Strategies To Recruit Top Talent
Faced with increasing competition to acquire preferred candidates, today’s employers are finding it necessary to accept that recruitment dynamics have changed radically. In this job seeker’s market, companies must
devise ways to remain attractive as a potential employer in order to recruit and retain top talent.
Outside of these tangible benefits, candidates continue to seek highly valued intangibles such as a well-defined career path, challenging roles and opportunities for professional development. The most competitive companies are able to articulate a clear and steady path to promotion and how management will support employees in their pursuit of advancement. And yet a marked disparity remains between what today’s candidates expect from companies in terms of professional development and what many are delivering. According to Association of Financial Professionals president and CEO Jim Kaitz, “The disconnect between what the rising crop of finance professionals wants and what companies are doing to recruit and retain them has grown noticeably stark.
Millennials are looking for — in fact, demanding — professional development opportunities, but companies are doing very little to provide these opportunities. The result? Good, smart talent is walking out the door. And they’re not looking back.”
In order to close this gap, companies wishing to acquire and retain the best talent will make talent development a priority. This means firms that delayed technology upgrades during the recession should now consider such upgrades not only a necessary business investment but also a workforce investment, as today’s professionals seek to be trained on and develop their skills with the latest and greatest systems and practices.
This is likewise the case for initiatives toward globalization and employment of anticipatory tools to build “future readiness” as acore competency. Companies that promote opportunities for employees to diversify across various positions and offer training, mentoring and internship programs communicate a focus on employee development and retention, and position themselves as a highly appealing prospect among the many choices available to top talent.
Finally, in today’s market, abstracts such as company culture and corporate values do matter to candidates. Companies able to evaluate employee priorities and think inventively in forging and maintaining a positive company climate will excel in attracting and retaining the most skilled professionals. Candidates across generations place a premium on work life balance, open communication and teamwork, feeling respected and valued, social responsibility, and understanding their contributions toward a larger purpose (Eggers, Wong, & Cooney).
One of Aston Carter’s most valued contractors noted that in considering a prospective job placement, she looks for those qualitative elements that will allow her to thrive in the workplace, including “a shared corporate vision where inclusion and individual creativity are encouraged and rewarded;” and “a fluid workplace that embraces change, welcomes diversity and fosters cross-functional leadership — meaning the organization actively seeks feedback, input and ideas from all of its employees, and works to incorporate the viable ones into their business models.” Those concepts are easy to talk to but much harder to weave into actual corporate culture. Yet faced with a talent deficit across the industry, they may prove to be the difference-maker in attracting top talent
The most successful prospective employers not only can articulate their company’s “higher purpose” but also their employees’ specific role in reaching that purpose. While such an initiative is complex and somewhat illusive, the return on investment may prove well worth the effort. Big Four accounting firm KPMG “recently launched an initiative aimed at inspiring an already high-morale workforce to reach new levels of engagement by reframing and elevating the meaning and purpose of their work.
The results have exceeded …expectations…morale scores have soared, turnover has plummeted… [and] the firm also enjoyed one of its best financial years in recent memory (Pfau).” Small- and midmarket companies may not be able to devote the resources toward such an initiative that a Big Four firm can, but that doesn’t prevent smaller scale efforts to foster a connection among individual employee contributions, organizational mission and purpose, and a corporate realization of the resulting impact of that higher purpose.
With recession-era hiring dynamics now a distant memory, finance professionals have more career options than ever, yet some companies lag behind in realizing the impact of today’s market conditions on staffing.
Tailoring a hire to meet the specific scope of a project or task is not only smart business, it’s the trend of the future and what tomorrow’s talent is seeking. The rise in niche specialty projects such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and technology upgrades and in governance and compliance has prompted a shift in attitude toward consultant professionals and a surge in “ondemand” hiring.
Given this trend, it’s incumbent upon firms to seamlessly incorporate the interim professional into their workforce, with a particular emphasis on ensuring the contract and contingent employee, while “temporary,” doesn’t feel excluded. The most successful hiring companies place a priority on treating contractor and consultant staff the same as their permanent employees, affording them the same benefits, reward and perks, but more importantly, truly integrating them into the organization to promote a sense of belonging to a team.
“The on-demand workforce offers companies the ability to tap into extensive networks of innovators, technical experts, and seasoned professionals. To engage and retain them, companies should think broadly about how their HR programs, strategies, and analytics tools could be applied not only to full-time employees, but also to contingent and part-time workers (Disselkamp, Nieuwoudt & Parent).” A strategic and concerted effort to utilize and integrate the on-demand workforce will arguably inspire greater diversity and depth in the talent pool, (Hagiu and Biederman) and thus facilitate the talent acquisition process across the industry, building the pool up instead of systematically draining it.
Ultimately the quest to acquire top talent is somewhat dictated by resources and current industry demands. Companies are realistically constrained by cost drivers and occasionally a shortsighted perspective that emphasizes filling vacant positions over true talent acquisition and development. But as the tight job market continues into the foreseeable future, even small steps to develop a clear strategy for hiring and staffing promise to be fruitful for attracting the best talent and meeting the needs of both the organization and its valued members.