Four hiring tips for attracting talent without the benefit of company 'sizzle'

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Posted by Joel Capperella

May 6, 2011

Recently, an article in The Wall Street Journal discussed Microsoft's move to increase compensation for "specific portions" of its staff. Interestingly, the move also marks a shift for Microsoft away from compensation rewards associated with its stock. While not stated explicitly in the article, some sense that Microsoft is forced to shift to cash incentives because it is well past the point of having a consistently, positively performing, and "sexy" stock to incentivize current and would-be employees.

And they are not alone, especially in the fields of technology, software, and communications. While Silicon Valley continues to stoke a war for technical talent, the rest of the market that has more mature offerings not as press worthy as Google or Facebook have to be content with the fall out. As human resources and finance departments scramble to sort out exactly what the options are, hiring managers are left trying to keep their current staff motivated while aggressively recruiting new talent to augment their teams.

While it might be challenging for hiring managers to directly influence certain talent acquisition policies, there certainly are hiring tips that can be used to ensure that employees fairly consider the organization, even if it is unable to offer the sizzle of stock options or top percentile compensation.

Here are four hiring tips for attracting talent without the lure of "sexy" benefits:

Community. In a recent post focused on social media recruiting, we wrote about the need to make sure the talent community you are targeting finds value in the content you are sharing with them. The key here is to understand that today's employees seek community, especially if they fall into the 35-and-under demographic. They expect that community to extend well past the walls of their employer. Investing in the development of these talent communities introduce your current and potential employees to an ecosystem of like-minded and skilled people that will be seen as a value-add to their overall compensation.

Education. Even if your organization is cost constrained and cannot offer continuing education credits or reimbursement, there are ways for hiring managers to communicate with employees and candidates that their continued career development is a priority. This can -- and should -- be accomplished by ensuring that employees are continuously introduced to new processes, technologies, and disciplines that fall outside of their comfort zones, but within their abilities. An excellent hiring tip would be to package up how you, as a hiring manager, ensure that this is a defined element to the open position that's earned by being a member of the team.

Partner. Hiring managers need to aggressively partner with their staffing suppliers, consultants, and other contract labor suppliers. Always be mindful of the compliance issues hiring managers need to invest time in, and seek out staffing suppliers that are willing to understand not only the immediate needs required to fill an open seat, but the way that open position is integrated into the objective at hand. Temporary employees must feel included in achieving these objectives as a member of the team.

Engagement is critical here with not only the contingent workforce, but the suppliers of that workforce. It is not the job of human resources or procurement to develop and maintain supplier relationships beyond contractual terms. That responsibility rests with the hiring manager. Working with suppliers as a partner ultimately allows hiring managers to increase the intangible value that contingent workers see in the organization. Translating into longer assignments, and ultimately, in some cases, permanent employment opportunities for well-qualified candidates. Current permanent employees, on the other hand, will gain hands-on team building experience by working to engage and integrate contracted labor into the overall effort.

Voice. This last hiring tip is a little more nuanced and not as easy to execute, but it's worth explaining. Giving employees a voice that directly impacts anything from the development of a new product, to sounding the alarm over possible issues, or suggesting operational improvements can be seen as being tremendously valuable. While this requires an open culture, properly executing crowdsourced feedback, and more importantly, publicizing the value connected to such participation, increases the value employees affix to being a member of your team.

The key takeaway from these hiring tips is to be mindful of all possible methods of increasing the value of employment. If a 10 percent increase in pay and handfuls of sure-to-be-golden stock options are not possible, creativity is called for.

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Topics: HR Strategies

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