Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Why Talent Attraction is the Most Important Function in Your Business

Anybody I talk to who is super smart, recognise how important the alignment between core business strategy and talent attraction is. However, as I discussed in September after I went to the LikeMinds conference – very rarely do businesses see it that way, or more crucially – rarely do TA specialists genuinely get called in for c-suite business growth strategy meetings.

It starts with the fact that the way we attract talent is generally an outbound experience. Every potential employee is also a potential customer, or someone they know – and the reputation of any business is amplified more so now in the social media age, than ever. So if you headhunt badly, then you affect your brand badly. And people are queuing up to take pot-shots these days.

Furthermore, the job advertising & application process is a sensitive process involving 95% complete rejection and usually only 1% hired. How you treat the 95% when you splurge ads on LinkedIn that attract 500+ applications is kind of important. If you do that 30 times a year, that’s well over 10,000 people your business and brand is saying ‘no’ to, if you are saying anything at all… (Salesforce, Hootsuite, Apple… I’m looking at you)

So, I’m a Talent Attraction Strategist. My first advice is usually – remove cold headhunting and wide scale advertising from your talent attraction process. But it goes way beyond this.

It’s a well worn phrase that ‘people are your greatest asset’, and it usually relates to how we look after and nurture our employees. But what about before then… before they are an employee. Why should it matter, whether they are an employee or not?

When we say people are our greatest asset, we also imply that they drive the success and failure of our business. That very conference in September I referred to previously made this point, that the CEO’s greatest obstacle to growth, is the recruitment and retention of great people. Yet rarely at c-suite level, do we consider who those great people are, and how we aim to attract them to our business.

That’s where I come in. Each dynamic of a business plan, should have a talent attraction plan alongside it. How do we reach and exceed our ambitious business goals, without having the right people in place? When I see someone like Jennifer Candee (ex SABMiller) set out a strategy to recruit key people for the business, it’s commonly a 2 year process for senior execs. It’s not about recruiting for ‘open jobs’, it’s about grooming and attracting the best people to create warm communications. The best people don’t fall over at your first contact – they have a whole range of crucial life and career factors to consider when considering leaving their very comfortable job to take on a new adventure. We have to respect those, but also have to regard these people as part of the business already. We should be looking after them and nurturing them even though they are not on the payroll.

Fostering relationships with people who genuinely care about what we do as an organisation, and how and why we do it, is essential in an effective talent attraction strategy. Recruit fans, not candidates, I always say.

Business plans are filled with growth objectives which employees screw their noses up at as unrealistic, and recruitment plans are filled with the necessity to fill roles like yesterday. The two are rarely aligned. With every announcement of a business growth objective, should be a statement on how they intend to resource that ambition. The best companies already have the talent attraction plans in place, to support the business goal, and maybe even the next, and the next…

How will you have the best product, without the best and most suited product design team? How will win the best business, without targeting the best sales people in your field? How will be the most profitable firm, if you don’t aspire to employee the best suited financial heads who get your business?

This article is I guess aimed at C-Suite, as a wake up call from the TA ranks. But actually, TA & HR Heads should also be having a word with their leaders about Talent Attraction Strategy, as another layer on top of mere ‘recruitment’ as a necessity. I guess I can help that, that’s what I do. There are lots of factors to consider, but I challenge you to present this agenda yourself.

By Steve Ward

Steve Ward has been recruiting for over 20 years, and following running his innovative agency CloudNine for 10 years, Steve returned to consulting and now works as a Talent Attraction Strategist for growing companies, helping build effective employer branding and social communications strategies.