How To Make Your Company A Talent Magnet, Even In Tough Markets

While chatting with a CEO based in San Francisco recently, he commented on the talent shortage for software engineers in his area. "Unemployment is at zero percent for those folks," he said with a grunt. "Twitter, Google, and Facebook have sucked up all the decent ones."

It's hard to imagine a talent shortage in this economy. However, for some in-demand skill sets, it's tough to identify good candidates, let alone woo them away from their current employers. And if you're thinking, "I don’t have that problem," studies show you may soon.

Top Talent Doesn't Job Search Online

In the last decade, online recruiting has become the main vehicle for finding talent. This infographic shows millions of job seekers are using social profiles in hopes of connecting with you, the employer. However, what’s missing from the mix are the very people you want for your jobs.

The superstars you desire are busy. They are working at jobs they like, doing things they love. They are so caught up in the work they do, the last thing they are worrying about is building a better LinkedIn profile so recruiters will find them. Moreover, the best talent doesn’t worry about losing their jobs, nor are they concerned about being ready for the day they’ll need to look for new ones. That’s because they never job search online. Instead, they look for ideas, beliefs, and vision that they can relate to. Then, they start conversations with the people presenting those concepts and that leads to their next opportunities.

Want to Attract the Best? Give Them Something To Discuss

If we know the talent you are looking hire are attracted to thought-provoking ideas and people online, then the solution lies in creating digital recruiting assets in the form of stories, research, and initiatives designed to engage conversation—better known as blogging. In fact, there is a term for the creation of this kind of content: employment branding. Here are three examples of the kind of blog content that can get top talent talking:

1. Stories of the success showcasing their peers within their industry or skill set.

2. Examples of innovation that breaks the rules and challenges conventional thought within their professional area of expertise.

3. Contests and initiatives designed to let them challenge their abilities and provide them with recognition of their talent

Employment Branding=Talent Magnet

What makes employment branding different is how it shines the light on ways top talent are succeeding professionally. We all know one of the key differentiators between average employees and top employees is the latter cares more about what they do, than who they do it for or what they get for doing it. In short, to attract the best, we can entice them with content that speaks their language.

Here's an example. Continuum, started in 1983, is one of the world's biggest design and innovation consulting firms. The company helped Procter & Gamble create the Swiffer, collaborated with Samsung on flat-screen TVs, and worked with Insulet Corp. to launch a wearable insulin pump for diabetics. It hires and retains some of the brightest talent in the world. One of the ways it finds new talent? Continuum blogs about its work. Here are some of the pieces its contributed:

5 Steps To Designing A Better Health Care System

In Our Information Age, Secrecy Is Sexy. How Can Brands Create An Aura Of Mystery?

How Design Thinking Can Help Prevent Another Mortgage Bubble

Notice that none of these titles say, "Hey. We’re hiring!" or "Check us out, we are amazing to work for." They don’t need to say that. The stories speak for themselves. The work Continuum does isn’t just interesting, it’s worthy of sharing with others. And that’s exactly how I heard about the company.

The Best Evaluate Carefully Whether to Apply

A professional I know wanted feedback on a cover letter he had written. He said, "This company is exceptional. I need to make a powerful first impression." When I asked him what the firm was and how he heard about them, he shared with me not just Continuum’s website, but the article he had originally read that had prompted him to go to their site and see if they were hiring. In his own words: "Look at the work they are doing and the caliber of talent on their staff. These are the type of people I want to have as my colleagues. Do you think they'd hire me?"

The fact that this highly accomplished individual was putting so much thought into the process, and even questioning whether he was worthy of employment, is ideal for a company that only wants the best to apply. No only does it weed out those who realize they don’t have the right background or experience to work there, it inspires those who do to think carefully about the best way to present themselves. This kind of personal investment in the application process creates an optimal situation for hiring managers.

Takeaway: Employment Branding is Authority Marketing

Companies using blogging as an employment branding tool can proactively leverage original content to get in front of (and more importantly, on the minds of) the talent needed to keep their business growing. Content of this type acts like a talent magnet in that those who connect with the work on a deep level will be inspired to make the effort to track down information on your company as a way to strike up a conversation. From those connections can come the holy grail of cost-effective, highly successful recruitment resources: employee referrals. Better still, given the content can go viral (i.e. shared through social networks) and can be circulated repeatedly (i.e. re-posted on social networks monthly with backlinks to the original post), it becomes a digital recruitment asset that can be used to continuously catch the attention of top talent who missed it the first time.

In the same way marketing departments worldwide are learning they must retire their outdated "yelling and selling" techniques and replace them with an emphasis on educating and sharing through blogging to earn credibility and acquire clients—better known as authority marketing—human resource departments are now learning they also must use these same techniques to attract the best talent. Which means, if your company isn’t looking at ways to leverage blogging to create a buzz amongst the best and brightest within your industry, then you could find itself in the future struggling to deal with a talent pool that cares more about your benefits package than your business mission.

[Image: iophoto via Shutterstock]

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  • Cliff Hazel Santos

    Today, most organization has its own website to be more accessible not just to client but also for people who wish to work with them. All details about the company is established and transparent enough for an applicant to understand the company that he is applying for. You might also enjoy this article

  • Jim Wong

    We agree with all of the points in this article.   Specifically, the best candidates do not search for jobs on line.  Rather the most sought after talent is passively looking.   Passively looking candidates generally do not have time to be searching for job on line.   In addition, you must understand the right image/message of who you are and who you are trying to connect.   Using content (media etc...) to message who you are/who you want to attract in the market place it is much more effective than saying "we are hiring" ..... We would add one additional item in the plan for hiring.  You should include pro active networking by all key managers to attract top talent.   Networking/Recruiting for top talent should be done on an ongoing basis rather solely based on a need.   The best companies are always hiring if they find the right talent to add ( or upgrade/replace) to their team. As a general rule, the most successful companies are winning the war for top talent.

  • Ara ohanian

    You hit it on the
    head when you talk about the death of “yelling and selling” marketing. In our
    permanently-connected, always on world, where we’re on social networks as
    frequently as we’re reading serious newspapers online it’s increasingly hard to
    hide. For me the best way to ensure not just great recruitment but also great
    profile for your company is to first create a great culture internally where
    people are empowered to work and are enthusiastic about it. And secondly, give
    those people the right to represent the company on the internet. Take care of
    that and half your marketing and recruitment is done.

  • Brittany Sever

    Thank you for writing this.  As a marketing wanting to transition into the world of HR, this article really supports the skills I have that are NEEDED in the talent acquisition world!  I am a HUGE infographic fan a well and think the link to the infographic in this article really supports your case (and is just really interesting as well). 

  • Cedricj

    In some instances top talent is to be found in companies that are beginning to tank. 

    They are not on a job search for one reason or another. Waiting for the share prices to rise so they can be better positioned to cash out. Never having hunted for a job before. feeling they are too old to be competitive.

    But they are out there all the same. 

    If they are to be recruited ask former employees for the names of the stars.
    Inspiring leaders to inspire others

  • Keith Hadley

    @J.T. Thanks for the great article! Employment Brand=Best way to compete for talent.  Your article shows how important a partnership between HR and Marketing/PR will be!  Most HR departments will find it challenging to create the "Authority Marketing" content and most marketing departments are not focused on Talent Acquisition.  Hmmm.  Best companies will figure this out!  Also, where did you find your research behind the claim that top talent are not searching online?  In any case, once they are drawn by the "authority marketing" they will still visit the company career page or check them out on a job board, right?  Your thoughts?

  • Eric T. Wagner

    Nice article J.T.

    And wow; spot on.  You're tapped into an idea here that is so true.  

    My favorite part?  Throw away the "yelling and selling" strategy in H.R. and replace it with authority marketing.  

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom J.T....  :-)  Eric