3 Recruitment Strategies to Attract Talent in 2021

Over the last year, we’ve been forced to change how we work. Now, we’re choosing to change how we work. 

If I were to look into my crystal ball and make a prediction as to what is going to happen over the next few months, I would suggest that we’re going to see the biggest reconfiguration of the workplace that we’ve seen in decades. In a recent study by Achievers, the results suggest that more than half of the working population will leave their job in the next year. While the reasons will certainly vary, we’re seeing that many people are choosing not just what they do for work, but who they do it with and where. 

What some may not be fully aware of, is that recruiters and talent acquisition leaders are truly the gatekeepers to the future of work. We’re in the midst of a pivotal time for the workforce as there are 9.3 million jobs open in the U.S. and also 9.3 million unemployed Americans. With another one in four workers likely to leave their positions this year and organizations stuck in a return to work conundrum, companies need to focus on addressing this hiring crisis if they expect to see business success.

However, I do not have a crystal ball, and the future is impossible to predict. There are so many uncertainties after the past year, that as employees and employers, we need to choose to experiment with different strategies, embrace becoming life-long learners, differentiate team and geographical experience, understand that everyone has a hand in culture, and continue to reflect and re-evaluate programs frequently. Some questions you can ask yourself include – is there something we should start doing? What is someone else doing that we’ve seen work that we may want to pilot? Is there anything we should stop doing that’s not working well? What is working well, and should we continue doing it?

Every action talent acquisition team is making is progress, and the future of work is now. That said, it is important to understand that to attract top talent in the months to come, we must do (at least) three things:

1. Plant our flag

All around the world, there are 195 sovereign nations. Each of these nations is represented by a flag that was intentionally built, done with confidence, represents a geographical area, and encompasses a certain set of values. Be it the American flag or Canadian, one look at the flag gives us an idea of what the people that are represented by that flag stand for and believe in. 

In the corporate world, companies like Gillette, lululemon, Nike, Patagonia, Yeti, and Zapposhave all done a great job at planting their flags and taking a stand for social issues and working environments. It isn’t just about the product or the service for these companies – the emphasis is on sharing a shared purpose the company and people that work within it have. By planting our flag and sharing with prospective employees what we stand for (or don’t) and believe in, we start to paint a better picture as to what someone might be standing up for and we’re more intentional about the story we want to tell. To help you discover your “flag”, discover your H.A.R.T. Your H.A.R.T is your habits, artifacts, rituals, and traditions. Once you’ve discovered what these are for your company, you’ll be able to begin taking a stand for issues that your company believes in.

2. Bigger than work

In many cases, work isn’t just something we do from 9-5, it is very much a vehicle we use to drive through life. From what we do on the weekends to the number of times we leave the city, state, or even country, what we do at work has a huge influence on what we do when we aren’t working, too.

To discuss things bigger than just the job, talk about overtime expectations, where people are going to work, which volunteer initiative you’re associated with, and what life people might be able to live because of the work they do and how they do it. 


3. Better than ‘best’ 

One quick look at Fortune Magazine’s 2021 Best Places to Work list and you may feel the same sense of admiration and pride that I did. On the list are companies like Cisco (#1) and Hilton (#3). While the work done to get on that list is incredible and should be rewarded (as should your work, too), what is missing is the ‘why’. Why are companies on this list and what sets them apart? 

I would guess that someone that works at Hilton likely doesn’t want to work at Cisco, and someone at Cisco doesn’t want to work at Hilton. They’re both great places to work though. As recruitment and talent attraction professionals, we need to clearly state why we’re on the top of the list and how we’re different from those that both are and aren’t on the list, too. That said, better than best is unique, and to attract top talent we need to not understand why we’re the same as everyone else, we need to know what makes us different. 

Bonus tip – solid companies are built upon a foundation of trust. If you can highlight this through internal storytelling or the way you market yourselves – candidates will see and feel it too.

The future of work promises to be unpredictable, and the following months are going to be turbulent. Many companies and employees are re-evaluating the companies they are at, the industry they’re in, and everything in relation to hybrid/remote work. With that said, if we can tell a better story as to what our new employees are going to experience by planting our flag, focusing on unique things, and talking about life because of work and not just at work, I’m confident that the future will be bright and that the best is yet to come.