By Frank B. Mengert, Founder // CEO @ ebm.
Everywhere I go, I hear my fellow CEOs uttering a familiar phrase: “the war for talent.” Most are trying their best to attract and retain top talent but failing miserably. So if you’re struggling in your talent search, find that candidates are “ghosting” you, and wonder what you’re doing wrong, you’re not alone.
Rather than blame the “Great Resignation” for your lack of progress, it’s time to take a more proactive approach to finding and keeping the best talent, elevating your status as a preferred employer in the eyes of candidates.
Here are four ways to become a candidate’s employer of choice.
1. Realize the hiring process is no longer a one-way street.
Traditionally, employers held the upper hand in talent acquisition, collecting resumes, winnowing down the potential hires and deciding which lucky souls they’d interview. Today, the script has flipped. Candidates have become choosier with potential employers, shopping around and avoiding (or leaving) any that aren’t up to their standards. With so many options in the marketplace, the savviest employers understand that the hiring process is a two-way street where both candidate and employer are vetting each other.
2. Demonstrate that you live and breathe by your company’s core values.
There’s a lot of lip service paid these days to core values. But when you’re trying to attract and retain the best people, simply adding your values to your website isn’t enough. To win the war for talent, you must demonstrate that your company is aligned with and operates by its core values.
For instance, I define “core values” as the behaviors and attitudes important to the team and organization. They’re the shared beliefs within the workforce that bind a company together.
Our six core values include:
1. All in
2. Own it
3. Nothing is impossible
4. Forward momentum
5. No B.S.
6. Positive vibes only
We hold these so sacred that we hire, fire and reward by these core values. Before we bring someone aboard, we ask if they fit our values. If someone is part of the team but seems to no longer share and demonstrate our values, they’ll likely be let go. And you can be sure that employees who’ve received raises and promotions live and breathe these values.
Core values aren’t a box to check; they’re a blueprint for your operations. If your company does not align with its supposed core values, potential candidates may avoid you and current employees will probably leave.
3. Ensure that employees have a voice and a say.
“Closed mouths don’t get fed” is a saying I’m fond of. If you want the best people, you have to make it easy for them to have a voice and a say. Yet, far too often, I hear about people afraid to speak up at work, fearful of being ridiculed or reprimanded. Or worse, their great insights and ideas are ignored because it contradicts the prevailing methodology of “we’ve always done things this way.”
When you create a safe space and encourage people to speak up, you signal that you’re open to their input—and a chance to do things better. For example, in our company, a new hire has just as much of a voice as my chief operating officer; I respect both of their opinions because they offer different perspectives.
What’s great about hearing from our newbies is that often they’re the ones experiencing everything for the first time, from how you onboard to your selling strategies to your marketing and messaging. So when they question why you do something the way you do, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and tweak to improve. For instance, just because someone joins your company doesn’t mean they’re fluent in your industry lingo or jargon. But when a newbie asks what something means, it’s an opportunity to simplify your message to your greater audience.
4. Create paths for growth within your company.
“I’m not looking for growth opportunities with the company,” said no candidate ever. The truth is that people will go where there’s a chance to grow, even if that means leaving their current employer. And with the hot marketplace, employees are no longer content to sit around. Long gone are the days of someone waiting for a possible promotion only to be frustrated by their employer’s decision to pass them over and look outside of the organization for talent.
In the most progressive, forward-thinking organizations, the best people are the ones they already have on board. They intentionally create opportunities for growth by resisting external hiring and instead focus on the existing talent to promote from within.
For example, I told my team to look around in a recent company-wide meeting. Everyone in a current leadership role started with us in a different position. This demonstrates to our less senior yet ambitious team members that growth paths exist. Plus, one huge benefit of hiring internally is knowing that your people already live and breathe by your core values.
In today’s war for talent, companies need to do everything they can to become an employer of choice. By incorporating these four ingredients, organizations can up their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.