When Should You Start Thinking About Retaining the Talent You Have?

When Should You Start Thinking About Keeping the Talent You've Got?

As a seasoned recruiter I have worked with a multitude of companies in their quest to secure new, talented employees. There are usually only 2 reasons that companies engage with me to recruit people for them, either to support company growth or to replace an employee who has left the organisation.

With an ever increasing gulf between talented individuals and vacancies to be filled in the technical industry, employees are becoming increasingly interested in more than just a company brand or having a “Job for life”. In fact some people view it as essential to change employers every few years to stay relevant within the industry and to advance their career.

The key questions companies should be asking themselves are, “When should we start thinking about retaining the talent we employ?” and “How do we best go about doing this?”

When do you start thinking about retaining the talent you employ?

After their probation?

After 2 years employment?

Once they have proved themselves, however long that might be?

Or when they hand in their notice and you face losing their talent?

I believe that an organisation should really be thinking about retaining employees as soon as they begin the hiring process; once somebody has decided to resign, trying to retain them is almost a pointless exercise. This idea may not be revolutionary but perhaps needs a little focus from the industry in general. LinkedIn is filled with posts about how engaged employees are more productive, less likely to leave, and generally better for the health of the company than un-engaged employees. Less common are posts highlighting the importance of the initial point of engagement, which for me is the very first time that an individual is ‘engaged’ in dialogue, and can have an enormous impact on levels of engagement moving forward.

With a significant proportion of employee engagements made through recruiters, whether internal functions or professional recruitment consultancies, it is crucial that companies ensure that their message to market is heard loud and clear, and makes a great first impression.

That message should be “we want you, we want to develop you, we care about you and we value you”. The way in which companies demonstrate all of these things to an individual will vary based on the people in front of them, and a good recruiter will be able to build a strong enough relationship with candidates to learn what is important to them and ensure that their needs and wants are understood by the companies for which they recruit.

As a Recruiter my main priority when working with an organisation is to learn who they are and what makes them unique. This has been a crucial facet within our recruitment processes to ensure that the service we provide goes above just sourcing CVs and hoping that one is right. It has allowed me to find the right people, with the talents and aptitude to develop within the companies I recruit for: the hidden gems that may well have been left unfound. It also gives my clients the confidence that the image I am taking to market for them is an honest and positive one, fully informed on why anyone would want to forge a career with them.

My advice to you...

As an employer I know that hiring people can be a daunting task. It takes time and it costs money, you will have to speak to lots of recruiters who all seem to have amazing passive candidates, and you may not have the first clue where to start looking… BUT - and there is always a but - every time you hire somebody new is an opportunity to make sure you don’t have to hire for the same role again in the near future - an opportunity to find talent and keep it.

One piece of advice I would offer to all hiring managers is to strive not to be apathetic when it comes to talking to recruiters. We are often the first point of contact a candidate will have with your company, and if our experience with you has been challenging, it would be remiss of us to fail to relay that to the candidate. If, on the other hand, we’ve had nothing but positivity when liaising with you, we’ll be sure to relay that to every suitable candidate we come across! The recruitment industry is rather tightly-knit, and we do talk to one another, so the news of a terrible experience for one recruiter can spread quickly. Showing apathy in your recruitment processes will reduce your chances of securing the best talent, and may close doors that would have been better wedged open by a simple conversation. 

5 Tips for Improving Your Recruitment Relationships

Engage - Engage fully with the recruiters you partner with, be they internal or agency. We need as much information about your company as possible to help give a clear picture to candidates so that they, in turn, engage fully. Take the time to get to know the people who work for you: really get to know them and understand why they come to work.

Listen – listening is key in all aspects of the recruitment process. Your recruiters will listen to what you are telling them about what’s important to your company and the role, and you need to listen to what they have to say about what’s important to their candidates. It’s also vital to listen to your current employees, and to evidence that you’ve heard them by implementing their suggestions, where appropriate. This will create a culture of listening which will go both ways, and position you as a caring and proactive employer within your market. 

Look to the future – Explore progression, aspirations and career paths during interview, after a hire is made, and at any other opportunity which crops up during their employment. Show people that you see their future and their potential and are committed to helping them achieve it. Most importantly, show them that they can achieve that potential working with you.

Value them – Look at what the value of the people within your organisation and what they can bring in the future, not just what they earn or provide in their current role. Money isn’t always everything but it is an important factor; if you don’t show people that they mean a lot to you, somebody else will! An interesting article about the importance of correctly valuing both new hires and current employees can be found here.

Honesty – given general – and usually incorrect! – perceptions, I know that some may think ‘rich coming from a recruiter!’, but honesty is the only way to gain trust with existing and potential employees. This is paramount in gaining full engagement with an individual.

Like any relationship, the partnerships you build with recruiters aren’t always going to last forever: people’s and companies’ priorities change as do their needs and wants. Engaging with employees, prospective hires and recruiters helps to foster understanding of these priorities, and enables companies to plan for the future. 

Do you have roles to fill? Or do you have the talents one of my clients is searching for?
Get in touch on LinkedIn, send me an email at or give us a call on +44 (0)1737 822000 for a confidential chat about your needs!


If you'd like to join the CBSbutler family and help companies find the expertise they need, give us a call on 01737822000 or send your CV to