Business management

Nine ways to help ensure your business attracts the best talent

Sam Sutton of New Forest Activities and Tina Judic of Found share their unique tips for winning the war for talent during this period that some are calling the ‘great resignation’.

1. Put yourself in your applicant’s shoes

Sam Sutton, owner of New Forest Activities, found an unusual way to attract new staff this year: he promised access to a campsite.

Although it’s a unique circumstance, Sam says the underlying principle applies to any business – stand in the shoes of the people you’re trying to recruit. “Understand what’s stopping them choosing your company. Many of our potential staff are young people who can’t afford to live in the New Forest and were put off by a three-hour round trip every day to get here. This year we sorted out accommodation. It made the difference between some people joining us or not.” 

  • look at the obstacles potential applicants face

  • think outside the box to overcome them

  • make their transition into your company as frictionless as possible

2. Incentivise your staff to attract talent

Any staff member who helps digital marketing agency Found recruit new talent doesn’t just get a new colleague – they get a bonus too.

“It’s not just the HR department’s job to recruit people,” says owner Tina Judic. “We’re all connected, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’re hiring, the chances are your team are under the cosh, so incentivise them to help with the search.”

  • leverage your people

  • encourage them to spread the word or drop someone a note

  • make it worth their while and offer a bonus

3. Ditch the old ways of thinking

Some businesses still recruit as if they hold all the cards. In this climate, the first thing you want to achieve is for applicants to desperately want to work for you. These days your priority is to sell your company to them, not the other way round. 

Part of that selling means showing them a clear career path and what you can do for them. Can you offer regular training and planning sessions, or personal learning and performance diaries? 

  • encourage a talent pipeline all the way up to senior level

  • build an aspirational culture, welcome and share ideas

  • get that pipeline message across and make it visible

4. Use your personality – and your socials

Job adverts and descriptions can often come across as cold. The job market has changed, especially with the way social media is used today. You need to speak to people in a language they understand. 

  • Use social media and your website to highlight inclusivity.

  • When you’re advertising, use connecting language, such as “come and be part of something, it’s going to be fun”.

It’s not just the HR department’s job to recruit people. We’re all connected, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Tina Judic
Owner, Found

5. Treat applicants as royally as clients

Recruiting talent should follow the same principles as attracting customers – you need to generate that same excitement and interest. 

That means being brand-conscious throughout the recruitment process. “Consumers increasingly question the brands they are buying – they want the brand to have a purpose,” says Tina. “Your company’s culture is vital in attracting staff. Create something people want to be part of from the word go.”

  • Make sure your marketing demonstrates a clear identity about who you are and why you’re such a great company.

  • Use videos and content on your website to show what an exciting business you are.

  • Be creative. Use the same energy for recruitment as you do for attracting clients.

6. Be flexible

You need to meet applicants where they are. Since the pandemic hit, flexibility is often the differentiator between one job and another. 

If you can offer a post that is exciting but also enables employees to work where and how they want to, that’s extremely attractive. You come across as a supportive and empathetic employer, too. 

  • You can’t afford to be too rigid.

  • Flexible hours are appealing and can offer additional value that might be worth more than a higher salary offered elsewhere.

  • What can you offer that makes someone go “wow”?

7. Show them the journey

Applicants need to know how vital they are to your operation, says Sam. “We outline our one-year, three-year, five-year plans and let them know where they fit in – what an integral part they will play in our journey. We let them know this is a team and they will be a vital and valued member. Make them know theirs is an exciting role in a team on an exciting journey.”

8. Invest in the process

Look at the recruitment fundamentals and how you deal with job applications. Do you respond quickly? Are you available for queries? Are you engaged in the process?

  • People will walk away if they don’t feel your enthusiasm for them.

  • Consider employing virtual assistants to pick up the phone if you can’t.

9. Learn how to recruit better

If you still struggle to recruit, try to find out why. 

  • Learn from the market or from applicants who looked at your company and chose to go elsewhere.

  • Take responsibility, discover what you could do differently and then react and respond in a positive way.

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