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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.

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