Posted on 1/4/2017

Is Your Organization Ready to Win the War for Talent?

Jennifer Akoma

As we enter a new year and excitedly look ahead to what 2017 will bring, there is no better time to ensure that your organization is poised to win the war for talent. After the 2008-2009 recession, the state of Michigan lost a great deal of talent to other areas of the country. We must be more creative than ever to try and lure back those we lost, retain the great employees we have and uncover current talent in the area. It is typically the candidates who are not actively looking that companies are trying to attract, so it is important that your organization always has an eye on how potential candidates view your organization through owned channels like your website, social media assets, PR/awards and community outreach programs.

When internal marketing teams are building websites, their focus is typically potential clients. However, it is important to include information for potential candidates as well. Most organizations have a careers page that includes their job postings, benefits and possibly a few testimonials from current employees. Companies may want to consider a more candid view into their organization. One example might be a “Day in the Life” video that outlines what a potential employee can expect if they take a position at your company. Use your website as a window to give candidates a realistic view of what it’s like to work at your organization and highlight your values. This will likely pique the interest of those you want to attract.

When researching organizations, most candidates will check out all your organization’s social media assets and possibly the personal channels of hiring managers, executives or other employees. Each social media site has its strengths and weaknesses in regards to attracting candidates. Typically, Facebook is used by organizations to post internal, cultural activities. Since LinkedIn is a professional platform and network, your company should regularly share news as well as open positions to easily connect with potential candidates. At a minimum, hiring managers and executives should have an updated profile and share company information as well as current industry news. Glassdoor and Indeed are platforms where former candidates, current employees and former employees can share information on their experience with your organization. It is important to closely monitor these sites and respond appropriately to feedback. Incorporating other sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat into your social media mix may also be useful depending on the organization and the employees you’re looking to attract.

Another way to get your company noticed by potential candidates is through public relations activities and awards. Getting your organization’s story told through earned media can pique new candidate’s interest. There are also many awards that organizations can seek out such as “Best Places to Work” that can highlight special perks, unique programs or an exceptional culture. These awards can give your organization bragging rights and offer a leg up on the competition. A passive candidate that happens across a story about your company or is browsing the internet for “Best Places to Work” could become an active candidate by reading your organization’s story in the local news or industry trades.

Many different programs can fall under an organization’s community outreach initiatives. Most people think of these initiatives as community giving or charity work, but organizations can participate on a local level in many unique and creative ways. Here are three to consider for your organization in 2017:  

  1. Offer paid time off for employees to volunteer with local charity programs tied to causes they care about or that your business is currently supporting. You can also create teambuilding opportunities through group volunteer days and do something unexpected such as shoveling the snow or cutting the grass for the elderly. Not only do employees enjoy participating in these programs, it can earn your organization additional recognition in the local media or special honors that could intrigue potential candidates. 
  2. Create internship and job shadow programs to help ensure your company noticed by students. Airfoil has not only offered internships for college students but we have hosted many high school students and even a middle school class to discuss what our organization does and what we look for in potential candidates. These types of programs help to open students minds to a variety of different careers and help your company build and groom its future workforce.  
  3. Another creative community outreach program could entail a candidate open house. Airfoil hosted a few of these events that we labeled “Recruiting Fairs.” We invited both active and passive candidates to come in and meet with our human resources team and staff members at all levels of the organization. This gave candidates an opportunity to see our offices, interact with staff and get a first-hand perspective on what it’s like to work for our organization. In 2016, Airfoil hosted four of these events in both our Royal Oak, Mich. and San Jose, Calif. offices, which resulted in three hires.  

Through 25 years of recruiting and human resources experience, I know there is no silver bullet answer to finding top talent. With the advancement of digital technology over the last decade, there are so many new factors at play in the world of recruiting. However, own what you can control, which is the message that you want candidates or potential candidates to receive about your organization. This message can come in many ways – through your website, social media assets, public relations efforts, awards, community initiatives and, yes, even word of mouth. How do you control word of mouth, one may ask? Well, if an organization is doing all the other things correctly (ensuring a consistent employer message across the board, living up to the message with its current employees and is active in its community) they will create brand advocates that will help carry that message for them. These efforts will help tremendously in an employer’s recruiting efforts with active and passive candidates and ensure your organization is winning or at the very least competitive in the war for talent.


About the Author

Jennifer Akoma | Airfoil Group

As vice president of human resources for Airfoil, Jennifer Akoma manages recruiting, performance, payroll and benefits, training and development, and employee relations programs.


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