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No organization can survive, thrive, or grow without great talent. With that said, unemployment is at its lowest in nearly 40 years, which means difference-making employees have greater power and more opportunities to pick their landing spot of choice than ever before.

Recently, Launchways hosted a free one-hour webinar focused on how organizations of all sizes can win the war for talent in this highly-competitive market. The webinar included valuable insights from Brad Farris of Anchor Advisors, Adam Radulovic of XL.net, Tim Schumm of Lucas James Talent Partners, and Launchways’ own Jim Taylor.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the highlights and main ideas of the webinar, including:
• The role of employer branding in talent acquisition
• How to create winning recruiting and hiring practices
• How to use the interview process to find the best talent

Mindful Employer Branding
Bringing great talent into the fold and retaining them over time requires having a business that feels inviting, functional, positive, and drama-free. In the past, employees were willing to put up with more due to the perception that there were a limited number of “good jobs” at strong companies, but in today’s environment, hiring and holding onto business-driving team members requires more than the offer of a “good job.”

Now, businesses of all sizes and industries must actively and thoughtfully brand themselves in order to create an identity that is attractive to top talent and invites them to buy into corporate culture. In fact, everything should flow backwards from the brand.

Understanding Your Existing Standing and Perception
No business can leverage their workplace culture – even if it’s a great one – if they don’t fully understand it themselves. Small and medium-sized companies often grow so quickly that mindfulness of company culture gets lost in the shuffle as operations scale up. On the other hand, for large enterprises, there’s often so much distance between leadership and rank-and-file employees that a culture gap – or, more precisely, a gap in understanding of culture – can easily form.

Before any business can create a talent-centric culture initiative, they must form a rich understand of both their existing internal culture and the perception of the organization within the talent marketplace. Tools like employee surveys and Glassdoor can be incredibly useful in informing this work.

Once that understanding of existing culture and perception are in place, organizations can begin the work of identifying culture targets and planning initiatives to get them there.

Articulating a Great Culture
Branding in a way that speaks to top talent requires identifying what is special or unique about an organization and building out from there. In order to achieve that, each organization must articulate what they value from both the business and humanistic sides of workplace culture and consider what’s really special about who they are, what they do, where they do it, and how they do it.

The better an organization can articulate why employment is a positive and valuable overall experience that will improve each employee’s life and not just a “job,” the better they are able to attract great thinkers and workers without needing to jack up compensation. Once those value-based pillars are in place, the next step is to plan how the organization will staff, train, and develop to foster, reinforce, and maintain that culture.

One important note about establishing and building an effective culture: it requires patience. As soon as you and your core leadership team are sick to death of discussing culture goals and articulating what your organization is all about, that information is probably just starting to sink in at the individual worker level. Once you have buy-in at that level, however, promoting your thriving culture becomes much easier.

Web Presence
The internet provides businesses with a powerful, mostly free space to spread the word about their brand identities and individual corporate cultures. A strong, positive web presence helps an organization seem modern with a unique personality and relatable set of values. A weak or negative web presence, on the other hand, will prevent many potential superstars from even applying to work at a company.

For those reasons, digital marketing should be a top priority for organizations of all sizes and ages, not just for lead attraction but also for talent attraction. When an organization’s footprint on the web feels responsive, looks professional, and contains well-planned and well-written content, it gives job seekers an increased sense of confidence and makes a workplace seem future-facing and attractive.

Remember, there are more top jobs out there than top talent, so there’s no incentive for any of those professionals to even consider working in an environment where they don’t have great confidence they will succeed, grow, and build a happier life.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the biggest and most crucial online platforms for businesses trying to establish a strong culture and brand identity:
Glassdoor – Thanks to social proof, if a business has a great team and a thriving culture, Glassdoor can be one of their greatest hiring tools. If the ratings are low, however, it can become a struggle to even create a viable applicant pool for an opening. The more authentic, positive reviews a business can build on Glassdoor, the more attractive they seem to outsiders and prospective applicants.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the ideal social media platform for organizations looking to share their company culture with the world and invite others to join the conversation. Using LinkedIn, business entities and their individual leaders can increase brand awareness, build thought leadership, and share company successes – both business and humanistic – with a wide community of industry professionals. A strong, active LinkedIn presence helps an organization present their values and meaningful work side by side, creating a brand identity that attracts great talent.

Recruiting and Hiring to Win
Once businesses have established a talent-centric culture and leveraged online platforms to start circulating that message throughout the industry in a way that attracts talent, they are faced with an equally important next step: actually hiring the right people.

Here are a few guidelines that organizations can use to create an effective recruitment and hiring strategy to ensure they land the right talent.

Have a Plan
Building a great team in the office is just like building one on the athletic field: it’s a process that takes multiple years, requires several key acquisitions, and must be dictated by an over-arching plan or strategy. Hiring employees on a purely ad hoc basis is a recipe for disaster, and signing on new hires without an eye toward cultural fit, values, or long-term potential can be destructive as well.

Each organization can empower themselves and simplify their hiring processes by articulating an organizational philosophy on and approach to hiring. While this seems like a huge responsibility up front, it’s the most direct way to measure twice and cut once.

“Always Be Hiring”
Growing organizations frequently make the classic mistake of building exactly the team they need in the moment. While that sounds like an ideal situation, it’s actually a liability because growing organizations must be able to grow, and with a goldilocks-sized staff, that potential for instant growth is limited, creating the possibility of backslide.

Organizations who don’t want to miss out on great talent are always hiring because that superstar difference-maker might not be searching for a job the same week the office has an explicit need. By always remaining open-minded about the possibility of bringing on the right new team member, businesses maintain their ability to grow and leave the door open to for the right voice to come on board at an unexpected moment.

One of the worst things a business can do to itself is to get put in a position where a hire must be made under duress or an unexpected exit sends work grinding to a halt. When organizations are proactive rather than reactive, however, they protect productivity and provide themselves with more opportunities to connect with great talent.

Fill the Pipeline
Of course, the “Always be hiring” philosophy requires a steady influx of talent and C.V.s, but embracing that constant flow of talent opportunities is a good thing. When a business is constantly talking about new talent and staying in touch with the talent marketplace, it builds organizational confidence that the business isn’t over-reliant on current team members and keeps everybody up to date on talent trends.

One way organizations can keep themselves plugged into the talent market is to set aside one day each month to interview attention-grabbing or potentially intriguing candidates, regardless of specific “needs.” This practice keeps businesses open to great potential opportunities and invites both applicants and leadership to discuss goals, culture, and market trends in a way that helps both sides gauge the potential value of a working relationship.

Never Settle!
Talent acquisition isn’t called “worker acquisition” because, in a business setting, it’s much more important to hire the right person than it is to put a body in the chair. In order to win with top talent, organizations must accept nothing less. Nobody should ever be hired just because a position needs to be filled, and no prospective employee who isn’t a strong fit in terms of culture or skill should ever be hired just to end the process.

Attracting and hiring great talent is more complex than ever, but with a clear approach in mind, the use of the right marketing tools, and a strong understanding of itself, an organization of any size can build a brand, culture, and hiring process that ensure they wind up with the best talent possible.

• Branding is essential to attracting the best talent
o To create a successful brand, organizations must articulate, achieve, and maintain a strong, positive workplace culture
-That culture should reflect what’s unique, exciting, and humanistic about the work at hand
o Web presence (particularly on LinkedIn and Glassdoor) is essential to establishing that brand awareness in the talent market
• Recruiting and hiring should be guided by an over-arching plan and approach but also remain flexible so businesses never miss out on great talent in an unexpected moment or find themselves talent deficient after a sudden exit

These are just a few of the ideas explored in Launchways’ webinar “How to Win the War for Talent: Actionable Strategies to Attract and Retain Top Talent at Your Business.” To gain more incredible insight from our roundtable of talent acquisition experts, watch the free recording of the webinar now!

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