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Future of Talent: New Best Practices for Successful Recruiting

Report by Heidi Gilman Bennett

Your business survived the “Great Resignation” spurred on by COVID. Job seekers are out there, and companies have job openings that urgently need to be filled.. So… what’s needed to attract the best talent?

On Feb 21, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development brought together a panel of deeply experienced professionals to share recruiting expertise. Speakers represented various perspectives on recruitment, including:

What works in recruiting talent now?

Here’s a set of the most compelling tips:

  • Intermediary organizations can help employers link to outstanding job-seekers. Downtown Job Center and Virginia Career Works are building pools of candidates who are ready to work, and can help employers build skills post-hire.
  • Get to know candidates by doing a “ride-along” in the hiring manager’s truck to visit job sites. Likewise, a “day on the job” interview lets many potential coworkers weigh in.
  • Think outside the traditional hiring pool – find a “smart kid” for an internship and “teach them from scratch.” The formerly-incarcerated individual may become a star team member. Focus on an applicant’s desire to work and learn.

What doesn’t work in recruiting?

Panelists shared advice on specifics to avoid:

  • To build a diverse workforce, be aware of potential bias in interviews. While our “gut instinct” can be useful, going only on “face value” may unintentionally mislead us into making decisions where unconscious bias gets in the way. Ask yourself “why am I choosing this candidate above others?”
  • If a job description runs multiple pages, focus it concisely on the primary job functions. Ask “why” to every single one of the requirements and “recommended” skills. “Just get down to what is actually needed,” advises a panelist.
  • The popular online recruiting websites can generate significant applicant flow, but don’t overlook basic paper applications on-site. For inspiration, check out the Greyston Bakery Open Hiring model with no resumes, background checks or even interviews!

What are the new recruiting best practices for local businesses?

Gems included:

  • Ask yourself, “what is getting in the way of recruiting candidates?” If you look at the open entry level jobs, for example, and find that English language skills are a barrier, then it may make sense to offer an onsite ESL class.
  • Question the “old ways” of doing things. That “no tattoos policy” could mean you’re missing great candidates. Describing a landscaping job as “horticulture” might exclude hard-working job-seekers. Not clearly communicating the application timeline and process can lead to lost candidates.
  • Build pathways for existing employees to grow. A winning long-term strategy is to invest in the people who are already in your organization.

Whether or not your business is large enough to have a full-time human resources manager or team, recruiting is all about building relationships. The Chamber’s series on “Future of Talent” strengthened attendees’ relationships with each other, and allowed talented HR and workforce professionals to share their knowledge with the local business community.

The final event in this series will be REINVENT: The Future of Work. Featuring Lily Garcia Walton, Chief People Officer and General Counsel of Silverchair, the event will be held on March 20.

To learn more about the City of Charlottesville’s programs to support hiring and training for qualifying businesses, contact Jenny Biche, Workforce Development Program Manager: