A Note to Company Leaders, You May Be to Blame for a Shallow Talent Pool.
It’s all too often that great companies fail to hire and keep the right people. Even offering the best employee benefits or the highest salaries in the industry doesn’t automatically equal retention. There is often a disconnect happening and it’s keeping quality companies in this loop of hiring and then rehiring for the same position 6 to 12 months later.
The technological era has brought about the rise of many great things like the internet and the smartphone, but it has also created a disparity in numbers of people who have the skill set to create and maintain the infrastructure behind those items. Companies are struggling to find qualified talent and are facing the secondary issue of keeping that talent from quitting and working at another company. In this brief beginner’s guide to hiring and keeping the right people, we’re exploring how companies can not only hire, but retain the quality candidates it needs.
Highly-qualified and talented candidates are hard to find in any industry and this is especially true in the technology field. As new coding languages are created, the Internet of Things is expanded and our worlds are becoming more interconnected, the candidates with these in-demand skill sets will never have to post their resumes. They know how valuable their abilities are to the many companies that this technological landscape and can afford to wait for the right opportunity to come to them. The question remains, how can a company find, hire and retain these rare and elusive tech rock stars? First, we must look at the beginning of the talent acquisition process.
Most people mistakenly assume that the role and function of human resources (HR) and recruiting are the same. They are not. Despite their very distinct deliverables, HR and recruiting are often clumped together into the same role or department. HR is a compliance (ie litigation avoidance) as well as a retention mechanism. Its main objectives are to keep the company free from lawsuits and to oversee fair treatment of employees so they stick around. If they are effective, HR avoids lawsuits and keeps costly turnover rate low.
Complementary to this process of retention and satisfaction is recruiting. Recruiting takes the core of what HR is (ie Let’s keep our people happy) and communicates it to the outside world of potential, future employees. We’ve discussed before how recruiting is failing in a major way and one of the biggest takeaways is the need to connect people with people. When done effectively, recruiting is the first to find and build a relationship with the future employees that HR will later be in charge of keeping happy.
This leads us to the basic checklist for hiring and keeping the right people:
Make a good first impression. Keep in mind candidates are interviewing your company as much as you’re interviewing them. If you set your first impression correctly, it’s the beginning of retention. A prospective hire has several possible avenues of finding your company’s open position. It could be through your company’s blog, a job board posting, a conversation with a current employee or a recruiter messages them on LinkedIn. In order to attract top talent, it’s important that all of these channels are communicating the same thing: the company is a desirable place to work. Be clear about this and you will get the talent’s attention. Outsourcing this first impression to a top-level recruiting firm is often the best route because it serves to free up internal resources and provides a larger network from which to pull talent.
Recruiting and HR report separately to the top of the company. The successful companies who manage to hire and retain top talent, do so from the perspective that both HR and recruiting serve distinctly different purposes. They bring both departments to the table to listen, observe and discuss overall goals and strategies of the company. This type of collaboration amongst HR, recruiting and the C Suite, allows for a cohesive execution strategy to hire the right people. It’s important to consider how well candidates fit into company culture as well as how their skill sets contribute to the company’s goals.
Be clear and concise about what is being offered and why someone should care. In the technology field, qualified talent is in such high demand that even candidates who aren’t looking for a job can have an upwards of 10-20 recruiters trying to catch their ear at any given point. That’s why it’s critical to make sure the recruiters pursuing this talent are informed and effectively communicating the values and offerings of the company they represent. It’s not enough to say “I’ve got a job, want it?” These candidates have options and they aren’t looking to make a lateral career move.
Follow through on promises. Assuming the first impression was set correctly, then a follow through on what was promised will build trust and loyalty. Whether that promise was a certain type of coffee in the break room or a career advancing opportunity, when a company makes it a point to follow through on promises, integrity is built. Generally, when an employee feels like they’re treated fairly, they become one of the most powerful brand ambassadors a company can get.
Have efficient internal systems. If a company doesn’t have an efficient system to identify, screen and make candidates an offer quickly, the biggest talent pipeline in the world won’t solve their problems. In the current tech market, ‘quickly’ typically means 2 weeks or less, otherwise, those candidates are lost to other offers before they can be put them through your system. The companies that fail at this go from ‘A’ players to ‘B’ players and so forth and they end up settling because they can’t move quickly on what they need.
In this highly competitive, quickly changing, technology-driven market, top talent doesn’t have to look very hard to find a company clamoring for their talents. Not to mention they never have to post a resume. Finding this top talent requires intense scouting, establishing a relationship and waiting for the right time to recruit that talent away from their current positions. In order to move nimbly when the right person comes on the market, a company’s internal systems need to identify, screen and offer candidates a position, ideally, in the span of 2 weeks or less. Only then does that company stand a chance of securing the highly-skilled, highly-qualified, valuable individuals they desire.