How to Attract Top Talent

Written by: Rainee Busby
10 Mar 2015

Too many employers are worried about finding the right talent. Unfortunately, they are missing the real opportunity, attracting the right talent. If you want your company to have the best you need to focus on being the best. That means really understanding what your overall employee value proposition should be. (Learn more about your employee value proposition here). Many of you are aware of the traditional options related to compensation and benefits you can offer to retain your employees once you have them. Now let’s discuss how to help employee prospects find you.

Many of us are familiar with the typical recruiting process. Post a job, people apply, you fish through the applicants, identify a few, make calls, schedule interviews and hopefully find the perfect fit. But what if I told you, there’s another way that improves the quality of your talent pool substantially.

Stop Recruiting Your Candidates and Start Branding your Company

Before you get too excited, you still need to perform the recruiting process. Let’s just make it look a little bit different. The biggest change is the source and quality of the candidates you have to choose from.

When you are focusing on branding your company, you need to consider a few things:

  • What do you stand for:

    What is your mission? What do you do that will create passion for your current and future employees?

  • Company values in recruiting:

    What values does your company stand for? You want to attract people who have similar values.

  • Glassdoor & Vault:

    These two sites are online forums where your past and current employees make comments about what it’s like to work there. The top talent will check you out on these sites. Know what is being said about your company and your management team.

  • Career Portal:

    Your career portal need to be engaging and include topics like company diversity and even have testimonials of current employees and why they love working there. If you don’t have a career portal, get one. Top talent expects it. Also, it should take an applicant no longer than fifteen to twenty minutes to apply for a job online.

How to Become a Dream Company

A dream company is one of those companies that people apply to time and time again to try to get a position. These companies have worked hard to achieve and sustain this recognition which enables them to easily attract top talent.

One company I often refer to is southwest airlines. Southwest is very careful about who they hire. For every 5,000 job openings, they have ~100,000 people apply. To say the least, they are very selective at making sure they have the best people who are a perfect fit for their company culture. A healthy culture can consist of many things such as recognizing high performers, creating a challenging environment with lots of growth potential, targeted career development, and having strong leaders who are talent minded. Your top candidates know what their ideal culture looks like, so being aware of these opportunities and implementing them will help you create the most attractive culture.

Another way that candidates find good companies to work for is on the “Top 100 places to work” list. Companies who achieve this level of recognition have earned it because of their culture and how their employees feel about working there. It of course, makes other employees want to work there as well. A big applicant pool to choose from is always a plus!

Types of Applicants – Active vs. Passive

Attracting talent makes the recruiting process much easier and provides a much higher quality applicant pool. Unfortunately, you attract all kinds of applicants just like you do when you advertise a job opening. The process of selecting the top candidates still applies.

To know how to attract the right applicants, it helps to understand what type of applicants are out there. There are two types of applicants Active and Passive.

Active Applicants: Nearly 70% of the labor market is actively searching or open to new opportunities. The active applicant leverages aggregate job boards while searching for better opportunities. Typically they have notifications set to send an email or text if a job fits their qualifications. Basically, they are always fishing for new opportunities – have a line in the water so to speak.

For the most part our younger generation are career driven and always looking for opportunities to fast track their career. They have a totally different opinion when it comes to job hopping that our older generation who perceive it as negative. Job hoping isn’t a bad thing, contrary to popular belief; it demonstrates lateral growth and high potential qualities. This is an old stigma that no longer applies to today’s rapidly changing labor market.

Passive Applicants: Those who are passive tend to be happy with their job. It will take some effort to get them to leave their current position. This typically means lots of persuasion and sometimes even a significant pay increase. It is important that you have a strong recruiter working with this applicant who possesses great negotiation skills. Typically these applicants will be your best candidates. A great place to find this type of talent is inside your competition. Don’t feel bad. They are looking at your people as well.

Ensure You are Hiring the BEST people by Creating an Outstanding Talent Pool

The objective of creating a pool of talent is to improve your chances of finding the best talent which greatly increases as your number of applicants increase. A large talent pool gives you lots of choices. Be sure to track where the best talent comes from. You might be surprised what you find. Skills are important, but remember to focus on the culture fit. You can teach skills, not culture. Every new person you introduce to your environment changes your culture. Be sure it’s changing how you want it to.

On the topic of culture, great talent attracts great talent. Many of the best companies recruit a large percentage of their people from employee referrals. I recommend you compensate for those hard to find roles. Don’t forget – great talent attracts great talent. Your employees will be your biggest advocate. Be sure to take the time to promote your desire to leverage employee referrals. It’ll be well worth the investment.

Identify Your Top Talent

In the past we have discussed segmenting your people into the many different types of roles. It is important that you know who your top people are and what positions they occupy within your company. You should understand their values, competencies, behavioral traits, experience, skills and anything else of others who have been successful and recruit for those traits.

Our most talented people are well connected and reach out to their network when they are ready to move. Many may even have target companies that they’d love to work for and they know their skills are always in high demand.

Once you have your top talent identified, you can make efforts for keeping them onboard. For more information on that see our show. It will also help you plan for times when you need to tighten your budget, so you don’t let go of people who may help play a key role in your success as a company.

Tips on Refining your Recruiting Process

Your recruiting process is an applicant’s first view into your company and what your culture is like. Consider these questions when evaluating your recruiting process:

  • What message is your career portal sending?
  • Are you using a tool or taking applications manually?
  • How long does it take to apply? Is the process smooth?
  • How timely is the communication during the process?
  • How many steps are in the process and the timing between each step?
  • Do you have any special processes for top candidates, internal referrals?
  • What type of interviewing are you doing? (E.g. behavior based vs. scenario based, panel vs. individual, phone vs. in-person)
  • How effective are your interviewers? Do they know what they can and can’t ask?
  • Do you require assessments, how long do they take, when are they required?
  • Can the applicant talk to other employees? (E.g. potential co-workers)
  • Who makes the offer? HR or the hiring manager?
  • Do you deliver what you say or is it just lip service?

Another great way to refine your recruiting process is to hire secret shoppers. What do they think of your process? How was the experience? You may also want to reach out to candidates who didn’t take your offer. Let them know you want to improve and really appreciate their input. You’ll be surprised what you hear.

Don’t miss our next show about succession planning. This is all about mitigating risk for your team. If someone leaves or is ready to assume new roles, you need to ensure you have people ready to take on the vacant position. We will cover tips and techniques to ensure you’re truly managing your succession plan not just creating it and putting it on a shelf until next year.

To reach our team with questions about talent management and building a work environment for many levels of employees, contact Rainee Busby to take charge of your company.


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