Retaining Top Talent

A few years ago, I started reading articles that discussed how companies were hunkering down during the recession and shedding unnecessary expenses in order to make it through without necessarily introducing layoffs. The author went on to note that these businesses were focused on hording cash and attempting to build liquid assets (rather than invest too much in infrastructure, etc.), and in doing so would be in a better position to grow quickly once signs of a recovery started to appear.

When I look at colleagues and friends in the past year, a number have been presented with new opportunities, almost all of which stemmed from their ability to deliver consistent value to their present organizations. In part, I am certain why each was offered a new opportunity and given the chance to forge a new career path as a result of years of hard work.

For those that were recruited away to join other businesses, it’s worthy to note that each approached their job as a team player, and none took a “me first” attitude. These new opportunities came from companies that are now capitalizing on attracting top talent as a result of their recent strategies to cling to cash and wait for the market to return. According to conversations that I have had with friends and colleagues, even individuals that weren't happy in their position tended to wait out the state of the job market before attempting to look elsewhere for employment.

Competition for talent has been increasing, and in certain sectors of industry, it’s almost become a job hunter’s market (especially among those that possess sought-after skills and the longevity on their resumes to demonstrate commitment). On the flip side, those employees that approached their positions only as an opportunity to gain promotion via job hopping are actually at a disadvantage when stood up against comparable candidates. (One of the main things that I would note when screening resumes was longevity in employment. I also took note whether or not the candidate was presently employed or not.)

Introduce the Social Job Hunt

Back in the days following the burst of the Dot-Com bubble, the place online to look for jobs was (Industry-specific sites also crept up, like and Now, with the rise of social media platforms and massive adoption, the job hunt has evolved. In fact, LinkedIn has become the standard, natural way to build online professional references and highlight credentials through existing (mostly business) relationships. Just like Amazon and eBay introduced the world to peer-reviewed products and consumer experiences, LinkedIn enables both employers and employees the advantages of ratifying one’s work ethic and acumen to getting the job done.

This trend will not subside, and in fact is predicted to grow significantly over time. Use it to your advantage.

Marketing One’s Personal Brand

As more information becomes publicly available (the majority of which is now self-published on social media sites), it is imperative that employees and job hunters maintain an online presence that is representative of their professional appearance and goals. To that extent, here are a few pieces of advice that I can offer:

  • Cultivate the persona that highlights the attributes demonstrating the job that you seek not the lifestyle you live. (This is an extension of the saying that, “You dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”)
  • Maintain your online presence and do represent yourself, but stray from expressing polarizing viewpoints or discussing topics that employers might find unbecoming or questionable.
  • Avoid any photography that you wouldn't want displayed for the general public to see.
  • Don’t post anything online that you wouldn't write on the back of a postcard.
  • Deactivate old accounts. If you’re not using a social network or website anymore (think MySpace), delete the account.

This final point is important. Be sure to maintain the information that you've posted online. It’s common for potential employers to Google you to see what is returned, and one of the last things you want to appear is your profile from a website that you no longer frequent. I had an applicant last year that was very professional on paper and in person, and her resume touted her knowledge and savvy with current technology; however, a quick search on the web (using her email and her name) brought back a slew of results, including a MySpace page that had not been updated in over three years.

Before you apply for that next position, take into account how your personal brand might represent you. Be sure to Google yourself, and take note of what is returned.