Employee Retention: Change the recruiting conversation

October 22, 2019 -  By
Hands typing at keyboard (Photo: iStock.com/anyaberkut)

Photo: iStock.com/anyaberkut

If you want be successful at recruiting, it’s time to change the conversation. A new generation of candidates has different expectations of its employers, and these expectations present themselves initially during the recruiting process, requiring a different type of conversation. Employers seeking to connect with a new generation will miss the mark if they fail to change the conversation.

Prior to the labor shortage, most recruiting efforts were focused on selecting the best candidate based on two primary qualifiers: experience and education. This process was relatively simple since the applicant file was overflowing with candidates. Sift through a stack of resumes, hire the most qualified person and get back to work. That was pretty much it.

Today’s recruiting efforts are vastly different. To begin with, there usually isn’t a lineup of applicants hoping to land an interview. A few companies have this luxury because they’ve made big investments in culture and attractiveness, but most firms in our industry today need to actively solicit candidates to apply for open positions.

Recruiting involves marketing. We know that the essence of marketing is to identify a need, develop a unique solution and communicate this solution with a compelling message to a target audience. Understanding the need is a prerequisite to creating a unique solution. When we fail to understand the true need, we end up having the wrong conversation.

Today’s applicants don’t need a job. They don’t need to work for your company. They have options that previous generations didn’t have. They can choose to work or not. They can decide what type of work to do and who they want to work for. When recruiting focuses on the job, we’re having the wrong conversation.

If today’s applicants aren’t looking for a job, what are they looking for? They are looking for purpose. If they are going to work, they want their work to matter, and they want to understand specifically how their work will make a difference. This requires a conversation about the alignment of a candidate’s passions with your company’s mission. Let me explain.

For decades, companies have been crafting mission statements. The problem is that many of these mission statements were essentially meaningless because they were uninspiring, watered-down and unmemorable. Does this boilerplate mission statement inspire you?

“Our mission is to be the premier company in our industry and deliver financial results that exceed the expectations of our stakeholders.”

A company’s mission should be powerful, meaningful and inspirational. If it is, it will attract those who share the same passions, creating a culture driven by purpose. This is a different conversation than most recruiters are having with candidates.

Consider the fact that we are busier in our lives than we’ve ever been. Despite this, volunteerism is unwavering because those of us who volunteer believe in the mission of the organization to which we give our time, talent and treasure. Mission has always mattered, but it matters even more today because of the generational changes that have occurred.

Today’s candidates’ lives are different than those of previous generations. Work life is intertwined with personal life. Lines are not only blurred; they are invisible. Because of this, having a conversation about alignment with a candidate’s personal mission and your company’s mission will enlighten the degree of fitness, in terms of what really matters.

A conversation about alignment, in terms of values, will also enlighten the degree of fitness. Today’s candidates want to be engaged with an organization that shares their values. Skills may be taught, and motivated people will learn what they need to be successful. A person who supports your mission and shares your values is much more likely to be successful than one who does not.

Look at your job postings. Critique your interview questions. Assess your recruitment and onboarding materials. Are you having the right conversation? Is your messaging compelling? Is it all about the job or all about your company’s mission and values? Too often, we are missing the mark by having the wrong messaging and engaging in the wrong conversations. The result is missing out on really great candidates. As we face this labor crisis, it has never been more important to have the right conversation.

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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at Phil@GrowTheBench.com. He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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