Reeling In the Right Talent in a Candidates’ Market

By Meghan Biro Jul 24, 2017
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Companies can recruit and retain the people they want by understanding what attracts prospective employees, optimizing the candidate experience and investing in developing new hires. 

When it comes to the business of talent acquisition, it is without question a candidates' market. According to the results of a 2016 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than two-thirds of surveyed organizations looking to hire full-time staff admit they are having difficulty filling current job openings.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Internally and Externally]

Sure, competitive compensation always cultivates interest but, in this market of culture and collaboration, it isn't always enough. The following strategies provide insight into attracting the right talent, keeping them motivated, ensuring they are productive and fostering commitment for the long haul.

Clarify your job postings. Ensure that the job requirements are explained clearly and in detail. Not only should past experience, specific certifications and degrees, and pertinent skills be listed in the job advertisement, so should any alternatives your company will accept. For instance, if you're looking for an employee who holds an MBA, but you are willing to accept more experience in place of the degree, say that. Having a crystal-clear job post avoids wasting everyone's time.

*Continuously improve your candidate experience. Potential employees are taught to leave a lasting impression when applying and interviewing for a job, but the same holds true for the companies doing the hiring. Social media and various professional platforms like Glassdoor allow people to create and sustain open dialogues about topics such as a company's hiring practices. Allowing applicants to showcase their strengths in a way that makes them feel comfortable—be it via virtual interviews or video CVs—will add to an effective candidate experience.

*Consider the Play-Doh employee. Children see limitless possibilities when playing with clay, and it's about time employers start looking at their potential hires the same way. What does this mean? Talented candidates with the most experience and widest skill set don't always have to take priority; a passion for learning and motivation are valuable personal and professional characteristics. An employee whose personality is compatible with the company's mission statement and culture offers limitless possibilities for success. Skills can be taught; intrinsic values cannot.

*Offer opportunity. A 2016 Business in the Community survey found that, in addition to pay, prospective employees are looking for employers who offer career advancement (38 percent) and a feeling of value within the company (33 percent). It's no secret that a happy workplace is a productive workplace, and if an employee feels personally invested in his or her job, this person is more likely to be loyal to the employer. Boosting morale with company traditions or fun team-building exercises will help create contented employees.

*Polish your perks. Many companies now offer employee equity as a perk of employment because they understand the power behind taking ownership of one's work. Think outside the box when it comes to the kinds of perks you can offer your employees. Whether it is a gym membership, free lunches or half-day Fridays, the extras tell the employees that you value their time and commitment to the company.           

*Contribute socially. Younger employees are hyper-aware about—and incredibly active with—current social issues. Bigger companies are able to make bigger monetary contributions, whereas smaller ones can contribute manpower and time. Whether you offer matching monetary contributions that reflect time spent with a charity, or days of service for employees to help their favorite causes, if your company stands behind and contributes to the greater good, you're one step closer to landing top talent.

*Pay attention to commitment issues. A person's track record speaks volumes about willingness to commit to a position or company. Why did your potential employee leave the last few jobs? How many jobs has the candidate had? And how long was his tenure at each company?  If she is always on the prowl for something bigger and better, that's a big red flag, and you might want to look at the next best candidate. If the moves were a natural progression of their career, delve further into where this candidate wants to go and ask yourself if you can accommodate that on your corporate ladder. If not, keep in mind that employees might leave when they've gone as far as they feel they're able at your company.

*Provide learning and development. Now that you've landed top talent, it's important to support them. A fantastic way to offer systematic and reliable professional support is by offering in-house training. Offering appropriate training and guidance is the key to laying a solid foundation and retaining your workforce.

Meghan Biro is the founder of TalentCulture and the creator and host of the weekly #WorkTrends Twitter chat and podcast. She is a thought leader in HR technology, social strategy and the future of work. She lives in Cambridge, Mass.

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