Companies will often describe employees as their “greatest asset” yet how often does the issue of talent attraction reach the giddy heights of the C-suite? Rarely to never, I would hazard.
Talent attraction usually languishes in a silo labelled ‘Recruitment’, ‘Personnel’ or ‘Human Resources’. But if your business is serious about attracting the best candidates, the whole company from the top down needs to be involved in building a strong employer brand.
If you think that’s an exaggeration, you may recognise the truth in the saying “People join brands and leave managers”.
Most estate agents recognise that employees drive the success or failure of their business. But many also make the mistake of believing the recruitment process starts when they have an actual, live hole to fill. However, as all good headhunters know, talent attraction starts a long, long way before that.
Every thought you tweet, every article you post on LinkedIn and that funny memo you shared on Facebook contributes towards how you are perceived by your customers, employees and potential employees of the future. Along with a whole host of other factors such as your company reputation, they project your employer brand.
And that intangible characteristic can make the difference as to whether your business has to beat swarms of strong candidates off with a stick or has to offer salaries well above market rates to make working for you an attractive proposition.
Organisations that are the most successful at recruiting in-demand candidates understand that just as you see the recruitment process as an opportunity to select the cream from a number of candidates, the best candidates are also selecting from several options – including staying where they are.
At the same time as you’re posing clever, probing, open-ended questions to the prospective employee, you can be sure the smart cookie on the other side of the table is also assessing, evaluating and interviewing you! Recruitment is a two-way street.
The pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is frequently held up as an example of a company that treats everyone it interviews with great respect. Its reasoning is this projects its employer brand of caring, creates advocates for the company among candidates and reinforces the brand among consumers who buy its products.
“Johnson & Johnson gets a lot of candidates who may not be fit for one job but right for another down the line,” explains Lisa Calicchio, Director of Recruiting for the Pharmaceuticals team. “We let them know that we’re always leaving room for a future opportunity.”
This raises an important point. The job advertising and application process is a sensitive one, with 95% of applicants typically rejected outright and only 1% ultimately being hired. So how well you treat the 95% who are unsuccessful is important.
They may not be the right candidate for the post you need to fill right now but you might want to approach them for another position in the future. For this reason alone, it is important to leave candidates with a good feeling about your business and the considerate, respectful way they were treated.
In my experience, recruiting senior executives requires a two-year strategy. It’s not about recruiting for openly advertised jobs. If a company says employees are their greatest asset, they need to put their money where their mouth is and develop a talent acquisition strategy as an integral part of their business plan.
The best people are not necessarily looking to move and may well resist your first, second and third (even fourth and fifth) contact. That’s why organisations need to play the long game, building a strong employer brand so once we’ve identified the best valuer or branch manager in town they are more likely to be receptive to our approach.
The benefits of having an effective talent attraction strategy are clear.
A good branch manager or valuer will start adding value straight away: for instance, when you bring a good valuer on board you should see an increase in the number of instructions within the first month.
For both valuers and branch managers, we find a package that incorporates payment by results – perhaps on achievement of a market share target – works well and is becoming increasingly popular.