medium_244870160If recruiters truly didn’t believe that there was a power struggle between talent, employers and competition, terms like “the war for talent” wouldn’t exist. Recruiters and hiring managers have been struggling to attract and retain top talent, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) areas for years. For those employers who are non-believers in the talent shortage, consider that one Silicon Valley sequence and storage analysis firm, DNAnexus, offered a $20,00 referral bonus for successful referrals. This particular bonus was for the somewhat common position of software engineer. Granted, Silicon Valley is a small bubble when it comes to that specific position but it’s still indicative of just how in demand talent can be. Especially employees or workers that are highly skilled in a specific area.

Countless conferences, articles and blogs have warned recruiters and employers about the impending talent/skills shortage, and it appears that it is here. It’s a simple numbers game. How many people are going to school for this job vs how many of those jobs need to be filled? Answer that question with a negative number and you realize the issue. This shortage of skilled workers has put us smack dab in the middle of a power struggle that employers feel they are losing.

Employer branding has never been more important.

The employer brand is a company’s best means of standing out from the crowd while attracting talent in a positive way. Any company can stick out like a sore thumb for a myriad of negative reasons; working on a positive employer brand is one way to combat issues that, thanks to social media, can get real ugly real fast. A recent Forbes articles quotes an HR manger as saying, “Our employees are no longer looking for a career, they’re looking for an experience.” And it’s true, employees don’t just want a job to clock in and out of, they need a place to build their lives and skills.

Building a positive employer brand begins with a great candidate experience and ends…never. Employer branding initiatives start on the personal level and are carried out via social media, community efforts, the company site and many other mediums. But limiting them to your candidates is a mistake you can’t afford to make. Focus on building the employer brand from the inside out by giving employees a voice as well.

Broaden your reach.

As HR and recruiting technologies go boom, our world is getting smaller. Location is no longer a boundary when you can communicate and travel as freely as we can now. Stop thinking locally and start thinking globally. The world is your talent pool, not just your backyard. In the earlier example, the Silicon Valley companies are at a severe disadvantage because many of them are not looking beyond a very limited few cities. In some cases, that’s necessary. Look at your own organization to determine whether or not you can implement a telework (and telerecruiting!) program.

Recruiters and hiring managers have switched over to recruitment marketing to find out who they need to reach, where they are and how to reach them successfully. Tools like social media, video interviewing and a strong applicant tracking system are how recruiters will effectively hire outside of their “box” — but these efforts are useless unless companies pay attention to their employees in-house and determine what makes them successful first.

Diversity efforts are also a strong tool in broadening reach. Creating a culture that welcomes people from all walks of life, can make for a far more robust and relevant talent pool, not to mention proven to increase innovation, something any company with a desire for competitive advantage will be seeking. Diversity efforts can be incorporated in training, values and the mission of the company.

Retention efforts are just as important as attraction.

This particular metric in HR is becoming an even more solid part of successful recruiting (although recruiters debate whether it should be used to measure talent attraction efforts at all). Once companies have attracted talent with their stellar employer brand and recruitment marketing, they now must retain them. The struggle doesn’t end when they accept the job offer. They can just as easily accept another one elsewhere. Companies are stepping up their retention efforts.

As demand for these skills rises and the supply starts to taper, companies are in a position in which it is essential to keep their talent happy and fulfilled. This can look very different from worker to worker. Training managers on the right way to lead, encourage and manage performance all tie directly into how successful a company can be in keeping employees happy, successful and productive.

photo credit: toffehoff via photopin cc