Talent Acquisition: How to Win the War for Talent

In 1997, a McKinsey report declared that a ‘war for talent’ was underway. This now-famous term described an ultra-competitive environment where talent was in high demand but short supply. The report acted as a call to arms for the business world, and urged organisations to ‘elevate talent management to a burning corporate priority.’

Over two decades later, the war for talent rages on – and more intensely than ever. In today’s knowledge-based economy, organisations’ most valuable assets are intangible – a strong brand, expertise, creativity. Underpinning all of these is talent, which is fast becoming the most sought-after commodity in business.

With talent in short supply, the balance of power has swung away from the employer and towards the employee. The onus is now on your organisation to sell itself. Here are some tips for helping you compete in today’s ultra-competitive recruitment market.

1. Remember that first impressions count

In recruitment, making a good first impression is essential. As an employer, you need to sell yourself throughout the recruitment process, and this starts long before you meet the candidate at interview.

There are countless touchpoints throughout the candidate journey. This may start with the job ad, leading to the company website, followed by research into the company on sites such as Glassdoor, and finally the application process. All of these touchpoints act as a window into how your company operates. The wrong impression at any one of these stages could deter the candidate from applying.

2. Treat candidates like customers

Companies spend huge amounts of time and money understanding exactly what makes their customers tick, yet they rarely afford the same treatment to their employees. It’s time that this changed.

With talent in short supply, employees are now approaching the job market the same way they approach any consumer decision. It is your job to ‘sell’ your organisation to them. What makes your company stand out from the rest? What can you offer them that other companies can’t?

3. Offer more than just a paycheque

A decent salary will always be important, but this alone may not be enough. After all, fair pay in exchange for hard work and expertise is the least anyone expects from their employer. The same goes for benefits. So what do employees want?

Flexibility is top of the list for most people when looking for a new position. Flexible hours and the chance to work remotely were once seen as perks, but as it becomes harder to justify not offering these things, they are increasingly seen as expectations. Employers that fail to understand this risk being left behind.

4. Understand the power of company culture

As discerning customers, candidates need to know that your company is the right fit for them. Your company culture – the values and attitudes that underpin everything you do – plays a key role in attracting new talent. This is especially important for younger generations, who want to work for companies that have a positive influence on the world.

Until recently, mission statements and values were seen as a box-ticking exercise – a bunch of clichés and platitudes with no real connection to the way a company operates. Most employees wouldn’t even know what their own company’s values were. But these days, having a clearly defined identity around who you are, what you do, and why you do it helps market your company to future employees.

But beware: in today’s interconnected world, sites like Glassdoor allow current and former employees to spill the beans about what it’s really like to work for your company, leaving employers nowhere to hide.

5. Keep your people happy

Attracting talented people is one thing; retaining them is another. A whopping 73% of candidates are so-called passive job seekers, meaning they aren’t actively looking for a new position but would be willing to move for a better offer. That means if another company is offering something you aren’t, you risk losing your people.

To keep employees from looking elsewhere, you need them to feel that their future lies with you. This means investing in them as individuals, nurturing their talent, and helping them grow as people and professionals.

The bottom line

Your company is now operating in an employees’ market. Talented individuals hold all the cards, and companies must prioritise talent management if they are to attract and retain top talent. You need to discard the old attitude that employees should simply be grateful for the chance to work for you. These people are now your customers; if they aren’t satisfied with what you’re offering, they’ll look elsewhere.


Nick Edwards - http://www.praguecopywriter.com

Nicholas Edwards is a freelance writer and editor based in Prague, the Czech Republic. When he's not helping local businesses master the English language, he loves writing about the future of work for People First. 

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