recruitment

Why talking about career growth opportunities is essential in getting the right candidates

Published by Stephanie Heisz, Talent Advisor, TalentMinded Inc.

Most job ads are boring and generic; a sea of sameness.  But what do candidates really want to know? What would make the best talent take notice of your job opportunity?

One common theme that almost always comes up during the interview process is career growth. What’s the next natural progression from the role they are interviewing for? Yet for many firms this almost never makes it into the job ad, let alone the screening process.

A question we like to ask candidates is “if you were offered the job, what factors will you use to determine if this role is the ‘right job’ for you? 80% of the time career growth makes it to the top of the priority list.

Don’t get me wrong - the culture of the company has influence over the candidate’s decision, however we find that ‘what’s the career path?’ gets asked the most. 

This raises the question - why don’t more companies ‘talk’ about (and promote) the opportunity for career advancement in their job ads?

I was at a tech social recently and asked people – ‘when you are reading a job ad, what entices you the most to apply to the job?’ When talking to people it became clear that opportunities for career advancement was huge!  People want to be challenged, promoted, valued, on a mission and progressing their own goals as much as the companies they work for. Win-win.

Yet, as we are all too well aware – many companies are still posting job ads that list what the person will do – not what they will become (Lou Adler).

Here are some real live examples, tips and job ad excerpts from some of our favorite clients and most admired brands on how they address career advancement opportunities in their job communications:

  • “Why join our team? This is your opportunity to learn the business from the ground up, and eventually take those skills and apply them in a more senior position at the company.”
  • Prove it. Share statistics about promotions within the company – “In 2015 we had 40 in-house promotions - once you join our company you won’t want to leave. We’ll provide you the opportunity to move-up.”
  • “But know this. If you do decide to apply for this position, and we agree that this is the right job for you, you'll be supported by a plethora of internal programs whose only focus is the continued progress of your career.”
  • “People in our career track drive delivery and capability excellence through the design, development and/or delivery of a solution, service, capability or offering. They grow into delivery-focused roles, and can progress within their current role, laterally or upward.”
  • Be authentic. If there’s no fast track growth plan, then don’t make it up.  Candidates trust and are attracted to authenticity.
  • Provide mentorship. If the growth opportunity isn’t readily available or yet defined, providing mentoring or coaching can be a great alternative to finding and keeping great people.
  • All of this ties back to job seekers thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, and that in order to advance they will likely need to move to a different company. If you address areas of growth within the company early on, it could help keep employees around longer. We suggest that hiring managers map out at least the next logical career progression for someone entering into a role at their company.

Paint a picture of where your ideal candidate is currently and what are they not getting that you can offer them and then advertise that.  And if/when the question of career progression comes up in the interview phase, and it will, at least you would have a well thought out answer.

What tech start-ups can (and should) be doing to rev up recruiting

We regularly attend events and meetups focused on start-up tech CEOs growing their businesses.  Regardless of the theme - how to get financing or build a winning marketing strategy - the challenge of finding and hiring great talent always comes up in the conversation!  

 

When projects can’t move forward or sales slow down because hiring isn’t happening fast enough; - this can be big trouble for executives.  It’s hard for organizations of all sizes to recruit the right talent.  And by now, if you’re scaling quickly, you’ve likely experienced the cost and pain of making a wrong hire.

 

Recruiting can be especially challenging when you are new or nobody knows you exist, you’re competing against big brands and big budgets and chances are you’ve tapped out your immediate referral networks.   

 

The good news - recruiting awesome talent for your start-up or growing business isn’t impossible.  Some may argue, ‘there’s no shortage of talent’ - you just don’t have the right strategy to go about finding the best people.

 

If, like most start-ups or growing business you are hoping that everyone wants to work for you because you are unique, your people make the difference, or you have a foosball table with a fully stocked bar fridge, you are mistaken.  No one knows who you are in the job market, so they aren't going to walk in the door resume in hand.  Posting a job and praying the best people are waiting for you - well, as they say ‘hope is not a strategy’.

 

There’s a famous quote from Abe Lincoln, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe."  This is the key to great recruiting.

 

So how are you preparing for hiring?  Here are some tips to give you a competitive advantage and start building a quality talent pipeline.

 

1. Find out what truly makes you unique - conduct surveys and focus groups – internally and externally starting with the people who work for you, and the people who know you (advisors, consultants, family and friends).  Develop an understanding of why people want to work for you and why they stay.  Go beyond your product or solutions and dig deep for the true meaning.  Ask yourself, how you are changing the world or the lives of your customers?  And don’t assume you know what it is.  Take the time to better understand your target audience and what makes you special.

 

Everyone is looking for top talent - your ability to articulate what makes you unique, in a creative and compelling way, beyond the solutions you build, will be a critical tool in your talent strategy.  

 

2. Unlock your online ‘brand real estate’ – social media platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc., have free company review pages where you can develop your company profile, add photos and employee testimonials as insights into your culture.  Get a head start on developing these channels of influence.  According to Glassdoor, 94% of candidates are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages their employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment). (Glassdoor survey, October 2014)

 

No matter how small you are, you have a brand and a culture. Once you start promoting opportunities in your company, people will start looking for information.  Savvy candidates will start looking for evidence that you and your company are as awesome as you say you are. What they find will determine their next course of action - apply or move on.

 

3. Write creative job ads – this takes time and several drafts, maybe even outside help. An awesome job ad could prove to be the key to getting the right, quality candidates applying.  Don’t underestimate this – it can be a huge difference maker!  In our experience, the quality and appeal of your job ad (not to be confused with the formal job description) impacts the quality of the candidate pipeline by up to 80%.  

 

Jobs get ‘served up’ daily through social networks and there’s no better way to get to the passive candidate than tempting them into a conversation with a compelling vision of something better.

 

4. Get a recruiting technology!  There is nothing worse than a tech company recruiting on email!  Your process should be agile and engaging and relevant to this century.  What’s often referred to as ‘inbox recruiting’ is clumsy, cumbersome, and super inefficient for both the candidate and whomever has to sift through all of the resumes.

 

There are many cost effective candidate management solutions on the market that pay for themselves 10X over in time and capability. 

 

5. Rev up your ecosystem – start planting seeds with your referral ecosystem – and not just employees - consider all your ‘Friends of the Firm’ - vendors, customers, advisors, followers, University alumni, friends, local schools – whoever the best talent might be friends or acquainted with.  Don’t just limit your referral bonuses to employees.  There’s a good chance your next hire is a friend of someone you know and cares about your success.  Start nurturing and creating value in those relationships; so when the time comes you can tap in.

 

Failure to plan your recruitment strategy may cost you customers, funding, revenue or worse, a rushed decision on a wrong fit hire.  

 

Recruitment isn’t just posting a job and waiting for candidates to apply. That’s not how you land your best customers and it’s certainly not how you get the best people to share in your vision and want to work hard for you. You’ll need all cylinders activated to get your message to the right people – it takes time, a good process and strategic planning, but it’s not impossible.  

 

Don’t get caught without a customized recruitment strategy. Like Abe and his axe (you knew I was going to come back to that!), invest in the front end of your hiring needs. At TalentMinded, we are expert axe sharpeners.  We help companies scale by providing smart, effective and efficient recruitment processes and strategies that drive profitable results.  If you need a better talent acquisition strategy to help your company grow or just need some good advice on technology solutions or best practices - reach out - we’re passionate about helping great companies scale!

Why don't companies reward the people that care about them?

Why do organizations not reward external people (like alumni, clients, followers) for referring company career opportunities to their friends/family, social networks and other channels?  There are some companies that do but at TalentMinded, more often than not we uncover organizations that are just in the stages of perfecting their internal employee referral programs; they’re not even thinking out of the box! 

Years ago I worked at a company that paid out rewards to what they called, ‘brand champions’.  If you referred a new business opportunity and/or a candidate that was hired they would present you with a gift card of your choice.  There were terms and conditions of course, but overall the success of the program was less about the monetary value of the reward (in this case it was usually $250.00) and more about the passion for the brand and recognizing fans for helping them succeed.    

It was through programs and values like this that they built an engaged community of external brand champions that believed in the mission, cared about their success and always took the time to help.  It was about building strong partnerships and relationships and it worked!  The program was so successful in fact, it was like having another recruiter on their payroll! 

These types of channel referral programs are not new to how businesses drive sales and revenue, so why are they virtually obsolete from how we attract and acquire new people to our companies?

Leveraging a company’s external reach to talent through broad social media networks and other spheres of influence is core to recruitment success in today’s digital world, especially for new start-ups.  Much like a strong marketing program, to survive (or at least compete) companies must optimize all channels in the talent ‘ecosystem’ to drive awareness and ultimately create better quality, predictable talent pools. 

We know the best candidates (and customers) come from referrals – inside and out – so we’re curious – what’s stopping companies from developing this type of external program to help access and reach the right people for their business?   

We’d love to hear your successes, challenges and thoughts on external referral programs!

Comments welcome or reach out direct at kim@talentminded.ca

Author: Kim Benedict, Managing Director/Co-founder, TalentMinded Inc. www.talentminded.ca