CWS 3.0: February 27, 2013

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Culture Matters in Attracting Talent

“When it comes to attracting talent, the great strategy for companies is to try to figure out how to make your company more marketable than another … It requires companies to pick their culture, identify what attributes exist, and then go out to acquire talent.”
— Rich Thompson, chief human resources officer, Adecco Group North America

It’s not the easiest of times. High unemployment rates and a slow economy have many candidates scrambling to find jobs. At the same time, companies are struggling to fill certain specialized positions. “There is a great opportunity in certain sectors, around the specializations of accounting, finance and IT, in the medical and engineering space. We’ve got many thousands of open positions within those particular specializations, and companies can’t find talent to fill those needs,” Thompson says.

To begin with, the job race is intense with many more people targeting the same positions. The intensity of competition makes it more challenging for companies to identify the talent they need, Thompson says.

The process of finding talent has been going through many changes as well, with social media and companies like LinkedIn revolutionizing the industry. “The old-school notion of a company just making the decision that they're going to go find a candidate isn’t as easy as it once was. I think organizations need to be a bit more myopic, look internally and identify and script out what is the culture that they want transmitted,” Thompson says.

Companies must sharpen the message they want to send out to potential candidates. What makes a company attractive and what is the kind of talent they want working for them? “They need to figure out what [they want] beyond the traditional hard skills of words per minute, software knowledge, and where you could work,” he says. “What are those soft skills that exist within a department?”

Thompson advises buyers to reflect and identify on their company’s culture. He suggests spending the time thinking on what that culture indicates. They need to ponder what is the messaging behind the culture and what feeds it. Then he recommends crafting a strategy or idea of what type of talent is going to fit into that culture.

Staffing suppliers can help with this process, especially in the identification phase. Because staffing companies work with a lot of different companies, they are familiar with many different cultures and leadership styles. Clients can tap that experience to identify particular cultural components and traits as well as environment and leadership attributes that would work in their distinct cultures. And the added benefit is that staffing agencies have access to candidates who meet those requirements.

“Everybody has a different want and need, and we can't just mass hire people or use a standardized, diluted, generic process of bringing in people and expect different results,” he says.

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