Many businesses, regardless of size, type or industry, have found themselves in the trenches of today’s talent war, and the future of recruiting seems complicated and murky. Today, attracting and retaining top talent is one of the most pronounced challenges that leaders face.
Why is there a talent war?
- Employees have a wider range of career options than they ever have before. With remote and hybrid work arrangements now the norm, employees are no longer constrained by geographical factors that previously dictated where, when and how they work.
- There are roughly 10 million job availabilities in the U.S. and only about half the available qualified workers to fill them, resulting in a massive talent shortage.
- Wages are rapidly increasing.
- Demands for greater workplace flexibility have risen.
- The Great Resignation continues.
- The balance of power seems to have shifted away from the employer toward the employee.
Compounding the uncertainty of the current workplace, it’s unclear whether these trends will persist if an economic downturn occurs.
With this in mind, how can today’s business leaders:
- Re-evaluate their recruiting approaches?
- Compete successfully against other companies?
- Build a brand that drives loyalty and innovation among employees?
- Become an employer of choice?
8 strategies to successfully recruit and retain in today’s talent war
The answers to these questions above are found in eight solutions that businesses can use in order to successfully fight the talent war in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
1. Know and promote your employee value proposition
Every organization needs a clearly defined company brand – specifically a value proposition or brand promise – that articulates the benefits that customers will gain through the client relationship. Once realized, a value proposition transforms customers into brand advocates.
Similarly, businesses need an employer brand – their employee value proposition– to compete and win in today’s increasingly complex job market.
Your company brand focuses more on products and services (what your company delivers), while your employer brand is about why employees want to work for you. The employer brand is what attracts and retains employees for the long term.
It’s all selling – it’s just that the audience, their needs and how you communicate with these groups differ.
2. Clarify your company’s recruiting messaging
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that candidates seek jobs and the way that companies recruit – and these impacts will be felt for a long time.
During the pandemic, employees came to a realization that life is too short to spend time at a job that doesn’t fulfill them or accommodate their needs. As a result, many employees have:
- Shifted their own priorities
- Pursued more desirable salaries and benefits, and greater opportunities for flexibility
- Changed professional or educational paths to choose a course that makes them happier
Recruiting is no longer simply about the specific job. Candidates want more – to know more about the company as a whole and to understand what’s in it for them by joining a company.
Furthermore, to successfully speak to candidates and sell a company, recruiters must recognize that employees – especially those in younger generations – have fundamentally changed in their desires and priorities. It goes beyond a company embracing remote or hybrid work – that’s part of it, but this is a larger movement toward meeting employees where they are and putting their needs front and center.
Lastly, recruiters must understand that every candidate is different and they don’t all want the same things.
As it relates to your employer brand, these are the two most important factors for job candidates:
A. The employee experience
Recruiters need to answer these questions for candidates:
- What’s an average day like at your company?
- What are employees gaining from a position at your company?
- What will employees learn?
- What opportunities will employees have?
- How does the position fit into the candidates’ long-term career path? (Talk to candidates about the next two to three steps of their career progression, not just the immediate job opening.)
B. Workplace culture and values
- “Who” your company is
- What’s important to your company
- Why working at your company matters
The most successful hires are a good cultural fit, so this information can also help you more quickly identify people with same values and beliefs.
Essentially, prospective employees want to peek behind the curtain into “a day in the life” and the company culture.
3. Align recruiting and marketing
It’s critical that your recruiting team partners with your marketing team to promote your employer brand and implement an effective recruiting strategy.
Your company should have consistent messaging across channels, from the careers page on the company website to your social media accounts. Via these channels, emphasize the employee experience, values and culture at your workplace.
Social media, however, has become the primary vehicle for engaging with candidates, especially with posts, pictures and short videos that cover topics such as:
- Culture and values
- Employee spotlights
- Client interactions or major successes
- Volunteerism and other community or philanthropic initiatives
Job candidates – especially those who are younger – want to be able to hop on their phone to easily access information about your company and, within a few minutes, understand what’s appealing about it and what it’s like to work there.
The good news is that you don’t need million-dollar budgets or several weeks to put together slick marketing videos. This is actually a continual, quick and low-cost way to:
- Polish your employer brand
- Get your recruiting message out
- Engage with prospective and current candidates
4. Embrace non-local recruiting
Remote and hybrid work have broken down geographical barriers, serving as a powerful tool in the war on talent. No longer limited to candidates in their local area, recruiters can take a more national – or even international – approach to recruiting without forcing candidates to relocate.
There are tremendous advantages in this newly “opened door” for companies struggling to find and hire qualified talent:
- The opportunity for more diverse candidates, with a broader range of skills and experiences
- Potential for employees to better represent the customer base – and even the possibility for adding new clients or expanding into new areas
- Increased language and cultural awareness among employees
- Ability to recruit within pockets of the U.S. in which candidates with certain skill sets tend to be concentrated, because companies of the same type or industry have clustered in that location
All of these advantages lead to less groupthink and more innovation, higher-performing teams and improved financials.
5. Make everyone a recruiter
Although recruiters are still ultimately responsible for finding and hiring new employees, it’s no longer the expectation that only recruiters should engage in posting and sharing job opportunities, or looking for qualified candidates. That old mindset can be restrictive and lead to your organization missing out on great opportunities to market itself or reach the right candidate.
Instead, think of everyone at your company as a representative and brand ambassador. Everyone can explain the company’s story and values. Anyone can post or share a job – that’s how job postings can go viral. Anyone can leverage their individual connections and online spaces to refer a potential candidate.
This is also something you could consider as part of a broader employee referral program.
6. Adopt a positive mindset about review sites
Many organizations take a fear-based approach to employee review websites, such as Glassdoor, because they can’t fully control the content and view them as an obstacle. Certainly, poor word of mouth can hurt recruiting initiatives.
But, these websites and online employee chatter will continue to exist regardless of your feelings. And certain factors are within your control, including your employer brand.
These websites shouldn’t be scary for companies with a strong employer brand that center their recruiting efforts on the employee experience, culture and values.
Instead, shift to a hopeful, proactive mindset. View these websites as an opportunity to talk about your employer brand and point potential candidates toward your company.
Of course, consider responding to negative employee reviews appropriately so that no undesirable impressions are left unaddressed. But, make sure you’re also working to address any candidate or employee concerns mentioned internally as well – which in theory should result in less negative reviews! This gives job candidates get the opportunity to see your company’s empathy and professionalism (your employer brand in action!).
7. Keep engaging and communicating during tough times
Recruiting efforts shouldn’t stop even when your company experiences a crisis or goes through a challenging period. No matter what’s going on, you should still promote your employer brand – share your company’s stories; talk about your culture, mission and values; and explain why all these things are important.
For example, we may be on the precipice of an economic downturn, which can often mean tough decisions surrounding hiring freezes or layoffs. How can an employer brand survive circumstances like this?
Actually, your employer brand is more critical than ever during these times. It’s your guidepost, governing all your actions and communications.
And all crises and challenges inevitably end. Companies that stand out to candidates and avoid recruiting problems once the tough period ends are the ones that:
- Reinforce their company values constantly to remind candidates what’s so great about the company
- Cultivate and grow their prospective talent pool even when they’re not currently hiring to keep people interested, engaged and in anticipation of a job opening up
8. Sell the company to candidates and employees
In all of the ways that we’ve outlined how to promote your employer brand and recruit successfully, you actually have two target audiences: job candidates and current employees.
As it turns out, recruiting is an ongoing activity that doesn’t end with a hire. The difference is, you now have to encourage employees to stay put.
Just because someone has joined your company doesn’t mean you have them for the long term. To retain them, you want to continue to talk about:
- Why they’re here
- Why their work matters
- What opportunities are available for them to benefit their career (and life outside of work)
- What they love about the company
All the materials that your recruiting and marketing teams produce, and the engagement that occurs in your online recruitment channels, are visible and relevant to employees, too.
Summing it all up
The future of recruiting is all about winning the talent war – overcoming talent shortages and convincing candidates with abundant options that your company is the best choice for them to:
- Make a difference
- Learn and develop
- Facilitate career growth
That’s a tall order. But with the right recruiting strategy and mindset for our modern times, it’s possible.
Focus your efforts on building a strong employer brand with a compelling employee value proposition that’s centered on the employee experience, culture and values. Work with marketing to continually deliver this messaging. Transform everyone at your company into a brand advocate. Don’t let up on these efforts – even during challenging periods when you’re not even hiring. And remember that you’re always targeting both job candidates and current employees in your recruiting activities and communications.
Want to learn more about attracting and retaining the best talent? Employee engagement is a crucial element of being an employer of choice. Download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to employee engagement