The Secrets of Recruiting Talent and Keeping It


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If you’re in any way responsible for finding the right people for your organization, your job isn’t easy. It’s a cliché to say that good people are hard to find, but that cliché is becoming even truer and more relevant as the digital age progresses. The late Steve Jobs famously said, “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” Unfortunately, though, he didn’t tell us how to recruit those A+ players — or how to keep them loyal and committed to the organization. At ExitCertified, we’ve done some research to help answer those questions in our whitepaper, “Future-proof Your Workforce: The Importance of Learning Within Organizations,” which is available as a free download

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Before you dive in, however, if you’re going to propose training as the answer to your organization’s staffing problems, you’ll first need to understand where those problems are coming from. And that in itself is a problem, because today’s recruitment crisis is the product of a perfect storm of complications. Let’s take a look at just a few of them: 

There Are More Jobs Than Qualified Candidates

Part of your challenge as a recruiter boils down to numbers. With the U.S. at its lowest unemployment rate since 1969, North America has more job openings than there are qualified candidates to fill them. A recent survey by Jobvite shows that recruiters are feeling the pressure, with 74 percent of respondents expecting the battle for candidates to become more intense in the coming year. Sixty-seven percent of respondents named a shortage of quality candidates as their biggest challenge, followed by intense competition (52 percent) and lack of budget (36 percent). The report also shows that recruiters are relaxing their standards in selecting candidates, but even those concessions aren’t always enough to close the deal.

Today’s prospective hires are looking for generous benefits, and 31 percent of respondents named reimbursements for continuing education as the most effective perk in when it comes to candidates accepting a job offer.

The Skills Gap Persists

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, IT skills gaps will become even more obvious and urgent. In Gartner’s latest Emerging Risks Survey, the global talent shortage was listed at the top, moving two spots up from third place in Gartner’s previous survey. The vulnerabilities are especially evident in skills related to data security.

In a September 2019 report, officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admitted to being unable to assess the competency of their cybersecurity personnel due to hiring challenges: “The supply of cybersecurity talent to meet the Federal Government’s increasing demand is not sufficient. Competition in the marketplace to recruit and retain the same workforce grows as the demand for cyber defense experts to protect our Nation’s networks and information systems increases.” The DHS reports that almost a quarter of its cybersecurity and communications positions remain unfilled. And the Department is not alone in its recruiting problems. Its report cites alarming results from a global study of talent shortages:

  • Fifty-nine percent of enterprises report having open cybersecurity positions
  • Fifty-four percent report needing three months or longer to fill those positions
  • Thirty percent report that less than a quarter of applicants have the right skills for the positions they’re seeking

Enterprise keeps trying to hire its way out of the skills crisis, but it’s becoming painfully clear that that strategy isn’t working.

Millennial's Are Still Calling the Shots

Recruiters have spent years wringing their hands over the challenge of hiring millennials, and with good reason. These well-educated, highly skilled individuals are now in the prime of their working lives, but they don’t play by their parents’ rules when it comes to job loyalty. According to research by Gallup, more than half of millennials are on the lookout for a new job. That same research indicates that these workers want more than a paycheck, and they aren’t impressed by ping pong tables or espresso machines in the office. Simply stated, millennials want to work for organizations that are willing to invest in their employees’ professional growth and development.

The Not-So-Hidden Costs of Hiring are Growing

Yes, training costs money, and a culture of nonstop learning is expensive to maintain. But when that cost is stacked up against the costs of mistakes and lost productivity, the investment in training very quickly becomes a bargain. In fact, the costs of employee turnover alone make a compelling case for training as a retention strategy.

In its most recent report on talent acquisition, the Society for Human Resource Management calculated the average cost per hire to be between $4,425 to $14,936 USD, and it stated that more than a quarter of employee departures happen within the employee’s first year on the job. In these situations, recruitment costs represent marketing expenditures that offer very little return on investment. That repeated outlay of cash might woo candidates into joining the company, but it does nothing to support their productivity or secure their loyalty.  

If you’re thinking earnestly about your company’s strategic goals, you’re also thinking about ways to attract and retain skilled personnel. Future-ready skills are the product of training, which shouldn’t just take place every now and then, but instead as an ongoing part of your corporate culture. The ExitCertified whitepaper, “Future-proof Your Workforce: The Importance of Learning Within Organizations,” is written to give you the talking points you’ll need to make training a bigger part of your own workplace culture. We invite you to download a free copy of the whitepaper here and start formulating your new plan for hiring and keeping highly skilled employees.