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How to become a ‘Preferred Place to Work’

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If you’re a great company, you’ll be getting the cream of the talent crop.

There are no two ways about it. Even if you happen to be in a ‘preferred sector’ like IT, you’ll still need to be constantly preening and priming yourself to remain top-of-mind for jobseekers. After all, the very tangible benefits of being an ‘Employer of Choice’ for jobseekers far outweighs the efforts you need to put in to become, and stay, one.

So how do you become one? Jodi Nuttall, Director of Business Operations at Aerotek, shared her perspectives on the topic at the 2015 Illinois Leadership Conference in her talk “Being an Employer of Choice; Retaining Top Talent”.  Captured in a nutshell, they are:

Hire the right ‘fit’.

By the ‘right fit’, Jodi didn’t just mean education or experience. She meant cultural and emotional compatibility as well. After all, the latter is what goes the longest way into fostering an environment that people want to keep returning to every morning. And while it’s true that assessing things like personal motivation, proactivity in approach and passion for the job can be considerably trickier than gauging qualification appropriateness, it’s not impossible. For one, there should be clearly laid out guidelines – and questionnaires designed along those lines – to better understand a candidate’s ‘fitness’ for a role. After all, unless you’re clear about where the person is coming from  –  which includes social background, ambitions and values  – there’s a big chance you’ll end up with a square peg in a round hole. And since a role-talent mismatch lies at the heart of all negativity in the workplace in the broadest sense, the more such people you have in your organization, the less ‘preferred’ it will be, as a ‘Place to Work’.

Preen and prune

Yes, you need to be constantly looking at the mirror to remain a place that employees love to work in. But it’s not all from the employee’s perspective. Preening and polishing your hiring system itself, is an important part of staying attractive for jobseekers. So be it culture, incentives or values, the HR department needs to constantly assess its policies and re-invent its processes.

It’s not always you: Sometimes it’s them, too!

Your talent is what makes you great and, conversely, a great place for talent (yes, a bit of a ‘cycle’!). Which means that it’s not just you (the Hiring department, that is) that needs to stay on top of your game, but your employees, too, need to be on the cutting edge. Which in turn means that you need to constantly invest time, attention and resources towards sharpening and polishing them. And that means everything from providing regular learning opportunities to special time allowance for personal research and development to being there for support in times to genuine need to yes, even relaxation breaks that keep them fresh.

Be yourself – and remain that way

Companies must be clear about who they are, what they stand for and where their values lie. That, of course, is Step number one. The next course of action is to consistently apply them every day in everything they do (and also get their employees to ‘live the ethos’ at every step and turn – amongst themselves, with clients and vendors) so as to develop a synergized identity across their talent touch points.

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