There’s one common denominator among the top companies in every sector: talent. The best companies attract the best employees, which allows them to deliver the best products and services. These companies view people as their most valuable assets and fight hard to make sure the right people want to work for them.
Because talent is so critical, it’s no wonder that more than a third of leaders surveyed last year for The Worldcom Confidence Index cited the lack of it as the biggest threat to their success. The number of jobs available in the U.S. hit record highs at the end of 2018, and we’ve even experienced a rare period in which there are more open positions than there are people to fill them.
What can leaders do? More than they think.
Job seekers are undoubtedly in the driver’s seat in today’s labor market, and the burden is on employers to be proactive in recruiting and to show why they’re worth working for. If you haven’t taken a hard look at your recruitment process recently, now is the time to do so.
Start by considering your recruiting methods from a candidate’s perspective. As you assess what’s working and what needs improvement, here are three action items to focus on:
1. Spruce up your job descriptions.
A job description is often the first impression a candidate has of your organization, so make sure yours are written in a way that reflects the realities of each position and, most importantly, the culture of your company. You’re not just explaining what you’re looking for in a candidate; you’re selling your business as a great place to work. Remember that this is a two-way process, where you’re both evaluating each other for a long-term fit. Don’t be afraid to highlight your amazing benefits or above-average compensation in the job description or to create a standout listing in the form of a video or interactive web app. Every company claims to be innovative: This is a good place to prove it by showing candidates you’re different from the start.
Next, make sure the language in your job ads is inclusive so you don’t unintentionally discourage qualified candidates from walking through your door. ZipRecruiter found that job postings with gender-neutral language received 42 percent more responses, so it’s vital that you strip gendered language from your job ads. Look for words like “supportive” and “collaborative,” which could deter male candidates from applying; “ninja” and “dominate” often have the opposite effect. Many women candidates won’t apply for a job unless they meet almost every listed requirement, so a lengthy list of nice-to-have qualifications that aren’t strictly necessary for the role will likewise limit the applications you receive. So devote some time to getting your job descriptions just right — it will be time well spent.
2. Develop a recruitment timeline — and don’t keep it a secret.
Be open with candidates about what they can expect from your hiring process. Are there multiple rounds of interviews? Will the candidate need to take a test to showcase a certain skill, like coding or editing? Communicate these expectations at the beginning, and share your hiring timeline frequently throughout the process. Good or bad, candidates will talk about the experience they have with your company during the hiring process. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’ll show.
A recruitment process that drags on forever or leaves candidates in the dark about next steps will ultimately deter top talent. In fact, recent studies show that 54 percent of employers have missed out on a qualified candidate due to protracted recruitment timelines. In contrast, Zillow has achieved major success by focusing on recruiting as the anchor of its business. Making HR decisions in a matter of days and quickly turning around offers has allowed the company to scale quickly while attracting high-quality candidates.
3. Establish a long-term pipeline.
It might be tempting to focus on immediate results, but going on a hiring spree without first assessing your long-term goals will likely lead to growing pains. You may benefit more by beginning to develop relationships with the organizations that are producing or guiding the next generation of talent. College honor societies like Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key, and the SCLA actively seek to connect their students with career opportunities and mentors during and after college. And you can even discover future hires by partnering with high schools. General Electric, for example, invested $25 million in its Brilliant Career Lab to help prepare high school students for STEM jobs.
Philip Hardin, CEO of YouScience, says that one way employers can guide the next generation of workers is by offering aptitude tests that help students discover their strengths and passions: “Not only can aptitude assessments provide students with newfound confidence and faith in their ability to compete for in-demand jobs, they can provide educators and employers with valuable tools to engage young people earlier.” By offering internships and work-study opportunities, as well as playing a part in education initiatives, you can help young people launch their careers — and strengthen your own talent pipeline in the process.
There’s no underestimating the importance of top employees to business success. To attract the talented people you need, fine-tune your job descriptions, develop and communicate a recruitment timeline, and don’t neglect to think about the long term. The more you can see the world and your own business the way today’s candidates see them, the better positioned you’ll be for lasting success.
This article was originally published in Forbes. View it here.