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It’s a candidates’ market – Success lies in solving candidate problems

I listened to an interesting podcast recently which argued that the key to securing the best talent in the market is by solving their problems. When meeting with candidates you must actively listen and learn more about whether you can solve the problems – also known as pain points – they experience with their existing employer.

William Tincupp, the President of, provided some timely reminders about the recruitment and talent acquisition market we are operating in today. The current market is what is called a candidate’s market – one where there are more jobs available than candidates.

You need to know how to answer the candidate question ” What’s next?”

Candidates have options. Lots of options. Digital disruption is connecting them with more companies and allowing them to network effortlessly with their professional and personal contacts via sites such as LinkedIn.

Job boards and other social network platforms are showering them with job options to contemplate. Candidates have access to more opportunities than ever before. You need to stand out from the crowd.

How do you do that? Your proactively tell candidates what your company can offer them not just now, but into the future.

Is there a one size fits all strategy?

Nope. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all strategy to secure passive or active candidates. Each talented individual has their own key motivators, pain points, career aspirations and goals for the future. That means not all candidates will be right for all companies.

The companies most likely to secure talented candidates are those that actively listen and take the time to really understand their current pain points – then articulate how they will address those pain points.

Listen first. You are then better placed to articulate how your company and the opportunities within it, align with key candidate motivators, pain points and aspirations.

An old problem with a new twist – Candidates ask “What’s next?”…straight away

Securing and retaining talented individuals is not a new problem. But here’s the new twist – before candidates even become employees, they want to know what’s next for them…as soon as they start working with your company. In fact, some candidates want to know the answer to this question, during the recruitment process.

Often, one of the largest pain points for candidates with their existing company is that they can’t see a path ahead of them that will help them to learn, grow and thrive.

When a candidate asks “What’s next?” during your recruitment process, you can’t pause or skip a beat to consider the answer. You must be able to articulate career path options convincingly and authentically.

This is more important today than ever before. Both active and passive candidates want to know what the future holds for them if they join your company.

Implications for Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Specialists looking to secure new talent

  • If you are reaching out to potential employees for the first time, you must have an answer to the question “What’s next”. Articulate the paths available to employees who join your company. Create a compelling hook.
  • Get the “What’s next” story straight – every person in your company who speaks with candidates as part of the recruitment process must know the answer to the question “What’s next”. Sending a consistent message is very important for your company branding.
  • Actively listen to candidates moving through your recruitment process. Candidates will tell you what their pain points, motivators and aspirations are if you actively listen. Seek to understand candidate pain points before you start “selling” the role(s) on offer, articulating how the role, the company and the candidate’s future aspirations align.
  • Understand specific reasons talented individuals are looking to leave their current roles and company. Gain an understanding of the problems or challenges candidates currently face, the experience they desire and the culture they seek. Only then can you truly assess if your company is able to offer a superior fit.
  • Communicate the role, your company and how you can help employees to be successful in the future. Gain competitive advantage by selling more than just the role…once you know each candidates’ pain points and motivators, you can talk about the structures and systems you have in place that will assist them to grow personally and professionally.
  • Determine if there is a mutual fit – don’t tell a “story” that isn’t true. You want to bring the right candidates into your company at the right time. You shouldn’t settle and neither should the candidate.

Having collated the “data” above, you are now in a position to articulate not only how your company will better meet potential employee needs, but provide a compelling case for why your company will help them prosper and thrive in the future.

Implications for Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Specialists looking to retain talent

Once you secure a talented individual, the hard work begins. You need to re-confirm you will work with them to solve their pain points and follow through. Articulation is one thing, but truly demonstrating you are committed to solving those pain points is another.

The retention of talented individuals is improved when you have consistent engagement and communication strategies in place – communicate programs that help employees to grow and training that will close gaps in knowledge or skills.

You also need to proactively identify opportunities for them to take on more accountability in line with their career aspirations.

Being tuned into key motivators, career aspirations and pain points and taking positive action will help you to develop employees so they grow and thrive personally, which in turn means greater company engagement and better performance.

A note for start ups and small companies

If you are a small company or start up, you may have little brand recognition. But remember, given the size of your company you have the benefit of nimbleness and flexibility. You are able to offer new employees exposure to many aspects of your company when you are small.

A common pain point for many employees with their existing employee is their inability to get exposure and experience across different areas of the business. You can solve that problem! In a smaller company employees tend to wear more “hats” and experience a diverse mix of projects, tasks and problems to solve.

Remember, money is not the only motivator for candidates when considering new opportunities. Responsibility, challenge and recognition often trump salary when it comes to candidate pain points.

Practical examples of demonstrating “What’s next” for employees

1.Create a training and developing plan for each employee’s “What’s next?”

Discuss a specific training and development plan soon after employees are on boarded. Re-validate what candidates said about their skill or experience gaps, their pain points and their career aspirations at interview. Use that data to put your employees on a growth path straight away.

2.Provide continuous feedback once employees are on board

Authentic and ongoing interaction is very important to retain top talent. Check in regularly with employees, actively listen and take cues if you think the company could better meet their needs. Explain how you are going to help them meet their career aspirations and reduce their pain points they identified during the interview process.

Working collaboratively with talented individuals to drive their growth in your company is paramount to retention. It also ensures they will thrive within your company.

3. Show appreciation and gratitude

Different employees like to be heard, recognised and praised in different ways. Feeling undervalued is a very common pain point for many employees. Personalise how you demonstrate your appreciation and gratitude for work well done.

You can easily find out how each employee likes to be recognised if your observe them…or alternatively, ask them outright!

4.Demonstrate your commitment to employee growth by hiring coaches

There is a fine line between proactive support for employee growth and micro management when it comes to employee growth, learning and development accountability.

The most talented employees demonstrate self drive and motivation. But that doesn’t mean they should be wholly accountable for their own development.

You MUST demonstrate that you have thought about each employee’s further growth and development needs. A more recent innovation in supporting talented employees is hiring coaches. This is discussed in further detail below.

New innovation – Talent coaches

As mentioned earlier in this article, it can sometimes be tricky to strike a balance between personal accountability for professional satisfaction, growth and success and the company’s accountability to be providing “What’s next” opportunities for its employees.

Consider this. When you look to improve other facets of your life, you engage a coach, an instructor or an accountability partner. The same concept can be used with great effect in a corporate context. Help employees to explore their “What’s next?” with the support of a coach.

Professional business coaches can play a pivotal role in educating, guiding and mentoring employees in building effective methods to create action plans, establish effective habits to achieve their goals that align with their career aspirations. There is a growing trend towards coaches working with employees in aspects of their life, including aspects outside of their professional role.

Trained coaches deliver expert advice on how to build the professional and personal life employees want.

Research shows that empowering employees to develop unique, specific strategies for their continued growth works. Coaches keep them accountable, focused on achievement and engaged with their plan. In turn this helps employees feel more connected with your company, highly effective in their work, challenged and motivated. Your company then thrives too!


Carefully crafted employer brand messaging and demonstration of company success stories are important. But to secure the market’s best talent, you must be able to understand current candidate pain points and articulate how you will solve those pain points. If you can do this successfully, your company and those who work within will thrive.

Further Listening and Reading

Hire Power Radio Podcast with William Tincupp

Develop your MVP: Coaching for Goal Achievement 

Getting your employees a coach will make them happier (and you richer)


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