Winning talent in today’s ultra-competitive labor market is a real test of any employer’s talent acquisition strategy. You may know this firsthand in your efforts to find the skill sets integral to your business growth plans. As time to fill around the world lengthens in the current talent-scarce environment, do you have the right approach for attracting these resources to your business?

According to the DHI-DFH index, a measure of hiring practices in the U.S., the labor market remains strong there, with the length of job vacancies hovering near historic highs as of January 2018. This means that American employers are struggling to find the workers they need. In Europe, the job vacancy rate rose to 2% as of the end of 2017, a remarkably strong bounceback from the 1.2% recorded during the financial crisis of 2009. In Asia, jobless rates are declining as countries such as China report improving economic growth.

The strong labor markets reported around the world is one reason why you’re likely seeing longer delays to fill your open positions. Exacerbated by a widening skills gap and digital transformation in many industries, the search for talent is increasingly difficult. However, there’s no reason why you can’t take steps to overcome market challenges. Leading employers around the world are demonstrating that by having strong practices around talent attraction, training and workplace engagement, they are better prepared to meet the challenges of talent scarcity. 

However, one of the biggest challenges with talent acquisition strategies today is underestimating the impact of your organization’s employer’s brand on talent attraction. I say this because investments in employer brand campaigns, while on the rise, still fall short of what many companies need to win the best talent. It’s often not top of mind among C-suite or even HR leaders when budgeting decisions are made, but the fact is enhancing your employer brand is one of the most effective ways of strengthening your attraction strategies. Here are some examples of leading companies with robust practices.  

IBM leverages large talent network

Few companies in the world are as admired as IBM, so it’s no surprise that the organization thinks out of the box when it comes to talent. As the company’s HR leader in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel, Pilar Pons says IBM views talent with a communal mindset. For instance, rather than view today’s tech startups strictly as competitors, the company believes they are actually a source of talent and partners in some instances.

“Their agile culture, bold attitude and creative mindset match very well with what we are searching for in our business. That’s why we’re looking to team up with them to address new market opportunities, combining startups’ innovation with IBM’s infrastructure, software and experience to bring world-class solutions to market,” Pons told Randstad.

Another way in which the company maintains an extensive talent network is through its alumni, which it sees as a way to connect with its joint ventures, partners and clients. As former IBM employees, alumni spread the company’s culture to third parties and serve as ambassadors for the company. They also end up in companies that IBM support or is supported by, which means indirectly they help the company.

This idea of a broader talent network may not be one that you share, but you should consider the external organizations that serve as a springboard for job seekers to come to your organization. Does your talent acquisition strategy foster these relationships with vendors or partners? Does your employer brand draw talent within your orbit into your recruitment funnel? Would former employees consider being an ambassador or a boomerang worker?

By viewing your talent pool in a novel way, you could potentially gain access to a broader population of qualified workers to support your business. They may not be your employees, but the resources of your relations can still benefit your organizations. You can help nurture and grow this type of expanded talent pool by maintaining engagement through regular communications, a talent network or social channels. The idea is to stay connected to workers that may one day become a candidate to your organization. 

dassault Aviation takes off

French aviation manufacturer Dassault takes a different tact to finding talent for its engineering skill needs. Eric Trappier, the company’s CEO, said that the company works closely with French trade and engineering schools as well as the aerospace trade association to steer young talent to a career in this field. Its efforts includes providing scholarships, engaging students with real-life projects, promoting STEM careers to high school girls, leveraging employees to lecture about the industry.

Growing its own talent is integral to the company’s approach to attracting, hiring and retaining workers who are passionate about the aerospace industry. Trappier said Dassault has had much success over the years with developing talent, and he believes the company’s employee value proposition is critical to its strategy. Offering compensation, paid leave, training and career development that he says are more compelling than those of competitors, the company also boasts about its family-owned culture and endearing workplace experience as reasons that its workforce tends to be more productive.

“Dassault has remained in family ownership since its foundation and our staff values the stability and continuity that comes with this. They also value our human scale and family spirit,” he said. 

As your company seeks out critical and scarce skills, have you considered how your employer brand and employee value proposition can attract the best and brightest? Talent, especially Millennials, today seek out opportunities that offer more than just a good salary. According to the 2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research, an exhaustive survey of 175,000 working-age adults in 30 countries about their employment preferences, work-life balance and job security trail salaries as the top traits that workers look for. So when you are developing a resonant message about your company, consider what your target audience values the most. 

When promoting your EVP, remember to focus on the benefits or traits of your business that make it special. Consumer goods companies may want to highlight how their employees have access to new and different products. Even B2B businesses can tout their relationships with client companies and the interesting content workers are exposed to in the workplace. The key is to focus on the qualities that differentiate your organization from competitors.   

patagonia highlights CSR, diversity

Outdoorsy people might be pretty familiar with the Patagonia brand, but when it comes to talent acquisition, job seekers may be even more enamored with it. That’s because for every job opening, the company attracts 900 applicants, according to HR Executive magazine. The company’s employer brand is one that makes even the most high-flying tech business jealous.

How does the company do it? More than an apparel company, the company makes corporate social responsibility a part of its business. It adopts what some might describe as a radical political stand, strongly supports environmental causes and generally promotes a lifestyle in line with its customers. It lives by its commitment to diversity & inclusion, with at least 50% of upper management positions in the U.S. held by women. Furthermore, the company offers extensive benefits to all of its employees, including flex time to go surfing. As a result, the company receives a 4.2 rating on Glassdoor, with 84% approving of CEO Yvon Chouinard’s leadership.

According to Forbes, the company’s commitment to environmental causes drives its business, which has enjoyed significant growth since its founding in the 1970s. Its corporate brand is also what helps to elevate its employer brand and draws a diverse group of job seekers. Employees praise Patagonia’s involvement in environmental causes and the management of its workers.

As you seek to enhance your attractiveness as an employer of choice, are you aligning your employer brand to your corporate brand? Do your recruitment marketing efforts come across as genuine and supported by your corporate mission? When you are able to achieve alignment, your business will come across as authentic and transparent, assuring job applicants that what they see is what they’ll get in an employer. 

Consider working with your marketing department to support the employer brand work you plan to undertake. Marketers have deep knowledge about attracting and pulling in customers to the marketing funnel, and their skills can help you do the same for talent. Furthermore, your marketing organization would be the best to align employer brand messaging to those of your corporate and product brands.