By Sara Pollock

The success of any organization starts with attracting the right talent. A new hire can give your team a major boost, slow down your progress towards an important goal or stop you in your tracks – so how can you attract better talent to your organization?

In this article, we’re offering our top seven tips for talent acquisition. Following leading talent acquisition trends this year, these tips will show you how the top companies are attracting the best talent from around the country and what you can do to follow suit.

1. Start Thinking about Employer Branding

If you’re having trouble attracting quality candidates, you might want to evaluate how your workplace is branded and how prospective candidates perceive the work environment at your organization. Why do your employees love showing up for work every day? How are you communicating your company culture and values to potential hires through your social media accounts and marketing materials?

As an employer, you can leverage your existing platform to show prospective hires what it’s like to work for your organization. Consider featuring real employees on your careers page or social media pages along with a testimony about what it’s like to work for your company. You could also include positive images of your team and work environment in existing marketing materials.

2. Clearly Define Your Ideal Job Candidate

While you’re developing a stronger brand for your organization as an ideal destination for top talent, it’s equally important to develop a complete understanding of your target candidate. Just like organizations use customer profiles and demographic data to reach target customers with product advertisements, your firm should develop an ideal candidate profile and use it to inform recruitment tactics for those specific roles.

What competencies should this person have to be successful in their role? What qualities should they show to fit in well with your culture? Start by looking at your current top performing employees to see what makes them successful in their role.

Then, think about where your ideal candidate receives their information. What interests and hobbies might they have? Where might they spend their time? What publications do they read? How would they look for a new job or try to build connections? What professional associations might they belong to? Who would they know that could refer them to your organization?

Once you understand who you’re looking for and where they’re looking, it becomes much easier to write targeted job descriptions that appeal to your ideal job candidate and encourage them to apply.

3. Leverage Referrals from Within Your Company

If you’re spending all of your talent acquisition efforts looking for new hires externally, there’s a good chance you could be overlooking one of the best potential sources of new candidates: employee referrals. Data compiled by LinkedIn indicates just a few of the many advantages of looking to your existing staff to refer your next hire: it takes just 29 days to complete a referral hire, compared to 39 days to hire a candidate from a job posting or 55 days to hire a candidate through a career site. In another study, 48% of companies reported that their best-quality hires came from employee referrals.

As your organization grows, you’ll have a growing staff of employees that you can ask for referrals. A weekly internal email highlighting some available roles and offering employees an incentive if they refer someone who gets hired is a great way to track down qualified candidates for an open position.

4. Build a Pipeline of Candidates

The best time to start working on talent acquisition isn’t when a team member unexpectedly resigns and leaves you in crisis. Successful hiring teams understand that talent acquisition is an ongoing investment in the future of the company, and that building a network of professionals that includes potential applicants for future roles can pay dividends.

As a hiring manager, you can reach out to prospective job candidates on LinkedIn and through other social channels, make the connection and ask if they would be interested in meeting with you if a role at your company becomes available in the future.

As an organization, you could host a monthly networking/recruitment cocktail hour where potential job applicants are invited to meet employees of your organization in a more casual setting. You may also choose to establish a weekly or monthly mailing list where industry professionals can get tips from you and a link to available job openings.

However you choose to accomplish it, your goal should be to build a network of talent that your organization can draw from when needed – rather than always scrambling to find new hires. Software talent management tools can be used to track job candidates and manage your professional network and pool of potential hires.

5. Simplify Your Application Process

If your organization simply isn’t receiving enough responses to your job postings, it could be that your application process is driving away potential applicants.

Potential job candidates abandon application processes that are too long or tedious like those that require you to upload a resume and then input your detailed job history on the next page. We’re a convenience culture, and if you’re a company that’s looking to recruit the best talent you can, it doesn’t make sense to start off the relationship by wasting that person’s time.

Instead of having new applicants fill out a slew of online forms, make it easy for them to submit a resume and get back to them quickly for a phone screening to see if it might be a good fit.

You should also ensure that your application process is mobile-friendly as recent statistics show that 77% of Americans own cell phones and 44% of job seekers on Indeed are using a mobile device. When posting a job description, always be upfront in giving candidates the information they need to determine whether your organization is the best fit for them.

6. Offer Flexible or Remote Working

Researchers are discovering that moving away from the traditional work paradigm and offering flexible options to workers can increase worker productivity. Even the 9 to 5 work week, which author Douglas Copeland called “barbaric,” is increasingly seen as an obsolete feature in the modern workplace in many industries.

In 2017, “remote/work from home” was the fourth highest-ranked job search term for overall growth. More people are looking for work that offers flexible hours, personalized scheduling and the option to work from home. Skilled workers value the freedom and flexibility to deliver results on their own time and in a way that allows them to meet their work goals while maintaining the lifestyle they want.

For an employer, and if your industry allows it, there are huge benefits associated with hiring remote workers. If your organization can hire remotely, you’ll significantly expand your available talent pool since you won’t have to hire someone who lives close to your office. You may also save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year as you may not have to rent office space or supplies for remote staff.

7. Offer Career Development Opportunities to New Hires

An October 2017 survey released by the American Psychology Association discovered that workers without supervisor support in career development are more likely to distrust their employer and plan on leaving within the next year. A 2018 study revealed why changing companies frequently is becoming so common – 64% of Americans think it’s the way to get ahead, including drawing a bigger salary.

Offering a strong career development program within your organization positions you as a higher value employer in the interview process. Not only can you offer the candidate a job, but you can also offer them their next job and maybe another one after that. Initiatives such as continuous on-the-job training, an established mentorship program and a track record of successful internal hiring can win over a candidate by demonstrating that your firm takes care of its employees for now and for the future.

Attracting top talent is a priority for most HR professionals and hiring teams in the current talent market. Follow these tips to grow your network of prospects, identify highly qualified candidates and hire your firm’s next star employee.