3 Ways to Win the Best Employees

What every employer can do to recruit and retain the best talent in a tightening job market

Written by Shannon Bowen-Smed

As a business owner, your ability to achieve your 2013 goals and profit targets will largely depend on your employees. Attracting, retaining and developing your organization’s talent can give you an edge over your competition and drive positive business results.

Hiring is anticipated to increase in the first quarter and the jobless rate is declining. The current national unemployment rate is 7.1%, which is the lowest since 6.8% back in December 2008.

Given this backdrop, how do you win the war for talent?

In my December column, I wrote about the top three things employees want in 2013: flexibility, meaningful work and development opportunities. Listening to their wants will give you keen insight into what you need to do to attract new hires. Here are my top three suggestions for directing your recruitment efforts this year:

#1 Leverage social media to reach passive job-seekers: With the current talent shortage spreading across many industries, the passive candidate—defined as someone not actively looking for work but open to new opportunities—is a prime target. To get your company and its job listings on their radar, go digital to spread your message. Direct your HR staff or recruiters to build connections with potential candidates on LinkedIn. Engage in industry issues and demonstrate your thought leadership on Twitter.

Paint a picture of your corporate culture and position your company as a great place to work by sharing highlights through Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. This can be as simple as talking about community investment activities or building excitement about an upcoming launch of a product or service through a short video. Talk about the importance of living your company values through a blog post. Remember that Gen-Yers, in particular, are looking to work for companies that care about giving back to their community.

#2 Hang out with-job seekers—digitally and in the real world: At its core, the recruitment game is about networking. Your social media channels give you a chance to engage with job-seekers from all over the world. If you are active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, you can have conversations with potential employees every day. Invest time in managing your online community, because it is worth it.

As well, make sure that your company is represented at key industry functions and career fairs at universities and colleges. Create recruitment campaigns that are executed online and in the real world. And recognize that your website offers a premium place to attract people. Keep your content fresh and your job postings easy to find. Consider a video that showcases your workplace experience and what you have to offer. Invite current employees to give testimonials.

#3 Develop and hang on to the talent you already have: Keeping your current employees happy, challenged and committed makes the most business sense. At its core, the war on talent is still about engaging the hearts and minds of those people you’ve already hired. Foster a corporate culture that builds loyalty and encourages management and leadership development from within. And walk the talk with your mission and values.

Invest time in “stay interviews,” in which you ask employees about their goals and address any concerns. Pay attention and act upon what they tell you so you can retain your employees. And if employees do leave, take the time to do a proper exit interview in order to identify any key trends or issues that are causing talent turnover.

Create a diverse recruitment strategy by spreading your net across both passive and active job-seekers, as well as investing time in your current employees. You can navigate this year’s predicted talent shortage with success and ease so you can stay focused on growing your business.

Shannon Bowen-Smed is president and CEO of BOWEN Workforce Solutions, which creates customized solutions for businesses, such as flexible workforce management and transactional human resource services. Read her company blog at Bowenworks.ca.

More columns by Shannon Bowen-Smed

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com