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5 Easy Ways to Snag Top Talent

The competition for good employees is intensifying. Here's how to seek them out - and seal the deal.

Good help is getting harder to find. In a survey released by employment-data firm DHI group in late 2015, nearly half of employers said that the time it takes to fill open positions is increasing. For HR professionals, that's added pressure: they're increasingly being measured on how quickly they locate candidates.

To attract the best and brightest, you need to outdo your competitors with fresh approaches to recruitment. No time to brainstorm solutions? We did it for you, pinging experts and pulling studies to find out what's working these days. Here are 5 new rules for your playbook.

RULE 1: Build up your employment brand.

More than 1 in 10 people say they'd decline a job offer from a firm with a negative image, even if they were out of work. So carefully manage how candidates perceive you - not just your goods and services, but your firm as an employer.

Crafting a recruitment slogan can work wonders. One small insurance firm in Minnesota, for example, uses a short but sweet slogan - "Employees are the heart of our success" - when wooing talent. By emphasizing that each worker is highly valued, the company has beat out much larger firms to hire talented claims adjusters, underwriters, and other essential personnel.

What are your company's key strengths as an employer? Put those words onto printed materials and promotional gifts for candidates at job fairs and interviews. Make sure they're on your website too.

Promo Tip:
Keeping your company’s key strengths front and center can be fun. Stock your break room with coffee mugs imprinted with your recruitment slogan and encourage recruits take one home to reinforce your message.

RULE 2: Broaden your health benefits.

A one-size-fits-all plan may no longer lure in job-seekers, says Nancy Saperstone, senior HR business partner at Insight Performance, an HR consulting and employee benefits firm in Massachusetts. "We encourage companies to make sure they're appealing to employees of all ages," she says.

Millennials eager for maximum take-home pay, for instance, "may want health insurance with a high deductible but a low premium," Saperstone explains. Older employees may want the reverse. Offering options will increase your firm's attractiveness.

RULE 3: Stand out in at least one aspect of compensation.

How do you do this? First, get a handle on what local competitors are paying. If you can't afford to purchase a study, sites such as Salary.com and Glassdoor.com can provide a rough overview, but you'll want to refine it with feedback from recent candidates.

If you find your pay scale is merely midrange, "maybe you can offer phenomenal benefits," says Saperstone. Think health benefits, bonuses, and perks like tuition reimbursement and commuting assistance. Your goal is to make the offerings look attractive as a whole to employees. (You can then use "great benefits" on your promotional materials, too.)

RULE 4: Love your LinkedIn account.

If your company isn't already on LinkedIn, it should be. And your page should be updated regularly, even if you're just posting articles of interest in your field and adding a little commentary, says Robin Kane, an associate professor at the University of Denver Daniels College of Business and a board member at Rocky Mountain HR People/Strategy.

The reason? "When you're active on LinkedIn, this raises the number of views you get," Kane explains. "Then you can go in and see who's been looking at your postings. People who are attracted to you may be a good fit for your company." Reach out to them with your job opportunities and see where it leads you both. Try the same tactic on your company Facebook page too (yes, you need one!).

RULE 5: Bring prospects into your building with an educational event.

Participating in job fairs can still land you hot leads - but maybe not enough of them in today's tight economy. "Fairs get a lot of people who don't have work," says Bill Sanders, managing director of Roebling Strauss Inc., a San Francisco-based firm that helps business improve their management strategies. With unemployment hovering around 5%, the crowd may be limited. This doesn't mean the attendees aren't qualified, of course - but if you're interested in poaching your competitors' stars, that may not be the way.

Instead, Sanders suggests, host an open house right in your building, centered around a speaker on a hot industry topic. "You'll tend to draw people who are very closely aligned to what you're doing, and get a chance to talk to them at length, instead of competing for their attention with a lot of other firms the way you do at a job fair," Sanders says. Send your guests off with an imprinted gift (for example, a phone charger is a great match for a tech company) to remind them of your company and the opportunities that await them if - and when - they become part of your team.

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