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The "war for talent" has been grabbing headlines for over twenty years, after McKinsey's Steve Hankin coined the term in 1997 and wrote a book with the same name. Back then, the phrase referred to growing competition to attract and retain employees as Baby Boomers left the workforce. The war for talent still rages on in 2018, but now applies to companies struggling to fill open positions with candidates qualified-enough to fill skill gaps created by emerging technologies.

In 2018 recruiting landscape, top candidates are few and far between, which means they get to call the shots, while companies continue to compete in recruitment. There's particularly fierce competition among organizations in technology and engineering fields, where skilled employees are especially sparse. This shortage can be incredibly damaging—according to the Hays US 2018 Salary Guide, 92 percent of the survey's respondents said that a skills shortage is negatively impacting their business.

During this tough time for hiring, it pays to put effort into developing an effective recruiting strategy. Organizations that are able to effectively recruit talent have 18 percent higher revenues and 30 percent greater profitability than organizations that aren't as apt, according to Bersin by Deloitte's January report, Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and ExecutionHigh-performing talent teams are proactive, strategic and innovative in their endeavors; they don't take a scattered "post and pray" approach to hiring. What do these organizations have in common, and how can you apply their methods at your company? To improve your recruiting strategy in 2018, focus on these three areas:

1) Be "at One" With the Business

Talent acquisition should not be separate from the core of the business. For talent teams to be their most effective, they need to be strategically aware of and integrated with overall company goals, so that they are able to participate, and importantly, anticipate future business requirements.

To stay in-tune with company strategy, have regular check-ins with leaders to ensure that corporate initiatives align with hiring initiatives, and adjust them accordingly if they're out of sync.

2) Make Recruitment About Candidates, Not the Company

Employees want to feel special and wanted, so rather than taking a blanket approach to recruitment in 2018, effective recruiters should take the time to market roles to specific candidates and create a more personalized candidate journey for them. Shift your perspective and consider how candidates experience the hiring process from their first click on the careers page, throughout the application and interview process, all the way until the post-interview stage. Are candidates looked after? Have you built a connection with them? Are you communicating with them consistently?

It's also important to consider whether or not new recruits will fit into the company culture. Rather than solely focusing on skills and experience, 90 percent of top recruiters consider candidates' work ethic, values and potential, according to the Bersin report, compared with only 35 percent of low-performing recruiters. A cultural fit is important, because candidates with the right values will continue to feed into and reinforce the company culture.

3) Use the Right Technology

Mature talent teams need to look to the future and find tools that enable organizations to teach employees new skills as skill gaps form. Deloitte's report shows that forward-looking teams are four times more likely to coach and develop their people than poorly-performing recruiters.

It's crucial to keep up not only with learning technology, but also other emerging tools. For example, effective recruiters are six times more likely than low performers to use artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive data analytics to stamp out any possible bias in their recruiting methods and constantly improve the calibre of candidates they source.

The war for talent shows little sign of abating in 2018. Companies that want to be the best need to bring the best recruiting strategies to the table, and that means putting thoughtful, proactive effort into talent acquisition rather than being reactive.

Photo: Creative Commons