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How to Attract and Retain Top Talent in a Tight Market


“Hi! I’d like to talk to you about a great job opportunity that I think you’d be a perfect fit for. Is now a good time to talk?” — Kevin, 32, is one of those lucky people whose phone keeps ringing with calls like these. He is getting constant calls from recruiters trying to pry him from his current job, but he knows better than to jump at every offer that comes along.  He is smartly weighing all his options and exploring the best that’s out there. Kevin is not alone. Top talent is always floored with options, but they are picky about what offers they accept.

Plus, the employment market, in general, has shifted in favour of candidates. Job seekers are getting multiple interviews and finding work far more quickly. They can afford to pick and choose between employers. For companies, this boils down to a major recruitment challenge — attracting and closing candidates — becoming even more challenging.

Hear the story of Allen Kramer, a hiring manager at a healthcare software company. They were in dire need to hire someone for their development team. Besides posting the position on multiple platforms, Allen reached out via phone to try to attract a young developer, but he had already taking a position with a competitor. Realizing how competitive the market is, Allen knew he needed a different approach.  Does this sound familiar? If yes, I urge you to read on.

Adapt and Adjust to the Candidate-Driven Market

Between 2012 and the end of 2014, tech jobs in Denver increased by 10.7 percent — a figure that put the Denver-Boulder metro area among the top 20 fastest-growth cities for tech jobs in the US. While that momentum might have slowed down a bit, growth and hiring for tech positions continues to be strong. Plus, Denver’s vibrant tech startup community is pushing the city to become a leader in the new digital economy. In short, the tech market here is booming with companies seeking out talent for technology and IT positions. This also means that unlike in the last few years when you could rope in great candidates more easily, now you have to vie for and woo candidates to get them through your door and not your competitor’s.

Tell Your Unique Story

When it comes to enticing the right candidates, it’s mostly the brand’s image that does the trick. Think of Google. The company attracts top talents like magnet. Every year, it gets around 3 million applications. Of course, Google’s talent attraction process works because it involves a lot of innovation and let’s face it, they have people pounding down the door to work for them. But, you can’t ignore the awesome image they’ve created of their brand.

I once overheard a conversation in one of the networking events I attended. As far as I can remember, a software professional was telling the guy next to him that he was getting 10-15 calls from recruiters each week but he kept ignoring most of them because none of the companies that approached had impressive profiles online. What I most significantly remember is what he uttered next — “A company needs to have a really compelling story for me to make the switch.”

To leverage the power of storytelling to attract top talents, start by looking internally within your organization. Ask yourself these questions; your answers could be the starting points.

  • How do you stack up against the competition?
  • What unique selling points are you offering the candidates?
  • Is your story appealing and “sexy?”
  • Does it align with what the candidate actually values/ cares about?
  • Does the overall culture of your company promote growth opportunities?
  • Does your company’s vision, mission, and cultural values permeate throughout the organization?
  • What emotions can you associate with your company’s story, its background, and/or employees?
  • Does the team work independently or collaboratively?

Understand Why People Look for Other Opportunities and Exploit Those Areas

There are a few universal things all employees want from their jobs: To get appreciated for their work, to have the opportunity to grow, and to feel generally supported by their organization. So, in other words, the employer who creates a work atmosphere that takes care of these “few universal things” will be successful in attracting and retaining employees most successfully. Is it so? Well, not quite.

In today’s labor market, there’s more to keeping your staff loyal than simply providing positive work experience. A survey by recruiting software provider, Jobvite, revealed that 45 percent of U.S. job seekers across all ages, education levels and industries are seemingly happy in their current positions but are open to new opportunities.

The 2015 Job Seeker Nation survey outlined the reasons why job-seekers jump ship:

  • Nearly 40 percent of job seekers look for better work-life balance
  • While better pay (61 percent) trumps most reasons, location (42 percent), health benefits (36 percent) and growth opportunities (35 percent) are important factors too.
  • Although company culture (21 percent) and leadership (15 percent) aren’t top factors to trigger a job change, they are important to encourage loyalty, nonetheless.

Before posting a new job or making that next call, do your research to find out criteria on the basis of which employees would want to choose your company over all the others waiting to make their offer. When you’re aware of what factors make people change their current jobs, you’re better positioned to craft a compelling pitch to the candidates.

Recruiting top talent is difficult, and its difficulty is likely to increase. Hopefully, these tips will help you stay ahead in the current and upcoming talent wars.