Alex Bell

How to Avoid Losing In the Hunt for Talent

Markets are cyclical, at times unpredictable, so it would be prudent for both employers and candidates to navigate carefully and thoughtfully. Currently, there are 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker—and unemployment is hovering below 4%. The mass exodus has caused a massive labor market reshuffle as employees’ priorities shifted during these last few pandemic-hued years. Now, companies are needing to adapt to ensure they are appealing to the needs and concerns of best-in-class talent. 

Top candidates maintain that they need to stay true to their long term goals, ensure they are moving for the right reasons to an employer that affords them growth opportunities in short + long term (not just the promise of higher dollars). Likewise, employers would be wise to stay diligent once offers have been extended and ensure onboarding programs are in place to ensure success for both sides, or risk landing back at the talent acquisition starting line.

Here are some tips to consider when engaging and confirming tier 1 talent:

Offer perks workers really want

Work with the assumption that your candidate is on the interview circuit (i.e., shopping around) and offer a package that will compete. With the past almost three years throwing ideas of what work is into a tumult, the benefits employees are looking for no longer fit the traditional model. According to recent research, approximately 80% of workers share that a flexible (or hybrid) schedule is critical when considering taking a new job. 

Keep communication simple and transparent

Be clear about the next steps and expectations and keep the timeline tight. Stay in communication and use this opportunity to gauge a candidate’s responsiveness and engagement. If they seem hesitant, come right out and ask if something is holding them back from committing. Perhaps they feel the need to reopen the negotiation or have some concern about the broader market, or some other concern—but there’s also a possibility they were never serious about the position in the first place. Some workers will field offers to use as leverage for a raise at their current organization—it’s better to know this sooner than later. If you’re transparent and open with potential new hires, they will be more likely to be upfront with you, saving you big in the long run.

Create a personal connection

Once that offer letter is signed, it’s time to get personal. Designate a “peer buddy” on the new hire’s team. Setting up a meeting before day one can set the stage for greater engagement and help give that extra push for the new hire to show up on their first day. And the benefits continue past that walking-on-eggshells period between the signed offer and the first day—Microsoft implemented a buddy program and found that new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their first week on the job and their overall onboarding experience compared to those without buddies.

Beware who knows

While it is critical to check in with candidates’ references and former employers, it is vital to remember that everyone you contact has the potential to become a rival as negotiations commence. Mr. Henry says, “In instances where a reference is also struggling to fill key roles within their own organizations, he/she may become opportunistic and try to entice the candidate to join them.” For that reason, keep the process on a strictly need-to-know basis. Avoid pre-start communications that might tip your hand before everything is locked down. Especially for C-level roles, press releases or social media posts can give rival firms the scoop to swoop in with a counteroffer that squeezes you out.

One Final Note

The market is ever-changing and in recent years pivoting rather quickly, so candidates and employers alike would be wise to practice good etiquette and communicate if their plans change. Bridges burned cannot be crossed again; ghosting may have future ramifications, damaging your reputation and biting you in the rear next time the search is on.