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Positioning Your Company to Attract Top Talent

With unemployment at its lowest rate in decades, it’s no surprise that the best candidates are in high demand. As such, the ability to attract and retain employees is one of the most critical components of any firm’s success. To be competitive, hiring managers and corporate leaders need to give considerable thought when positioning the company and opportunity.

Know What’s Important to Candidates

The competition for candidates is fierce and many are choosing between multiple offers. Often, their choice to accept or reject an opportunity is not determined by compensation but by other criteria such as: career path, culture, belief in the organization’s product or service, the team they will be working with, flexibility and the challenge of the task at hand. Too, the way a business highlights the opportunity – and what makes their company special – during the interview process plays a major part in acquiring talent. Take the time to figure out what’s most important to candidates applying for your company’s roles and reinforce this positioning during all interactions, from a job posting to an offer.

Survey Says

Use your latest employee survey or speak with your current staff to learn what they like about both their roles and the company. Give weight to the input of peers to your open position(s); why someone early in their career likes working for a company may be different than the perspective of senior management. Gathering input from peers will allow you to set a consistent “sell” that will begin with the job description and will be supported throughout the interview process.

Evaluate the Competition

Research your competitors’ employer brands through their career sites, job postings and online reviews. See how they position themselves and the benefits they offer. The strengths of your organization are relative to your competition. For example, you may have an exceptional 401(k) plan that is better than 70% of most companies’ packages, but if your direct competition has a better offering, this will not be the selling point to lean on during a multiple-offer situation. Speak to new hires to determine whether they also interviewed with the competition. If they did, why did they choose your company – or your competitor? This information is invaluable when positioning your company and its attributes.

Use a Marketing Approach to Hiring

Take advantage of social media to showcase your employer brand. Use social channels to tell the story of what it’s like to work at your company and what makes your workplace special, whether that’s your work in the community, the social activities you offer your employees, your wellness initiatives, your parties or reward programs. The more you can demonstrate what it’s like to be part of your organization, the easier it is to connect with candidates and the more apparent it is for them to imagine working with you.

Create an Effective Interview Process

Once you have crafted the job description, call a meeting with everyone involved in the interview process. Share a copy of the description and ask if all participants feel the description accurately describes the role and the company. A mistake often made is when a candidate interviews with several people in one day and hears varying viewpoints regarding the position. This disconnect can cause concern for the candidate.

Always be Selling

After reviewing the description, you should also create a document outlining the broader selling points for the position and the company. Many employees are very good at their core responsibilities, however, they may not be natural interviewers. One common misconception is that the interview is merely an opportunity to evaluate prospective employees. Make it clear that the interviewers need to “sell” as well.

Similarly, it’s critical that everyone involved in the process is clear and consistent on the positioning of the company and role and reinforce these messages in their interactions with candidates. However, it’s also important for conversations to be genuine so employees should be given the permission to share in their own words why they have chosen to work at the organization and what keeps them there.

Most importantly, though – long gone are the days where a company should expect the job seeker to feel fortunate to have scored an interview. Good talent needs to be courted and wooed.

Avoid Redundancy

Companies can also lose candidates when multiple interviews are not handled strategically. Make sure each interviewer is asking different questions. With this approach, you will help your candidate have a less redundant and more positive experience. Consider having different individuals evaluate different criteria. Depending on the role, one might conduct a technical interview while another may evaluate management experience. At the same time, it makes sense for each interviewer to be prepared to speak to different selling points. For example, the hiring manager is in a good position to discuss career path and growth while a peer can outline what they like about the environment and culture.

Create Personal Connections with the Candidate

At this point you should also determine who is going to run point with the candidate during the interview process. Ideally, this would be the hiring manager, but it also could be a Human Resources representative or internal recruiter. Building an emotional connection with the candidate can create a critical competitive advantage that will aid you at the offer stage. The conversations that your rep has between interviews can help create a personal connection that will put you in a better position if you are competing against firms who are merely scheduling interviews via e-mail in an impersonal fashion.

Fine-tune the “sell”

As a final step, keep in mind that every candidate’s needs and desires are different. A selling point that is exciting to one candidate may be meaningless to another. The “sell” will likely be broad and impersonal at the beginning of the process and will become personal and specific by the final stages.

For each candidate interviewed, gather critical information at the beginning of the process that you can use to position your company better during the final rounds. For example, questions such as “What criteria are important to you as you evaluate a position and company?” or “What did you like or dislike about your previous employer?” can help with your discovery process.

In addition, pay attention to how candidates made decisions in the past. When reviewing their experience, ask them “When you decided to join a particular company, why were you excited about it?” or “Did the position wind up confirming your expectations?” as well as “Were you weighing multiple offers? If so, why did you go with this one?” The answers to these interview questions will help you both determine if your opportunity is a fit while allowing you to position the opportunity in the most attractive way.

Interviewing and securing top talent requires significant preparation, internal communication, shared strategy, time and attention. Ultimately, thoughtfully positioning the role and your company will set your organization apart from the competition and make it an obvious choice for even the most sought-after candidate.

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder from Pexels

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