Issue: March/April 2012
Beat the skills shortage with new strategies for attracting top-performing candidates.
In my travels over the past year, a significant, recurring concern I’ve heard from CEOs and business owners is their need to find qualified people for their open positions. Many companies are hiring and are frustrated with the lack of candidates who meet the requirements of their open positions.
With unemployment still high, one would think that employers could find an oversupply of available talent. This mismatch between the abundant supply of labor and scarcity of qualified candidates is not unique to our region; there appears to be a national shortage of skilled workers relative to available jobs.
If your organization is hiring and you feel this pain, consider actions that will increase your chances of attracting great candidates. First, commit to hiring (and keeping) only top performers. This is a long-term goal and process, but the benefits of staying this course will help differentiate your organization. Being known as an “employer of choice” among top performers in your industry and region will significantly increase the number of quality job applicants. Consider the following to support this strategy:
• Get your act together.
Is your organization a great place to work for top performers? Thoroughly examine your physical working conditions, compensation and benefits, workplace policies, community involvement, performance management and recognition programs. Does your organization have the right leadership in place to support the needs and interests of top-performing employees? Top performers do not last long at traditionally run, top-down-managed organizations. They expect challenging jobs at proactive, creative, high-energy and collaborative workplaces. They want to be highly rewarded for their work and expect their employer to support a healthy balance between work and family.
• Come find me.
Organizations that are successfully recruiting highly qualified candidates are utilizing nontraditional strategies. Rather than simply relying on recruitment advertisements, they are finding candidates through their professional networks, social media outlets, trade shows, professional societies and lucrative referral bonuses to employees and vendors. Some companies are also dedicating significant resources to identifying the top performers in their industry and directly recruiting them.
• Managers redefined.
Companies focused on recruiting and retaining top performers are realigning managers’ jobs to make them “talent managers.” In these organizations, managers are expected to design solutions for finding and keeping great people, rather than solely relying on the HR department. This has required managers to acquire new skills in networking, interviewing, researching and becoming more involved in professional societies and associations.
• We are really cool!
Once your company becomes a great workplace for top performers, it should not remain a secret. Focus considerable effort on promoting your organization as an ideal workplace through your website, social media, marketing brochures, radio, print, trade shows, your reception area and, of course, through word of mouth (hopefully generated by your employees). Finally, don’t forget to promote awards such as NorthCoast 99 (northcoast99.com/apply.asp) that formally recognize great workplaces in the region.
The frustrations caused by the skills shortage can be minimized with a targeted strategy for top talent attraction and retention. This approach is a departure from traditional recruitment, but the payoff can be extraordinary.
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