Five steps to stand out from the crowd when attracting talent

Nicola Thomas

Talent Manager

Attracting talent

You only have to glance at LinkedIn or the news, or speak to any recruitment specialist or hiring manager to get an indication of how challenging the talent market is at the moment. Recruitment teams are maxed out on roles, as they search for the key skills needed to support organisational growth. Whether they’re replacement or new roles, there’s refreshed demand for talent.

In May 2022, there were 1,288,000 unfilled vacancies in the UK, the highest since records began. This is further impacted by the fact that unemployment is at just 3.8% – the lowest we’ve seen on record. So, what are businesses to do when vacancies are being left unfilled, and they find themselves unwillingly thrown into the war for talent?

Well, sadly there isn’t a simple fix, but there are steps that companies should be taking to succeed, setting themselves apart from the competition.

Employer branding

How your company’s perceived by potential candidates will influence whether they engage with you or not.

For a talent team, a broader employer branding strategy includes:

  • An inclusive hiring process, open to diverse, gender balanced pools of talent

  • A positive end-to-end candidate experience

  • A diverse and comprehensive benefits package that meets the needs of the entire workforce

  • Development opportunities to attract future long-serving team members

Equally important however, is the company branding that attracts candidates in the first place.

Your website is a great place to start, with the careers page providing more information than job ads. Moreover, it’s good practice to offer a glimpse into what it’s like to work at an organisation, giving candidates a feel for the culture and values that they can (hopefully!) align with. There are so many ways to do this, such as blog posts, video content, and new starter vox pops.

Social content has a higher chance of reaching passive candidates and piquing interest. Again, video content is an easy way to promote an organisation’s culture, but also consider social feed takeovers with targeted content for prospective talent, consistent LinkedIn company updates and new starter introductions. The more insightful information available at the fingertips of potential talent, the better.

But let’s not forget the channel that offers a window into any business, Glassdoor. Whether the reviews are good or bad, it’s the response and being accountable that has the biggest impact. So, celebrate the positives and own the negatives, learning from the less favourable comments. And most importantly, show potential talent the benefits of approaching you – and not your competitors – for their next role.

Candidate experience is everything

Businesses cannot afford to give a bad experience. The way you engage with a candidate – whether they’ve applied directly, come through an agency or you’ve passively contacted them – gives them an indication of the company’s authenticity and has a huge impact on whether they want to join your business, and its employer brand.

A negative impression can have repercussions, whether it’s passing on feedback through word-of-mouth or a Glassdoor review. This could be the difference between the perfect candidate accepting or turning down a job offer.

But what does a great candidate experience look like?

  • Regular contact and updates throughout the candidate journey

  • Support and coaching through interview stages, if needed

  • Providing and asking for feedback

  • Post-offer acceptance invitations to team events, like coffee with their new line manager

  • An on-point and relevant onboarding journey

It's not just about the money

If there’s anything that the last two years has taught us is that it’s not all about the money. You also need to love what you do – because let’s face it, we spend most of our time doing our jobs.

Returning to the office has been a massive sticking point for some, with many choosing to leave well paid jobs that demand full time office presence, seeking out more flexible roles that suit their lifestyle.

It’s more than just working from home though. The flexibility to choose where and when you work provides the freedom to create the perfect working environment, whether that’s at a home desk, in the garden, a café or the office (but this is by no means the end of the list).

Looking deeper within the organisation, candidates not only consider the business diversity make-up, but also sustainability policies and strategies; they want reassurance that they’re joining an inclusive and responsible company, which prioritises its people and the planet. That’s not to say that they’re looking for the employer who has it nailed, because no one does. What’s important is that they have a self-awareness to know where the gaps are and have a strategy to get there.

Live and breathe your values

It’s a huge part of the culture mindset to have values instilled in each and every member of the business, feeding through to everything that you do – from how you pitch new business, to writing people policies, creating competency frameworks and instilling best practice behaviours.

For a candidate, it quickly becomes obvious when values are simply just statements on a wall. They want to see that people are invested in the culture of the business, and everyone’s working together towards the same goal.

Show candidates how this is done not only through the recruitment process, but also by giving them an idea of what onboarding looks like, and their potential future career. Offer them the opportunity to speak to the wider team to get their insights before they start; this will help them to embed as quickly as possible and have a successful start.

Furthermore, no matter the role, an introduction to those at the top of the business will give new starters a deeper understanding of the wider business strategy and how the company runs.

The glass is always half full

The talent conundrum isn’t going to resolve itself anytime soon. We’re in this for the long haul, so why dwell? Use it as a learning opportunity to really hone the talent journey, making it compelling, competitive and efficient.

Put your head above the parapet and shout about who you are and who you want to work for you, whether that’s through social content, videos or online and offline events.

Give people a reason to take notice – in a good way. And if it’s not good, take feedback on board and let it influence a positive change in how you attract new talent to the business.

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