Talent Management Strategies Series: Attracting Top Talent

At times I find myself researching what is top of mind for HR professionals. While reading a few articles, I realized what is keeping HR professionals up at night are the same things that are imperative to the CEO, President, CFO and other top executives:  attracting, retaining and developing their top talent.

All organizations from large corporate entities to small businesses, nonprofits and medical entities are all struggling with these same issues. As a consultant, time and time again people I come in contact with relate these worries. My question to them is, “What are you doing about it?”

Although organizations communicate concerns about attracting, retaining and developing their talent, many aren’t doing much about it. I’ve learned over time that all businesses need partners to help them be more effective, especially in the busy world we live in. We are bogged down from a work perspective and our personal lives are more demanding than ever. We all need support systems to be at our best. It’s imperative now more than ever for HR professionals to focus on strategic issues, and find assistance through outside partners to help with other items.

I want to take you through elements of attracting, retaining, and developing talent to help make your organization and your role in HR more strategic. Let’s start with attracting top talent.

Attracting Top Talent

Frequently when I talk to people who are looking for new opportunities, whether full-time or part-time, I learn that most companies do not follow up with those who apply. As a reminder, the applicant experience starts online whether through a job board where your posting is listed, on your company website or through the company’s applicant tracking system. All of this happens even before you are aware of them as a prospective candidate for your business need. 

Recently I called an HR professional, a person I respect, and was greeted with a lengthy voice mail message addressing reasons I may have been calling. One option on the message directed me to their website if I was enquiring about employment opportunities. Another option said if I was calling to check on an application I had submitted, they do not return individual phone calls because of the volume of applications received. So the message to the candidate is unless you are the lucky person with just the right qualifications, you will not hear from this HR professional or business. For a job seeker this is a turn off. Why would someone want to work for this company?

I was not calling to inquire about employment; I was calling to follow up with this person regarding a message sent to me, so after listening to this lengthy greeting, I left a message. The next week I left another message and the following week the same. Even though this is a person I know and I was calling to respond to an actual request, I still have not received a return call. Although I’m grateful I’m not looking for employment, it made me realize how frustrating it must be for people who are. The employee life cycle you read and hear about starts at this point. What does a non-response say about how much you care for employees you are trying to attract to your organization? 

Unfortunately most, not all, HR people have this reputation of not following up. Today HR is dealing with new technology, changing the culture of organizations, keeping up with changing laws and getting the right people in the right places. It’s difficult to balance all that requires attention. And there’s added pressure knowing HR is responsible for a candidate’s initial feelings about an organization. If HR is unresponsive or negative in some fashion, it will take much for them to overcome this experience. This certainly does not help in attracting top talent.

In this world of technological advances, try to keep things as personable as you can by increasing opportunities to interact with candidates personally. Follow up with candidates, even if they don’t meet your needs. Use technology to your advantage and send ‘Thank You but No Thank You’ emails. Be honest with people who you have interviewed that don’t quite fit the bill. People appreciate this more than you may realize. Your company’s reputation is on the line and HR is the front line.