How Companies Can Become a Magnet For Talent

How Companies Can Become a Magnet For Talent

18:28 05 December in Applicant Tracking Systems, Articles, Best Practices, Brand Reputation, Engagement, HR Technology, Human Resources, Marketing, Recruiting, Staffing, Technology, Workplace

The tide has turned. What once was an employer’s market is now a job seeker’s delight. The unemployment rate is hovering around 4% which is something we haven’t seen in the U.S. since the 1960’s. This is great news for people seeking employment and has opened more options for them. Conversely, companies are adding jobs at a rapid rate with many positions remaining open for long periods of time due to a lack of (qualified) individuals to fill these roles, and expectations are that the talent shortage is not getting any better. A Korn Ferry study revealed that human capital—people, labor, knowledge—will be worth as much as $1.2 quadrillion over the next few years; the financial repercussions of the labor shortage will undoubtedly impact the worldwide economy due to organizations being unable fill their open positions quickly enough if at all.

What people want to know

Many people believe that each generation in the workforce has its own unique agenda. Undeniably there are nuances that distinguish one generation from another; however, all people in the workforce want to experience respect, equality, fair pay, a true representation of an organization’s culture, advancement opportunities, job stability, gratification from the work they perform, along with acknowledgment by the employer for a job well-done. When we look at workforce generational preferences, much of this is driven by the stage in life where someone is, and as changes impact our lives (i.e., marriage, health issues, children, care for aging parents) priorities will naturally shift.

Duly noted, the days of staid and boring job postings as optimal are quickly becoming a thing of the past. People want to know more than what you provide in a laundry list of what they must have and what will be expected of them to perform in the role. Knowing more about the human side of your business is increasing as a factor in a job candidate’s interaction with a company and the acceptance of a job offer. Though money is a major consideration for everyone of all generations, the “softer side” of a company is also an important factor. This softer side is where the relationships between people and business intersect and engagement can be found, and ultimately where employees want to find happiness and experience satisfaction.

Companies that better understand the nuances of their generational workforce along with the universal expectations of all employees will always fare better when interacting with job seekers. Generally, these organizations understand their cultural attributes and know how to showcase them. This is where transparency and an accurate representation of the organization’s norms, likes and dislikes, values and priorities, along with employer branding take center stage, thus creating a clearer picture of the employer which sets the foundation for realistic expectations.

Be where the candidates are

According to Inc. magazine, 79% of job seekers use social media to find a job with that percentage increasing to 89% for people who are only ten years into the workforce. Additionally, the Inc. article revealed, that two out of three employees believe their employer doesn’t have a social presence nor know how to use social media to promote their jobs.

What this means for employers is that their presence in social media must be available, relatable, likable, interesting, transparent and attractive to jobs seekers. Social media is the perfect venue to showcase attributes of the company culture, employee sentiment, and employer brand. This takes effort on the part of the company, yet many still hesitate to have a recruiting presence on social. Some employers believe social media is fine for “investigating” the background of a candidate, but many don’t use it as a sourcing and recruiting vehicle for finding viable talent, and this is a huge mistake.

Note: If you cannot expose your culture publically, you may need to re-examine your culture and determine where there is opportunity for positive change.

Broaden your horizons

It’s always a good time to implement new, more effective strategies and tactics in your recruiting efforts. Companies that rely exclusively on one recruiting venue or option is doing itself a disservice. An integrated approach is always better because you will reach a more diverse group of people by creating saturation or advanced marketing of your jobs. Using technology to promote your brand and jobs is a good start given most job seekers today are tech savvy and use technology to aid them in their search. Using video to showcase your employer brand and work environment, when used appropriately, can give people a great idea of your culture. Also, the use of direct recruiting tools such as social media, video interviewing, AI, texting, advanced applicant tracking systems, even gamification for candidate engagement are effective ways to reach both active and passive job seekers.

Additionally, companies that recognize the importance of having a diverse workplace are staying ahead of the curve. These organizations have expanded their outreach and increased their recruiting options in today’s ever-growing global workforce. As mentioned earlier, using social media is a recommended practice with myriad benefits, but companies also need to look at population demographics and determine where they are missing opportunities. If you’re positioning your organization to reach limited segments of the population, you are not only creating a bias in your recruiting techniques, you deny your organization the opportunity to bring in diverse and new ideas. Both conscious and unconscious bias exists and creates adverse effects felt by all generations in the workforce, often denying people employment based on their sexual orientation, gender, race, and countries of origin. Only with the inclusion of all people can an organization truly experience the benefits of various points of view, and with this, open the door to more innovative thinking. When considering global history as an example, think about the people who lived in cultures that were isolated and non-inclusive. With the exception of just a few, most have ceased to exist. Ultimately, organizations that ignore inclusion have the potential to face the same outcome.

If you’re unsure where to start, look internally at your current employee population. Do you have people who can assist with information or advice for creating a more diverse workplace culture?

Employees are a resource

One of the best and most economical recruiting resources companies has is their employees. These people are entrenched in the organization and can articulate the details of the company’s culture with a deep, realistic understanding, which can be either good or bad. When employees are provided an opportunity to help mold the workplace population, employers can generally expect greater engagement by employees, as they now have skin in the game. Their proactive involvement demonstrates concern and interest in making the company’s culture a productive and meaningful environment by integrating people within their own network.

Over the past decade, many research groups have evaluated the cost-effectiveness along with the efficacy of an employee referral program (ERP.) These findings are, in themselves, a perfect reason for organizations to develop and implement an ERP as part of their recruiting mix, and the data points to many positive outcomes. In addition to providing employees a greater say in who is hired, organizations fill jobs faster which lowers the cost-to-hire; people hired via an ERP are more likely retained as employees, and people are typically a better culture fit, unless your current employee pool is homogenous.

Other areas for consideration are internships and alumni groups. Having a well-designed internship program allows you to train and develop new talent in a way that is customized to your business. From this group, plan to keep the best and brightest as a way of growing your talent pool. There is much to be learned from fresh ideas.

Another opportunity many companies miss is implementing an alumni program. This program is designed with former employees in mind and serves as a great way to stay in touch with people who brought value to your organization. These are people considered “re-hirable” so maintaining open lines of communication with job openings, company updates, and events is one way to keep you top-of-mind.

These individuals can serve as the best resources you can ever have for job candidate recommendations.

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.

As with most things in life, for every positive, there’s a negative. The fact that job seekers are more knowledgeable and savvy “shoppers” is a positive thing, but only for the companies that are keeping pace with them, or that offer people employment compatible with the organization’s belief system. If your organization is behind the curve on current recruiting trends and methodologies, expect to be overlooked by many job seekers. Given the keen interest in understanding company culture, along with the mission, vision, and values an organization projects and lives by, it’s imperative to make these transparent to job seekers and candidates.

If you’re unsure where to begin, start with one or two of the aforementioned programs on a smaller scale. Don’t try to change everything at once, because firstly, change is difficult and secondly, it’s important that you are able to successfully manage, monitor and quantify results. If you can’t oversee a new program and evaluate outcomes, you’ll never fully understand what is working and what is not. And do keep in mind that workplace happiness (or lack thereof) is a telltale sign of a failed or successful program; so do take the pulse of your employees from time-to-time. These actions have the potential to elevate the atmosphere of your organization and eventually pay off with great dividends for your workplace and brand.

It takes work to stay competitive in a fast-paced society with more jobs than qualified people to fill them, but by implementing any programs or initiatives that expand your reach, you can maintain a competitive edge and win the war on talent.

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Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash



Doug Coull

Doug Coull is the founder and CEO of APS, Inc., maker of SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software. Doug founded APS in 1986 after a successful management career in the contract engineering industry. Under Doug’s leadership and unique perspective on the development and user adoption of software and technology, APS pioneered the resume scanning based system as a new approach to digital candidate management. In the ensuing years, APS continues to reign as one of the industry’s most innovative software developers in the field of HR technology. APS currently services customers on five continents, serving both corporate human resources, as well as the staffing industry. Doug attended Augustana College and the University of Minnesota. He’s the father of two sons and is an avid automobile enthusiast. Doug lives in North San Diego County, California.

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