How Can Hiring Managers Successfully Hire Talent in a Competitive Space?

As of March 2017, the national unemployment rate stood at 4.5 percent. This is great news for the country, but there’s even better news for finance and accounting professionals in the Bay Area – an unemployment rate of less than 2.5 percent. That puts talented candidates at an advantage. Not only are they highly coveted by a range of companies, but their current employers also go to great lengths to retain them. We’ve worked with several candidates who turned down interviews with top companies because they had too many great interviews on their plate. Between work responsibilities, interview prep, and scheduling demands, the best recruits can’t accommodate all the interview requests they receive. During the past two years, BVOH has seen a significant increase in candidates receiving and accepting counter-offers from their employers. These candidates boast successful track records and have performed well at their companies, and their employers don’t let them go easily. They’ll offer raises, promotions, equity – anything to incentivize their best people to stay. In as tight a hiring market as the Bay Area, this creates a serious problem for hiring managers. Finding a candidate who has knowledge of their industry, the appropriate level of experience, and strong interpersonal skills is all but impossible. So how can hiring managers successfully hire talent in such a competitive market?

To Attract Candidates, Write Better Job Descriptions

While recruiting great candidates is tough, it’s certainly doable. People are always looking for the next great opportunity, so employers need to get them excited about the prospect of working for their companies. Candidates will make time in their schedules for opportunities that promise growth and new opportunities. The first step toward inspiring that excitement is writing a great job description. Postings that simply list technical requirements and salary details don’t grab a top-level person’s attention. They’re likely well-compensated already, and they’ve accrued stature and influence at their organizations. If they’re going to leave their jobs, they need a compelling reason.
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Example of a Senior Corporate Accountant job description from a BVOH client.
The best descriptions help people envision what it would be like to work for a company. If they can picture themselves in the role – what a typical day would look like, how they’d contribute to the overall organization, what challenges they might encounter – they’ll be motivated to apply. People want to know they’ll have an impact on the company, that they can help move the needle. You want to make it easy for them to get excited, easy to apply, and easy to say yes.
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Example of a Senior Revenue Manager job description from a BVOH client.
Your content or marketing team can help with those efforts. As the hiring manager, you define the job requirements and compensation. But a content specialist can craft a job description that conveys what the company is about and what sets it apart. Their job is to pitch the organization to the public, so they’re well-positioned to make the case to potential hires. Enlist your content team to support your recruiting initiatives through the following strategies:

1. Tell a story.

Before your content specialist drafts the job description, meet with them to discuss the narrative. If you had only a few minutes with a prospect, how would you sell this job? List who they would work with, whether they’d present to the board on a regular basis, travel opportunities that might arise, and any other unique elements of the position. Think about how auto companies sell their cars. They don’t say, “The car has four wheels, six gears, and red paint.” Sure, those components are there. But the message is that this car will transform your life. It will turn a boring commute into a pleasure cruise, make you feel invincible. That messaging captures people’s attention. Sell prospective hires on the features, not just the nuts and bolts.

2. Use “so that” statements.

A great trick for writing job descriptions is using the phrase “so that” as often as possible. You want to connect each responsibility to the company’s broader goals. “You’re doing X so that the company can achieve Y.” It’s a simple but effective exercise. You’re connecting the dots for candidates who put a lot of stock in making an impact.

3. Include colorful language.

Although finance and accounting are more straightforward and numbers-oriented than say, marketing or copywriting, their job descriptions don’t have to be dry. This is where “so that” statements come in handy, but you should use colorful language as well. If you can get candidates to think about finance and accounting jobs in novel, exciting ways, they’ll see your company as standing apart from the rest. Effective job descriptions sound like they’re written by real people for real people. An overly corporate tone will not cut through the noise and make people want to work for you. By writing relatable, creative job descriptions, you’ll be uniquely positioned to compete for talent – even in an incredibly tight market.

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