June 30, 2021

Looking for Candidates in a Talent Shortage? Get Back to the Basics of Great Recruiting.

You only want to hire the best. That’s a given. But so do your competitors.

Your team is not going to reach the ambitious goals you’ve set for it — or even maintain its market share in an increasingly competitive business environment — without first-rate talent. Yet employers are battling it out for workers right now, with the Washington Post reporting that there are more open jobs now than at any time in the past 20 years.

How do you ensure your organization is the one that appeals to top talent today? Like anything else in business, a strong recruitment and retention strategy requires a strong foundation. Get these eight recruiting basics right, and you’ll have an easier time standing out in a crowded job market.

1. Give Your Employees the Benefits Package They Deserve

It might feel premature to think about benefits before you’ve even made a hire, but the truth is that the best candidates are looking for the best benefits packages.

What does a truly attractive benefits package look like? According to research by OnPay, the most sought-after employee benefits are health insurance, paid time off, retirement benefits, vision insurance, dental insurance, and parental leave — in that order.

Your benefits package should include all those elements and more, but it shouldn’t be cookie-cutter. You’ll need to tailor it to the needs of your current and future employees. For example, younger workers might prize low-cost healthcare options and generous parental leave allowances, while older workers may value retirement benefits more.

2. Find Out What Your Competitors Pay for Entry-Level Roles, Then Beat It

Sure, benefits matter — but so does good old-fashioned compensation. And while your competitors’ salaries may have been closely guarded secrets in the past, employee review sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com have changed that. Now, you can easily find out what others are paying for similar roles — and you can beat it.

Don’t go overboard, but do put yourself in a position to offer higher salaries wherever possible. If you’re worried about cost, consider at least beating your competitors’ starting salaries for entry-level workers. This will help you land talented candidates and won’t cost as much as you fear.

3. Closely Monitor Employee Review Sites and Other Public-Domain Sources of Information About Your Company

Those employee review sites are also useful for gathering granular, if subjective, intelligence about employee morale. More broadly, they provide insight into what it’s like to work for your company beyond what employees may feel comfortable sharing during an annual performance review or exit interview.

By keeping an eye on employee review sites, you may be able to identify kinks in your recruiting process or company culture — which you can then fix, making your company even more attractive to candidates.

4. Keep Company Values Front and Center

It’s no secret that companies with strong corporate cultures are better at attracting and retaining talent. But what exactly does it mean for your company to build a strong culture?

It’s simpler than it sounds: Articulate a consistent, coherent set of corporate values that your entire team, from entry-level employers to senior leaders, can rally around. Build this value set into your corporate and employer brands. Candidates shouldn’t be hearing about your values for the first time when they sit down for an interview — those values should be front and center in your recruitment advertising materials and communications.

By strategically emphasizing your company’s culture and values in your recruiting efforts, you’ll catch the attention of candidates who share those values — and those candidates will make every effort to land a job at your organization.

5. Cultivate Employee Ambassadors

Every successful consumer brand understands the importance of peer validation and social influence. The situation is no different in recruiting. It’s just that the product is your work environment.

Turn your current employees into ambassadors for your employer brand. Ask them to leverage social media channels like LinkedIn to share their thoughts about why working for your company is great. Not only will candidates appreciate this transparency, but you’ll also gain access to your employees’ personal and professional networks as potential talent sources.

6. Ask All Your Team Members for Referrals

It’s not practical or preferable to turn every employee into an ambassador for your employer brand. Some members of your team are too busy for that, and others may just be better suited to the task due to their knowledge of social media, marketing, and the like.

Still, there’s no reason not to put out a company-wide call for candidate referrals. Task employees, even non-ambassadors, with making the first outreach, then have them hand off the exchange to a member of your recruitment team. If the initial message comes from someone they know, candidates will be much more receptive.

7. Know Who You Want to Hire

This may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: Before you set out on a talent search, you need to have a clear idea of who you want to hire. You don’t need to necessarily know the specific individuals you want to hire, although that’s appropriate for more senior or specialized roles. But even for entry-level roles, you want to know the precise problems you want your new hire to solve and the specific strengths and capabilities you need in a new employee.

Understanding who your target candidate is can help you shape a more tailored outreach strategy that is more likely to resonate with the talent you want. Craft your emails, social media posts, job descriptions, and other collateral with this audience in mind. The more bespoke the first touch, the more likely the candidate is to respond positively.

8. Recruit in College and University Campuses

Campus recruiting. It’s one of the most effective ways to get in touch with skilled entry-level talent. After all, where better to find candidates who have the qualifications you need than the very schools that train them? Plus, assuming you provide a nurturing and stable environment for them to thrive, these young workers could grow into your next generation of leaders.

Creating a recruitment strategy worthy of the talent it aims to onboard is no easy feat — but it is essential to the future of any business hoping to compete in a super-tight labor market.

Luckily, doing so isn’t as difficult as it might seem at the outset. If you get the recruiting basics right, everything else tends to fall into place.

Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies.

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Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She has written for a variety of major media outlets.