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Recruiting in a Tough Job Market

Talent is the lifeblood of any dynamic organization. But a healthy economy and an evolving labor force have made recruiting and retaining that vital talent more difficult than ever, says Christina Boudreaux, founder of Talent Made Simple, a Baton Rouge-based recruiting and human resources consulting firm.

“It is a war out there,” Boudreaux says. “The marketplace is getting more and more competitive.”

In such a candidate-driven market it can be difficult to engage job seekers with your brand, and even more challenging to convince them to accept jobs that may not be aligned with their personal values, even if the compensation is competitive, Boudreaux says. The solution, she says, is a more comprehensive and strategic approach to recruiting.

“If you’re going to recruit on an ongoing basis, you need a more long-term, robust strategy — a methodical approach that’s persistent and consistent,” she says.

Boudreaux discussed several strategies for improving your company's recruiting game during a recent Tech Park Academy event at the Louisiana Technology Park. Here’s a look at some of the insights she shared.

Understand It’s a Business Problem, Not Just an HR Problem

Boudreaux says that often within organizations that experience challenges attracting talent, executives will approach HR and say “What are you going to do about it?” The reality, she says, is that a failure to recruit and retain top talent has a profound impact on any company’s bottom line and should be a problem addressed by every level of an organization, not just HR. “Everybody is accountable for recruiting,” she says.

At the same time, she says, HR departments need to transform how they operate to become more of a strategic partner, moving beyond a mere order-taker role to assume more of a consultant position for the rest of the organization.

She says HR metrics such as turnover are important to the bottom line and should be shared in scorecards and similar performance reports that your organization compiles. “When you start calculating that, and you're putting the numbers in front of the managers who are accountable to their territory, or even executive leaders, it makes a huge difference,” she says.

Start with the End in Mind

When approaching recruiting, Boudreaux says she encourages organizations to begin by planning for an end goal, then breaking down into smaller pieces the process to achieve that goal.

She says a company should take a close look at its business plan to understand what its needs are and what job positions are going to be the biggest priorities, then focus its recruiting strategies around those areas.

“You don’t have to conquer the world in one strategy, but identify where the top priorities are and what positions are going to be the most impactful to your business,” she says. “Look at them at 30, 60 and 90 days, then assess them over 12 months, 18 months and two years.”

Meet Your Audience Where They Are

People communicate in different ways and candidates look for jobs in different ways, Boudreaux says. If you want to cast a wide net and connect with as many talented candidates as possible, you need to consider multiple platforms for job postings and other recruiting outreach.

Similarly, Boudreaux says it’s important for recruiters to adapt to candidates’ communication preferences — whether that’s text messages, email, LinkedIn messages or phone calls.

“It’s important to be accommodating in your processes to be able to meet them where they are, keep them engaged and keep them excited about the opportunity,” she says.

Hone Your Employee Value Proposition

The employee value proposition includes everything you have to offer a candidate. That means not only your salary and benefits packages but the culture and mission of your organization.

“It’s a fine line of selling to candidates without overselling, because you always want to be painting that realistic job expectation for them,” she says. “You want them to know what they’re going to be getting if they come on board, but you also want to be able to get them excited.”

Boudreaux says studies have shown that younger generations of workers are more likely to be motivated with the mission of a company and the impact they’ll be able to have working there. She suggests taking a close look at what defines your organization’s culture, and determining whether it’s ready to be showcased or you have work to do before you emphasize it in recruiting.

Stephen Loy