Talent Acquisition Strategies to Bring Into the New Year

Posted by Ashley Jones

It may be a new year, but that doesn’t mean we should say “out with the old and in with the new” when it comes to all the recruiting methods you employ. Before you’re bombarded with the latest trends and crazes of the New Year, let’s reflect on some of the tried and true talent acquisition insights we brought to you in 2022.

Consider these tips spanning topics like job postings, employee referrals, company culture, recruiter/hiring manager relationships, veteran recruitment, and more.

Capture Candidates’ Attention With Better Job Postings

Do your job postings cut through the clutter and stop candidates in their digital tracks? Recycled job ads that are simply copied and pasted from the government contract award won’t cut it these days. While you can’t change the requirements of the job, you do have some flexibility in how you choose to advertise it.

First impressions are everything so be sure to give your job title and first paragraph extra attention. What can you do to help ensure job seekers keep reading beyond 10 or so seconds? Make it about them. This means moving the usual company boiler plate below the fold and starting instead with what’s in it for them. Consider this structure:

  1. Introduction / job summary highlighting what’s in it for the job seeker
  2. Key selling points like the pay range, benefits or perks to get them hooked
  3. Responsibilities and duties listed as bullet points
  4. Qualifications and skills to help candidates self-select
  5. Company information – a.k.a. your boilerplate
  6. Closing that sets expectations for next steps

Take the opportunity to grab candidates with your closing. Consider spelling out the hiring process in no uncertain terms by listing the number of interviews that can be expected and who they’ll meet with at each stage. These extra details can make the difference between a job seeker throwing their hat in the ring or not.

Read here for more tips and tricks to take your job posting to the next level.

Make Employee Referrals Work for You

A successful employee referral program is crucial when it comes to overcoming labor shortages and competition in the government contracting industry. In fact, increasing incentives for referrals among existing employees was the top hiring initiative in a survey of government contractors by Deltek1.

If you’re interested in decreasing time to hire, saving recruitment dollars, and hiring candidates that will stay longer because they’re a better fit, consider how you can improve your employee referral program.

First and foremost, is your referral process easy to use? Just as an overcomplicated job application can decrease applicants, a referral program with too many caveats and restrictions can stand in your way too. Consistency is also key, so standardize your process for requesting and handling referrals.

Another way to ensure you get referrals is to incentivize the process and offer rewards. While a financial bonus is often a great way to promote participation in employee referral programs, there are other options like extra PTO, gift cards, trips, company-wide recognition, etc.

Read more about making employee referrals work for you here.

Create a Culture Where People Want to Work

You may find great prospects with your job postings and employee referral program, but you can’t get them across the finish line unless they want to work for your company. Culture is a large component in the decision making process, and there are two things people want today: a culture of flexibility and mental health / wellness.

Flexibility in where, when, and how an employee works is a key point of consideration for today’s job seeker. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report, 48% of respondents selected “flexible work support” as a top area to invest in to improve company culture2.

It’s true that many security-cleared roles can’t be done from home, but the “flexibility” we’re talking about isn’t just a synonym for “working from home.” Lighthouse Research & Advisory asked workers what flexibility meant to them. In their survey, “autonomy and control over my daily tasks,” “flexibility in how and when I access pay and benefits,” and “more options for suggesting ideas and innovation in the business,” ranked above “where I work3.”

Mental health / wellness is another important component of a human-focused company culture. When employees feel cared for at work, they are 3.7 times more likely to recommend working for the company2.

Employers can promote wellness by giving access to experts, openly supporting mental health conversations, offering counselor support and fitness options, giving time back with half-days or shutdowns, shortening meetings, and using more asynchronous communications like email.

Find more tips to promote a culture of flexibility and wellness here.

Keep Candidates Engaged and Avoid Getting Ghosted

Cleared job seekers are in a position of power to pick and choose what opportunities to consider and pursue. Unfortunately, many may ghost you during the hiring process if the job doesn’t interest them, they took another job, or the hiring process is simply too long and complicated.

To ensure you keep candidates engaged and maximize your efforts, (1) weed out disinterested candidates early, and (2) ensure your processes are efficient and easy.

A well written job posting helps weed out poor matches, because clear details help candidates determine if they’re qualified. Your job posting needs to set expectations that will match what candidates uncover in the hiring process. Salary transparency can also help to weed out disinterested candidates early on.

Efficiency is also crucial. One way to appeal to candidates is to have a mobile-optimized application process. It should be straightforward and not too time consuming to complete.

Be sure to set expectations for your candidates. This means proactively sharing information about the steps candidates will encounter in your hiring process and when they can expect a follow-up. Also cut down on the number of interviews and get candidates in front of the true decision makers sooner to speed up the process.

Read here for more tips to avoid being ghosted by candidates.

Build a Strong Recruiter and Hiring Manager Relationship

Your ability to work with your hiring manager and communicate efficiently will dictate how well you’re able to meet your shared goal of identifying and hiring the right candidate. Put an end to ineffective recruiter/hiring manager dynamics and learn to make the most of your collaboration.

Time is of the essence, so come to your first call or intake meeting with a hiring manager prepared with some background research. By coming with market intel in your back pocket, you’ll set the tone for your recruiter/hiring manager relationship. It doesn’t hurt to do some preliminary sourcing either. Bringing a few sample resumes is a great way to get immediate feedback from the jump.

Come with specific questions that will help you decipher between a hiring manager’s wish list and nice-to-haves, versus the minimum qualifications and any potential deal breakers. This will not only help you to source the right talent, but also improve your job description so that you attract the right talent.

In your initial meeting, set expectations for what can be expected of you in the current state of the market, and also what you expect of the hiring manager throughout the process.

Find more tips to improve your recruiter/hiring manager relationships here.

Recruit Veterans and Leverage SkillBridge

A successful military hiring strategy can provide long-lasting benefits to cleared employers. To attract veterans and become one of their target employers, you need to begin building relationships now.

Find veterans to connect with via LinkedIn groups, military base hiring events, military transition programs, etc. And don’t wait for their military exit to engage. It’s never too early to start sourcing qualified military talent.

The DoD SkillBridge program is an effective method for reaching military personnel prior to their military exit. The program offers a win-win solution to all involved. Service members can gain valuable experience in the civilian world through SkillBridge industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during their last 180 days of service. This gives participating employers access to skilled and motivated active-duty service members at no cost.

To recruit veterans, they not only need to know who you are, but how your organization will be a good fit for them. According to US Department of Labor findings, veterans place importance in having a challenging/engaging opportunity, impact on the organization, clearly stated expectations, and a known pathway for advancement and professional development.

Learn more here about recruiting and retaining veteran talent like a pro.

Retain Employees and Keep Them From Quitting

And finally, it’s important to retain the talent you work so hard to acquire. If you want to improve retention, you first need to ask yourself what is causing your workforce to leave. Three reasons people quit are stress/burnout, pay/benefits, and leadership/culture.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to retention. For instance, better pay and benefits won’t make someone stay if their motivator for leaving is stress and burnout. What’s most critical is being able to define the problem so you can pick the most efficient solution to combat your specific retention challenges.

Career growth and talent mobility are another important factor when it comes to your ability to successfully retain employees. Consider reaching out to employees who are open to new opportunities, whether their contract has ended or they’re just ready for something different.

Find more tips to improve your retention efforts here.

Recruiting isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in a tight market. There’s a lot that goes into attracting and securing the right talent. Good luck refining your strategies to win and keep the talent you seek this New Year.

1 2022 Deltek Clarity Government Contracting Industry Report
2 LinkedIn Talent Solutions – 2022 Global Talent Trends: The Reinvention of Company Culture
3 Lighthouse Research & Advisory – Why we need to rethink the concept of “flexibility”


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

    View all posts
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 9:17 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation