Companies allot considerable time, attention and energy into executing their strategies, investments that can’t pay dividends without the right people in place to make it happen. This is why it's always surprising when companies forget to invest those same resources in finding the right talent. Winning in today’s business world is largely dependent upon having the right people to implement the plan; companies who invest in talent acquisition strategies end up winning.
Consider Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who once estimated his bad hires cost the company well over $100 million. That’s a sizeable chunk of profitability and it could have been easily prevented.
We all know how it happens. Most of us are seeking short-term hiring relief without focusing on tomorrow. Sadly, the long run is where decisions made in haste can essentially drive a company into the ground. Hiring managers need a seat filled “yesterday” and with headcount regarded as the budgetary crown jewel in most organizations, many fear an open seat will be cut before it can be filled. HR is willing to make the trade-off, ending immediate suffering rather than thinking of the long-term tragedy of a disastrous hire. While you may have saved the headcount, the long-term effects will negate it, involving considerable intangible costs, morale issues, lack of productivity and a potentially toxic culture.
If you need to cut costs, I caution against slicing your recruiting budget. Cutting corners can extend time to hire and/or increase the likelihood of bringing on the wrong person who will vacate the role swiftly. Team members become disgruntled, leaders spend more time coaching a bad hiring decision, overall productivity and morale falls into a downward spiral. It’s not worth saving a few dollars to have to rebuild your brand — or your company for that matter — from the ground up.
Talent acquisition strategies are important. You can’t build that process in any meaningful way when you need it; by then, it will show that your value was focused elsewhere for far too long.
There are many ways candidates can tell that your company doesn’t value recruiting. Poorly branded materials voice a lack of caring without uttering a word. Limited information about the role, the company and expectations give little comfort. Interview experiences where potential teammates and managers are unable to articulate the particulars of why the candidate is needed send a warning flag, which usually can’t be undone within a prospective employee’s mind. Most will never return, lengthening the hiring process even more.
All that said, let’s talk about the traits of a well-funded, well-organized hiring process. We know what makes for a bad, snap decision-based environment; let’s talk about our utopia.
First of all, companies who have a great staffing process understand the power of the brand in their efforts. A-players attract A-players; they understand how to get the attention of the best and brightest in the industry. From the work environment and excellent corporate culture, to the time and investment it takes to make sure all materials associated with the hiring experience emulate the care and concern any potential employee would be shown. They understand that every single interaction must be branded flawlessly.
They also understand that staffing isn’t just a recruiter’s responsibility and every employee is actively attracting talent at any given minute. Everyone in the company in engaged as a talent scout, accepting that they represent the brand to anyone who interacts with them. They seize opportunities to talk about their company, what it’s like to work there and they evangelize the brand. While they might not be hiring today, they want prospective candidates to be interested enough to engage in conversation.
Companies with strong talent acquisition strategies are creative in where to reach prospective employees. Strong brands have powerful social media presence; they consistently utilize social events and charitable and community involvement as opportunities to connect.
They also invest for the future. By participating in undergraduate and graduate school entrant development programs, businesses that establish early career programs understand the power of creating a future leadership pipeline.
Every person within the organization is trained to interview and give post-process feedback. Descriptions of current and near-future needs are made readily available to employees, while for high-stakes hires bonus incentives can be part of the plan. They understand the candidate experience can enhance or damage their brand, realizing that full engagement and enthusiasm on behalf of anyone who touches the candidate is crucial to their program’s success. Candidates leave any interaction with the company feeling connected to a company that is well managed, focused on their employees and invested in a hiring process handled with a high level of professionalism.
If your company falls short of the ideal description above, all is not lost. With an investment of time and resources, you can create a talent acquisition strategy that will strengthen your brand and ensure success in attracting the right people:
- Look back on negative candidate and recruiting experiences and do some due diligence to know where you fell short
- Understand how your overall brand should play in attracting talent; build a recruiting brand that’s a powerful extension of your corporate culture by defining the experience you wish your candidates to have. Ensuring that every conceivable interaction delivers that experience, which includes external staffing sources
- Be clear on the roles you’re seeking and the types of candidates you wish to attract, then deliberately identify avenues to find those candidates
- Train all employees to assess talent, recruit actively and interview
- Expand your recruiting strategy to include social media, networking events and charitable functions
- Create recruiting packages designed specifically with the candidate and the interviewing team in mind; each should be crafted so each party has enough detail and material to perform their roles flawlessly
- Brief interviewers in advance about the role, the candidates, expectations and feedback needs prior to the interview
- Provide interview feedback to the candidate and keep them informed. A high-touch process leads to connected hires and builds your brand in the marketplace
- Make the investment in candidate due diligence, from reference checking to background reports. Complete these tasks early so there is no delay or embarrassment when it comes to making the hire or declining the candidate
- Inadequate and insufficient onboarding is often the cause of talent flight and is a worthwhile investment due to the swift alignment it creates. Do not overlook this valuable step.
Don not delay in the development of this important entry to your corporate culture. Like it or not, your bottom line truly depends on it.