Recruiting Top Talent: Bigger Pool Not Always Better
To attract the best talent, forget the bland "we are an employer of choice” pitch.
Instead, be brutally honest about what you don’t want by defining and being true to your brand.
What is your credit union's mission? Why should people want to work for your credit union? What sets your credit union apart? What is your credit union looking for in an employee? Is your culture aligned with your brand?
The answers to those questions play a huge role in attracting potential employees.
“Any good strategist knows what they’re not going to do as well as what they will do. I think business people understand that in terms of strategy so why can’t human resources apply that in terms of talent,” said Kim Ruyle, president of Inventive Talent Consulting, a talent management and organizational development firm. “A meaningless value proposition like ‘we’re an employer of choice’ says nothing and doesn’t give me a compelling reason to be a part of that organization. There must be a unique value proposition your credit union has over a bank or other area businesses and that is what will attract the right talent for your organization.”
Top talent candidates are those who have the potential to advance more rapidly and make more significant contributions to the organization. Just as a credit union effectively communicates why its product and service offerings are superior to the competition, the same should be applied when selling the credit union as an employer.
While financial compensation is one competitive category, it’s not the only one.
“It not only gets expensive, but is basically bribery to come work for you,” Ruyle said. “You have to think about what’s going to engage people and answers why they should work for us rather than our competition. Engagement is a mindset in which your employees feel a personal sense of ownership, and that mindset leads them to be loyal, to willingly work harder than they need to work, to focus their work on what matters, and to stay with you.”
It’s also why credit unions can’t afford to forget about their employer brand in the community, said Bruce Tulgan, founder of management consulting firm RaninmakerThinking.
“Recruiting top talent is not about a sales pitch. It’s about first evaluating your value proposition and if needed, how it can be improved,” said Tulgan of why credit unions must constantly be building their brand as an employer. “If you focus on building the right employer brand, are constantly defining the talent you want to attract, have a rigorous selection process and offer compelling recruiting messages based on your value proposition, then you will have a good applicant pool to select from.”
Read more: Casting a more selective net
Get the basics right. Besides money, factors that appeal to potential employees include the work itself, scheduling flexibility, location, learning opportunities and relationships within the organization and in the community at large.
Experts agree most organizations aren’t as effective in crafting compelling employee value propositions. As long as an organization delivers through its culture, a values based foundation can even help turn challenges like size into assets.
“A credit union by virtue of it generally being smaller than big banks makes it easier to be a big fish in a small pond,” Ruyle said. “All employees want to be part of a winning team where they can grow and contribute. Maybe your value proposition is come work for us and you can stand out, be heard have the opportunity to be a part of helping strategically growing this organization that does mission driven work.”
Potential employees should be able to get a sense not only of what the organization stands for but if they would be a good fit. But the value promised must also be delivered. In the fight for top talent, recruitment and retention development is key. The risk of developing and losing talented staff is better than the alternative retaining a mediocre workforce.
“There have got to be learning opportunities,” said Tulgan, who likens it to what the Marine Corps has done to differentiate itself. “Yes the training may tear you down, but in teaching how to be a Marine, the real value offered are the transferable leadership skills, communication, technical training and other learning resources that allow those enlisted to keep building their marketable skills. So what do you have to offer that will make your job opportunity a valuable option for people?”
Ruyle added the motto of “The Few. The Proud.” effectively limits the pool of candidates to those who want to be part of that elite group. He suggested that is what credit unions should strive for as they define and express what they have to offer as an employer.
“You want to repel talent you don’t want and attract the talent you want,” he said. “It makes job recruiting so much easier if it’s a value proposition aligned with your culture and brand that speaks to only those who would potentially be a good match.”
A meaningless pitch only casts a wide net that appeals to everyone, not top talent.
“Use your culture and brand as a way to raise the bar and be compelling,” Ruyle said.
Tulgan said it’s a chance for credit unions to be creative and rethink approaches.
“Maybe it’s wise to build in a clearly defined fast track option that shows the potential for growth within a specific timeframe. Or allow custom scheduling or even customization of their workspace from furniture to bringing their dog to work,” said Tulgan of how to address equalizing turnover.
Ideally, the goal is to have a credit union’s current workforce become the recruiters or ambassadors.
“It’s not just about getting that talent, every key performance indicator is positively impacted by engaged employees,” Ruyle said. “Work is more than a paycheck or putting food on the table. The psychological rewards are important to people and the organization that understands that invests in taking an inventory of their talent and what they need plays a key role in development and engagement. That is how you retain people.”