As the marketplace heats up, the fight for talent intensifies

American Airlines recently ushered in a number of new hires to its corporate communications team, which had been affected by departures from mid- to high-level managers and directors earlier this year.

American Airlines recently ushered in a number of new hires to its corporate communications team, which had been affected by departures from mid- to high-level managers and directors earlier this year.

"It was pretty rare for us, at least in that number," says Roger Frizzell, VP of corporate communications. "People tend not to leave the airline business. There's been a shift in the industry. Momentum is building and that impacts employers like us because our folks have looked for other opportunities, as well."

Greater competition
As markets pick up, recruitment has become top of mind and much more competitive. In turn, greater due diligence is required from companies in all industries to retain top in-house talent, as well as find new ways to attract prospects, many of whom are right out of school and have a new set of workforce expectations.

Thirty-one percent of CEOs say strategies for managing talent top their agendas, above managing risk, investment decisions, and corporate reputation, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' 14th Annual Global CEO Survey released in February.

Maggie Yontz, director of talent acquisition at ConAgra Foods, says all corporate job seekers - no matter how old - are looking for stability and substance to foster a career path within a company.

"Right now, everyone is interested in job security," she notes. "They want to know that a career will have long-term potential. Also, most every candidate is interested in development programs and career path. People want to find a company of which they can be proud to be a part, where they'll have the tools and support necessary to be successful in a long-term career, be integrated in the culture, and be recognized for their contributions.

Recruiting via social media

Social media is becoming an increasingly effective tool for recruiting, as well as a way to keep current staffers connected, says Lisa McCarthy, director, corporate marketing and PR at SFN Group.

"Q4 2010 was the first time smartphones outsold PCs, so we know that to reach candidates 24/7, we need a way to do so via mobile," she adds. SFN recently rolled out a mobile job center, where workers can manage their job search on the go, including getting job recommendations and applying for jobs.

However, it seems to be a largely untapped area, according to SFN Group's Emerging Workforce Study. Of the companies surveyed that had a social media strategy in place, just 22% said they engage in it to attract talent.

Different expectations
The new generation of recruits, in particular, is interested in degrees of flexibility in both a work-life balance and in what the job entails, says Chas Withers, president of Cleveland, OH- based firm Dix & Eaton, which works with a number of corporate clients, including Diebold, Lubrizol, and Forest City.

"When they're looking at things on the corporate side, they see rigidity and they see here's the defined role and it's in a box, and this is all you're going to be doing, and you're going to be doing it for some time to come," he explains. "I wouldn't say it's a sense of entitlement. It's more that they want to look at their job and not see it just necessarily as a job. They want to see it as a bit more entrepreneurial."

Withers says that, in order to retain talent, it's important for agencies and corporations to frequently issue personal performance plans to employees to gauge their happiness with a role and learn whether or not they'd like to pursue more flexible work hours, or get involved in community organizations.

When it comes to staff retention and standing out from rival employers, American Airlines is providing career development opportunities and giving staff flexibility to create new opportunities within the team.

At American Airlines, there's no shortage of people entering the field of corporate communications, with more and more students deciding to break away from journalism, and studying PR right off the bat, says Frizzell.

"For every job we put out, not even through a massive amount of channels, there are hundreds of interested candidates," he explains. "It is pretty competitive, perhaps more than I've seen it in past years. It's a high-class problem to have because your issue then becomes how you cull through those résumés to make sure you have the best talent."

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