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Top Talent: 4 Ways You Could Be Repelling the Best and the Brightest

Top Talent: 4 Ways You Could Be Repelling the Best and the Brightest

 “Want to be on the ground floor of building great cloud applications for businesses? You will be working within a very fast growing and exciting software development company focused on associations, non-profits and public sector businesses.”

This is the language that appears on the careers page of Fonteva’s website. Your association probably uses similar wording in the hopes encouraging the most talented people to seek careers with your organization.

We’ve tried to keep it simple. We have a one-page form that gathers all of the interested person’s contact information and then asks this question, “What makes you special?”

On the other hand, we would all do well to take a pause and realize this same question works in reverse. Prospective employees want to know what makes you special as an employer.

Of course, we all want the most talented and special people to come work for us. Yet, according to Forbes.com contributor Liz Ryan, we may be doing “a better job of driving talented people away than reeling them in, both during the selection process and after the talented person comes on board as a new employee.”

Ryan goes on to discuss her Top Ten favorite Talent Repellents, and I would like to highlight four of them here:

1- Black hole recruiting portals. If it takes a job-seeker an hour to complete all the mind-numbing fields in your applicant tracking system, the best people have already fled for greener pastures.

2- Robotic communication. Once you start to communicate with applicants in the selection pipeline, what kinds of messages do you use? The evil passive voice type (“Your application has been received”) is a surefire talent barrier. Why not say “Wow! Thanks for applying for a job with us. Give us a few days to look at our openings and your background. We’ll back in touch, either way!”

3- Hear no evil feedback systems. When no new information comes in, things break down. If your employer doesn’t have robust, active, constant feedback mechanisms in place and an appetite for hearing about life on the street, you’re pushing away talent as we speak.

4- Godzilla processes. Some processes are good, but lots of them are cumbersome, slow and stupid. If people who come to work ready to rock it are prevented from doing their work because some fear-based process is gumming up the works, I guarantee you’re losing talent. People might be sitting at their desks when you walk by, but their hearts and brains are elsewhere.

I tend to agree with Ryan that employers don’t do these things intentionally. As she points out, often “they can’t see how their systems, policies and attitudes frustrate and repel great people.” Perhaps, it’s time to take a closer look at how your association recruits potential employees.

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