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How to Retain High Performers in a Hyper-Competitive Market

Matthew Stollak, HR professional and CareerBuilder contributor

In an increasingly competitive market, recruiting has never been more important. Not only is it critical to find the necessary talent to meet your organizational strategy, but retaining high performers may mean the difference between success and failure.

It’s a Job Seeker’s Market

Finding and retaining quality workers in our current labor market is the biggest challenge organizations face right now. A CareerBuilder/Emsi study has shown that demand is far exceeding supply in a broad range of fields. With so many job vacancies open, employees — particularly millennials — are not hesitating to switch jobs. Eighty-three percent of new millennial parents, for example, are willing to change jobs for better benefits. The Affordable Care Act has also decoupled health care from employers, freeing many employees from the need to look to companies for security. Finally, speed to hire is becoming even more important. Top candidates will not be on the market for long — often 10 days at most. If a job remains open for an extended period, top candidates may also see it as a poor reflection of your decision-making.

Where Recruiters Are Going Wrong

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake many recruiters are making in this environment is creating a distinction between recruiting and interviewing. Too often, recruiters are so busy determining whether the candidate is the right fit for the organization — and whether they have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities — that they forget it is a two-way street. Just as important is selling the position to the candidate and convincing him or her why your organization is THE place to be. Technological improvements have made it easier to find and locate talent, but closing the deal cannot be ignored. Similarly, job descriptions need to be rewritten to accurately reflect the exciting aspects of the position.

Organizations need to determine what to prioritize in their recruitment strategies. With multiple stakeholders having competing demands, satisfying all groups can be a challenge. Key jobs and job-holders who will be difficult to replace should be at the top of the list. Realistically, positions that are easy to fill will likely be addressed first.

So, what can you do to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to addressing these concerns?

  1. Invest heavily in your employee referral program. With top firms finding nearly half of their hires from referrals, it is critical to not only educate employees on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the open position, but also to provide feedback on mediocre suggestions so that the employee has a clear understanding of the type of candidate needed.
  2. Make data-driven hires second nature. It is not just about collecting information, but applying the information in a way that drives change. Use the data you manage to identify which interview questions provide superior results or which hiring manager determines the best candidate.
  3. Use data to predict the future. Data can also help you identify which employees are more likely to depart the organization.

In “Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens writes:

Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

Recruiting provides the opportunity to create that memorable link. The challenge is to form it.


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