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Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in a Candidate Focused Hiring Era

Illustration of big hands holding a big magnet attracting small figure holding a light bulb

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
Anne M. Mulcahy – former CEO of Xerox

One major change that we saw in the job market post-pandemic is that the market now swings heavily in favor of potential candidates over organizations. With talented professionals knowing they are in demand and becoming more vocal about what they want out of a working relationship, organizations who do not focus on attracting AND retaining top talent will more than likely feel the strain when it comes to keeping employees.

So, what exactly do potential candidates want out of an employer these days? Beyond salary and basic benefits that they need, there are plenty of factors that candidates consider before accepting a job offer. These factors include:

  • Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture
  • Wanting to feel valued and that their voice is heard
  • Better work-life balance
  • More flexible work schedules
  • Greater job stability
  • The ability to work remotely or work a hybrid model
  • Potential for in-organization career advancement
  • Positive workplace culture
  • Sensing of belong and trust within the organization

Attracting Top Talent

Once an organization recognizes what candidates want, they could make changes in their hiring practices, how they market themselves and work on their reputation to meet the needs of the candidates that they want for their business. Here are a few ways to begin to attract the talent for your business.

Compelling Job Descriptions

This seems simple and it is often overlooked but a proper job description can help the candidate and organization start on the right foot. A well-written job description does more than just describe the job itself; it should highlight how the new hire will grow, learn, and make an impact while ensuring that the organization is supplying quality opportunities for meaningful work and personal growth. A job description that lays out the work, the impact, and the benefits can help the potential candidate understand exactly what is expected to be delivered, ensuring that the right people apply for the right jobs.

Use Social Media For Your Advantage

Almost all millennials and gen z have some type of social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok. Utilizing these platforms is not only an innovative way to attract talent but it is a sure fire way to promote your business culture, build credibility, grow brand awareness, showcase business events, highlight business purposes, and connect worldwide with top talent.

Promote Diversity and Inclusion From The Start

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is a growing importance for candidates but this does not stop at just gender or race. This includes inclusivity for parents, caregivers, and anyone else with obligations outside of the office that might affect how they work. With the ability to hire remotely, organizations can tap into a pool of potential hires with diverse backgrounds and different ways of thinking – leading to more innovation and better performance within an organization. Organizations who limit themselves to a certain demographic can end up hurting themselves in the end and will lose potential candidates to more forward-thinking organizations.

Collage of diverse business people's faces

Advertise What Sets You Apart

It is hard for candidates to think twice of a business if they do not advertise what differentiates them from their competition and what makes them and their culture a unique and a worthwhile place to work. Organizations can address this by promoting what is important to the business on the company website, be active on social media or use the most authentic way – employees. Your employees can tell you firsthand what can capture the attention of job candidates and provide a knowledgeable glimpse into what it is like to work for your organization which then can be incorporated into everyday branding and the hiring process.

Create A Better Experience For Candidates

Another factor that is typically overlooked is the experience we create for candidates. While this might not be important for all organizations, in a study done by 68% of candidates think a business’ hiring process reflects how it treats its employees. The experience extends throughout the whole hiring process including:

  • When they visit your business site
  • Job advertisements
  • The online job application process
  • Any communication during the process
  • The interview process
  • Communication with HR professionals and leadership
  • Status of the job application
  • Rejection or job offer

If a candidate feels neglected, dismissed, or overall does not get a personal feel from the organization, they will most likely choose an organization that takes the time to focus on them, communicate and understand their personal and professional needs.

Retaining Top Talent

Attracting the talent is just the first step, what good is getting them on board with your organization just for them to leave down the line? Keeping top talent is a daily task by making sure they feel valued, challenged but also are experiencing what they expected from the initial interview and orientation stages. There are plenty of ways to keep talent, below are a few great places to start.

Acknowledge and Reward A Job Well Done

This seems easy and it is. Acknowledging and rewarding hard work has a positive impact on not only the business but the employees as well. Recognition is one of the best ways for employees to understand that the organization values them, builds a sense of security, and continually motivates employees to work hard and be productive because they feel like themselves and their work are truly important.

Have an Employee Retention Strategy

Taking the time to create and follow through with employee retention strategies helps avoid the risk of losing talent to your competition. There are plenty of factors that make up a great employee retention strategy that keeps employees wanting to stay that include but are not limited to:

  • Building employee engagement
  • Recognition and reward system
  • Exceptional onboarding and orientation experience
  • Building a strong employee culture
  • Offering incentives
  • Focusing on employee wellness
  • Investing in employee’s careers
  • Making sure employees have tools for success

Offer Training and Promote From Within

Many candidates’ first choice is not to move from organization to organization to find career advancement opportunities or get the different training they need to further themselves. As Kevin Griffin, an IT advisor at Falco Enterprises, “learning cannot just be an afterthought – it must be a core focus of any strong organization.” Taking this into consideration, studies show that millennials and gen z prefer a workplace that offers professional and personal development rather than a stagnant one. Taking the time to invest in your employee’s education and skills can help retain both talent and grow the number of talented people in an organization leading to better chances of success.

Man in suit manipulating figure of a person on a virtual line graph

With training and evolving roles, having employees with the skills and knowledge to fill various positions within the organization gives the opportunity to hire within without sacrificing quality. Be sure to provide clear direction, expectations for growth and work with employees to work towards their goal of either a raise, promotion, new position etc. Employees get the added benefits of better pay, more responsibility, security and fill their cravings for growth without having to find a new organization who will give them that.

Enable Open Communication On ALL Levels

Communication is essential for a business to run daily but it needs to happen on all levels from employees to management to owners. Poor communication can lead to issues like basic tasks not being done, schedules becoming disorganized, roles or functions being overlooked and not assigned, employee morale declines if they feel unheard, and important business relationships can potentially fall through. People need to feel their voice matters and holds weight, especially when it comes to the organization they work for. Be sure to welcome input, ideas, and open communication regardless of who the employee is. With an organization filled with talent and insight, inspiration can always come from an unlikely source.

Create Strong Leadership

Productivity, efficiency, and an overall positive morale comes from good leadership, regardless of any other benefits offered, one of the main reasons employees leave jobs is because of poor management and leadership. Poor leadership can mean a number of things including managers who:

  • Never offer feedback
  • Do not know or utilize employee strengths
  • Micromanage every task
  • Encourage a toxic workplace
  • Do not listen to their team or are condescending during conversations
  • Who simply can not manage

When hiring a leader, be sure they embody qualities like integrity, delegation, self-awareness, empathy, have effective cross-cultural communication, have the ability to listen, be proactive thinkers, problem solvers, inspirational, have open-mindedness, patience, flexibility, and respect.