You don’t need to be a high-street name to attract the best talent

The first instinct of any graduate looking for a job after university is to find the biggest, best company they possibly can, and join the long list of applicants in hopes of standing out. Quite simply, these companies are better known to graduates and are therefore seen as ‘safer’ options, even though the company culture of these large companies may well be lacking.

This leads to a system where a single entry level role with low pay can lead to thousands of applications. Such is the power of their employer brand. But what if you’re not a big name in the industry? How can you become competitive in the so-called ‘war for talent’ and what can you do to attract the talent that you need?

CVs are not the be all and end all – they do not always represent a candidates talent levels – they only represent how skilled they are at crafting a CV. Any respectable employer will understand that taking the time to search for the right candidate will trump finding the best candidate on paper.

Over the past few years the recruitment sector has made use of a certain phrase – large companies receiving large quantities of CVs have begun searching for something known as a ‘purple squirrel’. This is a candidate who provides the highest quality work for the bare minimum of resources. Naturally, this candidate is nigh on impossible to find and even more difficult to hold on to without a company investing significant resources on them. For smaller companies, a purple squirrel will be attracted by company culture and ethics above all else.

A recent report by PwC found that Millennials (workers born between 1980 and 2000) valued company culture and workplace behaviour (28% of respondents) over progression (21%) and collaborating on key projects (18%), whereas a report from Forbes noted that Millennials specify ‘work-life integration’ (88%) as a main drive when considering where to work.

In our experience, there are three major types of motivation when it comes to a working culture – financial, progression, and environmental. Whereas some will candidates work for money, others may work knowing they are on the path to bigger and better roles within an organisation, and some work knowing that the company they are employed by is not only an excellent place to spend their time, but actively enjoy spending time with their co-workers.

This difference in motivation is a huge divergence from older workers, who reportedly value a lack of work/life integration and are more motivated by financial and progression based reward systems. In utilising this new shift, managers of Generation X must tailor their company cultures accordingly.

Not all companies can achieve a “Google” level of employee satisfaction, but flexible working hours, friendliness and an ethical work environment are now staples of the modern graduates’ job-essentials. While larger companies can offer reward systems designed towards Generation X workers, smaller companies are able to tailor their environments and target the best possible workers.


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