3 Strategies for attracting and retaining the best talent in a tight labor market.


The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October. Unemployment is its lowest in years and private sector employment is on the rise in all major regions of the U.S. and in organizations of all sizes and in almost all industries. In fact, there are more job openings than there are people looking for work.

The strong job market is good news for the economy and for job seekers, but how does it impact employers?

An effective gauge of the health of the current job market is the increase in the number of workers who are voluntarily quitting their jobs, some without securing another position first.  They know they’re in demand and are confident of their ability to find better work. Another outcome of the current job market is a trend among job seekers to “ghost” prospective employers, a term used to describe applicants not showing up for their interview appointments and new hires not showing up for their first day of work.

The reason?

Applicants are now able to secure interviews with multiple organizations so quickly, they’re opting out of their other scheduled interviews. Similarly, applicants are quickly being offered and accepting jobs from multiple companies at the same time, leaving potential employers in a lurch by not showing up for their first day of work.

So, while job-seekers are breathing a sigh of relief, employers are facing the challenge of retaining current employees and filling vacated positions.

Clearly, some companies are better at meeting this challenge than others. And the most successful in attracting and keeping the best talent focus on three key strategies:  retention, engagement, and onboarding.

Retaining Current Employees

Your initial focus should be on your current workforce. To keep your best talent from walking out the door, be sure your organizational culture and environment demonstrate your commitment to employees. Evaluate how your company compares with competing employers, and take active steps to reinforce why your company is great place to work. Secure your teams by understanding what they need and by striving to offer what they value most:

  • A positive, employee-centric work environment
  • Personalized on-boarding and orientation
  • Competitive compensation, including salary, bonuses, retirement plans, and other desired employee benefits
  • Opportunities for growth and promotion
  • Managers who communicate effectively and provide useful feedback
  • Knowledge of their contribution and value to the company’s bottom line
  • Balance between work and home life, including flexible work environments

To prevent the loss of valued talent, evaluate and enhance recognition of your employees’ needs and purposefully demonstrate their value to your organization.

Engaging New Talent

Reports are that 10% to 50% of job applicants skip their interview appointments. What can you do to increase the chances of your applicants following through on their commitments?

From job posting through offers of employment, the secret is to grab applicants’ attention immediately and keep them engaged throughout the selection process. This includes making your company stand out as a desirable workplace, emphasizing how significantly the job contributes to the goals of the organization, and providing applicants with a realistic preview of the job so they can quickly grasp what the job entails and what they can expect.

Transparency is key. Whatever assessment tools you’re using, communicate their purpose to job candidates. For example, if your selection process includes a job simulation, explain that candidates are being given the opportunity to test drive the job and to demonstrate their abilities to perform actual job tasks.

To attract and engage the best new talent:

  • Provide examples of your organization’s positive impact on the overall community.
  • Emphasize your company’s employee benefits from the start.
  • Provide realistic previews that illustrate your company’s culture and key aspects of the job.
  • Demonstrate the impact the job role has on the company.
  • Streamline the selection process so applicants won’t need to wait around for hiring decisions.
  • Use pre-employment testing technologies for speed and efficiency in identifying the best candidates.
  • Consider virtual interviews that provide candidates with flexibility to interview on their own schedule – anytime, anywhere.

Ensure that every step conveys respect for candidates’ time and professional development. This is an opportunity for your company to connect with applicants who share your vision and to begin building mutually beneficial relationships.

Onboarding New Hires

The first 90 days are critical. An employee’s early experience with your company has a significant impact on his or her longevity with the organization. New team members need to feel a connection to the workplace – from their very first day on the job.

Onboarding strategies that reflect your commitment to employee success should be initiated on day one. And providing personalized onboarding is key. The challenge is that creating individualized onboarding plans often takes a significant amount of time and effort – which can stretch HR staff thin, especially during periods of peak hiring.

Fortunately, affordable and easy-to-use tools are available to help you create employee onboarding plans automatically. For instance, our CareeRx software generates personalized onboarding guides for each new hire, based on each individual’s specific performance needs. This empowers new employees with a clear roadmap for their development and equips coaches and mentors with a strategic guide to maximize each employee’s performance and potential. The simple fact is that employees advance faster and remain longer in organizations that invest in their personal growth and career development.

When available jobs exceed job seekers, competition for top talent can be fierce. By placing a high priority on the three key strategies of retention, engagement, and onboarding, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your best people and welcoming in the brightest and best new talent!


Maurie Jones is an Industrial/Organizational Psychology consultant from Orlando, Florida. She has spent more than 30 years in the industry designing, developing, and administering employment and promotion tests and systems. Her clients have included Fortune 500 organizations, financial institutions, law enforcement and fire agencies, and many others.



“U.S. Adds 250,000 Jobs in October,”  The Wall Street Journal.

“The Job Market is So Good, Candidates Aren’t Even Showing up for Interviews,” Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business.

“More and More Employees Are Leaving New Jobs at the Altar,” Robin Madell, U.S. News.

“HR Challenges in a Tight Labor Market: What CHROs Should Expect,” Jasmine Gordon,  ADP.