How to Attract Top Talent

They are telling us lies again Daddy

From an early age my daughter realised that toys advertised on TV did not live up to expectations when they came home from the toy store. So each time she saw a TV advert that appeared to be good to be true, she would give me this look and nod knowingly “they are telling us lies again Daddy, aren’t they?”

I mentioned this recently when speaking to a multinational organisation embarking on a new marketing and advertising recruitment campaign.  They wanted advice on how to differentiate their organisation in the crowded marketplace for engineering and IT talent.

Here is an uncomfortable truth for all HR departments with responsibility for recruitment:  Telling candidates that your culture is amazing, that you can offer employee benefits that beat the competition hands down, that your organisation is growing and that you need really great people to join you on your great journey, doesn’t work.

So many job adverts read the same.  The talent you seek are educated and discernible – now more than ever and, like my daughter, they see through it. They have fallen for these job advertising tricks before and been let down. They have been told super amazing stories from recruiters and head hunters about how this job is the perfect fit for them. Yes, some organisational cultures may be better than others, but we need to get real.

Does this apply to your organisation?

  1. Do you know people who are or have been burned out through work overload?
  2. Do you chase quarter on quarter numbers and is your corporate target double digit growth this year?
  3. Do you or your boss instigate regular developmental career conversations?
  4. Have you ever received career coaching support to be at the best you can be?
  5. If you reach a certain level, will you need to relocate to another location for future career growth?
  6. Do you feel respected and appreciated as a human being?

Most senior executives I coach through career transition are looking for the holy grail – the one organisation that truly gets it right and allows them the opportunity to become human, optimise their skills and be at their best. They want to move on from hierarchical pressure-driven organisations.

It is a consistent theme emerging from career coaching conversations I am having. And, as we reach the end of the first month of a new year, I can sense a growing frustration. People are tired of the race to deliver, tired of the endless back-to-back meetings, tired of unhealthy and stressful environments.

Organisations, if you are in a race for talent or want to keep the talent you have, you need to become more human.

Nature has four seasons for a reason, to replenish itself. From growing up on a farm, I know that grass cannot grow consistently 12 months of the year – not to mind year on year growth without serious damage being done to the field. Nature simply doesn’t work like this and neither do healthy organisations. So why not create healthy organisations and talent will come without the expensive marketing?

What talent want:

  1. They want to make a difference in their work, more autonomy, the opportunity to do their best and be at their best.
  2. They seek to work in organisations that offer regular feedback and recognition for work well done.
  3. They want to learn new skills, find challenging work but to feel less stressed.
  4. They want to work in an organisation that lives and breathes its values and not just have them on the wall for the visitors.
  5. They want a place where they can be themselves and feel valued as a human being.

This doesn’t sound too onerous does it? Yet why is it so rare?

Top talent will be attracted to an organisation committed to creating a human experience where they can join to develop new skills. The organisation needs to be mature enough to know this talent may leave again in a few years to develop newer skills elsewhere. Who knows, they may re-join later in their career with further embellished skills or, more importantly, they will refer others having experienced what is the exception rather than the norm.

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