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Attracting, Developing and Retaining Talented Employees

Jordan Bradley

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

Talent retention is crucial to building a market-leading business.

Of the research sample in a 2012 WorldatWork Report:

  • 51 percent of participants were confident their organization can retain key talent.
  • 65 percent reported that retention of key talent is a major concern of senior management.
  • 69 percent reported that retaining managerial and professional employees who are high performers or have critical skills is a significant challenge.
  • 83 percent agree or strongly agree that turnover of key talent is very expensive.

So what do you need in order to both develop and maintain a stellar workforce?

  1. Attract gifted employees
  2. Invest in the advancement of your workforce
  3. Have measures in place for retaining talent

In Part 1 of this 3 Part Series, I’ll focus on inventive, actionable methods that your organization can begin using to attract talent and revolutionize your hiring process.

business woman handshake

Related Article: How to Recruit Top Talent (Even if Your Company Isn’t Cool)

Sourcing Talented Employees

There are plenty of overused tactics for scouting the best talent for your organization.

In a recent 2015 CIPD study, the most popular recruitment methods were (in descending order of effectiveness):

  • Search consultants
  • Recruitment consultants
  • Own website
  • Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn
  • Specialist journals/trade press
  • National newspaper
  • Commercial job boards

Instead of solely relying on such widely used tactics, why not exercise greater control over this aspect of the recruitment process yourself?

Here are some other resources to consider:



Ideally, you want a workforce of individuals who are experts in their particular niche that collaborate to maximum effect.

In most cases, you’ll find that industry-leading experts will have a big social following, so start exploring the niches in which you’re hiring with the relevant hashtags and locate those influencers.


Another method for finding the right people who really know their stuff is browsing blogs within your field and observing which individuals keep showing up.

I’m not talking about well-known individuals with authority and recognition—those would be your influencers. No, we’re talking about real secret treasures here.


Whether they’re writing posts for numerous blogs themselves or simply chipping in with insightful comments on the most current, popular and widely discussed content, you should take note.

This type of individual might be missed by agencies or headhunters as they may not necessarily be working in a prominent role at a reputable organization.


You shouldn’t simply search for your next personnel acquisitions in the pool of existing professionals.

Broaden your talent sourcing by visiting universities to start conversations and forge relationships with individuals who will develop into highly talented assets within their field.

But don’t just turn up with your competitors at career fairs.

Whilst you’re exhibiting at scheduled events, why not also be a little more creative with your approach to sourcing talent at the Undergrad level?

college students

Try simple methods such as the following (or whatever else you can dream up) for getting ahead of your competitors and finding superstar students to drive the future of your organization:

  • Create a pop-up event to connect with students in a less intimidating/corporate manner
  • Approach societies, departments and other communities with invitations to coffee and lunch to reach out to students in positions of authority on campus
  • Enter competitions, events and activities with your own team from your workforce to engage with students in a non-professional capacity

University students make such great additions to your workforce for obvious reasons, bringing a new perspective from a younger generation, challenging your existing practices and having a sound understanding of up to date trends and best practices.

Related Article: Millennials In the Workplace: How Will They Affect Hiring?

Finding the Right Fit

So, you’ve found a winning process for being able to tap into a pool of seemingly talented candidates ready to undergo your recruitment process.

What now?

If you want to build a globally successful business, you need a team that work exceptionally well together—being an expert in their individual areas alone is great, but not quite enough.

rowing; teamwork

Dan Pickett is the CEO of Nfrastructure, an infrastructure managed services and network services firm that employs about 400 people and a retention rate of 97 percent. He argues:

"Retention starts from the application process to screening applicants to choosing who to interview. It starts with identifying what aspects of culture and strategy you want to emphasize, and then seeking those out in your candidates”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Adapting your recruitment process will allow you to have greater visibility into whether your potential hires would fit into your culture. It also allows the candidates themselves to make better informed decisions about whether they would enjoy working in your organization.

Here’s what I prescribe for making this philosophy a reality:

Culture Show and Tell

Interview processes are often intentionally over-professional to apply pressure and test the resolve of candidates.

Scheduling 10-20 minute breaks between defined areas of the process will allow candidates to get a feel for your culture.

This will also provide you with a valuable opportunity to get to know the real personality behind your candidates.

Engage candidates in candid conversation—not work speak, or interview dialogue. Show them how it is to work with you—what the office environment, atmosphere and chatter is like and so on. Introduce candidates to some of the big characters in the office, and observe how they act when they’re on their feet in a more realistic social setting that they cannot prepare for.

Related Article: Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay

Extending Interview Rights

Beyond their work capabilities, you also have to assess candidates on their ability to integrate into your organization’s culture and build robust work relationships with co-workers.

Evaluating whether an individual has the appropriate traits, attitude, values and so on to be able to do this is a decision that is difficult to make alone.

Invite a selection of your colleagues to get involved in the interview process.

This will provide you with greater insight into whether they will find a sense of belonging in your workplace, and also if your colleagues across different areas of the business believe they are of a good fit.

Simulate a Challenging Scenario With the Use of Actors

Test the aptitude of potential new employees by paying actors and/or actresses to simulate a tough situation that could arise as part of the role that the individual is applying for.

There is no better way to assess how people will react to the demands of their job role than physically playing it out.

From the outcome of the situation, you’ll have a much more accurate idea of the actual temperament of your candidates, instead of simply relying on what they say.

Change the Setting to Test Adaptability and Versatility

Why not carry out part of the recruitment process in a public environment?

This curveball will sure hand you with some pretty big indicators on how candidates adapt to unplanned events.

Sitting in a conference room in a professional context is intimidating but expected and easy enough to prepare for.

Taking candidates out for a quick coffee and sitting in a public environment as part of the interview will show you just how focused, capable and confident candidates are in different environments.


These daring ploys may not be to the taste of everyone. Remember that when you’re scouring for highly talented employees to become part of your business, you may be competing against other organizations in securing the right talent.

In a sense, you have a window of opportunity equally as much as the candidate does, and creating a memorable experience will keep you top of mind if your desired candidates receive numerous job offers.

You’ll also find that in using the methods I have suggested in both sourcing and selecting the right individuals for your company, you’ll filter out the candidates who aren’t quite suitable for you.

In Part 2 you’ll learn about managing your workforce’s learning, progress and development into a team of hotshots who work well both as a team and individually.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Jordan Bradley Member
Jordan Bradley works for High Speed Training (HST), a fully accredited specialist eLearning course provider based in the UK. He enjoys his responsibility of managing HST’s Hub - a blog which posts weekly insightful articles on a range of topics related to their array of online courses. Jordan seems to find himself spending the rest of his time running around the countryside, travelling on weekends to visit friends he wished lived closer, and fighting hard in the battle against laziness, amongst other things. You can probably have a conservation with him on Twitter @thejbrads if you like.