Hand held medal against the clear blue skyThere are multiple factors that indicate the war for talent is once again heating up. The recovering economy is bolstering people’s ability to refocus on employer choice and career advancement. Retiring baby boomers are driving gaps in key talent markets – particularly in the health care and finance fields. The move toward re-shoring/on-shoring in manufacturing is exacting a demand for highly skilled engineers and tech talent that simply does not exist in the United States. A vacuum of talent puts critical roles in many industries at a premium. Competition is fierce.

What can your company do to get an edge up and compete for these critical roles? Here are three key steps to take.

1.) Strengthen your employment branding. Why would someone want to work for you? Internal recruiters are already “sold” on your brand, so it can be hard for them to see the gaps or perceptions that people outside the company may have. Take a good, hard look at how your employment brand is perceived in the candidate community. Then take steps to address it. Are you on relevant social media networks, interacting and conversing with potential talent every day? Are you meeting talent where they are, both online and offline? Are you building strategic relationships with key universities and educational institutions? Are you relevant to today’s high potential performers?

Companies with tenured brands often believe that their brand alone will motivate top performers to line up at their doors. This is rarely the case. Today’s employees are looking at benefits (particularly health care costs), work/life balance, work arrangement flexibility, culture, diversity, and career development. They are comparing companies based on what they want to experience on the job, not on the prestige of brands. Make sure your employment branding reflects the key selling points that matter to prospective talent.

2.) Train your recruiters to be sales and action-oriented. It used to be that recruiters could wait for resumes to come in and then passively manage the hiring cycle. This is not true today. You need to actively sell your brand to attract the best talent to your company. Taken a step further, you need to be able to compel people to leave their jobs to come work for you. This takes sales savvy and training. You need to be visible and engaging to create a compelling case for candidates to choose you over your competitors. Engage in conversations and take an active part in your industry’s community. Every interaction with prospective candidates is an opportunity to sell your employment brand and build trusted relationships that will keep you top of mind when people are looking for a job.

3.) Evaluate your hiring processes. Is what you are doing today working? Are you consistently attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent? If not, why not? And if so, do you have evidence around that, or is it an educated guess? Peer-to-peer recruiting advisors and companies that specialize in recruitment process optimization can diagnose your current situation and prescribe an effective solution. These include leveraging contract recruiters, re-engineering your existing processes to ensure consistency and efficiency, retraining your internal recruiters, or contracting with an RPO firm to bring additional resources and expertise to bear. At Seven Step, we facilitate workshops to help companies evaluate their current recruitment processes and determine whether there are areas that could be improved. (This workshop is available for companies even if they are not actively considering hiring an RPO firm.)

Companies that do not take action to shore up their competitive edge now will fall behind. With less highly-skilled talent available, and the current pressures on companies to compete for this talent, it’s imperative that companies get, and stay, on the leading edge in the war for talent.

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