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How to Attract Top Talent?

  |  September 1, 2011   |  Comments

Some simple and cheap tactics that can make all the difference in winning or losing the recruitment war.

My last column focused on how clients need to shape up and face the current market conditions in respect to attracting new employees to them. It's a tough market out there, with a huge shortage of skilled applicants looking to move into new positions, and month on month the competition is getting fiercer. Business is certainly picking up and both in-house- and agency-based roles within digital marketing are increasing.

So let's say you have looked at your internal processes, fixed any attitude problems that may have been hindering your organization, and are now actively looking to sell your company to all potential new employees that you bring in for interviews. That's step one out of the way, but there are still a few tricks up some companies' sleeves that they are deploying in order to win people over.

Let's be frank about this: money is not normally the prime motivator for staff changing roles, but when it comes down to an offer, stage money comes into play and the dollar signs start flashing in people's eyes. The past few years have been troubling for people and the thought of redundancy still looms large in people's minds, and so they need to be reassured they are making the right choice.

So what can you do to entice someone to pick your company over a competitor? Now the actual base salary can be a bit of a problem. You have existing staff, and to pay the new guy a big base would most likely cause a serious problem among your existing team members. People do talk over coffee or beer, and so you need to avoid getting current employees' backs up and losing these people to your competitors, too.

A nice bonus is always good, but generally it is paid annually and very rarely guaranteed these days, so a potential new hire will not look at this as a true salary asset. We're now seeing an old tactic coming back into play and working well for those companies who use it. Predominantly it is used for in-house positions at the moment, but a handful of agencies are also adding it to their recruitment strategy and finding it works well.

The signing bonus is here again and can be a real game-changer. Let's say the new applicant wants $60,000 and it's a toss-up between you and one of your competitors. Both firms have a good reputation and have done a top-notch sales job to the applicant as to why they should work for you. Well, the signing bonus could be the key to winning the game. Neither firm can up the salary anymore due to internal politics, but if you turn around and say, "Hey, Ms. Applicant, we love you so much, how about we pay you a bonus of $X to join us?"

Which way do you think that person will go? Most likely with you. They're not only receiving a higher overall salary package now for the year (and most likely more in the range they are after), but it shows that you as a company really do value them and want them on board as part of your team.

This simple and relatively cheap tactic can make all the difference between your organization winning the recruitment war or losing out. And over that water cooler catch-up, the applicant is still only on the same salary bandings as their colleagues. Win-win for all.


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Jake Langwith

Jake Langwith is managing director and founder at International Head Hunters Stone Carter where he specializes within SEO, web analytics, and social media. With over 17 years experience across the U.K., Europe, and Asia Pacific markets he has established a strong global reputation and works in close partnership with some of the world's leading digital agencies and brands.

Jake is actively involved in the digital marketing community. He's also an avid blogger and a speaker at SEO-related industry events such as the SES conference series. He takes a keen interest in his market sector and outside of recruitment runs several websites where he puts into practice SEO and marketing strategies. Jake is particularly interested in SEO and conversion strategy within e-commerce.

A self-confessed search and tech geek, Jake is married with two children and lives in London where he was born and bred.

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