Sep 15 2017

The Laws of Attraction: Credit Union Recruitment in a Competitive Labor Market

A large hurdle today for many credit unions is attracting and retaining talented employees. This report lays out the key findings from current organizational attraction research and distills implications for the credit union system. The primary determinants of applicant attraction are perceived person-organization fit, job and organization characteristics, and recruiter behavior. In addition, the authors emphasize that credit unions are uniquely positioned to leverage Corporate Social Performance (CSP) as part of a strategy for organizational attraction.

Sekou Bermiss
Sekou Bermiss
Assistant Professor of Management at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin
Samantha Darnell
Management Research Assistant, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin
Report Number 434

Executive Summary

It’s been nearly 20 years since the watershed report from McKinsey and Company entitled The War for Talent (Chambers et al. 1998). That report outlined the challenge the corporate world would face finding smart and technologically informed employees, claiming that even as corporations’ demand for talent increased, the supply would dwindle. This global issue is so top-of-mind among credit union leaders that Filene created a research center dedicated to, and named after, the War for Talent. How will credit unions compete with larger corporations, with vastly more resources and a greater share of media attention, in attracting talented workers?

What is this research about?

Download the accompanying Talent Attraction Checklist.

This report provides an overview of key findings from organizational attraction research and elaborates on the conclusions most relevant to the credit union system. By understanding the primary determinants of applicant attraction, perceived person-organization fit, job and organization characteristics, and recruiter behavior, credit unions can evaluate their recruiting strategies to ensure they align with applicant expectations and improve their organizational attraction.

This report also places particular attention on Corporate Social Performance (CSP) and its relationship to organizational attraction. Since credit unions embody a commitment to service while operating in an overwhelmingly profit-driven industry, credit unions largely outpace traditional banks in terms of CSP. However, to benefit from higher CSP from an organizational attraction perspective, applicants must be familiar with the organization and its industry.

What are the credit union implications?

Recruitment materials are only part of the picture. Although marketing disciplines are sometimes viewed by credit union leaders as counter to credit union values and vision, intentional or not, every public communication from a credit union, from social media to product advertising, sends a talent recruitment message. Credit unions need a consistent communications strategy that not only works across all media and product target audiences, but that also works in tandem with human resources objectives to attract younger talent.

As Millennials and Generation Z become an increasingly large part of the workforce, credit union communications must be reviewed and evaluated for their effect on the perception of the credit union organization itself and in terms of how they attract talent. This will require strategic planning and consistent execution in market positioning, branding, messaging strategies, media planning, and campaign creation, with a consistent message toward talent attraction. Within this report you will find specific questions credit unions should be asking themselves as they evaluate their recruitment strategies.

Competition for talent is real, but as credit unions begin to emphasize their prosocial enterprises and position themselves in alignment with the traits attracting younger talent, credit unions should be better prepared to train, promote, and maintain leadership in key positions.


Filene thanks its generous sponsors for helping to make this research possible.