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6 Elements to Attract and Win Top Talent

The competition for talent is fierce. There are 11.55 million job openings in the United States right now—and only around six million unemployed workers to fill them. There are also many active and passive candidates who are currently employed, but you’ll need to compete against their current employer in addition to other hiring organizations.

Job seekers have many choices when it comes to where they want to work, and top talent can be particularly discerning. If you want to know how to attract top talent and win them for your team, here are six elements you should focus on to improve your chances.

How to attract top talent

1. A standout company culture and employer brand

If you want to attract top talent, your company has to be a great place to work. Take the time to build and nurture a standout company culture that aligns with your organization’s mission, vision, and values. 

For example, one of Zappos’ core values is “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.” They have a team called Zappos’ Fungineers who inject this core value into the employee experience, doing things like bringing a live camel into the office for hump day. Another value is “Pursue Growth and Learning.” Zappos encourages their team members to grow both personally and professionally, challenge and stretch themselves, and unlock their potential.

Showcase the things that set your company culture apart in your employer branding materials. Everything from your career site and job postings to employer review sites and social media channels should show job seekers why they should want to work at your company. But be truthful. More than half (55 percent) of workers said they would leave a new job if the culture was not aligned with their expectations or values. 

Building a great company culture and promoting it through your brand can help you attract, close, and retain top talent.

2. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B)

Top talent comes in many different forms. A Black mother. A veteran with a disability. A gay man over the age of 55. Building a diverse team and inclusive company culture helps ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging regardless of their demographic characteristics.

It also helps you attract and win top talent. Three in four (76 percent) employees and job seekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. And 38 percent would turn down a job offer if the company lacked diversity in its workforce or had no clear goals for improving diversity. 

Be intentional about building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive company so you can attract top talent for your team. A good place to start is by surveying your existing employees to get their feedback on how you can create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. You might also survey candidates, asking specifically about their perception of DEI&B at your organization. Acting on this feedback can help you build a better workplace and company culture for everyone. 

3. Competitive compensation package

Compensation is a top cause of employee turnover, with 37 percent citing low pay as a major reason for leaving and another 26 percent citing it as a minor reason. And 23 percent of workers said poor benefits were a major reason for leaving, while 20 percent said it was a minor reason.

Unsurprisingly, 53 percent of candidates say compensation is a top influence in accepting or declining a job offer, and 23 percent say healthcare and other benefits are top influences. So if you want to win qualified candidates, a competitive compensation package can go a long way.

Remember that compensation is rising quickly, especially as one-third of workers who left their jobs during the pandemic and Great Resignation are making over 30 percent more in their new roles. This may be particularly relevant with top talent, who can command higher salaries. Revisit your compensation market data and be aware of why employees are leaving and candidates are declining offers to know if you need to adjust your salary ranges.

When it comes to benefits, a variety of offerings will be the most appealing to candidates:

  • 66% of workers expect healthcare coverage
  • 49% expect a 401k program, and 40% expect 401k matching
  • 40% expect bonuses and stipends
  • 39% expect paid family leave
  • 38% expect a casual dress code
  • 32% expect remote work
  • 30% expect mental health resources 

Different people will be motivated by different things, so offer what you can to attract prospective candidates and retain existing employees.

4. Career development and advancement opportunities

Lack of career advancement is another top reason for employee turnover, with 30 percent of workers citing it as a reason they plan to look for a new job. This is also intrinsically tied with turnover due to compensation, as a lack of career advancement may mean stagnant pay. 

Top talent got to where they are by learning, growing, and advancing in their careers; most will want to continue. Offering opportunities for professional development—and corresponding pay increases—can help you attract and win the most qualified candidates for your team. 

Share information about development opportunities in your employer branding materials and throughout your interview process so prospective employees know you offer it. For example, you might share an employee’s career path on your employer blog to demonstrate how a potential hire could also advance at your company. Or hiring managers might share some learning and development opportunities when their candidates discuss their strengths and weaknesses during the recruitment process.

Read More: 6 Ways Support Employee Career Growth

5. Flexible work

Following compensation and growth opportunities, flexibility to work from home and work/life balance are top reasons workers begin looking for a new job. And 30 percent say work/life balance, flex-time, vacation time, or proportion of work-to-time-off are top influences when considering a job offer.

Flexible work options, including remote work, flextime, condensed workweeks, and part-time work, are a great way to improve work/life balance and stand out to prospective employees. In fact, 80 percent of those prioritizing remote work opportunities say they value the flexibility remote work affords and the opportunity for work-life integration.

Try a test run if you’re unsure of rolling out any of these flexible work options at your own organization. For instance, you might implement “Summer Fridays” this year, where you allow employees to take a partial or full-day off each Friday in July and August. You may find that productivity is unaffected, but you have more interested candidates and happy employees.

6. An exceptional candidate experience

Your candidate experience often shapes a job seeker’s first impression of your company and can indicate employee experience. Taking the time to craft an exceptional experience can help you woo top talent and win them for your team. 

A positive candidate experience can also boost your brand, helping you attract even more great talent. In fact, 56 percent of workers would share a positive candidate experience publicly or with their personal or professional network. Conversely, candidates with a poor experience may share a negative employer review, hindering your ability to attract prospects.

Job seekers say the top factors for a positive candidate experience are:

  1. Easy interview scheduling
  2. Straightforward job application process
  3. Great communication, including prompt feedback and follow-ups
  4. A short hiring process
  5. The right amount of personal conversation during interviews

Take the time to think through each of these areas, perhaps taking yourself through the interview scheduling or application process to understand what prospects experience. Align with hiring managers on communication best practices and help them craft an interview process that adequately screens candidates without requiring too many interviews. And run a candidate experience survey following your recruitment process so you can gather feedback and make improvements as needed. This will help you fine-tune your candidate experience over time and help you adapt to your candidates’ evolving needs.

How to attract top talent and build a successful team

Winning top talent for your team is only half the battle in this competitive landscape—you must also retain them. A new employee training and onboarding program can help start them off on the right foot and lead to early employee engagement and retention. Take the time to make this a thoughtful transition from the candidate to employee experience so your new hires will feel welcome, acclimate to your company culture, and know they’re supported in their new roles.

Want to learn more about how you can attract, win, and retain talented candidates through learning and development? Download our eBook How to Fuel Your HR Programs Through Effective L&D.

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Jen Dewar

WorkRamp Contributor

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in HR technology, focusing on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her family.

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