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How to Attract Top Talent on LinkedIn

Cornerstone Editors

Scouting for talent on the social Web? For most recruiters these days, that question begins, and often ends, with LinkedIn. The massive social network for business has come a long way since its introduction as a clunky networking tool in the early 2000s. LinkedIn currently signs up two new members every second, adding to an existing user base of over 200 million people worldwide. And it has evolved into a vibrant social engagement hub, with thousands of industry discussion groups, original content and news, personalized newsfeeds, and other features.

"LinkedIn has become ’must have’ within our industry," Jason Smith, senior vice president at recruiting firm KNF&T Staffing and Resources, recently toldThe Boston Globe. And companies agree: The Globe reports that LinkedIn’s corporate clients have increased more than 40 percent from 2011 to 2012.

LinkedIn’s ubiquity can be both a blessing and curse to hiring managers. On one hand, LinkedIn is virtually a one-stop-shop for talent: you can post a job on a site where the candidates already are. On the other hand, sifting through dozens of prospects can be both confusing and frustrating, especially when many LinkedIn users are already employed. Following are some proven tactics that can help ease the frustration and streamline your recruitment process.

Get Your Employees Talking About Your Company

According to LinkedIn, the most common activity on the site is viewing member profiles. Encouraging your current employees to create a discussion around your company culture is a great way to showcase an inside look to your workplace. In addition, let your current employees know when you are looking to fill a position at the company. This way they can use LinkedIn (and Facebook and Twitter) to network for you.

Talk About Yourself, Too

Your company page can (and should) convey your culture in order to distinguish itself. Use this space to illustrate how people work at your company and what it’s like to be there. Include pictures and videos from the latest talent show or an office volunteer day. Use this page to post jobs as well. If someone is excited about the things your company is doing, they are more apt to be excited to click on the job options you offer. Set up an option for email notifications that will inform candidates of openings. If they love your company culture, they will want to hear from you about opportunities not only now, but also in the future.

Find and Engage with Passive Candidates

LinkedIn identifies two types of users on its site: active and passive. 20 percent of LinkedIn users are active, meaning they are looking for a job, while the remainder is comprised of passive job holders. The 80 percent, says Joseph Roulades, senior manager of communications at LinkedIn, is the group of talent who recruiters should try to engage with. Because LinkedIn isn’t primarily a job board, it’s not enough to simply post a position and hope that your best candidate will automatically apply. Again, your current employees can be a big help in discovering talent. New recruiting technologies can help you tap into the social networks of your current employees to discover active and passive candidates—this allows for quick and efficient social sourcing.

Use the summary section of your LinkedIn page to fill out your competencies and the qualities that make you stand out from other companies. Be sure to include keywords in the specialties section that can map to passive users and will broaden your scope as a company (for example, a PR firm may find their talent under Writing/Editing).

Search other social networks for workers with whom you can connect and who have experience relevant to the position you’re looking to fill. People often list their job title and experience on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, as well. This information is generally accessible for free and can lead to better matches for your open positions (as well as give you insight on the candidate’s personal character).

Highlight Impact in the Job Description

Quality prospects are unlikely to bolt from a current position without compelling reasons beyond a salary hike. Roulades reports that passive candidates on LinkedIn are 120 percent more likely to want to make an impact at their place of work (current and future). Stress the job’s impact in its description -- tell future candidates why this work means something or will allow him or her to make a difference. Remember: Always keep your writing simple, direct and friendly. Highlight the qualities ideal candidates should have and make sure you’re using them in the job description.

Avoid Overly Creative Titles and Descriptions

While it’s important to engage with potential employees online by showing them the human side of your company, there are a few ways to turn off potential talent. One way, says Roulades, is by creating overly wacky job titles. Wacky is fun, but it’s not good for search purposes. If a job candidate is looking for a job in the sales field, they won’t actively search "Kick-Ass Seller," for example. With simple, more conventional job titles, LinkedIn’s algorithms can go to work for you and filter your job to the appropriate talent.

Being too cool can be a mistake. A tech startup recently went a little overboard when posting a job description for an office manager. The media had one look andripped the company apart. Convey your company culture through voice instead of trying to be web 1.0 and failing miserably. Remember it’s not the 90s—there aren’t raves at bungalows in Silicon Valley every night of the week anymore.

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

Organizations make significant investments in efforts to hire the right candidates – the people who have the right experience and cultural fit. By carefully managing the performance and potential of these people over time, the organization can grow its leadership pipeline, keep a steady inventory of needed skills and competencies and remain nimble in the face of change (which we have plenty of all around us these day) – all of which can have serious impact on the bottom line. However, much of this pie-in-the-sky stuff relies on being able to locate and cultivate high-potential and high-performing talent across the board. Without an integrated succession management solution, recognizing and developing talent can be an ever-elusive process. The questions we are seeing asked today include: does the traditional top-down approach to succession management still make enough of a difference? Does managing succession for a slim strata of senior executives take full advantage of the kinds of talent data we now have at our fingertips? It doesn’t have to be so. Succession management can be an interactive process between senior leadership, managers and employees at all levels of the organization. And, if we trust them, we can actually let employees become active participants in their own career development. (Shudder.) Career Management (Succession Planning Flipped Upside Down) This "bottom-up" approach is gaining momentum because who better to tell us about employee career path preferences than employees themselves. Organizations actually have talent management and other HR systems in place that allow for collecting and analyzing a whole slew of data around: Career history Career preferences Mobility preferences Professional and special skills Education achieved Competency ratings Performance scores Goal achievement Training and certifications Etc. In short, pretty much everything we’d want to know to make well-informed succession planning and talent pooling decisions. For some, the leap is simply putting some power into the employee’s hands. The talent management system of 2011 is capable of displaying a clear internal career path for employees and then, on the basis of all that data bulleted out above, showing a "Readiness Gap" – what do you need to do to make the step to the next level? And if your talent management environment comes armed with a real Learning Management System, you can take it to the next level with a dynamically generated development plan that gets the employee on the right path to actually closing those gaps. Faster development, faster mobility. Organizations that seriously favor internal mobility don’t just make employees stick on pre-defined career paths – they can search for ANY job in the company and check their Readiness levels. I might be in accounting today, but what I really want to do is move to marketing. Giving employees the chance to explore various career avenues within the organization helps assure that "water finds its level" – that is, that the right people with the right skills and the right levels of motivation and engagement find the right job roles internally. Employee participation is key, but make no mistake – managers play an important role in this interactive process. They must be prepared to provide career coaching, identify development opportunities and recommend employees for job openings. The candid discussions require that employees have open access to information so they can best understand the criteria necessary to move to the next level. A Two-Way Street Employee-driven career management is just one tool. The more traditional top-down approach to succession management remains indispensable. But organizations that value talent mobility and the ability to be able to shift and mobilize talent resources quickly will find that attention to career pathing can be vital. For employees, of course, the impacts are immediate and include boosted levels of engagement, higher retention, increased productivity and more.

The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

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The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

Building and maintaining a successful company hinges on having the right people to execute projects and drive results. People, we hear time and again, are your company's most valuable asset. But their success — and HR's ability to recruit, engage and retain them — depends on HR pros who are strategic decision-makers, armed with the proper tools to let them excel at their jobs. Modern HR professionals manage much more than payroll and benefits. But their technology tools, in many cases, haven't evolved past basic productivity software like email or Microsoft Word. HR simply can't be strategic with old-school tools that reduce people to statistics and give little insight into what the numbers mean. Emails and spreadsheets were not designed to deliver meaningful insights into people's performance, suggest when employees should be promoted or highlight skills gaps in a company. For that, HR needs a broader, more strategic set of talent management tools, which lets professionals manage every aspect of the workforce, from training and performance reviews to collaboration and succession planning. Yet, research shows that less than 25% of companies use a unified, holistic approach to their talent management. The Real Costs of "Doing Nothing" As a Talent Management Strategy The critical relationship between business strategy and HR strategy too often gets overlooked by senior leadership. While it may seem like the company is saving money by managing recruiting, training, performance and succession via manual and paper-based processes, in reality it’s costing your business more than you know. For example: Without a talent management strategy, a company with 2,000 employees is losing almost $2 million every year in preventable turnover alone. Businesses that don’t invest in learning suffer from decreased employee performance and engagement to such a degree that they can expect to realize less than half the median revenue per employee. That’s a direct impact on the business. In employee performance management, organizations without a focused strategy waste up to 34 days each year managing underperformers and realize lower net income. To learn more about the business impact of talent management and how to start building out your strategy, check out the eBook Why Your Nonexistent Talent Management Strategy is Costing You Money (And How to Fix It) and register for the March 19th webinar, Building the Business Case for Talent Management.

The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

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The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

With the economy now on steadier ground, most organizations have returned to administering a merit budget to the pre-recession levels of 3 to 3.5%. In the years immediately following the economic downturn, many merit budgets were eliminated entirely or were reduced significantly and reserved for a select segment of the employee population. Pay for performance has become a necessity for many organizations that are expected to accomplish more with fewer resources. I often get asked: "How can I truly award my top performers with such a limited budget? Should I do so at the expense of my ’Meets Expectations’ performers? What if I need to retain my ’Meets Expectations’ performers and giving them 0% to 2% increase puts me at great risk for turnover? But if I don’t recognize my top performers, don’t I risk losing them...?" These are difficult questions to answer, however you can determine the best solution for your organization by considering the following: Are your employees paid at market pay levels? Is your organization’s performance management process mature? Does your organization have other compensation programs in place to reward top performers (e.g. variable pay)? Market Pay If turnover is a concern, and your organization needs to maintain ’bench strength’ in order to achieve its strategic objectives, your biggest priority should be to ensure that you are paying your employees at market pay levels. Why? Historically, as the labor market strengthens, organizations become vulnerable in terms of losing people. Hiring and onboarding replacement talent is not only costly to the organization, but can also cause dissension among existing employees since new hires may be getting paid more. Be sure to stay abreast of market pay levels and trends, and use the merit budget to correct disparities. Performance Management Process Organizations vary significantly in terms of the maturity of their performance management process. Closely examine your organization’s process and look for ways to improve it. If there is a perception that one management team is an ’easier grader’ than the others, the process is inherently flawed and any pay for performance program will not be viewed as credible and fair by employees. A good place to start is to get a calibration process in place and communicate broad guidelines on expected distribution ratings. Variable Pay Programs Variable pay programs (e.g. bonuses) have become increasingly more popular across all industries and career levels. These programs provide the opportunity for employees to share in the organization’s success while not adding to fixed payroll costs. Some plans have an individual performance component which can be a very effective means to recognize top performers. However, in order for this type of program to be successful, individual goals and targets must be well documented and communicated. Again, this is largely based on the maturity of the organization’s performance management process which takes time to evolve. What are the best steps to avoid wreaking havoc on your pay for performance process? First ensure your pay levels are keeping pace with the market Continue to evolve your performance programs with calibration among managers and a rigorous goal setting process Promote variable pay plans to reward high performers without adding to fixed pay roll costs It’s not always an easy journey but, in the end, it’s best to use a measured approach that is based on business needs and a realistic assessment of your current programs and processes.

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