How to win the war for talent in 2020.

Three Business Blog Team
On: 9 Jan 2020
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The battle for the best and brightest people is waging, as potential hires have a seemingly unlimited choice of places to work. As LinkedIn’s Director of Talent Acquisition for EMEA and LATAM, Richard Liddington has a perspective on this issue from two sides: both as someone looking to hire highly skilled candidates and as someone working for a platform where businesses can brand themselves to potential recruits as workplaces worth joining. In this blog, he shares practical advice based on his experience about how SMEs can make the right recruitment moves in 2020.

For many SMEs, recruitment is often a reactive process. Their talent strategy focuses on who they need to hire today. When an employee hands in their notice, then comes the scramble to fill the vacant role. But recruitment is transforming into a much more strategic function, so this needs to change.

Ultimately, a company’s recruitment function needs to align with where the business is going in the next 6, 12, or 18 months. So, my first piece of advice to any company that plans to add to their team in 2020 is to spend time proactively planning what talent they need, will new skills be required in that mix, and when they need to have that talent in place.

What is your ‘why’?

Next comes the challenge: executing against that plan. The economy is at near full employment, and the jobs market is buoyant across most sectors. If you’re a candidate, now’s a great time to be looking for a job, but if you’re an employer, it’s a lot harder to stand out as a business. So to do this, my second piece of advice is to ask your current employees – ten ideally – a question: what is your ‘why’? What I mean by that phrase is, why should someone apply to work at your company? Why is your business different?

Everybody in your company has a different reason as to why they applied for the job, and why they stayed. Their answers are the basis of your value proposition.

Standing out to prospective hires.

Here’s why this matters. Research has shown that 83% of job seekers research a company before they apply, by checking employee reviews online, or looking at employees’ company mentions on social media such as LinkedIn posts. They also ask current and past employees in their network for advice, the same you or I would if we wanted a recommendation for a movie to watch or a restaurant to eat at.

Surprisingly, job seekers aren’t looking for salary information above all. In a recent survey we conducted, compensation ranked fifth on a list of information that candidates want to find out. Instead, when people have their pick of where to work, they feel the strongest pull towards a business where their work will be connected to the vision of the company.

Today’s candidates want to know that they will be developed, coached and mentored, while working in a culture where they can be happy and thrive. They want to know they will be working with people who will motivate and inspire them. Research shows that many employees have a real hunger for professional development and want to be at a company that will invest in their continued learning.

Employee-led branding.

How will candidates discover all of this? You’ll tell them. Employee-led branding is one of the most powerful things a company can do. Having a shared, consistent message about the business from every level of the company is really effective, and costs very little. Start by asking your current employees why they chose to work for you, and why they stay. Authentic content that’s connected to your ‘why’ – to the purpose of the business – is a very effective way for SMEs to market themselves to candidates.

Blogs are good – provided they’re authentic – but in our experience, the more visual the content, the greater the reach. One of our most successful pieces of content at LinkedIn was a photo of the team smiling, while the manager held up a sign saying: ‘we’re hiring’. That post, which linked to a job description, got tens of thousands of hits. Sometimes, seeing a photo of potential colleagues, humanising the company and making it real, is enough of a trigger for people to apply for a job.

Video’s role in talent branding.

You can elevate this further by creating a video talking about the open role and some background about the company. It doesn’t need to be scripted and it doesn’t have to be long; 60 or 90 seconds is plenty. The more natural flow that the presenter has, the more authentic it is. The video should answer a candidate’s questions about why they should apply for that role and what’s in it for them.

Surprisingly, not many people are producing and using video content because they don’t realise the value it has. In fact, video is one of the most effective branding tools an SME has. With the camera features available in today’s smartphones, it costs very little to create a high definition video, and it costs nothing to publish it on your own website or on LinkedIn. After we began using video at LinkedIn, we saw a 67% increase in direct applications for positions, and a 47% increase in hires from those applications. We also doubled the number of followers on the site in 18 months.

This rich content will tell job seekers so much more about what it’s like to work at your company than a generic, written job description ever could. Use your content to show real people speaking about their work; let their character come across, so that potential hires can see the kinds of people they’ll be working with.

Let 2020 be the time to develop a proactive recruitment strategy that takes your message to people who may not be looking. The majority of people in the market are passive candidates; good people who aren’t necessarily looking for a job but would welcome the opportunity for a fresh challenge, with all of the career development and cultural fit I referred to earlier.

Your talent brand – what your current talent thinks, feels and shares about your company as a place to work – is a critical part of your hiring strategy. It costs nothing other than time and effort. By branding your business as an employer of choice, you’ll improve your chances of attracting the best people to drive your company forward in 2020 and beyond.

Richard Liddington spoke to Three’s Head of SME, Padraig Sheerin, for our podcast series An Eye on Irish Industry. The podcast, entitled How to fight and win the battle for staff, is now available on our Business Learning Centre.