In the ‘Great Resignation’ labor market, employers are struggling to attract and retain top talent as the number of job openings continues to outpace the number of people looking for work. The Department of Labor reported this month that there were 11.5 million job openings in March, but only 6.7 million hires.

No one understands the importance of navigating this job market more than HR leaders; the past two years have tested our ability to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. As the pool of available workers decreases and millions exit the workforce entirely, HR leaders must return to first principles when it comes to building a strong employer brand.

The most crucial step to successful employment branding is to define your value proposition. Your value proposition entails communicating your organization’s mission, values, culture and identity to prospective employees. And it means differentiating yourself from competitors and engaging with the right candidates.

In other words, prospective employees should know from the outset why they want to join your organization and what kind of experience they can expect.

At the end of the day, your value proposition shows that your business is the right fit for prospective employees and allows candidates to better envision their roles and responsibilities. It also drives engagement across your entire brand; your value proposition doesn’t just impact the recruitment of new employees, but the retention of current employees and the overall perception of your business.

In today’s tight labor market, having the right framework for a strong employer brand will drive better acquisition and retention outcomes. But the real challenge for HR leaders is knowing how and where to find the right candidates. And that’s where your recruitment strategy comes in.

Almost every business has a recruitment strategy to attract new employees. With the high number of job openings available today, businesses have to leverage every competitive advantage in order to reach the targeted applicant base.

“The labor market has changed dramatically these past two years, and as HR leaders, our jobs are no longer the same as they were before the pandemic”

That means utilizing an exteremly wide range of recruitment sources. A career page on your website that is easy to access and navigate, external career sites, social media platforms, and recruitment events are all tools that increase your visibility to prospective employees.

Once an effective recruitment strategy is created, it is imperative to measure the results - seeing what works well and what does not. Developing best practices for recruitment can take just a few simple steps, no matter the size of your business or your industry.

At PenFed Credit Union, our HR team started out with stock photos on our website and one-dimensional messaging. But we developed our strategy over time to include a more holistic message that conveys our mission and values, an easy-to-find career page, a simple yet comprehensive application process, engagement across all social media channels, and testimonial videos of current PenFed employees.

However, talent acquisition and retention demand more than adopting new strategies and practices. Businesses should understand how the workforce is changing and what that means for their targeted applicant base.

The pandemic introduced broad changes in workforce trends thanks to a forced-remote work environment and an unsteady labor force participation rate. One of the things we have realized is that companies may no longer choose to fit all of their employees into the traditional 9-to-5 work model. With the workforce becoming younger and more diverse, HR leaders must build an organization that considers new employee experiences and expectations.

At PenFed, our goal is to look for a diverse group of candidates who bring those unique experiences and expectations to the table. That includes not only candidates from different social and cultural backgrounds, but also veterans, college students and recent graduates, and remote workers.

Ultimately, you want your message to appeal to a broad range of prospective candidates as well as resonate with current employees.

As we navigate today’s labor market, HR leaders need to take advantage of data-driven insights. Having your finger on the pulse is vital to getting ahead of the curve when it comes to talent acquisition and retention. That means using research and data to identify trends and then implementing best practices.

HR leaders can utilize a wide range of data that can help them measure the success of their employer brand. That includes quality of hire, awareness of their brand among prospective employees, satisfaction among current employees, and referrals.

The labor market has changed dramatically these past two years, and as HR leaders, our jobs are no longer the same as they were before the pandemic. And there are still challenges to overcome on the horizon; millions of workers are retiring and workforce engagement among millennial workers is lower than with baby boomers.

That’s why it is more important than ever to return to first principles as we learn to navigate today’s extremly tight labor market. HR leaders need to know how to build their organization’s competitive advantage and formulate best practices: that means clearly defining your value proposition, reassessing your recruitment strategy, understanding your targeted applicant base and utilizing data-driven insights. When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, one size does not fit all. Astute HR leaders have always known and practiced this, but today, it is vital in order to achieve and sustain success.