Finding and retaining the best employees is one of the greatest challenges business leaders and human resources professionals face. Even with 73 million young adults seeking work, businesses around the globe report a shortage of skilled workers.
Attracting outstanding applicants is about more than building a cool company culture and offering competitive benefits. It’s about projecting an image that appeals to the 75 percent of all global candidates who are passive job seekers.
My company has more than 100 full-time employees working remotely on multiple projects all over the world. Allowing our team this geographical freedom means competing with every company on the planet. If we didn’t retain top talent, we would’ve gone out of business years ago.
Starting the conversation
People completely fulfilled by their jobs likely aren’t seeking new employment, passively or actively. Many top performers, however, are merely content and would be open to pursuing new opportunities. These passive candidates pose less of a turnover risk but are difficult to attract. They’re choosy and usually more expensive, but they deliver on promises and stick around longer than their flightier counterparts.
Candidates we call “passive” for having turned down an initial offer provide a chance to gather feedback on the impression we’re making so we can better package our company moving forward and make “yes” easier for others to say. Talking through their needs also makes it possible to arrive at another offer that works for them.
Opening a dialogue with the best prospects begins with establishing a strong narrative that presents your company as a world-changing organization in an environment conducive to meaningful achievement. The best of the best want more than better pay and benefits, which they can find anywhere. Most passive prospects are motivated by factors like superior work-life balance, more stimulating challenges and room for advancement.
Enticing passive candidates
Here are four strategies for attracting the best candidates without having to sift through countless applications.
1. Create a referral program. When it comes to top talent, relationships are key. Acknowledging and rewarding employees for referral hires helps us attract candidates who otherwise might not have considered new roles. The better your current team, the better prospects they will bring in. Our company understands that nothing beats working with other talented people, and we award cash bonuses for successful referrals. Zappos Insider, a talent pipeline site, is dedicated to encouraging potential employees to apply to the company in general rather than to a specific job. This opens up lines of engagement and helps Zappos stay on passive candidates’ radars.
2. Be a serendipitous resource. Many of our recent candidates found us after stumbling across an open-source framework we recently released. We love working with developers who contribute to open-source environments, so creating one of our own allowed us to demonstrate how we share their values. From that point, the conversation about working together happens naturally. Another great way to attract passive candidates is by hosting special events like hackathons or other industry-related workshops, training sessions, contests, conferences and even virtual networking events.
3. Take on challenging projects. Our best candidates frequently tell us, “I like the company and people I work with, but I’m bored.” Spreading the news about our company by highlighting the most challenging work we do for our clients helps us appeal to highly skilled passive candidates who are waiting for something more interesting to materialize. On your recruiting page, use video to showcase ambitious projects your team has tackled to tempt passive seekers who aren’t fulfilled by their current level and scope of work.
4. Market on relevant platforms. We get involved in conversations on Stack Overflow, GitHub Jobs and Glassdoor because the audiences we want to attract are on these sites. We also have a company LinkedIn page and encourage our employees to highlight their achievements on their own pages to show passive seekers what they’re missing. A survey conducted by LinkedIn found that 75 percent of its members with full-time jobs are not actively seeking new opportunities, but 45 percent of them would be open to speaking with a recruiter if approached.
Using these tactics, we don’t have to wait until a job is posted to find great candidates. Potential employees reach out to us, knowing that working for our company is an opportunity to collaborate with inspiring people who share their passions. Building an enthusiastic team in this way lets us take on bigger challenges and pushes our company to new heights.