employer brand so it does much of the hiring work for them. They know a positive, attractive employer brand describes a place people want to be. It’s their strongest weapon, often outweighing higher competitor compensation packages in importance to job seekers and influencing employees to stay put and loyal. That’s because a big part of your employer brand affects how deeply your employees engage and stay engaged with your organization.
engage employees by being engaging
Employees are drawn to employers whose compensation packages are comprehensive and competitive. That’s not to say you have to offer the highest salaries in town; in fact, doing so is no guarantee employees will stick around if your idea of comprehensive doesn’t include things like employee assistance and benefits programs, flexible work hours, the ability to work remotely, and opportunities for career growth and development.
look beyond salary and benefits
Times have changed. Organizations are judged by more than their comp packages. Of course salary is important, but it’s not the end all be all. After a competitive salary is reached, there are lots of other things employees look for. A company culture that’s inclusive and representative, that values and supports community and charity work, and provides opportunities to mentor and be mentored, team building events. These things like these sweeten the pot and give rise to a committed workforce that takes ownership and recognizes they contribute in no small measure to organizational success. People who are made to feel valued like that aren’t likely to jump ship any time soon.
Tweaking your approach to the hiring process transforms your company into a place people want to work. It’ll also have the happy side effect of making your organization resistant to fluctuating economic and hiring trends that directly impact the availability of top talent. The next war for talent will have to take place without you. (And that's a good thing!)