What does Colorado’s talent market look like? How can organizations improve their employer brands? Is there a secret to managing relationships with candidates?

These were just a few discussion points during another rewarding hrQ event that we had the pleasure of sponsoring. Concentrating on “Talent Acquisition Strategies in Colorado’s Dynamic Market,” the day took a look at trends such as falling unemployment, rising wages, and other factors that are driving companies to rethink their hiring and recruiting strategies.

Sessions were led by Brian Wilkerson, a recognized expert in the fields of talent strategy and workforce planning. Brian did an excellent job exploring the keys to attracting and retaining key talent, focusing on how to turn emerging trends into competitive advantages. Problems were identified, discussions ensued, and solutions were discovered.

Colorado’s Talent Market

For any hiring manager, understanding your market and the people you’re trying to hire is essential. The conference began with a deep look at Colorado’s talent market through the lens of trends and data. This provided a foundation for the rest of the day and, subsequently, any recruiting strategies discussed.

Simply put, the state is booming with over 13% population growth since the 2010 census. This means Colorado is growing at more than twice the rate of the U.S. as a whole. While exciting for those hiring, unemployment rates are still very low, at 2.4% in Denver and even lower in places like Boulder and Fort Collins. At the same time, job listings are increasing rapidly.

Looking at how so many job openings will be filled, the answer is in colleges and universities. There are 19 institutions of higher learning in the state, each with 1,000 or more students. That makes Colorado home to a total of 180,838 students. As these individuals graduate, they will increase the state’s talent pool. It all comes down to how to attract these and other qualified candidates.

Your Employment Brand

Brian defined employment brand as “how a business builds and packages its identity, origins, and values, and what it promises to deliver to emotionally connected employees so, in turn, they deliver what the business promises to customers.” In essence, your brand is created through every interaction someone has with you, your employees, or your company. Four major factors were identified that shape a company’s employment brand and, if leveraged, can help attract the right talent:

  1. Reputation: What’s your track record? What are people saying about your company? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears your name? Tune in to these conversations and steer them whenever possible.
  2. Ease of application: Candidates, especially ones like in-demand technologists, are not going to sit through complicated or frustrating applications. Avoid drop-off by streamlining this part of your recruiting process.
  3. Candidate experience: Every step a candidate takes in your recruiting pipeline should be primed to create an overall excellent experience. Leaving a bad taste in their mouth leads to rejected offers and competitors winning the war for talent.
  4. Realistic job preview: Communication, especially in technology hiring, is crucial. Maintaining realistic expectations throughout the process improves retention, boosting reputation and the company brand.

Talent Relationship Management

Once a business understands its market and has control of its brand, it all comes down to individual relationships with candidates. Brian presented a number of best practices for fostering the best relationship with talent:

  • Leverage social media better. 79% of job seekers use social media in their job search, yet nearly 2 out of 3 employers don’t properly use social media to promote job openings.
  • Focus on what candidates care about most: compensation, career growth, and work-life balance.
  • Follow up quickly with candidates while making the hiring process as short as possible.
  • Get hiring managers on the same page. These are the individuals in direct contact with candidates and can make the strongest impact.
  • Utilize analytics. After years of hiring, a company should have tremendous amounts of data surrounding their talent acquisition. Stats on time-to-fill, turnover, application rates, and more can help shape recruiting processes for the better.

Hiring in Colorado

By the end of the day, all attendees came away with actionable tips to boost their talent acquisition strategies. For all four of us in attendance from BridgeView IT, it was inspiring to see nearly 100 people come together to discuss their challenges and find collective solutions. We’ve sponsored many hrQ events in the past, and we look forward to participating in many more insightful events in the future.

“We’re grateful to BridgeView IT for sponsoring another wonderful hrQ event. With their help, we once again brought together exceptional minds to discuss one of the country’s most exciting markets.”

Anne Mounts, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of hrQ

Want to discuss talent acquisition strategies for your business? Reach out to us here.

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Written: September 2019