The phrase “war for talent” was coined in the late 1990s by consultants from McKinsey to describe the competition among businesses for top employees. Today, with unemployment at near-historic lows, the battle to attract and retain top talent has never been more fierce — or more important.
If your talent pipeline looks bleak, you can take steps to turn things around.
That’s why your focus should be on finding ways to develop your talent pipeline. Proactively cultivating a pool of talent will help make your company more resilient and better equipped to succeed in highly competitive industries.
Here are three ways you can do it:
1. Leverage Apprenticeships and Internships
Apprenticeships and internships are a vital piece of your pipeline puzzle. Look at the tech industry for proof: Every dollar spent on apprenticeship programs yields an average $1.47 return on productivity for companies. In other words, these programs have a huge impact, but why are they so effective? “These models work because they remove risks from the hiring process,” says Jeff Mazur, executive director for LaunchCode, a national workforce development nonprofit. “On one side, managers have a trial period to decide whether the worker would be an effective full-time hire. On the other, workers learn new skills and are compensated.”
To attract applicants, the American Staffing Association recommends recruiting college students and recent graduates as interns to help fill project-based roles. In doing so, you’ll be giving those candidates experience that’s relevant to their career goals. When the time comes to search for full-time hires, you’ll have already evaluated these potential candidates. You’ll know exactly what skills they have and how well they fit into your organization.
2. Prioritize Employer Branding
It makes sense that companies known for being great places to work are also typically known for being highly successful businesses. Companies with a solid employer brand (i.e., a favorable reputation among potential candidates) have a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting talent. They can get up to two times as many applicants as competitors with less stellar reputations, making it easier for them to address skill gaps and move quickly.
Build your employer brand by investing in employee development and asking team members to share positive stories related to their experiences at work on your blog and social media accounts. Likewise, pay attention to the experience you offer applicants throughout the interview process. Whether or not they end up on your team, candidates will talk about their interactions with your company. By providing a positive candidate experience, you can count on more recruiting traffic in the future.
3. Never Stop Networking
Effective networking means more than just staying active on LinkedIn — although joining and participating in LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry can be a great way to find talent. Your company should have an in-person presence at college job fairs, industry conferences, and other events where potential candidates are likely to congregate. Moreover, you should encourage current employees to spread the word about your company to their networks.
Filling open positions via referrals is faster and more cost-effective than other hiring sources, and it usually leads to better retention rates. “I find most organizations spend the least amount of money marketing and automating their referral program than any other single source they have,” observes Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources. “Yet, it’s their No. 1 source and their No. 1 quality-of-hire source.” People want to work with people they know and like, after all, so incentivize your employees to recommend qualified associates.
The people you recruit and develop are integral to the success of your business. Take a proactive approach to building your talent pipeline, and you won’t have to worry about them disappearing.