Applying Marketing Strategies to Attract Top Talent
78 million Baby Boomers – many of our current firm leaders – are set to retire in the next 12-15 years. Only 50 million Generation X professionals are available to replace them. It’s clear that the labor market will be tightening and a renewed urgency on retention and recruiting of quality, experienced people is upon us.
There is a “science” to recruiting. If we execute a series of tasks, it will usually produce quality candidates. As we will explore in this issue’s Practice Perspectives, these tasks include identifying candidate sources, screening and interviewing, and making your offer.
Unfortunately, in a tight labor market you may find that simple science doesn’t produce the caliber of candidates you’d like or allow your firm to “win” and hire the brightest candidates out there. To overcome this, you will need to also apply an “art” to recruiting – the same creative principles you leverage in your marketing strategy. In this article, we will explore the many parallels of these two seemingly different aspects of your practice and how you can, and should, leverage marketing processes to significantly enhance your recruiting efforts.
Developing Your Recruiting Plan
The recruiting function is often relegated to an administrative person who focuses on the tactical aspects of the recruiting and hiring process, such as writing ads, identifying where to place the ads, and determining who is going to interview candidates. Most activities usually lack the strategy and planning behind the actions that need to take place. Instead, we believe that the recruiting process should be managed strategically like your marketing and sales processes, but instead of identifying new client opportunities, your focus will be uncovering new staff or partner candidates.
Just as you develop a market positioning and marketing plan to ensure your marketing success, you will begin your strategic recruiting process by developing your market positioning and recruiting plan.
Your Recruiting Competitive Differentiators
To begin, define your competitive differentiators as they relate to recruiting key talent to your firm, similar to how you would define your competitive differentiators, or value proposition, for prospective clients. One way to identify your key differentiators is by meeting with current staff members to list the strengths of your firm and determining which ones apply, and how they apply, to potential staff members. When defining your recruiting value proposition, your messaging should center on the benefits you offer and how those are different from your primary competitors, such as:
- What difference your firm makes in the lives of your staff and partners, clients, and in your local community, which can lead to high job satisfaction. People want to work for a firm with relevance.
- How your firm is different from others. Some ideas might include offering your team members:
- Career “roadmapping” and advising versus performance appraisals
- A genuinely “cool” culture with access to and regular interaction with top-level leaders
- Staff involvement in firm planning
- Supporting a more flexible work style including hoteling, work-from-home, Fridays off in summer, and other anytime, anywhere work options
- Technology enablement which some firms extend to include “cool tools” like tablets, smartphones and other work simplifiers
- Training plans or continued development for your staff members that helps them achieve their career goals
- How your current team members are different
- What type of challenging or interesting clients and projects the new team member will participate in
- Innovative recruiting process differentiators like taking your ideal staff member candidates to dinner with their spouses or significant others, especially for manager level positions and above
Identifying your recruiting differentiators will enable you to highlight them for prospective candidates in your recruiting marketing, interviewing, and offer process.
Ideal Target Staff Member
In marketing, when you identify new client opportunities, you first determine who your ideal target client is for each of your firm’s products and services. The same is true for recruiting. Defining your “ideal target” staff member and their characteristics will vary depending upon the open positions you have available, but you’ll want to determine what experience and education level, skills, past responsibilities, goals, and values will fit best within your firm. Defining these competency and character elements will help you communicate your needs when marketing the position and you’ll be more successful screening candidates for the right “fit.”
The best way to define your ideal target member is to create a written position description for each new open position. Please don’t hire another person without one! If this is a replacement hire, you may be able to leverage an existing position description and hopefully refine the description further; if it’s a new position, try to model it after a position description that is close.
Your position descriptions should include:
- The position title
- Who the position reports to
- The objective of that position
- Primary responsibilities of that position, including any that will be moving from other individuals
- Minimum education and skills required
- Compensation model
- Measures of success, or goals, for that position for the first 90-120 days
In marketing, you develop and then implement your plan, then measure your progress and message your results in a marketing calendar. The same principles apply to the recruiting process. Your recruiting calendar should be owned by one single person within your firm and include the open positions that you are filling just as you would track your various marketing activities, the date you’d like the positions filled, the vehicles you’ll use to recruit, and the estimated budget for your recruiting efforts, such as ad costs, recruiters’ fees, or online placement costs.
Share your recruiting calendar with those involved in hiring or interviewing potential staff members so they can plan accordingly. Those who own different aspects of the recruiting calendar should keep the calendar owner apprised of any movement or updates regarding the open positions they are involved in recruiting. Hold regular status meetings to discuss progress and ensure that your recruiting plan is being followed.
Lastly, use your recruiting plan as an internal educational tool. Be sure to inform your entire team about your activities and remind them of your employee referral incentive program for sourcing candidates, if you offer one (which we strongly encourage!). Let your staff know how they can generate prospects by supplying them with a copy of the position description and information about how and to whom they should direct their recruiting referrals.
You should always have some form of recruiting messaging occurring, whether it’s on your “why work for us” section of your web site or through regular communications to clients and others about the growth of your firm and the recruiting differentiators you offer. Just as in marketing, the law of large numbers works in recruiting, too! You never know when the opportunity to hire an ideal staff member will present itself.
For more information about how to develop or refine your firm’s recruiting strategy, contact Tamera Loerzel.