Five Strategies To Attract Top D.C. Talent

Finding top talent in the Washington region can be challenging. It's not that there is necessarily a lack of applicants, it's more about attracting and retaining the best talent. Did you know the hiring process in the U.S. costs, on average, $4,000 and takes 52 days? Some statistics place the costs even higher.

Attract Top D.C. Talent

That being the case, you'll want to get the right hires the first time. Sure, you can offer great pay rates, competitive benefits packages, and other perks—that never hurts. However, if you want to attract and retain great employees, you can take it a step further by fostering an environment where people are happy enough in their jobs to stick around and invest themselves in the organization.

1. Provide meaningful work

People at the top of their fields are proud of their accomplishments and want to use their skills and talents in their jobs. Hiring talented people and subsequently relegating them to mundane work could very well send them to a competitor who offers better opportunities to use their expertise. Don't gain a reputation as the company that doesn't utilize its talent because the best will probably pass you over during their job searches. Challenge your people and let them put their knowledge to work. It'll keep them interested and likely lead to a boost in your productivity too.

2. Offer flexible work options

The Washington, D.C., area is known for its traffic jams, and commuting can be a big headache. Workers in the District spend many hours a year commuting, ranking in the top 10 worst traffic-congested cities in the United States. Rush hour often starts at dawn and ends after dark. As a perk, you can propose flexibility.

  • Offer the opportunity to telework on some days. (As a bonus, it provides a level of autonomy, which might be appealing to top talent).
  • Instead of the traditional 9 to 5, offer alternate working day options such as 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., allowing employees to commute at off-peak times.
  • Consider permitting a 4-day work week with a day off.

If you aren't already offering flexible work options, consider jumping on that bandwagon. Any of these options could help relieve the commute burden and help your people to maintain a healthier work-life balance.

3. Create room for advancement

Jobs in the District and surrounding areas are competitive and top talent is likely to seek out employers offering strong possibilities for advancement. You don't want to lose people who are great fits for your organizational culture. Create an environment that fosters innovation and upward mobility so employees can continue to grow and utilize their skills. Advancement opportunities can be given through training, promotion of continuing education and creating enough space so people can further add to their skills toolbox while on the job.

Even if there are few upward opportunities, you can offer room for career progression through lateral moves, allowing people to use their talents. Give your employees the room to grow and you'll see strong productivity and quality deliverables. Not to mention, you'll enjoy better retention and longevity rates instead of sitting back and watching talented people move onto competitors offering better opportunities.

4. Streamline the hiring process

Did you know, according to some statistics, 60 percent of candidates quit the application process because it took too long? In the District, many organizations are in high competition for government contracts. If your company is competing, you know how long the bidding and contract process takes. Chances are you'll probably have to list positions that are contingent on whether or not you win the contract and this could take months—or longer. This means extensive waits for applicants too. That part is unavoidable, but if you can streamline the rest of the hiring process, you'll better your chances of good talent applying.

5. Make applicants feel valued

Sure, you can post job listings and numerous job seekers will likely apply, but you won't know what kind of talent you're attracting. Rather than posting the jobs and waiting for the resumes to roll in, get out there and network with prospects. Highly talented people are likely to get many offers, so engage with them and get to know them personally as you make your hiring decisions. Those who are treated as a person instead of a number are more likely to consider you as a viable option as they make their own decisions. If you're thinking of hiring someone, show a strong level of interest. 

It's not uncommon to hear of high turnover in the District due to the constant contract changes or carrots dangled by companies looking to compete. Want to attract the cream of the crop? Become a preferred employer—one with a reputation that values its people. Strive to create a company culture that respects its employees. The top talent is paying attention.

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