To talent management expert Steve Cadigan, successful recruitment starts by answering a fundamental question: "Why would someone want to work at your company?"
Yet, says Cadigan, a former executive with LinkedIn, many employers have no consistent answer and their search for talent suffers for it.
Cadigan, who helped LinkedIn ramp up during a furious hiring effort, recently met with the executive team of a Silicon Valley company, when the focus turned to recruiting challenges. The company faced what almost every company in Silicon Valley faces—the challenge of attracting and hiring great technical talent when the supply is extremely low and competition for talent is at an all-time high.
“Their offer declines were increasing, and they were having a hard time getting top talent to even answer their calls,” Cadigan told HR Dive in an interview. Cadigan served as vice president of Talent at LinkedIn from 2009 through 2012, helping take the company grow from a private firm of 400 employees through an IPO and into a powerhouse with over 5,000 employees.
As that meeting progressed, Cadigan says several ideas emerged to try and solve the problem, including: increasing employee referral rewards, hiring some new search firms, revamping their career site, and hiring more recruiters.
The company’s team also suggested putting hiring managers and recruiters through training to confirm they were best equipped to attract and close candidates consistently. They also wanted to ensure that hiring managers had the most up-to-date information from investors about the great future that lies ahead for the company. Suddenly, Cadigan says, something really interesting happened.
“As the team started to think through how they would improve the effectiveness of hiring managers and recruiters, it became clear that they had no consistent answer to a key question candidates were asking,” he says. “The question is, ‘Why would I want to work here?’”
While there was no lack of answers to that question among the executive team, there was a clear lack of consistency across the varying responses.
Cadigan explains that while it may seem obvious, few companies, including ones that have been around for decades, have a clear answer to this critical question. To help the leadership team sort through the issue, he asked if they had ever discussed this question before (they had not) and if they felt they had a shared view of the answer (they were not sure).
“The team admitted that they had all assumed they shared the same point of view about why the company was great and that this question was perceived to be self-evident,” he says. “As the team quickly got to work on building a consensus answer that fit their company and culture, following the exercise you could feel the energy increase in the room. “
This consensus-building exercise proved of great value to the leadership team because not only were they able to produce a great focused answer to the important question that they all really believed in, but they also bonded in the process and became more focused as a team on one of their top priorities: growing the company.
“Once they distilled the answer, they ran it by many employees in the organization to solicit their feedback and found the final product was even better,” he says.
Employers who operate in a part of the world where competition for talent is intense (and that is becoming almost anywhere these days) must understand it is imperative for your organization to invest the necessary time to answer this question, according to Cadigan.
“Don’t take it for granted that everyone is on the same page,” he says. “While it may be blatantly obvious to you and your leadership team why your company is awesome and a great place to work, being clear collectively on why someone would want to work in your organization is a worthwhile time investment that will pay great dividends.”