How to secure top talent in a cautious market
With the working lives of so many Kiwis impacted by COVID-19, it’s understandable that candidates’ priorities have changed too.

Notably, job security has become a strong focus for candidates. In fact, research for SEEK shows that 1 in 5 candidates agree that COVID-19 has made them feel hesitant to change jobs. And 60% say they would choose a lower paid job with more job security over a higher paid job with less job security.

With this and other changes to what candidates value, plus an environment of ongoing uncertainty, employers face extra challenges in trying to appeal to top talent now.

Adjusting your approach can help you to attract talent despite these challenges. Here’s a look at what to consider, and how to ensure your people strategy stays strong.

Think about how you engage

According to Lee Marshall, Founding Partner at Hunter Campbell, “the first thing we have to do to overcome the uncertainty is to engage with candidates.”

At Hunter Campbell, the focus has been on giving candidates the confidence that the company they are working with is stable or represents a low risk in terms of job security.

Forward plan and look inwards

At Australia’s RMIT University, they recognise that the attraction phase in a candidate journey can begin eighteen months ahead of time.

“That way, when candidates start to feel more confident in themselves and the economy, they have you as an employer of choice top of their mind,” says Global Employer Branding Manager, Quila Cervelli.

She also says it’s the perfect time to look internally and give opportunities to existing employees. “We consistently promote our exceptional learning and development opportunities as part of a rich internal mobility program.”

Make sure roles and expectations align

Marshall says that it is always important to look at any candidate with a long-term lens – make sure you get to know them and have a genuine understanding of their career aspirations.

Understanding both candidates and the business is critical, Marshall says. “We ask the right questions and do our due diligence, so there are no surprises. By setting expectations very clearly and ensuring we never oversell capabilities or company culture, our drop-out rates remain low,” he says.

Reshape your Employee Value Proposition

Cervelli says employers need to step up when it comes to communicating their Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Traditionally an EVP focuses on what someone can expect from a job or employer but, in the current climate, it needs to highlight how someone can personalise their potential work arrangements.

“This may include how prospective hires can work at home with children or even make the role part-time to work around their personal circumstances,” she says.

In risk-averse times, your EVP needs to attract a broad community. One way to do this is to highlight stories of employees that represent a range of communities, including LGBTIAQ+, people with accessibility requirements and flexible workers.

“It needs to contain authentic stories that showcase what your organisation has built to foster community and career advancement and how enriching experiences have been created,” Cervelli says. This may include videos, blogs, interview content, live 1:1s or webinars.

Marshall agrees and says that “candidates looking to move are asking a lot of questions – how did the business respond to the pandemic? What did they do to look after their staff? What was communication like during the crisis period?”

Considering the things employees value outside of money such as purpose, learning and choice can also help shape the way you attract talent.

Why a strong people strategy matters now

Thinking about how you engage, planning ahead, ensuring roles and expectations align and reshaping your EVP are all ways that your organisation could strengthen its people strategy now.

With candidate behaviour changing drastically since the outbreak of COVID-19, a strong people strategy is essential. As Marshall explains, it saves lots of time by getting key decision-makers on the same page around what talent they‘re looking to attract.

It also helps to align the company values and how to sell the role to the best talent in the market. It allows you to create a strong pipeline of candidates for future hires.

Lastly, it enables a great candidate experience and a smooth process – which will be especially valued by all in times of uncertainty.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published November 2021.

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