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 davidjardin@mac.com.
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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, CareerBuilder.com 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

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These Days, Recruiters Are Worth the Money

When it comes to sourcing the right interview candidates, I’ve never been keen to use recruiters. But I recently changed my mind.

My company, Metal Mafia, has an excellent candidate screening process, a super training program, and a very successful team of employees to show for it.

But hiring has always been a difficult task for me because each time I get ready to hire, it takes me forever to find the right type of candidates to even get the screening process started.

Despite the fact that I carefully consider where to advertise for candidates–I try to maximize the search dollars and get a good mix of potential applicants–it always takes me a long time to find people suited well to the company, and therefore, even worth interviewing.

I’ve tried everything from placing ads on large job boards like Monster.com, to smaller specialized job boards that cater to sales hires or fashion jobs, to local university boards where I can post for free (or close to it). Each time, I experience the same slow crawl toward finally finding the right person. It has taken me up to five months to find the right kind of hire in the past. So in November when I decided I needed to think about hiring for the new year, I was not optimistic.

For me, recruiters have traditionally been out of the question because I figured they would be a waste of time and never be as good at sending me the right people for the job as I would be in reviewing resumes myself. They’re also too expensive for my small budget. But as I got ready to place my job ads again, one of my senior staff members came to me and offered me the name of a fashion recruiter she knew and thought could help. I was skeptical, but I called her anyway, figuring listening would cost me nothing.

The recruiter convinced me she would do a thorough job, but I still hesitated because of the price. I do not have large sums of money to devote to the hiring process, and by my calculations, when all was said and done, using the recruiter was going to cost me three times as much as my usual techniques. On the other hand, the recruiter would only charge me if she found someone I decided to hire, which meant I was risking nothing, and could always come back to my original methods. I bit the bullet and signed up, reminding myself “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

The recruiter sent me the resumes of 10 entry-level candidates. I screened six by phone, met three in person, and found the right hire–all in a month. The cost suddenly became much less, because I saved so much time in the process, and because I got a pool of applicants who were decidedly better to choose from than in the past. Even more interesting, perhaps, was an insight the right candidate shared with me during the interview process. When I asked why she had chosen to work with a recruiter rather than post on job boards, she said “because recruiters make sure your resume gets seen, while submitting via the Internet is like sending your resume into oblivion.”

If most people these days are thinking like my new hire, the recruiters will clearly have the best selection of candidates every time. Looks like I’ve got an essential new hiring strategy.

Article Written by Vanessa Merit Nornberg

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