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Recruitment - taking it slowly

Plum Personnel

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2018 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. This involves 20 free events, workshops and training sessions along with thought leadership blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Official Partner and Sponsors – The West Midlands Combined Authority, Aston University, South and City College Birmingham and Curium Solutions - all events are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more here.

A key driver for the successful performance of the UK economy is our dynamic labour market.

With close to full employment and a record number of people in work the major constraint on economic growth is the shortage of both skills and talent. Employers are close to facing a full-blown crises.

Attracting talent and people with the necessary skills is well-ahead of other business priorities such as achieving financial growth and improving profitability. For many organisations it is their most pressing and multi-layered issue.

It is imperative that when considering recruitment strategies to attract the right people, designing the process and methods should be approached in the same way as developing a company’s marketing plan for the attraction and retention of clients. 

One of the toughest challenges that organisations face is understanding how one candidate is different from another, and how to best attract and engage with them.

A key question is whether you are recruiting for talent or skills? Defining and recognising the differences can help you understand the diverse motivations, behaviours, likes and dislikes of the people you wish to hire.

The best place to start is by grouping your target ‘audience’ by similar characteristics such as their career goals, skills, experience, readiness to change jobs and build a strategy for each group.

Getting it right is not an easy endeavour.

Talented individuals are those who have something special that sets them apart. These are the people who will bring innovation and be the future game changers in an organisation. 

The recruitment process you adopt for ‘talent’ will need to be based on career opportunities, professional development plans.  This will be different to how you attract people with skills; those individuals who have or can be trained to do something well and are seeking a job rather than a career.

These people represent around 80% of the workforce. They are the people who are really solid performers that organisations cannot afford to lose and who are as valuable as the top game changers.

Throw into the mix the changing attitudes to work of generations X and Y who have very different needs and ambitions. The millennials are interested in opportunity. They don't want to just settle in for the long haul for the next 20 years; they want to know where they're going in the next 2!

There are some big challenges on the horizon for employers who are keen to attract and retain the people with the talent and skills they need to maintain their competitive advantage.

Our rapidly aging workforce will only make the talent shortage worse and add to this the changing world of work. 

The traditional ‘9-5’ work day is rapidly losing ground as technology advances resulting in ‘presentism’ not being the essential it has been historically providing sought after flexibility for organisations and individuals alike.

The rise of the ‘gig economy’, characterised by people working on a temporary, often ad hoc contracts (or gigs) on a project-by-project basis is just one example of a significant shift in both employer and individual behaviour.

Creating a diverse and flexible workforce can help organisations harness the cream of the crop. Working in the gig economy for example has enormous appeal for many baby boomers. They have knowledge, skills and talents and are now seeking paid employment to give the work life balance they yearn.

Another fantastic pool of talent is the army of people who have taken a career break to care for others and are now seeking to return to the work place on a full or part-time basis. They are undervalued, disregarded and overlooked far too often by employers.

All of these groups will have diverse aspirations and ambitions.  They will be looking for career and job opportunities using very different criteria and search methods.

With nearly 20-years in recruitment, my one best piece of advice is to ‘hire slowly’. Why? Because for a successful and long term hire it’s very unlikely that the right person with the right skills, experience, talents and aspirations will be looking for a new opportunity at the very same time your organisation is hiring.

Add to this the need for finding an individual with a close match to the values of an organisation and the hiring process just gets longer.

Knowing your organisation’s culture and getting the right fit should be the number one priority when hiring. As most people don’t want to work for companies where they don’t think they’ll fit in this is a great place to start.

Your organisation will not be for everyone. Hiring the best doesn't just mean the person that is most technically proficient. It also means the person who will provide the best fit for your team. You don’t want to attract potential new hires that aren’t going to work out.

Today recruitment is focused on searching out those who are ‘passive’ in the jobs market.  Seeking out those people who are not actively seeking a new role rather than advertising a vacancy is now the most effective way of recruiting.

Attracting people to your organisation should not only happen when a vacancy becomes available.

Hiring slowly means it should be an ongoing process with every stakeholder in the recruitment process having some responsibility to build a network of potential talent that can be contacted when the time is right.

Use your network of business contacts and even customers to find great employees. Develop your own ‘candidate pool’ and consider untapped pools of talent rather than suddenly having to react when there is a vacancy to fill is a far more effective strategy.

All of the above may draw out the recruitment process but hiring slowly can ultimately strengthen and add real value to the overall result.

Susie Ankrett
Regional Director of REC
Director of Plum Personnel