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How To Lose The War For Talent

1st February 2018

With employment at record levels, competition for talent of all descriptions has never been greater. In client meetings, at networking events and forums I continually hear the same question: How do we find talent? How do we get talent through the door? How can we get offers of employment accepted? It’s true to say that “The War For Talent” –  a phrase coined in the 1990’s is more true today than ever.

Yet despite all the media reports, surveys and experiences of businesses themselves, I sadly see a sizeable number of businesses making the same fundamental mistakes and handing talent to their competition.

Most of these businesses have mastered Talent Management and Talent Attraction. Little wonder as they are areas which have huge exposure and a whole economy of consultancies, software houses and practitioners supporting them. However, there remain two small areas which are generally so poorly attended to and much misunderstood, often leaving the huge investments made in Talent Management and Attraction in tatters.

So, what are these mystical areas? Simply put 1) Demonstrating your worth as an employer of choice and 2) Offer Management.

I so often hear “We’re great at that”, “We’re all over it”, “We have a process we use”, “We have loads of examples” All of which is great until you experience it from the candidate’s perspective. Surveys we have conducted tell a different story. Our research suggests that lack of understanding in these two areas is resulting in many businesses simply handing the talent they spent so much attracting directly to their competition.

Illustrating Your Worth as An Employer

There are still some employers who feel a candidate should be grateful to work for them, thankfully these are few and far between these days. However, what I do see on a regular basis are organisations not quite grasping the number of choices candidates have at present. They typically spend an awful lot of time explaining how good their growth plan, personal development programme or their culture is and really selling these without human evidence.

We are all constantly bombarded with data and facts and evidence suggests we increasingly yearn for the human touch. Your hiring process should be no different. Organisations winning The War Talent are intentionally illustrating their worth as an employer by building in to their hiring process human evidence – conversational time with existing employees. This is not formal interview time, this is time set-aside informally to ask current employees any questions they want, get a feel for how career advancement works, gauge the culture etc.  A simple enough step to add to the process which adds a huge sense of openness, honesty and just as importantly stands to verify all the good things you have been saying about the organisation. Alas some businesses are either too busy or fear the openness to add this simple step, one nil to the opposition then.

The Offer

Devising and presenting an offer should be considered  just as important as an interview. This, more than any other area is one I see result in rejection from talent rather than acceptance to join a business. What sometimes gets lost in a selection process is that an offer is not just about title, salary, career development, working from home etc, deep down its about that person’s worth to your organisation which for any long-term success has to appeal to their own self-worth. The way of the world these days is to strike a deal, everyone it seems like a deal, however, when this starts happening with employment offers, deals are soured very quickly. If you know a candidate’s expectation is £50K and you offer £45K to see if they’ll take and save some money you’ll end up losing more than you gain in the long run. If you describe a superb career development programme at interview but do not detail it in some shape or form as part of your offer pack your candidate is likely to have second thoughts. Let’s bear in mind talented individuals have more choice than ever on where they spend upwards of forty hours per week working hard.

Simple, low cost processes that are considered from both the employer and candidate perspective can make a huge difference to the success of your hiring process, in sport they call it marginal gains.

Great attraction strategies will get talent to your door, selection processes will point towards the likely best candidates for you, however, ultimately talent decides for themselves where they will devote their time, energy and know how. Usually it’s with the organisation that was open, took time to understand them, did what they said they would and appealed correctly to their self-worth.

Motivated employees make successful businesses, that motivation starts long before their first day on-board your ship!

Posted by Mike Gorshkov

Managing Director at Linea Resourcing

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