Every few years we get a new crop of business buzzwords to slog through. They waft in on the breeze, and all of a sudden they’re on everyone’s lips and marketing collateral. During the first internet boom we had ‘end-to-end solutions’ and ‘full-service provider’ coming out our ears. Now it’s hard to get through a business meeting without someone using the words talent, community or engagement — sometimes all three in the same sentence.
It’s easy to talk about talent, and about building community at work. The problem is that talent and culture and community are words that don’t mean anything if they aren’t put into practice. If you and I each had a nickel for every corporate recruiting brochure and annual report that uses the words “We Value Talent” in them we’d be on the beach in Grand Cayman right now, but just talking about talent doesn’t make a talent-valuing culture real.
It’s sad that anyone would think that you could get great people in the door at your company and keep them there just by flinging around the words “We value talent.” That defies everything we know about human behavior, specifically the observation that actions speak louder than words. If you truly value talent in your organization, it’s easy to show it. If you take just a few of our eight suggestions below you’re going to get better hires in the door faster, and you’re going to keep the people you’ve already got on board happy and (wait for it!) engaged.
1. Put a Human Voice in Your Job Ads
Use a human voice in your job ads. Great candidates are not going to care that your company has an Immediate Need. They won’t respond to job ads that talk right past them using the third person, like “The Selected Candidate will possess five years of Blah-di-Blah and speak Ancient Greek.” Awful third-person boilerplate like “The Selected Candidate will…” says to your valued future employees, “That Selected Candidate we’re referring to is obviously not YOU.” If you want people to care about your Immediate Need, talk to them as humans.
2. Remove the Electrified Fence
The best job candidates, people who could help your firm the most, won’t suffer the indignities of Black Hole recruiting. I’m talking about the electrified-fence Applicant Tracking System that stands between your talent-hungry managers and the brilliant people outside the wall who could help them. Take down the Black Hole system and replace it with a human recruiting process if you want worthy contributors to consider joining you.
3. Hire Adults and Unleash Them
Years ago I heard at a business conference that the administrative cost of managing an existing policy, no matter how trivial, would dwarf the cost of whatever problem the policy had been drafted to address within a few years. That makes sense — the more bureaucracy in your shop, the less effectively your sales-and-production engines can run. The remedy is to hire thinking adults and take the shackles off them. Reduce the number of policies, increase the latitude of everyone on your team from the front-desk receptionist up, and focus on the important stuff.
4. Put Culture First
Every day I talk to frustrated CEOs and VPs who say “We talk about all goals all the time, but we don’t hit them.” Expecting to hit goals because you talk about the goals is nonsensical. People already know what the goals are. If your environment doesn’t lend itself to frank and constant discussion about what isn’t working, or if it’s discouraged or forbidden to mention any aspect of the Emperor of Your Business’s naked state, then you can talk goals until you’re blue in the face with no improvement. Your culture is the whole shebang. If the trust level isn’t high enough to support truth-telling at every level, the words “We Value Talent” fall flat.
5. View Recruiting as a Team Sport
Companies that get and keep great people are companies that make recruiting a continual activity and charge everyone in the organization with cultivating contacts. Can you imagine a Procurement Manager saying “Gee, I hope none of my current suppliers goes out of business – I don’t know what I’d do!” They have backup suppliers on hand, and backups to the backups. Recruiting works the same way.
Every manager and every HR person should have a robust and vibrant network and connections throughout your industry and locale. Recruiting viewed as a wave rather than a set of particles becomes a cultural value in itself.
6. Market Your Jobs Like a Marketer
How do marketers get the word out about their products? They don’t splash ads all over creation and then complain that too many of the wrong leads came in. They take responsibility for their marketing efforts. You can do the same thing in recruiting. You’ll let the closest-in members of your tribe know about new job opportunities first. That means your employers, suppliers and customers.
If you need to spread the net more widely, you’ll let fans and followers of your company know about new jobs available. Throwing ads out into the void is just as bad as a job-seeker spraying the landscape with his resume. If you value talent, use your community in your talent-snagging efforts!
7. Build a Talent Community
Anyone who interacts with your company is a conduit to your next hire, if not your next hire him- or herself. In 2014, launch a talent community to keep your fans and contacts close at hand. It is easy and fun to start conversing with the folks who appreciate your company, use your products or want to work with you some day. Get them on a newsletter list or a LinkedIn Group, keep them informed and chatting about your company’s news and future plans and stop running job ads, once and for all!
8. Talk about Fear and Trust
All the motivational posters in the world and even the most alluring bonus plans won’t change the talent-valuing equation unless you talk about the energy in the room at every opportunity. Corporate, institutional and startup cultures can all get tight and tense when the fear level goes up, and your best employees won’t say a word. They’ll just give notice and move to a competitor.
It’s easy to show your team and the folks outside the palace walls that you value talent beyond the lip service level, if you do. Start with our list of action steps, and then invent your own!
Like Liz Ryan’s worldview? Follow her on Twitter (@humanworkplace) and Facebook! Send Liz a LinkedIn invitation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Liz Ryan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, the only platform managers and candidates love.