Top talent walking

Strategies for Attracting Top Talent in a Competitive Industry

Finding the absolute right talent for your position can be difficult. Top talent is rare to find and are desired by every company—but what makes them choose one company over another?

When recruiting for top talent, there are a few truths that every recruiter should know: 

  • Top talent isn’t going to come to you.
  • Top talent doesn’t need a job.
  • Top talent is busy. 

What that means for your recruiting efforts is that the methods you’ve used thus far to identify, engage, and hire candidates may not be suitable for attracting top talent. 

You may need to adopt new strategies, including:

  • Proactively searching for candidates even when there isn’t an immediate hiring need — also known as sourcing.
  • Exploring creative recruitment ideas.
  • Selling the organization as a great place to work — which starts with clarifying your EVP.
  • Designing an efficient hiring process that adds value to candidates — also known as delivering a positive candidate experience.

We look at each of these strategies for attracting top talent in more detail below.

Strategy 1: Sourcing

Up until now, you may have been posting jobs and waiting for candidates to come to you. If that’s the case, then it’s time to start sourcing

Sourcing and recruiting are different. Sourcing is proactively searching for qualified candidates, even when there isn’t an immediate hiring need. Recruiting is guiding candidates through the job process.

Most sourcing nowadays happens on LinkedIn. Recruiters, sourcers, and hiring managers use LinkedIn — and associated tools such as Pipeline Builder and LinkedIn Recruiter — to identify and connect with top talent.

But sourcing hard-to-find candidates happens outside of LinkedIn, too, through online communities and forums, referrals, meetups, conferences, and recruiting events.

To dig deeper into all the different ways to source candidates, including diverse talent, we recommend checking out these 11 recruitment sourcing strategies and 10 practices for inclusive recruitment.

Strategy 2: Exploring creative recruitment ideas

Because hard-to-find candidates aren’t typically searching for a job, a job ad isn’t the best way to reach them.

However, a competition might just pique their interest. “They [top candidates] love opportunities to showcase what they can do, and contests and challenges provide that opportunity,” says HR thought-leader Dr. John Sullivan.

Skills tests are also effective and a growing trend. Companies such as Toggl, Monese, Swedbank, and Fujitsu are already using brief, engaging assessments in lieu of cover letters and resumes for attracting top talent.

“Getting people’s attention with a simple but catchy test has lowered the application barriers and helped engage a greater number of candidates to pick from,” says Toggl founder Alari Aho.

“As a surprise even for us, the whole process has proven to be so enthralling that our team has been joined by people who were not really looking for a new job,” he adds.

Finally, webinars have proven useful for targeting and recruiting niche talent that isn’t responsive to emails, InMails, or phone calls, and doesn’t participate in traditional recruitment events. 

Oracle successfully leveraged live webinars with business leaders to fill positions in the highly competitive market of Northern Europe. 

There’s no shortage of creative recruitment ideas—the key is knowing your target audience and doing research to find out what works best for them. 

If you’re curious about skills tests, check out how to leverage skills tests for recruitment. To learn how to organize a webinar, check out our article: How to host a webinar: tips for recruiters.

Strategy 3: Getting clear on the EVP

To sell a company to top talent, you need to be clear about its strengths. That starts with clarifying the organization’s employer value proposition, or EVP. 

The EVP encompasses the organization’s mission, vision, and culture. It includes what the organization stands for, what makes it unique, and the benefits, perks, and opportunities that come with working there. 

One of the best ways to clarify an organization’s EVP is to interview current employees. Discover what perks are popular. Do they appreciate their flexible work schedule? The value the organization places on workplace diversity? 

Once you get this information down on paper, you’ll be better equipped to persuade top talent.

Strategy 4: Ensuring an exceptional candidate experience

Top talent is employed and busy. Being respectful of their time is key to keeping them engaged and interested. When engaging with top talent, we recommend:

  • Making the application process exceptionally simple. Consider eliminating the need for resumes, cover letters, and form-filling.
  • Limiting the number of interviews. Consider replacing in-person interviews with video calls.
  • Shortening the time to hire. Strive to design a hiring process that is efficient and adds value to exceptional candidates.
  • Communicating consistently through appropriate channels. Be thoughtful about when and how you communicate and what channels you use. Depending on the context and the message, an email, a phone call, or a text might be more appropriate.

Finally, don’t risk losing your candidate over a dull offer letter—check out The ultimate guide to crafting outstanding offer letters to avoid this mistake.

Will you apply these strategies for attracting top talent?

Recruiters who succeed in hiring top talent:

  • Don’t wait for applications to come in. Instead, they use creative recruitment sourcing strategies to reach potential employees.
  • Ditch conventional screening methods such as reading cover letters and resumes. Instead, they find innovative ways to attract niche talent and then evaluate them for their skills.
  • Aren’t overly confident about a company’s employer brand. Instead of assuming that top talent will want to work there, they invest time in defining a clear EVP.
  • Don’t waste top talents’ time by making them jump through multiple hoops. Instead, they design a recruiting process that is short and engaging.

We’d love to hear the strategies you’ve employed for attracting top talent. Let us know in the comments below.