Building the Talent of Your Company’s Dreams
I’m reminded of the common Field of Dreams misquote, “If you build it, they will come.” All Ray had to do was build the ball field and open the doors, and apparitions of history’s greatest baseball players along with Iowans from far and wide would show up to play in and watch the games. Thinking of this in the context of talent acquisition, wouldn’t this be nice? Not the hauntings from old-timey ballplayers, but just opening the doors and watching all the best candidates come to you. Unfortunately, no amount of Kevin Costner’s gumption and elbow grease can make that our reality. Especially now.
This will be the pivotal year for Talent Acquisition in every organization. Low unemployment rates coupled with increased brand awareness amongst candidates has made the recruiting job a challenging one. If companies want to bring in high-impact talent, then recruiting teams will need to up their game. As we head into 2019, Talent Acquisition, as a function, has to find ways to evolve, remain competitive, and impact their company’s value proposition.
Talent Acquisition has officially graduated from a simple candidate filling function to a strategic arm that has a direct correlation to an organization’s bottom line. That means expectations are higher than ever. How can your organization keep pace and maintain a dynamic candidate recruiting approach?
1. Recruiting is all speed and direction.
Your organization needs to be innovative on how it sources candidates. LinkedIn is saturated with recruiters and well-written messages to candidates that will never get read. Talent Acquisition today isn’t afforded the luxury of waiting on a hope and a prayer to fill a position. One of the most reliable ways to place a candidate quickly is through referrals. To develop a steady source of referrals, you have to leverage the collective network of employees in your organization to create incentive programs for employees who refer candidates. Referrals are critical for the ability to place new candidates. For instance, referrals from employees at LogicSource jumped significantly in 2018 and are one of the best sources of talent for our organization. If no quality referrals come through, speed is still a necessity when considering the holistic recruiting process. The environment is changing. There are frenzied recruiting windows coupled with high volumes of applicants and high numbers of open job requisitions. This chaotic witches brew can easily lead to inefficiencies that cost your company its best candidates. The era of the long and extended interview process is a thing of the past. Candidates in 2019 are impatient, confident, and demanding. They know their value and they are ready to show it, fast. Your company needs to make decisions quickly and trust its hiring process (assuming there is one in place).
2. Create a candidate experience that survives the grapevine.
Research tells us that candidates talk about their interviewing experiences with friends and family. With the explosion of mobile technology and social media, feedback spreads faster than ever. It is inevitable that both positive and negative feedback have a tremendous impact on the reputation of your organization and its ability to attract the top talent. Creating a positive candidate experience is the responsibility of the entire organization not just recruiters. Have a clear communication channel with candidates, be responsive, do what you say you’ll do, and make sure hiring managers do the same. The most successful companies make organized efforts to ensure—through screening quality, and in-person interviews with some of the best and most interesting people in the organization—that the experience resonates with every serious candidate.
3. Your company will be judged by its cover.
But, the appearance is the result of internal well-being. Creating a positive image of your company starts with employees and how they are treated. Companies with reputations for having a great culture, rewarding employee programs, and community involvement become desirables destinations, and those cultural benefits can often be a tie-breaker for a candidate with all else (like compensation) being equal. A positive image gives your company an edge in attracting top talent, keeping valuable employees, and solidifying relationships with clients. If the culture is strong, show it off. Use the power of social media as a force multiplier for that competitive advantage. Content doesn’t have to go viral for it to help your company’s Talent Acquisition efforts, it just has to be there to reinforce the positive image of your company when candidates are researching.
And don’t be afraid to break out of the screens. Be sure to present at the right events such as trade shows and industry conferences; use recruiting dollars to sponsor relevant events and have recruitment days which highlight how mindful and forward-thinking your company is. Never underestimate the power of meeting your candidates where they are. Prove to candidates that your organization inhabits the world in the same way they do. Talent Acquisition is more people than process.
4. The results are in.
The single most important variable in acquiring talent—independent of effectively attracting the best candidates—is ensuring their talents are transferable. Talented people are everywhere, but can they seamlessly contribute to your business’ value proposition? What’s more, you will probably genuinely like many of your best candidates and feel like they’d be a great “fit” for your company. This concept gets at something much deeper than cultural and practical fit, and asks recruiters to consider “productive inclusion.” Conceptually, fit implies a candidate’s characteristics match role and conduct requirements. Productive inclusion, on the other hand, links core competencies, management styles, ways of thinking, attitudes, and work approaches, to business results, instead of functions. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Start with the business results you want from the role. Then design the job criteria around those specific outcomes. Only then should you define the tangible attributes a successful candidate would need to demonstrate.
Experience certainly matters, but it rarely tells the whole story. Minimize what candidates have done and instead focus on what they can do in front of you. You know what success looks like in your company. Put your candidates in a position to prove themselves from the outset. Analyzing and presenting current client opportunities, or breaking down a current business process into scenarios and having candidates role play, are good test case examples. This hands-on approach combined with carefully developed interviewing protocols very quickly isolates fact from fiction.
5. You can create the candidates you need.
Your Talent Acquisition strategy should include grooming and promoting employees internally, instead of going outside your company to fill open positions. Your organization should have plans for all top performing talent and regularly re-draw future organizational maps. lt starts with identifying peak performers within the company and taking the time to train and prepare them to take on more responsibility, with sights set on leadership. Opportunities such as internal mentorship programs, high-quality employee training, stretch assignments, and dual-role assignments all expand career outcomes for your people. Furthermore, this kind of internal career pathing reduces the pressure to fill highly specialized positions with highly sought after candidates. In the context of today’s unprecedented recruiting environment, making this process more frictionless should be a top priority for your Talent Acquisition team.
Proactivity here matters. Being proactive in putting your top employees on a career plan deepens your talent pool without having to manage the risk of the external labor market. It also creates real success stories of empowerment from within, which in turn serves to strengthen the positive image discussed above.
All of this can feel like your business really has little-to-no control over Talent Acquisition these days. It doesn’t take a cynical reading of this advice to think that candidates are calling all the shots now. And when there’s greater pressure than ever to place the absolute best people in complex roles, it’s easy to throw your hands up and let the cards fall where they may. The more prudent reading though would recognize the changing Talent Acquisition landscape as an opportunity to get ahead of your competition.
And so, in the end, maybe there is some truth to the whispers Ray heard in his Iowa cornfield. If you build a Talent Acquisition function that’s proactive about referrals, deliberate about creating a great culture, and honors the candidate experience, maybe, just maybe, you can open the doors, sit back, and let top talent come to you.
LogicSource is an execution-based Sourcing and Procurement firm with a proven track record of increasing speed-to-market and delivering meaningful savings on indirect procurement spend for our clients. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.