• Megan Wood

How to attract good talent… and keep them!



A client of mine asked recently asked me: “how do we go about attracting the right talent? What are we doing wrong?” At first glance, this looks like an easy question, but there is a lot more to it than simply offering a competitive salary. We all want strong applicants when we are recruiting, but that is not always a guarantee, in any job market. So, what does it take to lure in the high calibre talent your company is looking for (and keep them!)?


What needs doing?

The most important thing to get right, when you want to attract the right candidates, is to get the job description right. Before you roll your eyes and think “well, duh?”, let’s think about what getting it right means. A job description should be an accurate description of the job you are looking to fill, not simply a lure for the kind of person you are hoping to attract. And why? If you oversell a role in order to attract talent, a few months later, when they realise that the job isn’t what they want, you will lose a good person and have wasted your time and theirs.


A well rounded job description will outline the responsibilities and day-to-day tasks of the role. Next, the skill set needed to fill the role effectively should be outlined. Finally, you should outline the culture, benefits, work model (remote, hybrid etc) and opportunities for progression. The most important thing to remember is - be honest! If there is a lot of data entry, then be upfront about it. If the work load is substantial, make that clear. Being honest helps you to attract applicants who are up to the challenge.


Who’s the boss?

Another often overlooked aspect of attracting and keeping good people is ensuring you have effective management in place. I covered this in more detail in a recent post on leadership, you can find it here (link). In short, investing in effective management training is so important. Working under a poor manager is one of the top reasons for losing good people. Not to mention, if a manager gives a standoffish, rude or combative impression during the interview process, you could have lost out before you have even started.


Make sure you touch base with your people often, finding out how they really feel about their manager and the company as a whole. There is a huge range of survey technology out there today that allows for anonymous replies and honest feedback. This kind of quantitative analysis will enable you to pinpoint any problem areas before you lose the good people you have, and increase your chances of keeping new ones.


Be flexible

We are living in a post-covid world and very few people are happy with the traditional nine to five in the office. If the role you are trying to fill can be performed from home or - like many company’s are currently embracing - a hybrid model of in the office and at home, make this clear. In addition you need to ensure that the existing team are offered the same flexibility, or you will be fueling unhealthy resentment when the disparity comes to light.


If the style of role you are trying to fill is client-facing and therefore needs to be in the office full-time, consider offering different flexibility models. Some suggestions include, mental health days in addition to sick days, regular rostered days off and paid overtime.


Show me the money

This is a big one - salary. So many job descriptions don’t give any indication of salary band, which can be a mistake. You may waste hours on applicants asking for six figures for a junior role, alternatively you may not mention it until very later, at which time your candidate balks at what you are offering and you both end up annoyed and frustrated. Be honest about the kind of money you are offering for the role, even if you don’t want to be specific.


Obviously, you always want amazing people, but not every role can pay the big bucks. In these cases it is important to point out the other perks of the job. Do team members get free merchandise, tickets to concerts or product samples? Alternatively, perhaps you do Friday drinks or a fully financed team lunch once a month? It may not seem like much to you, but make sure you include these little luxuries. It could make all the difference.


Get it right from the start

Put yourself in the shoes of a new employee, on their first day. You arrive early, oozing excitement and nerves, only to find that there is no pass waiting for you, no computer set up for you, no training and no documentation. If this was your first day, would you be happy, or would you be looking for the door?


Be ready for new starters. Greet them at reception, buy them a coffee, introduce them around and - no matter how “hot desk” trendy your office is - make sure they have a designated desk and computer. Nothing makes a new employee feel more unwelcome than realising no one even thought about where they would physically fit within the office. In addition, friendly approachable documentation is advisable, but the old days of multi-day forced orientation sessions are rarely a good idea.


Wear your conscience on your sleeve

For many, the social conscience of a company is a key factor when deciding whether to apply for a role. If you have a charity foundation that is really making a difference, mention it. Are you B Corp certified? If you are then shout that from the rooftops. If your company has a cutting-edge recycling program then boast about that too, you never know which small detail could make the difference.


Team swap

This is a really important one that a lot of companies overlook, but a really innovative and easy way to avoid burnout and dissatisfaction is to have an open and flexible secondment program. This means having a clear, thought-out, fair and effective plan for inviting staff to apply for skill and experience-building roles in other teams and/or departments for a six or twelve month period. Your staff will feel more valued and satisfied and you might find new skills in existing team members that could change everything for your company.


To explore more ideas about attracting and retaining the very best talent just reach out. I can help with strategy, interview techniques and upping your on-boarding game, just to name a few.


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