How to Correctly Diagnose 5 Common Talent Problems

How to solve your talent problems

We all want solutions, whether it’s at the doctor’s office, the IT desk or in our hiring systems. But in our zeal to find an answer, we sometimes misdiagnose the problem.

Say you have a nagging cold. One doctor may tell you to drink more fluids and rest. But maybe they dive deeper and ask a few more questions, leading them to decide to take a blood test to see if you have diabetes. Both conditions are manageable — but if you treat diabetes like a cold, it will only get worse.

The same is true in the talent space. In our desire to show our bosses that we’ve “got it covered,” we can focus on patching up microproblems instead of asking deeper questions that get to the root cause. What looks like a talent problem could be something deeper, exacerbated by treating the wrong condition.

Let’s take a look at some common misdiagnoses in the talent world — and how to treat the real problems.

We have a funnel problem

Thanks to the economy and increasing online transparency, people today are choosier about the roles they apply for. They’re spending time investigating the company and learning about its values, culture and people before hitting “Apply.”

This can mean we have fewer applications for our open reqs. But that isn’t necessarily a problem. In theory, you only need two great candidates per requisition so the hiring manager isn’t forced into their decision. If you aren’t getting two quality applicants per requisition, you don’t have a funnel problem; rather than more candidates, the problem is that you need better candidates.

This often stems from a failure to provide a clear answer to the question of why a candidate should apply with you. What makes your company a good fit? Why would your job make their life better? Answering and communicating those ideas is what employer brand is all about — which is where your real problem may lie.

We have a tool set problem

Today, there is a broad range of complex sourcing, outreach, tracking and distribution tools available for recruitment marketing teams. None of these tools are cheap, so companies must make strategic purchasing decisions.

However, many recruiters have become comfortable with 2% email response rates, 90% bounce rates and simply being ignored, so they seek tools designed to demand attention from as many job seekers as possible.

But what’s the value of communicating to more people if you don’t know what to say? Why track candidates if they don’t know why they want the job? It’s not a tool issue; it’s how you’re using it. Defining and packaging a compelling message is the heart of employer branding, increasing the power of any tool you already have.

We have a ‘closing’ problem

Your “close rate” is the number of candidates who accept your offers — and while the industry average can be as high as 91%, many businesses struggle to reach an acceptance rate anywhere near that number. That means both your company and the candidates themselves are making huge investments of time and resources with few results.

The solution? Well, you might take a leaf out of the sales playbook and teach recruiters and hiring managers how to close, bringing in a consultant to teach techniques such as “future pacing” and “scarcity reinforcement.”

Perhaps, however, the problem is that in your haste to close, you forgot to deliver the “why.” Once candidates see how your job is a step on their own path to professional and personal satisfaction, you won’t be closing them — they’ll be trying to close you.

We have a reviews problem

There is no middle ground with employer-reviews sites: You either love that there’s a place where you can communicate with candidates who want the inside scoop, or you’re uncomfortable that people are exposing your imperfections.

But there is more to your workplace reviews than meets the eye. Your score actually reflects how well your company meets candidate expectations. For example, the banking industry is famously intense, but banking giant HSBC has an Indeed rating of 4.0 because it sets and meets expectations. If candidates know what to expect walking in, they can make an informed choice about your company.

So if you see a 3.1 rating, don’t assume you’re a quantum shift worse than a company with a 4.1. You might just need to educate candidates about what to expect and why you do the things you do. Telling those stories ensures a clear understanding of the job and provides the content to attract like-minded people to your organization.

We have a retention problem

It’s human nature to “get used to things.” For example, think about London during the Blitz of World War II and the famous spirit (now emblazoned on everything from posters to mugs) of “keep calm and carry on.”

This cuts both ways. Tech companies tend to pay a lot and offer great perks and free food. But that doesn’t mean that the people who work there don’t get used to it and start to wonder if there’s more out there.

That’s when even the best companies face retention issues. The issue isn’t salary or perks; it’s that the reason they originally put their hearts and souls into their work can get forgotten, camouflaged by the day-to-day “stuff” that gets in the way.

Most companies see retention issues as salary issues, but that’s short-term thinking. A quick raise or bonus can be forgotten unless there’s a change in attitude. What makes people give their all isn’t 3% more money — it’s 100% more purpose.

The solution is improving your employer brand

If your company has any of the problems listed here, what you really have is an employer brand problem. Luckily, there’s a clear solution. By defining the “why” behind the work, you can show candidates what your company stands for, why it’s a good fit and how your job can improve their lives. Give candidates a clear purpose, and you’ll get employees who work harder, collaborate better and stay longer.

James Ellis is host of the popular podcast the Talent Cast and Employer Brand Consultant. You can also find him on Twitter: @TheWarForTalent

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.

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