5 Strategies to Attract the Best Employees

In celebration and support of the launch of our new job board, we’re rolling out a series of articles to help you know what to keep in mind (or, what to highlight on your resume) if you’re looking for a new position in the workplace industry, or the right person to fill it. Here: five strategies for attracting the best talent.

iStrategy Labs in Washington, D.C. The office was designed by Alliance architects. (Photo by Barbara L. Salisbury/For Elevation D.C.)
iStrategy Labs in Washington, D.C. The office was designed by Alliance architects. Photo by Barbara L. Salisbury.

It’s déjà vu all over again. Everywhere we look, firms are competing for the best talent and can no longer rely on tried-and-true strategies. Now is the time to raise the bar on your efforts to find and win the best talent. Here, Marjanne Pearson, the founder of Talentstar and an industry pioneer in talent, leadership, and business strategies for architecture and design practice, explores a few of today’s best strategies.

1. Attract: Align your brand promise with their values and concerns.

Which generations are you trying to attract?

Gen X believes in work-life balance. These 34- to 48-year-olds grew up with the concept and value it for themselves and their families. Although generally content and optimistic, they are specifically concerned about providing for their families and taking care of their own health and well-being. They are looking at their own futures and how they can create theirs with you.

Millennials are digital natives and peer-oriented. They want to work with people they can trust, and they trust the opinions of people they know. They are inclusive and welcome diversity, they have been active in community services, and they seek others who support social responsibility. And they are green — as children, they learned to be mindful of the environment, and they expect others to be, too. Eventually, they want to work for themselves, so they are seeking like-minded entrepreneurs with whom they can learn and grow.

2. Captivate: Put your firm at the center of their conversation.

Before a potential employee considers your firm, they want to find out whether it’s the right place for them — your core values, culture, and work environment.

Have a people-rich marketing strategy. Actively highlight the members of your firm within and beyond the workplace, featuring engaging shots of real people – candids of teams working and having fun together — as well as stories that reinforce the images. Have fun with video. YouTube is the second largest search engine and reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.

Seek opportunities to reinforce motivational themes — opportunity, accomplishment, recognition, purpose, social responsibility, sustainable design. What matters most to you will matter to them, too.

3. Connect: Reach the right audience.

Where do people go for information, for work, and for fun? Firms post jobs on their websites, but only rarely are they captivating. If you want a cross-section of professional candidates, post a job on LinkedIn. If want to create a pipeline of recent graduates, publish a career guide and share it with the architecture and design schools. If you are looking for specific types of expertise, go to the publications (in print and online) that your audience will read. For example:

  • Archinect.com is the go-to platform for jobs in architecture, drawing repeat visitors because of its content — articles and commentary about architecture and design today.
  • TheMuse.com was developed by millennials for millennials and offers career advice as well as opportunities. They currently represent hot new tech companies like Uber and Airbnb, but design firms may not be far behind.
  • WorkDesign.com “explores the ideas that shape the places we work” — new territory with a new approach. As a result, WDM is attracting their target audience and yours, too — 25- to 35-year-olds in the workplace industry.

4. Engage: Build relationships over time.

In the old days, recruiting was a transaction. We posted an ad, people applied, and we hired someone. Today, it’s not enough to collect applications that are scanned using complex algorithms. Smart firms are looking for next-gen leaders and giving them opportunities to grow and develop with them.

Begin your conversation with a great tagline and ad copy. Make your talent message prominent — on the back of business cards, email signature lines, social media accounts, white papers, YouTube, and more. Find the right places to publicize opportunities, drive people to your social platforms, and then create links to job descriptions that skip the blah-blah-blah and focus on them. What are they seeking? What are you really offering? And of course, what’s in it for them, and for you?

5. Build: Create the future of your firm.

We are all in the business of talent-spotting. Don’t collect applications in a database. Open the door to relationship-building. When you find someone in whom you are interested, create opportunities to get to know them better — include them in company events, introduce them to your colleagues, and find opportunities to collaborate on community or civic projects or professional activities. Learn more about them and how they engage with others.

Draw them into the center of the conversation with you, and instead of employees, you’ll have key collaborators with whom you can build a successful future together.

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