10 Ways Business Leaders Can Improve Their Appeal to Candidates

Businesses might be struggling with tight talent supplies, but there are ingenious ways for them to attract job candidates at every level. One industry expert offers up 10 techniques to lure workers.

Hundreds of media outlets are running pieces every week about the talent shortage and challenges in finding skilled labor and filling top level job openings. Companies, of course, are well aware of the problem. U.S. demographics show baby boomers retiring, Millennials switching jobs at the drop of a hat, and increasing wage costs to secure talent eating into profits.

While the business community laments and genuinely struggles with a reduction in the number of available workers (this is a fact to be reckoned with), there are a number of underlying factors, and some solutions, that are not being addressed in the media, on the plant floor or in the corner office.

One top talent management expert, Dr. Russ Riendeau, a partner with Jobplex, has seen it all over an executive search career spanning more than 30 years. He’s now put pen to paper and offers up 10 techniques that businesses can adapt to enhance their attractiveness to candidates and help them to consider candidates from a larger pool source.

1) “Revitalize your on-boarding program. Or get one officially launched,” said Dr. Riendeau. “Most on-boarding programs consist of a week shadowing a bunch of people, then time spent watching stuff being made, reading manuals and then off to work they go.” Training programs, he said, are not robust enough in teaching the mechanics of a job.

“If you want to allow more talent to be interviewed, hire the frontal cortex, not the fancy Roledex,” he quipped. A smart person from outside an industry will thrive faster and just as well as a person from the industry with a mediocre track record or intellect. Product knowledge is easy to learn — but you have to teach well and make it interesting. “Think of your on-boarding program as your in-house university. Make it fun, impactful and robust.”

2) Interview training. “Hiring managers spend the least amount of time learning the skills and theory behind effective interviewing — yet hiring is the most important element of one’s job as a leader,” Dr. Riendeau said. More people spent more time on sexual harassment training, than in interviewing last year, he noted. “The ability to interview and assess a person’s intellectual potential and cultural fit takes practice. Invest in training leaders how to spot the quiet superstars and potential future leaders.”

3) Human resource professionals need to take a more proactive role. “HR professionals who are not exercising their training, insights, certification credentials and market research are not doing themselves or their employers anywhere near the good they can offer,” said Dr. Riendeau. If you are an HR professional, it’s time to assert your role, he said. Start by writing more and better job specs, incorporate better training for interviewing and compensation evaluation. Find out what your employees need to be more successful. “Teach your hiring teams how to interview legally and how to sell the jobs to skeptical interviewees. You have skills and insights and the time to think about the bigger picture in your company. Become indispensable!”

4) Don’t believe all the data. While there are thousands of versions of recruiting software — all claiming the most robust algorithms on the planet, remember that resumes are a ‘self-reporting tool.’ “Regardless of what person’s skill sets and experiences are, the words the person uses are not an indicator of proficiency or successful usage of the skill,” Dr. Riendeau said. Thus, the ability for hiring managers to know how to interpret vocabulary, terminology, and cultures prevalent in various industries and requiring documentation of success and W2 income to verify success is a more critical skill.

5) Terminate the weak performers tomorrow. Every leader in any company has a number of employees that are either trouble makers, exhibit bad attitudes, are ineffective, and not team players. Remember this, said Dr. Riendeau: you can terminate a person in an at-will state for any reason. “Poor performance is poor performance. If this person were gone tomorrow and you wouldn’t miss a beat then fire them now,” he said. And use that savings of salary and benefits to spend on interview training, creating a better on-boarding university, and creating a better incentive program for your sales team to sell more.

6) Sales professionals training. Research shows that less than 75 percent of companies deliver sales training to their team every year. Even fewer sales professionals take the time on their own to study their craft. If you are not seeing sales grow, do something immediately to change this. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you pay a yearly bonus, start paying commission on what the person sells;
  • If you pay a bonus one time a year, pay it two times a year so employees see the money and stay focused;
  • Bonus-oriented sales people are not as challenging and rarely are the most assertive. Commissions work to motivate and measure success;
  • Terminate the bottom 20 percent of your sales team and feed their salary monies to the hungry top sales performers as incentive dollars to sell more. Watch the frenzy begin!;
  • Give your people current sales training and insist on written summaries of what they learned. Mandate four books read per year and a summary of each book to share with other team players;
  • Insist that at least 15 to 20 percent of a sales professional’s quota is in new business. And pay a higher percent of commission for new business;
  • Require your sales manager to create a manual that shows every possible scenario the sales team will see and how to counter against the rebuttals with facts, logic, emotion and financial benefits to your product or service. Supporting the sales team with ammunition to sell is a key job requirement.

7) Show me the money! Pay a better wage. Leaders talk about ‘industry averages or standards’ when making job offers and wonder why a person quits sooner or doesn’t accept the job at all. “Pay better than the others,” said Dr. Riendeau. “This is a no-brainer and if you expect to hire your competitors and buy what’s in their brain, there’s a premium that goes with it: cash. Make it difficult for a person to leave for better money by heading to a competitor.” If the headhunter can steal a person from your company, he added, it’s because that person was not feeling appreciated, lost the belief in the company vision or was being underpaid.

8) Consider hiring a corporate strategy officer. This person can be an 18-year old wunderkind that asks great questions to keep you on your toes, or a person with the intellect and curiosity and who can invest his or her time in studying, reviewing, and analyzing trends, new products, your leadership training program, competitive advantages, and creating an on-boarding program. “A person dedicated to think about your business every day will pay for itself very quickly,” said Dr. Riendeau.

9) Recognize the real cost of turnover. Leaving jobs open for months on end (CareerBuilder estimated 12 weeks average of open positions unfilled) saves you money by not paying salary and benefits for sure, but the real costs calculate into such factors as lost revenue, lost orders, irritated customers and employees who are abandoned or overworked, bad morale, lost faith in leadership for not acting fast enough to fill a role, less appreciation for the work other staffers do to fill in, risk of competitors swooping in to snatch customers while the sales territory is vacant, increase in errors, as well as increased PTOs and sick days taken by overworked and stressed workers. “The cost to hire a person, be it through search firms or staffing firms, is a well-spent and calculated spend when you consider the serious amounts of money and damage that can occur when positions go unfilled,” noted Dr. Riendeau.

10) Key initiatives creation for every worker. What gets measured gets done. Reward for the desired behaviors. “These two mantras are critical in assuring your team is performing well and engaged in the right activities,” Dr. Riendeau said. “Make sure each person has three critical, measurable goals and / or initiatives for the next 12 months that represent the most important contributions the person can make related to their specific job.” And be sure there is some form of incentive tied to it. “Be it bonus, vacation time, gift points, a trip, promotion, trophy — make it something they can share, spend or brag about.”

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