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Five things you should never do if you want to attract top talent

By Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of Adzuna

Company Profile


Whilst managing employee expectations is entirely part and parcel of managing a business, it’s still necessary to stand out in order to attract top talent. I know what you’re thinking - you didn’t have to do this ten or even 5 years ago, so why should you now, right? Wrong.

You need to grow alongside your future employees and be willing to meet their expectations because, rest assured, there will be another company that will if you don’t.  After all, why should you expect the most elite candidates to join your team if you aren’t standing out as the most elite business in your industry?

A recent study found that Switzerland is leading the way at attracting and retaining top talent, whereas the UK comes in at 21st. So what are they doing that we aren’t? It might be that the snow covered ski slopes and the cheese and chocolate filled cuisine are enticing top employees, but it’s more likely to be the career opportunities, job stability and the strong focus on a work-life balance.

Now, we can’t all up and go with our businesses to Switzerland, but we can look at the areas that they’re excelling in to attract skilled candidates and learn from them.

Are you looking to attract top talent to your business? Most advice out there already says what you should start doing, so here’s five things you should never do instead:

1) Have poor ethics and values

This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s easily forgotten about. 

As a brand, all employees represent you. If your company appears to have poor ethics or has perhaps received backlash for offensive behaviour in the past, candidates are unlikely to want to be associated with you. Think about it from a different perspective - would you want to be a part of your own brand? 

Before you begin the hiring process, consider the things that would attract you to a job and implement them into your own business. Make your mission statement and your company culture clear on your website in order to prevent unsuitable candidates applying for roles, saving both yours and the job hunter’s time. 

Also take the time to think about the work perks and benefits you can offer employees and stay true to your word. In other words, if you’re advertising flexible working - make sure you stick to that. Thanks to the advance of technology, flexi-working is becoming even easier to offer employees which will particularly stand out to working parents or those who live further afield.

2) Lack transparency

It’s no secret that the majority of job interviews don’t give a deep insight into what working at the company will be like. Whilst this isn’t necessarily done on purpose, and could partly be down to issues surrounding confidentiality and a simple matter of time restraints, a lack of transparency can be off-putting to job candidates. 

If an applicant leaves a job interview feeling like they’ve been kept in the dark on purpose, or not received an accurate portrayal of what the job role will be like, they’re unlikely to be enthusiastic about working for you. This doesn’t mean you have to give every detail about your company away at interviews, but make sure your company culture, expectations and an accurate outline of what the job will entail are offered to the candidate.

3) Neglect social media

Nowadays, as a business, it’s virtually frowned upon to not be active on social media. With over a third of the global workforce expected to be made up of millennials by 2020, brands need to be able to keep up in order to appeal to millennial job hunters, who are renowned for being digitally savvy. 

Some might argue that the only thing worse than not having a social media presence, is having an account that isn’t regularly updated. A Twitter timeline that’s been neglected since 2012 suggests to potential applicants that, as a brand, you’re lazy, don’t interact with customers and are out of touch - three things you definitely don’t want to be known for if you want to attract the best talent.

4) Be vague about career progression

If a candidate can’t see a clear career path for them when they interview for a job, they’re unlikely to want to join your team. Having no sense of purpose or direction, combined with feeling unable to see how hard work is paying off, will either deter job hunters completely or leave them handing in their notice after just a few months. 

Don’t panic if you’re a new business or start-up - this doesn’t instantly mean talented employees aren’t going to be interested in your brand. If you don’t currently have a finalised structure of job roles in place, be transparent with candidates - explain and prove to them that they’ll have the opportunity to progress within the business as the company grows. For example, suggest some industry events and conferences that you could arrange for future employees to attend in order to enhance their skills. This way, they’re able to recognise that you’re keen for them to progress within the business.

5) Fall behind the tech times

As I touched on earlier, the workforce is quickly becoming saturated by millennials, other wise known as ‘digital natives.’ As the name suggests, they’re not just digital by name, they’re digital by nature so don’t expect them to do their best work on Windows 98 when the newest Mac has just launched. Having old and unreliable equipment could lead potential employees to feel that their quality of work will be poor or they’ll be unable to keep up with the advance of technology that other companies may be using.

Purchasing of high quality devices and technology in the workplace should be seen as an investment, not a waste of money; top quality software can enhance employees’ jobs and help them learn new skills which, in turn, will undoubtedly profit your business.

As the year draws to a close and potential candidates begin their new year's resolution job search, take the time to consider each of the tips above in order to attract top talent. The hiring process shouldn’t be rushed; take the time to carefully plan out the role you want to hire for, where you see the candidate progressing to and the competitive benefits you can offer them to stand out from other companies.