Elizabeth Harr

COMMENTARY

Five winning strategies for attracting top talent

In today’s professional services market, competition for talent is more intense than ever. Several factors are contributing, including a finite supply of quality professionals, a vigorous economy and job market, and evolving demographics and talent priorities.

Given that, it may be worth rethinking how your firm is positioning itself to attract the best talent. Below are five strategies that high-growth firms are pursuing to gain a competitive advantage in their recruiting and build their teams with the best talent.

1. Offer a Brand that Employees Will Love

You know how important your firm’s brand is in conveying your strengths and differentiators to clients and prospects. But have you thought about what your brand communicates to the top professionals in your field who might join your firm? While there are many firms with outstanding reputations, the highest-growing firms tend to take their brands to another level. They seek to “live their brand” by creating cultures that deliver on their brand promise. Just as a strong brand attracts top quality clients, it will also have the same effect on top quality professionals, who are increasingly selective and want to join a firm whose reputation makes them proud.

2. Increase Your Firm’s Visibility

The reputation of your firm is one facet of its brand, but without visibility, it’s not enough to attract the best talent. Your firm must also have high visibility in your market place, and definitely must not be anyone’s “best kept secret.” The fewer people who know about your firm, the smaller your pool of possible clients and employees. To avoid that, you must make the effort needed to be visible — especially online. Why online? Because each year, more and more firms are discovered and vetted online, and this trend is here to stay. As a result, you need not only a professional website, but must also be active on the most widely-used social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Social media offers a quick way to increase your firm’s visibility so that prospective employees can easily learn more about your firm’s people, expertise, and culture.

3. Prove Your Expertise

Consider which strengths and traits you want your firm and its professionals to be recognized for. According to research my firm recently did on buying behavior, firms and professionals that have a specific niche, and produce educational content about that niche, are more likely to be seen as experts. They are also more often preferred over their less differentiated competitors. The most effective way to showcase your focused expertise is to speak and write widely on a relatively narrow array of issues, and in the process, become the recognized experts on those issues. The same dynamic is as true for prospective employees as it is for prospective clients: experts attract qualified professionals who desire to work with the best.

4. Embrace Awards and Recognition

You can invest a lot of time and effort in describing all your firm’s greatest attributes, but when others say it for you, it’s far more powerful. Being awarded and recognized by reputable organizations or publications will boost your firm’s reputation and Visible Expertise in ways that are far more compelling than word-of-mouth. This type of tangible and credible recognition from independent parties will signal to both prospective clients and employees that your firm’s claims and reputation are the genuine article. Rather than just saying what you think people want to hear, you’re actually taking the steps needed to be recognized for your work from people and groups outside of your firm.

5. Publicize Your Culture

For prospective employees, your internal brand is just as important as your external brand. It addresses prospects’ key questions: What is working at your firm like? What do your employees like about the experience, and what are the key benefits? Does their experience align with your external messages? If you are living up to your firm’s external brand and delivering on its promise, it’s likely that your employees will feel proud of their role in the firm, and will help spread the word, which will in turn attract additional talent. Encourage staff members to post write-ups about their experience on workplace sites such as Glassdoor.com. It’s also effective to dedicate a part of your website to convey, in words and pictures, your attractive work environment.

Realizing the results of brand investment

The reputation of a professional services firm is only as good as its employees. By “walking the walk” of your brand promise and ensuring that your firm’s expertise and culture are more visible, you will consistently attract the highly qualified professionals who are not only interested in, but in some cases also already prefer, your firm.

About the Author

Elizabeth Harr is a partner at Hinge, [http://www.hingemarketing.com/] a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Elizabeth is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, brand building, and communications. She is the coauthor of Inside the Buyer’s Brain, How Buyers Buy: Technology Services Edition; and Online Marketing for Professional Services: Technology Services Edition.

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