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5 Solutions For Attracting Top Talent

November 27, 2013

“Attracting talent” is a challenge expressed by organizations everywhere, from nonprofits and small businesses to multinational corporations. It’s a challenge that can prove costly: When the right people aren’t in the right positions, opportunities are missed. Staff members become overworked. Profits and market share are left at risk.

What’s more, this challenge takes on new meaning when it comes to recruiting young, creative minds (a.k.a. students). Whether in high school or graduate school, students experience a deluge of information each day. And, with limited talent available, competition among prospective employers can be fierce.

Several years ago, our firm wrestled with this challenge. We watched as the “old-school” approach to hiring-posting ads and crossing fingers for the right response-became less and less effective. We realized there had to be a better way. Finally, after months of revamping our recruiting strategy, we found one.

Five solutions that helped our firm overcome obstacles and attract top talent:

1. Narrow your focus.
Think about the skill sets you’re looking for in a prospective hire. Which institutions produce people with these skills? Do your prospective hires come from high schools, technical colleges or state universities? Which institutions have a strong program related to your industry?

Pick two to three institutions that make the most sense for your organization. Remember, geography can be a factor, too; focus on institutions you can easily visit regularly.

2. Identify your internal resources.
Now that you’ve narrowed your focus to a few institutions, think about which staff members are best suited to connect with its students. Look for young alumni who are passionate about their alma mater. The bottom line: Send staff members your prospective hires can relate to.

3. Determine your target audience.
You’re looking for the cream of the crop, so think about where you will find top talent within your institutions. For example, we target students in accounting clubs and honor societies, not just students who are majoring in accounting.

4. Build relationships with influencers.
In order to connect with your target audience, you must have a relationship with its influencers. For us, this meant building relationships with deans, chairs of accounting departments, and presidents of accounting clubs. To begin, we picked up the phone, called these influencers, and stated our purpose in these eight words: “We have a great opportunity for your students.” They responded enthusiastically.

5. Use social media.
Social media can be a great way to build awareness of your company and foster connections. It can even give your target audience valuable insight into your company’s culture. But how do you determine which social media outlet your target audience prefers? Ask them.

Four years ago, we asked the Minnesota State Mankato chapter of Delta Sigma Pi to help us create a social media strategy to connect with students. They proposed a Facebook page. “Facebook?” we asked incredulously. “That’s too unprofessional!” “That’s what your target audience uses,” they replied. Eventually we relented, and the results-increased engagement with our target audience-were astounding.

Attracting top talent takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a proactive approach. It calls for seeking out the best candidates and learning what’s important to them. Most important, it calls for listening.

Only then will you be able to present your company as a great place to work.

Contact Steve at:
Direct Line 952.715.3002

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