4 Steps to Recruiting With Purpose

Every business enters the battle for top talent, whether you are fighting to recruit recent grads or top senior management. It’s not easy for anyone when trends are showing widespread talent and skill shortages across generations and around the globe. Employees clearly have the luxury of mobility and choice. In this arena, how do you win the best?

As we show in our forthcoming book The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good employees are drawn to companies with a clear and authentic purpose. Eighty-five percent of US employees said they will stay longer with an employer with a high level of social responsibility and a UK report shows that 42% of Britain’s workforce want to work for a company that is making a positive difference in society. For millennials, 60% said they choose a sense of purpose as part of the reason they work for a company and Gallup reports that a full 50% of millennials say they’d rather take a pay cut then work for a company with unethical business practices.

At this era when employees are focused on social good, here are four practices to help you win the war for top talent:

1. Showcase purpose from the start

Use the application and interview processes to show candidates that purpose is front and center in your company. Clearly feature your values and purpose in your communications. Make sure that the job descriptions you post speak directly to the values of the people you’re trying to attract in today’s evolving market. Don’t just include the duties, requirements, and responsibilities of the position; describe your company’s story, its ethos, and how its purpose ties to your team members’ values and goals. Be bold and highlight how your mission is integral to every aspect of the company and culture.

During the interview ask prospects what their life purpose is, what they want to contribute, what their deepest values are, and what issues they care most about. In turn, share your personal purpose and how it is realized through your work in the company.

2. Build purpose into recruiting and onboarding

Give candidates a compelling mission and purpose that motivates them to work for you. Don’t be afraid to state your purpose in a way that’s unique to your organization: Airbnb, for example, promises prospective workers the chance to “create a world that inspires human connection.” Instead of focusing on the details of what they will do, highlight how they will find meaning and help you change the world. During onboarding, share stories that make your purpose come alive. Use videos and testimonials to profile employees and show how working for your company makes a difference and creates meaning and satisfaction.

3. Make your career site a purpose site

Use your career webpage to showcase your corporate culture and tell prospective workers how your vision is centered on your purpose.  Ask yourself:

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  • Does my company’s employment website engage prospective talent?
  • Does it show meaningful, purposeful work in action?
  • Does it provide clear and compelling statements about our values and what we stand for?
  • Does it show opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and make the world a better place?
  • Does it provide a behind-the-scenes look into what it’s like to work here?
  • Does it feature the voice of the employee so that job seekers can see firsthand how your organization changes lives?

If you can’t answer yes to most of these questions, it’s time to change your site and be more deliberate about telling your story and making your purpose known.

4. Make your mission real for newbies

Provide recruits with compelling evidence of how your company lives its mission. Like consumers, employees are skeptical of company claims. They want concrete proof of purpose, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. They want to see how they will be personally be involved in the good work that you’re doing. Demonstrate with specific data how company initiatives have made an impact in the lives of others, but you’ll also want to approach recruits in a more personal manner. Bring in current employees to talk about what working for a purposeful company has meant to them. In everything you do, you want to show that your company’s authentic purpose is real and tangible. When you send the message that purpose is important to your organization; it also increases the likelihood of hiring people with a purpose orientation toward work so you can win the war for top talent.

John Izzo

John Izzo is president of Izzo Associates. He has spoken to over one million people and advised over 500 companies, including IBM, Qantas, the Mayo Clinic, Verizon, RBC, TELUS, Walmart, DuPont, Humana, Microsoft, and IBM. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Awakening Corporate Soul.

Jeff Vanderwielen

Jeff Vanderwielen is vice president of consulting at Izzo Associates and a former senior change consultant at Ernst & Young with 20-plus years of experience helping organizations manage large-scale change and articulate a compelling purpose - their core good - as the organizing center for their vision, strategy, and culture.