Are You Really Winning the War For Talent Retention?

Losing hurts – especially when it’s the other person who decides to move on.

“Regretted turnover” is a metric that some companies now use to track how many employees choose on their own to leave. Turnover is costly in general, but losing top talent can also cause significant, even irreparable damage to your business.

The term “top talent” describes people whose performance and behaviors are consistently exceptional and aligned with the company’s values. They are agile and adaptable, and they are continuous learners and adept problem solvers. They’re scarce, impossible to reproduce, and capable of creating significantly more value than other employees.

They are people who customers pay a premium to do business with and who other employees imitate and aspire to work with.

While most employees are capable of exceptional performance some of the time, top talent performs exceptionally most of the time. They are aggressively pursued by recruiters representing other companies. Their capabilities are generally transferable across traditional boundaries, such as industries or geographies, so they can leave at any time to join just about any company they wish.

Addressing the following threats and applying the strategies below can help you improve your position in the talent retention war.

Retention Threats

Even the best companies will lose top talent – in fact they’re at greater risk because other companies target their people. Lessening the following threats will help you retain top talent.

1. Bad ka”HR”ma – Poorly executed people practices may come back to bite companies that haven’t been doing right by their people. This isn’t a swipe at HR practitioners – it’s up to business leaders to make processes like talent acquisition, performance management and leadership development work as intended.

Companies kicked lots of talent to the curb when they downsized. While some companies handled layoffs well, others tripped and failed to treat human beings with respect and dignity. Some companies even carried their lousy treatment of people over into the hiring process, mistreating wishful candidates who were desperate for work, in the process.

2. Guerilla warfare – As the demand and competition for top talent increase, the tactics used by your competitors and their agents to acquire top talent will get more creative and nastier. Top talent will continue to get heavily solicited by recruiters. Plus, people are more networked than ever and many jobs are actually filled through networking.

What was once six degrees of separation has been greatly reduced thanks to networking sites like LinkedIn. Such sites provide employees with direct access to new opportunities and they let recruiters identify and directly contact so-called passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for another job.

Retention Strategies

Consider applying the following strategies to improve your position in the war:

1. Identify and notify – Identify people you cannot afford to lose and tell them that they’re highly valued. And tell them specifically why they are so well regarded. Make sure they receive continuous assessment, feedback and coaching. Check that their current job is still developing them. Recognize and reward them both publicly and personally.

Accelerate their development by exposing them to a diverse mix of assignment and experiences that: give them a big picture view, let them contribute innovative ideas, and allow interaction with company executives. Finally, see to it that their compensation and long-term incentives reflect their value to the business.

Note: Don’t use a label like top talent unless the criteria have been well-defined, you are very confident in your leaders’ assessment and communication abilities, and the senior leadership team has thoroughly reviewed, vetted, and calibrated them.

2.  Produce alumni advocates – Help employees manage their own development and careers and you’ll get more productive and engaged employees in return. Employees are going to leave eventually for one reason or another, and there’s an added benefit to treating people right (as if those mentioned aren’t enough).

If they feel they were treated well, then alumni will be more likely to recommend your company as a great place to work and grow. Remember that we are living in a hyper-networked world, and word of mouth spreads far and fast.

The bottom line

It’s only going to get harder and more expensive for you to hire and keep top talent. They have more choices (and temptations) to leave than ever before.

It is no longer good enough to simply say that “people are our most important asset.” They want tangible proof. Therefore, your talent management strategy has to be well-crafted, communicated, and acted on.

If it isn’t, then you’ll have a hard time making the case for top talent to stay.

So, how are you faring in the talent retention war? What will you do to strengthen your position?

This originally appeared on The Conference Board Human Capital Exchange on July 11, 2013.

David Jardin is a consultant with the iTM System Group where he works with leaders and teams to make talent management simple, practical, and profitable. He began his career as a CPA and has spent more than 20 years in leadership roles in talent management and organization development with global companies including Citigroup, Coopers & Lybrand, Pfizer, and Tyco Electronics. Contact him at

How Social Media Can Help (Or Hurt) You In Your Job Search

Social media is a key player in the job search process today.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ allow employers to get a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of a résumé, cover letter, or interview—while they offer job seekers the opportunity to learn about companies they’re interested in; connect with current and former employees; and hear about job openings instantaneously, among other things.

That’s probably why half of all job seekers are active on social networking sites on a daily basis, and more than a third of all employers utilize these sites in their hiring process.

Career transition and talent development consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison asked hundreds of job seekers via an online poll, “How active are you on social networking sites?” Forty-eight percent said they’re very active on a daily basis, while 19% said they log on about two or three times per week. Another 22% said they use social networking sites one to three times per month, or less. Only 11% of job seekers said they never use social networking websites.

“I was really excited to see how many job seekers are active on social media,” says Helene Cavalli, vice president of marketing at Lee Hecht Harrison. “As strong advocates, we spend a lot of time coaching job seekers on how to develop a solid social media strategy. While it isn’t the only strategy for finding a job, it’s becoming increasingly important.”

Greg Simpson, a senior vice president at Lee Hecht Harrison, said in a press statement that job seekers must understand how hiring managers and recruiters are using social media in all phases of the selection process.

To help job seekers better understand the role of social media in their job search, conducted a survey last year that asked 2,303 hiring managers and human resource professionals if, how, and why they incorporate social media into their hiring process.

First they found that 37% of employers use social networks to screen potential job candidates. That means about two in five companies browse your social media profiles to evaluate your character and personality–and some even base their hiring decision on what they find.

“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

CareerBuilder also asked employers why they use social networks to research candidates, and 65% said they do it to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally. About half (51%) want to know if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture, and another 45% want to learn more about his or her qualifications. Some cited “to see if the candidate is well-rounded” and “to look for reasons not to hire the candidate,” as their motives.

So, if you’re among the 89% of job seekers that use social networking sites (daily, sometimes, or rarely), you’ll want to be careful.

A third (34%) of employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate. About half of those employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position because of provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile; while 45% said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles. Other reasons they decided not to offer the job: the candidate’s profile displayed poor communication skills, he or she bad mouthed previous employers, made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion, or lied about qualifications.

(Haefner says no matter what information is found on a candidate, and regardless of where it’s found, the process has to abide by fair and equal hiring practices.)

“If you choose to share content publicly on social media, make sure it’s working to your advantage,” Haefner says. “Take down or secure anything that could potentially be viewed by an employer as unprofessional and share content that highlights your accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way.”

Brad Schepp, co-author of How To Find A Job On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+adds: Make sure any profiles you write are free of typos, the information is coherent and applicable to your industry [or job you’re trying to land], and your photos present you in a favorable light. You can verify the applicability of the information by checking profiles of others in the same field.”

The information you provide online about your job background and accomplishments should also be consistent, he says. “Don’t assume an employer will only be checking you out on LinkedIn. They may also check Facebook, or even Twitter and Google+.  The story you tell on each site should be pretty much the same, although it’s fine to adapt the material for the site.”

The good news is that hiring managers aren’t just screening your social media profiles to dig up dirt; they’re also looking for information that could possibly give you an advantage. The CareerBuilder survey revealed that 29% of surveyed hiring managers found something positive on a profile that drove them to offer the candidate a job.

In some cases it was that the employer got a good feel for the candidate’s personality. Others chose to hire because the profile conveyed a professional image. In some instances it was because background information supported professional qualifications, other people posted great references about the candidate, or because the profile showed that the job seeker is creative, well-rounded, or has great communication skills.

This means the job seekers shouldn’t just focus on hiding or removing inappropriate content; they should work on building strong social networks and creating online profiles that do a really good job of representing their skills and experience in the workplace, Simpson said in a press statement. “Job seekers who are silent or invisible online may be at a disadvantage. They need to engage on social networking sites to increase their visibility and searchability with prospective employers,” he said.

Cavalli agrees. “It’s not enough to only post a profile and check your news feed. There are a lot of lurkers–people who have an online profile but don’t do anything or engage in any meaningful way. You need to give to the social networking communities, participate in group discussions, share expertise, point someone to an article. You have to work it. While it can feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there, if you’re looking for a job, it’s not the time to be timid.”

Written by Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Original Article Here



In A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits who share events from the past, present and near future. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had such insights before accepting your next job offer? Well, in a sense you do, because you have a resume. You can reflect on your professional past and look around at where you are now. Alas, the future is beyond your grasp.

With a bit of due diligence, you can safeguard against “new hire remorse,” which is regret over accepting your latest job offer. Simply spend some quality time researching the buzz about a company online.

Now, if you’ve read articles like this before, no doubt they pointed you to resources like Glassdoor, where employees gather to rate their company. If so, cool, as I would recommend the same. However, I wouldn’t make that my only strategy. Here are a few research hacks I’d implement.

Hack #1: Google Suggest

When you type in the search box on Google, Google Suggest takes over by displaying searches that might be similar to the one you’re entering. Said suggestions are based on the search patterns of Google users and relevant searches you’ve made in the past. Depending on your query, Google Suggest can be very helpful in gathering insight about a company. For example, let’s say that I am considering an opportunity over at… wherever. Sure, money is important, but that’s not the only thing that drives me. Do their values align with mine? Check out what Google Suggest tells me.

Search of "ABC Company Supports"

Is this bona fide proof of where a company stands? Absolutely not. However, it’s a gateway to some very interesting searches.

Hack #2: A Year in Review

Did you know that you can limit your Google search to results generated in the past year? Well, any custom range really. To refine your search results to the past year, add your terms, click “Search tools” (as shown by arrow A below), then choose “Past year” (as shown by arrow B).

Company Searches

Here are a few searches I would run…

How does the CEO think? What is their vision for the company?

  • “Netflix CEO says” | “according to Netflix CEO”

Is the company still growing?

  • IBM “expanding in” 

Is the company producing new products? New products might mean additional staff.

  • Microsoft launches” (“new service” | “new product”)
  • “Google is starting”

How is the company really doing? (Assuming it’s a public company.)

  • Oracle’s stock price has”
  • Apple’s “quarterly results”
  • “stronger than expected” | “lower than expected” earnings share omnicom

Is the company a startup? If so, will money be an issue later?

  • intitle:startup intitle:raised | raising (“new capital” | funding)
  • | venture.funding intitle:announces

Hack #3: Twitter Buzz

Did you know that if you search a domain, you can see who has linked to that website inside of a Tweet? In the screenshot below, I’ve searched the domain of a blog, the Recruiters Lounge. In the results are various tweets linking to that blog.

Twitter URL search

Now ask yourself, who is tweeting about the company you have an interest in? What do they have to say about it? What is the good, the bad and the ugly truth?

OK, enough for now. On my way to do other things.

Let me know your thoughts on these strategies in the comments below. I would be much obliged.

About Jim Stroud

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in lead generation strategies, social media recruiting, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens and a host of startup companies. Currently, Jim Stroud serves Findly as a Director of Sourcing and Social Strategy. Prior to Findly, Jim Stroud has created and sold three online properties, managed an award-winning blog, published a weekly newsletter for jobseekers, a recruiter training magazine and co-hosted a popular technology podcast. Jim Stroud has also produced multiple web series devoted to such topics as: job search, recruiting, technology and language learning. Jim Stroud has been quoted by such publications as Globe and Mail, US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution., Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise and The HR Examiner have all cited Jim Stroud for his digital influence. Jim Stroud also served as the EmCee of SourceCon, the premier global conference on sourcing for three consecutive years. In 2013, Jim Stroud published “Resume Forensics: How To Find Free Resumes and Passive Candidates on Google.” (Available on When not online, Jim Stroud suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can only be soothed by chocolate chip cookies and family time.

Article taken from Dice


The 5 Traits Of A Company’s ‘Top Talent’

If you want to get hired and stay hired you need to know how hiring managers think. Since Google is setting the standard for attracting, hiring (and paying) top talent, examining and understanding their hiring standards and practices could help you even if you have no interest in working there.

Let’s start with GPA’s and test scores since most of us have always worried about how we “stack up”. Laszlo Bock, The SVP of People Operations at Google said in a recent interview with New York Times’ Adam Bryant that GPA’s and test scores don’t predict anything about who is going to be a successful employee. Bock said that a better predictor of success is seeing how a person can analyze and solve difficult problems. The number of awards you’ve won or the leadership roles you’ve assumed are only relevant to hiring managers if they showcase certain sought after attributes; Management is looking for your ability to solve difficult problems, work well under pressure, inspire others to take action and think on the fly.

“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock. “If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The savvy candidate will recognize that all businesses are challenged by rapid changes both industry specific and in the general economy. The ideal employee can help their firm in adapting to market disruption. About 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, “the only constant in life is change.”

“Top talent” tends to embrace change and enjoys the challenge of working in a dynamic environment where everything isn’t predictable. They tend to be more innovative and flexible in their approach to solving problems and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Management across industries has a difficult task discerning whether a candidate has these traits. Why not make management’s job easy by finding examples of how you possess these traits. If these qualities are expected from the leaders of the company, it’s logical they would also be favorable for the firm’s employees. Once you know what hiring managers’ are looking for in perspective new hires, you can tailor your responses in an interview accordingly. Your answers should focus on sharing experiences and accomplishments that best demonstrate how you possess those particular attributes. I’ve summarized Bock’s insights and added some of my own to give more breadth and depth to answer what it takes to become “top talent.”


“Top talent” can adjust to new rules, new demands, new people and new environments. They cope well with the unexpected and have a positive attitude. They’re willing to try and learn new ways to achieve targets and they keep an open mind.
Employers are looking for top talent who are:

Rapid Learners
Quickly change priorities to respond to changing goals
Try to improve process by rapidly acquiring and integrating new information
Foster an environment of process improvement rather than blame
Remain calm and composed under stress
Can manage completing assignments with competing deadlines


“Top talent” recognizes when he is the best person for the task and when it’s critical to join others and work as a part of a team.

Follow through on commitments
Strong communication skills
Don’t take negative feedback personally
Don’t take credit for good results
Get along well with others
Not fearful of incorporating team members with superior expertise for a superior outcome
Adept problem solver
“Top talent” doesn’t hesitate to fix a problem.

First to offer to help
Come through fast and over deliver
Offer creative, innovative solutions
Inspire others to take action
Provide a new approach to solving problems


“Top talent” knows her talents and doesn’t need to broadcast them to fellow employees or to their superior. This personality exudes confidence but not in a way that intimidates others. Their calm tone and mild manner draws people to them and makes it easy for others to come to them for help and to open up to them about challenges they face.

Embrace others’ better ideas
Learn from failure
Step back to see if someone has a better point


When faced with a problem as a team member, “top talent” intuitively knows the appropriate time to step in or step back; s/he focuses on the project’s success, not on a rigid leadership structure.

Great leaders tend to be inclusive, humble, self-directed and mission focused and inspire others to action. An employee who exhibits leadership ability is generally well respected by co-workers. They have demonstrated competence and are often known to seek feedback (both positive and negative). Top talent shows genuine concern for the well being of the group.

“Top talent” NEVER Says:

“It’s not my job”!

Companies are ALWAYS ready to hire and retain top talent. Though the hard skills may vary from one firm to the next, the soft skills, which define traits for top talent, are universal.

The primary goal for all new hires should be to learn everything necessary to excel at your new job and to exceed your supervisors’ expectations. In order to do this well, you need to understand what’s expected of you AND your boss. Becoming top talent requires more than using your expertise to do an adequate job at work. It necessitates using your talents, creativity and expertise to advance the success of your team and of your company.

This post originally appeared at Personal Branding Blog. Copyright 2014.

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