The Easiest Ways to Scare Away Top Talent

5 min read
Apr 4, 2017

top talent

If you want your company to meet its goals and continue growing, you need to fill job openings with top talent as often as possible. After all, your organization will only be as strong as the people who power it.

When positions open up at your organization, do you generally have an easy time filling them with very qualified candidates? Or are you usually forced to hire less-than-optimal applicants?

If your company doesn’t have a problem attracting great candidates and convincing them to stick around for the long haul, you’re in the minority. Continue what you’re doing because it’s working.

But not every organization is that lucky. According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than two-thirds of companies admit they are having a difficult time finding the right candidates to fill their vacant positions.

There are a number of factors contributing to this problem. For starters, companies report that fewer and fewer candidates are applying. Of those that do apply, many of them don’t have the requisite work experience that suggests they’ll excel in the roles they’re seeking.

top talent

Companies also say that their competitors are stealing employees away from them either before they get a chance to extend an offer or a few months after the candidate starts working. There are a number of reasons as to why that might be.

If your company is having a hard time finding talent in the first place, you may be guilty of scaring them away without even knowing it. If your company is having a hard time retaining employees with high talent potential, you are almost certainly doing something wrong. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more common things organizations do to scare away talent — and what you can do to increase the chances you hire the best candidates.


01. The interview process takes too long

Anyone who’s been forced to endure round after round after round of interviews knows how frustrating it can be. You feel like you’re an inch or two away from receiving an offer only to find out that the hiring manager wants to call you in for yet another interview.

When you’re looking for a position at another company, it can be difficult enough to leave the office for a single interview — let alone five of them — without arousing the suspicions of your employer. In addition to numerous interviews being a major inconvenience logistically, the longer the interview process lasts the more likely a well-qualified candidate will be to take a job offer somewhere else.

There’s a reason skilled workers are called top talent: they are great at what they do. If your company takes too long to make a decision as to whether to extend an offer, there’s a good chance another organization will swoop in with an offer of its own.

The good news is that there’s a quick fix to this approach. Hire candidates as quickly as you can — even after they ace one interview.


02. The compensation package isn’t competitive

While it may not be the only factor that employees consider when choosing where to work, compensation plays a large role in attracting and retaining talent. For example, according to Inc., 94% of sales professionals believe that their base salary is the most important factor in determining whether their compensation is fair. If your company isn’t offering competitive salaries, you may be scaring great candidates away before they even start working for you.

As we found in our Engagement Report, nearly 25% of employees would take a new job somewhere else for a mere 10% raise. So even if you convince top talent to accept your initial offer, they may start looking for a new job right away if your pay is below industry averages.

To attract skilled candidates, you need to develop a compensation strategy that makes the most sense for your organization. Create compensation packages that encourage talented candidates to not only accept your initial offer but also to stick around for the long term.

top talent


03. There aren’t opportunities for professional development

Many of today’s workers — and millennials in particular — care deeply about having opportunities to develop new skills and learn new things at work. To some, professional development is more important than salary.

Yet despite the fact that professional development opportunities are in high demand these days, only 25% of employees believe that their organizations devote enough resources to them, according to our Engagement Report.

By definition, top talent is skilled at what they do. But they aren’t content with doing the same thing over and over again and letting their skills get rusty. Instead, they want to continue being on the forefront of their respective industries. If you don’t offer your best employees enough opportunities for professional development, they will almost certainly look for work somewhere else.

Encourage your employees to attend relevant trade shows and conferences to learn the newest ideas that can help their jobs. If you don’t have the resources to send people to such events, establish a mentorship program where you pair your veteran employees with your rookies. The older employees can share their wisdom with the newer ones.


04. You don’t care about what your employees think

The most talented workers have an abundance of great ideas. If you never ask them what they’re thinking or solicit any feedback from them, it’s only a matter of time before they look for greener pastures.

The more often you ask your employees to share their ideas, the more likely they will be to stick around — assuming you put the best ideas into place and use feedback to change what’s not working.

Let your employees spend some time each week brainstorming new ideas. Utilize pulse surveys to enable top talent to share their ideas with you quickly and anonymously. That way, you can be certain you’ll get honest feedback — the good and the bad. Use the feedback to build a better company that’s more fun to work for.

If you’re having a hard time hiring talented employees — or convincing them to stick around for several years — there’s a good chance you’re doing something that’s scaring the most skilled workers away. Take a good hard look at your interviewing and onboarding processes, and make sure your work culture is one that fosters teamwork, growth, and ownership. Tweak your organization the right way, and talent will flock to it.



TINYpulse and Microsoft research in Harvard Business Review


Describe your image

Get Email Notifications