Sourcing and hiring the highest potential talent can be a complex challenge for many employers when recruiting for early-level roles. To ‘win the talent battle’, companies must take a different approach.

Attracting sales talent used to be a routine task for global corporations. For Sales hiring, and in particular early-level sales, it was an employer’s market. Top-flight, global, cool brands were a haven for graduates and early in career talent, with promises of rich rewards, career progression, and a fun work environment in return for their hard work and results. These employers held structured, arduous interview and assessment processes, and were expected to be over-subscribed with the best candidates. The entire recruitment process might involve ten or more stages, and run several weeks or even months before a decision was made.

Today’s hiring scene is evolving. The market for early-level sales talent continues to be hotly competed, despite the uncertain global environment, and these individuals are targeting prospective employers with a different mix of priorities. Many employers are left surprised and disappointed with the calibre they are attracting, and their experience has changed how they market open roles to reach a wider pool of targeted audience. Here are the 10 ways to attract the best early-level talent in this evolving market:

1. Create a specific, engaging role description: define the job clearly and realistically, highlighting autonomy and responsibility, as well as how high performance is recognised. Avoid long lists of unrealistic and vague pre-requisites – these can create an image of a legacy or inflexible team or organisation.

2. Demonstrate a strong corporate brand: not every brand has the ‘cool factor’, but the best talent is looking for successful, resilient companies they can be proud to work for. A strong social media presence, a high-tech and flexible working environment, and a mantra of social and environmental responsibility all appeal to today’s applicants.

3. Utilise word of mouth and referrals: your own people will sell your organisation better than anyone! Build a strong referral program and the talent will come. Furthermore, your employees will only refer friends and former colleagues that they feel will be a great fit in your company.

4. Build relationships with Universities and Colleges: research shows that companies with an on-campus brand are often those that get considered first by the younger talent, even many years into their professional careers.

5. Demonstrate professional growth opportunities: early-level talent seeks an environment where they can learn and build their capabilities fast. Offering continuous development and fast career paths will appeal to the top calibre individuals.

6. Think differently about the hiring processes:  the top tier of talent continues to be in high demand, and a long, drawn-out recruitment process will likely miss out on the best of the best. Allow candidates not only to represent themselves fully and effectively, but also to get an insight into your company’s culture and best practices. A gruelling midnight phone interview with an executive on the other side of the world, or a series of ten interviews over two months rarely create a great impression!

7. Embrace and promote diversity: appeal to applicants from all different backgrounds. Not only can you tap into greater pools of diverse talent; it will also promote your company’s inclusive brand.

8. Demonstrate fun and flexibility: many of the best candidates seek employers that focus on their people, particularly during this global pandemic.  Companies that empower their teams to work truly flexibly, provide social and giving back opportunities (even virtually), as well as dynamic, high-tech work processes, most often come up as the top talent destinations.

9. Offer benefits beyond pay: company shares, paid time-off, lifestyle benefits such as memberships and professional subscriptions, as well as other unique perks will go a long way to attracting the best talent.

10. Build a quality Intern program: internships are a great opportunity for companies to demonstrate their culture, working practices and values; and in turn to assess talent more closely before making hiring decisions.

Once your new talent is hired, the next important steps are onboarding, developing and retaining them in your company. As part of my blog series on Managing the Evolving Workforce, I will be discussing how organizations can successfully onboard their new talent. We will take a dive deep into what employee onboarding is, what the process entails, and why it should matter to people-centric organizations.

You can also browse my previous post for Cisco Viewpoints relating to Managing the Evolving Workforce here or check out our most recent posts.

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