By Frank B. Mengert, Founder // CEO @ ebm†
Everywhere I go, I hear my fellow CEOs utter a well-known expression: “the war for talent”. Most do their best to attract and retain top talent, but fail miserably. So if you’re struggling with your talent search, finding candidates “ghosting” you and wondering what you’re doing wrong, you’re not alone.
Instead of blaming the “Great Resignation” for your lack of progress, it’s time to take a more proactive approach to finding and retaining the best talent, and your status as an employer of choice in the eyes of candidates increase.
Here are four ways to become a candidate’s employer of choice.
1. Realize that the hiring process is no longer a one-way street.
Traditionally, employers have had the upper hand when it comes to acquiring talent, collecting resumes, sifting through potential employees, and deciding which lucky souls to interview. Today the script has been reversed. Candidates have become more picky with potential employers, shopping around and avoiding (or leaving) anyone who doesn’t meet their standards. With so many options on the market, the brightest employers understand that the hiring process is a two-way street with both candidate and employer vetting each other.
2. Show that you live and breathe according to your company’s core values.
A lot of lip service is paid to core values these days. But if you’re trying to attract and retain the best people, just adding your values to your website isn’t enough. To win the war for talent, you must demonstrate that your company is aligned and operating according to its core values.
For example, I define ‘core values’ as the behaviors and attitudes that are important to the team and the organization. It is the shared beliefs within the workforce that bind a company together.
Our six core values are:
1. All included
2. Own it
3. Nothing is impossible
4. Forward Momentum
5. No BS
6. Positive vibes only
We hold these so sacred that we hire, fire and reward with these core values. Before we bring someone on board, we ask if they fit our values. If someone is part of the team but no longer seems to share and demonstrate our values, they will likely be let go. And you can rest assured that employees who have received pay raises and promotions live and breathe these values.
Core values are not a box to check; they are a blueprint for your business. If your company doesn’t align with its supposed core values, potential candidates may avoid you and current employees are likely to leave.
3. Ensure that employees have a say.
“Closed mouths are not fed” is a saying I love. If you want the best people, you have to make it easy for them to have a voice and a say. Yet I hear far too often about people at work who are afraid to speak their mind, afraid of being ridiculed or reprimanded. Or worse, their great insights and ideas are ignored because it contradicts the prevailing methodology of “we’ve always done things this way”.
When you create a safe space and encourage people to voice their opinion, you indicate that you are open to their input and that you have the opportunity to do things better. For example, in our company, a new employee has just as much of a voice as my Chief Operating Officer; I respect both their opinions because they offer different perspectives.
What’s great about hearing from our newbies is that they’re often the ones experiencing everything from your onboarding to your sales strategies to your marketing and messaging for the first time. So if they’re wondering why you’re doing something the way you do, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and tweak to improve. For example, just because someone joins your company doesn’t mean they’re fluent in your industry jargon or jargon. But when a newbie asks what something means, it’s an opportunity to simplify your message for your wider audience.
4. Create growth paths within your company.
“I’m not looking for growth opportunities with the company,” no candidate ever said. The truth is that people go where they have an opportunity to grow, even if it means leaving their current employer. And with the hot marketplace, employees are no longer content to hang out. Gone are the days of waiting for a possible promotion, but they are frustrated by their employer’s decision to leave him and look outside the organization for talent.
In the most forward-thinking, forward-thinking organizations, the best people are the ones they already have on board. They intentionally create opportunities for growth by resisting outside recruitment and instead focusing on the existing talent to promote from within.
For example, I told my team to look around at a recent company-wide meeting. Everyone in a current leadership role started with us in a different position. This shows our less senior but ambitious team members that growth paths exist. In addition, a huge advantage of internal hiring is knowing that your people already live and breathe according to your core values.
In today’s war for talent, companies must do everything they can to become a preferred employer. By integrating these four ingredients, organizations can increase their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.