How do you attract the top talent over your competition?

Our experienced talent consultant Dominic Black shares his insights with you on how to attract and secure top talent before your competition do.

There are hundreds of techniques when it comes to candidate attraction, some more effective than others.  As a talent consultant I see a huge variety of successful, and less successful, approaches which has given me a well-rounded vision of exactly what works when it comes to securing the top talent.  I’ve brainstormed by ideas and shared them below.

Ideal candidate profile

It’s important to remember that your company, this role, will not appeal to everyone.  You can’t appeal to the ALL the top talent.  However, you can cater to specific motivations that relate to your ideal candidate, which brings us on to my first suggestion of building an ideal candidate profile.

I recommend sitting down and brainstorming exactly what your ideal candidate looks like.  This should then feed into what your recruitment/attraction strategy looks like and make your company, and this role, 90% more appealing to the top talent in this niche. By creating a candidate profile, you give yourselves more direction on exactly who you’re looking for.  You have identified the required qualities as well as their interests and wider background.  By contextualising the candidates, you can then structure your offering around what motivates them.

For example, if you are a company that sells outdoors products, the type of people that you would want to hire would be motivated by spending time outside.  I would suggest then offering incentives such as an ‘Annual Family Camping Holiday’. You can immediately see that this would stand out amongst your competitors more than the classic ‘competitive holiday allowances’ and ‘free lunches’ which is being offered by 200 other companies.   By identifying where the free space is in your sector in terms of perks and then providing something that fills this you immediately stand out to your ideal candidates.

Another example would be a recent company I worked with who offered working week vacations.  They were part of the WeWork network, and had a high number of millennial staff who loved the idea of trying out working in a different country.  This client was able to use any WeWork office across Europe to work and therefore organised working holidays every quarter for employees to experience working in a different country and see the sites a little while not taking time out of their diaries.

This feeds into what I’ll talk about later regarding making your offer something that your candidates cannot refuse.  If you know your candidates, you’ll be providing a more unique perk/package which will appeal to them more than your competitors.

Employee referral schemes

My second piece of advice would be to use your employees’ networks.  If you have hired good people, who already meet your ideal candidate requirements then the chances are that your good people will know other good people.  By utilising their network, you are also actively reaching out to passive candidates, the holy grail of the talent pool.

To encourage employee referrals, I suggest implementing an employee referral scheme if you’ve not already.  This can be a simple financial bonus, additional annual leave or a voucher bonus. Again, make sure the reward reflects what motivates your team.

There is also a way to feed this into the hiring process, companies like Google and Facebook aim to recruit teams rather than people.  They will ask their new hires “Who else would you like me to hire?”.  It has been proven that an employee is likely to stay in a role longer after a successful referral.  This is in your interest too; good people will have ideas for high performing, great teams they would like to build around them.

Get the candidates through the door

Remember that, from an outside perspective, you and your competitors will look similar to prospective candidates.  You will need to show them why you are different, and the best way to do this is to invite them in, let the walls down and show them exactly why your company is a better option.

It’s a common practice that isn’t often discussed, however this is particularly important when it comes to poaching talent from your competitors.  Once you understand what their challenges are at their current employer you can show them exactly why you are different and cater to what excites them more effectively.

Boost the candidate experience

You want to nurture your candidates throughout the application process, from the first touch point with your company right through to interview and offer you need to ensure this process tells the right message about your company.

If your application process starts with online tests, candidates might feel like they are one of a number, that this is not a very ‘human’ company.  You can mitigate this risk by taking care of the communication around these tests, educating your candidates on why they are important and what you’re testing for.

Other simple ways to improve the candidate experience is to be strategic around who they meet throughout the interview process.  Realistically, it’s a good idea for them to meet their line manager, a senior manager and potentially a peer.  There is no need for them to meet hundreds of people and reducing the number of contact points has a positive impact on the candidate experience.

When it comes down to making the offer, this is where you can seriously dent a candidate’s experience of your company.  If they are good and you want them in your business, offer them your best offer.  You don’t want to offend anyone by offering too low a reward package, plus at this point they might have other offers and you want to be as competitive as possible.  Remember when you’re making the offer, your ideal candidate profile and what they would be motivated by.

Retain the talent when you’ve won it

It’s all very well winning the top talent, but if you don’t follow through on the promises you’ve made as an employer throughout the hiring process you might lose them very quickly.  To retain the individual, make sure you have cultured an atmosphere that cares.

We find that people are attracted to work for companies for a mixture of their purpose, their culture and the perks on offer, however people will stay at a company for the culture (and a little bit for the perks).  You need to make sure you are meeting their expectations on these two fronts and that your new hires don’t just feel like a number on a spreadsheet.

So, I’ve covered quite a lot here so here’s a summary of key takeaways.

  • Build a candidate profile – spend time thinking about exactly who you are looking for, and what motivates them so you can create an attraction strategy around this.
  • Review your employee referral process – good people will know good people, utilise these networks by incentivising their referrals, at peak hiring times you can even boost the incentive.
  • Let down the office walls – Remember that from the outside companies can look the same, bring potential candidates inside the office and help them understand why you are not only different, but better.
  • Perfect the candidate experience – Candidate experience is what will sell your company, all your touch points throughout the hiring process need to leave the candidate feeling happy, excited and satisfied.
  • Follow through on your promises – You want to ensure you’re retaining the talent you attract so make sure that all your promises during the hiring process are being realised by your employees.


If anyone reading this is looking for support with their attraction strategy, drilling down their ideal candidate profile or just need a hand finding these candidates make sure to speak to Dom ( 


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