5 Proven Ways to Attract Highly Skilled Talent

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Finding the best people – the most highly skilled and top performing talent – is usually a challenge for employers, but over the years, in researching how employers land great talent in our NorthCoast 99 program and various survey reports, we've learned some "tried and true" ways that they attract the best people.

1. Make a decision to hire only the best.

Many organizations accept poor fits and mediocre talent when they don't have to settle for anything less than the best. Whether it's a policy, philosophy, or just a general standard, you too, can make the decision to hire only highly skilled top performers.

Not only does a commitment to hiring only top talent focus your recruiting and hiring practices, more importantly, the best performers don’t want to work among average talent or poor performers, so hiring only the best people will generally help your organization retain more top performers and attract new ones. Chances are, your best people will also refer you more highly skilled top performers.

2. Communicate and emphasize your work culture and the rewards you offer.

Highly skilled and top performing people have options, so organizations that consistently land top talent explain their culture to job seekers and use creative ways to do it, whether it's an online video, employee testimonials on their careers website, an enticing brochure, or a social media presence that illustrates their unique workplace culture.

Job seekers won't know that you have a fun, exciting, and supportive culture if you don't communicate it to them, especially in an interesting, attractive, and unique way. Similarly, share all of the many things your employees love about working for your organization…chances are those are the same things that will attract other job seekers.

Similarly, be sure to communicate the challenges, development opportunities, and other rewards you offer. Highly skilled people, in particular, are attracted to new challenges, opportunities, and a rewarding work environment.

3. Improve and perfect your recruiting practices.

Improving and perfecting your recruiting and hiring practices is a must. Your recruiting practices need to evolve over time as you better understand best practices what works and doesn't work for your organization. Gradual improvements and changes to how you find and recruit talent will help you obtain the talent you want. For example:

  • Focus less on time-to-fill and more on quality of hire metrics. The highly skilled take longer to find.
  • Try a new creative sourcing tactic. Finding highly skilled people often requires being creative in your approach.
  • Put more resources into your employee referral program versus writing job ads. Top employers often say that referrals yield more top performing candidates.
  • Use “niche” resources (i.e. niche websites, networking within associations, social media groups).
  • Target passive candidates (those not necessarily looking for a job) in addition to active candidates.

4. Commit to creating a great candidate experience.

A positive and engaging candidate experience is important to attracting and finding highly skilled and top performing talent. Be sure that you are creating a good first impression. Consider some minor changes that can result in a better experience, such as:

  • Make the resume/application submission process easy and straightforward.
  • Provide timelier follow-up at every stage of the recruiting and hiring process.
  • Make sure your recruiting staff and hiring managers are friendly, professional, and flexible to candidates’ needs.
  • Clearly communicate the position and your expectations.
  • Streamline the hiring process with easy-to-follow steps. Communicate this process to candidates.

5. Gain recognition as an employer of choice.

Better manage how your organization is perceived in the marketplace. Position your organization as an employer of choice by gaining recognition in your community as a great employer with an outstanding culture, such as through the NorthCoast 99 Award. This recognition helps your organization brand itself as a great workplace. Highly skilled and top performing job seekers notice this recognition and seek employers with these designations.


While you may experience difficulties in attracting highly skilled workers, don't let those challenges discourage you finding the best talent. Finding good people is possible. These tactics have worked for many organizations and can help your organization land great talent as well.

Additional Resources

Apply for the 2013 NorthCoast 99 Award! Get started on your organization's application today!

Cost-Savings on Recruitment & Staffing Services ERC members save on various recruitment and staffing services including background and drug screening, temporary staffing and direct recruitment, online job postings, and executive search services.

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