Editor’s note: Veteran entrepreneur and investor Donald Thompson writes an exclusive column for WRAL TechWire addressing issues such as executive management, building startups, increasing diversity and treating people equally. His column appears on Wednesdays.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Three percent. That’s the current unemployment rate in North Carolina, which (after the past couple of years we’ve all endured) should present a bookend of optimism for employees as we approach 2022. This cause for celebration can be viewed as a cautionary tale, however, specifically for employers in industries that have not rebounded. Many organizations are short on staff, and people are changing jobs at an unusually high rate. 

The current talent market is exceptionally competitive. I’ve heard lots of stories lately from hiring managers and C-suite colleagues who say promising candidates aren’t showing up for scheduled interviews or are withdrawing their applications halfway through the hiring process. 

Donald Thompson

In that context, it’s especially important that organizations invest in perfecting their first touchpoints with job seekers, or risk losing out on great talent – typically, without even knowing why. Here’s how to ensure your organization is making the best possible first impression and attracting great talent, even in this tight talent market. 


  • Advertise in places you haven’t tried before. Meet job seekers where they are most comfortable, and remember, that may not necessarily be where you are used to posting. Think outside the normal spaces. Are there apps or online communities where prospective candidates in your industry trade information? Are there forums where they discuss application/interview processes, job benefits and organizational culture? Then that’s where you should be — even if only to gain insight into candidate sentiment and what sort of employer brand reputation your organization already has. 
  • Make sure your job descriptions are polished. Do the work to assess the buzzwords and compelling phrases candidates are looking for, role by role. Are you looking for an editorial specialist, content strategist, lead writer, or storyteller? Those are similar titles, for sure, but different in a few important ways. What will each of those professionals look for as the foundational role requirements your specific organization wants to see? Additionally, make the extra effort to ensure you clearly identify the core cultural values that will not just motivate a candidate to apply, but stay.
  • Ensure that your entire application process is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Go beyond the legal requirements for the application process by starting the dialogue early and often with applicants who may have a need for accommodations. Ensure that your application materials are accessible on multiple interfaces, platforms and devices, and make sure that every member of your recruiting team is well-versed in inclusive and accessible hiring practices. (If you need assistance figuring out what, precisely those are, we can help.) Imagine how many great candidates you could be missing out on by not taking the time to make your end-to-end application process accessible to people with dyslexia, visual conditions, and more.


    • Respond quickly with a personal email, even if the candidate isn’t a good fit. Because — simply put — ghosting people is unkind and disrespectful, and word about your silence will undoubtedly spread. Once folks associate your brand with disrespect, that trust will be difficult to regain.
    • Consider paying people for the hours they spend interviewing. If you’re thinking about including a work sample or project requirement, this is especially important. Compensation during this portion of the interview process shows respect for a prospective candidate’s time and talent. 


  • Be thoughtful about how and where to court diverse applicants. Throughout the course of the pandemic, there are a number of startups and organizations that have curated spaces for diverse job seekers to both meet each other and meet with recruiters who have inclusion and equity at top of mind. Often, these are spaces where prospective candidates can utilize networks to facilitate authentic connections and ask transparent questions about their needs or concerns. It’s in your best interest to listen, learn and position your organization to be approachable.


These are just starting points. The key is letting some of these tips ring true through your organizational values. I’ve seen many organizations be incredibly thoughtful about how to stand out; bolstering content specifically about culture on their website; utilizing the stories of current employees to redirect attention to applications on respective teams on LinkedIn (because nothing rings truer than social proof in the form of network recommendations!); and throwing out traditional rules in lieu of what works for them. I’d enjoy the opportunity to partner with you as you contemplate ways to bring new, great talent to your team; let’s connect on Linkedin.

About the Author

Donald Thompson is an entrepreneur, public speaker, author, podcaster, Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) and executive coach. With two decades of experience growing and leading firms, he is a thought leader on goal achievement, influencing company culture, and driving exponential growth. He is also co-founder and CEO of The Diversity Movement, a results-oriented, data-driven strategic partner for organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives recently named to Inc. Magazine’s 2021 Best in Business List in DE&I Advocacy. Donald serves as a board member for several organizations in marketing, healthcare, banking, technology and sports. Donald’s autobiography and leadership guidebook — Underestimated: A CEO’s Unlikely Path to Success — will be released in 2022. Connect with him on LinkedIn and at donaldthompson.com