How can employers successfully recruit just now

If you’ve been involved in any recruitment activity over the past 18 months, you won’t have failed to see what an unprecedented and challenging market recruitment is just now for employers. Since lockdowns ended, we’ve seen a steady rise in employer vacancies, combined with a rising employment rate. We reached a never-before-seen situation in spring this year, when there were more vacancies than unemployed in the UK. This means that there have been less workers available for your roles.

ONS stats from June to Aug 2022, show unemployment rates hitting a 48 year low. However, this is not necessarily because all the UK’s workers are gainfully employed and at full capacity. As always with the headlines, the details paint a more complex picture. Numbers of people not seeking work due to long-term sickness are increasing and many older workers have left the workforce earlier than expected. Equally, geographically there are differences as well as within certain industries. Hospitality, tourism and leisure have been struggling since the ending of lockdowns as previous workers from those industries have moved into other sectors. IT and healthcare have been competing for the top spot in vacancy numbers and consequent skills shortages for the past couple of years. Whereas, clerical, administrative and process focused work have not suffered to the same extent.

What can you do?

So what? If you’re an employer, your traditional recruitment strategies are probably not as effective as they used to be. Therefore, if you want to avoid recruitment slowing down your organisation’s performance and growth, you’re probably going to need to change some things.

USE EXISTING SPECIALISTS

1. If you have marketing and or sales specialists in your organization, do engage with them. Whilst they may be used to focusing on your customers, the process of what you’re trying to achieve with potential employees is very similar. At the end of the day, you’re looking to sell a job role that has features (duties) and benefits (financial and non financial). You need to progress applicants through a recruitment process (sales funnel) and you may even have to deal with objections from applicants.

CONSIDER NOVEL OPTIONS

2. One of the first things that might have to change is your “ideal candidate” picture. In reality, such a thing never exists. Like with many things, there will be areas that you’ll probably need to compromise on such as industry experience or a particular hard skill. Remember that it’s a lot easier to improve someone’s technical skills through training, than it is their attitudes or behaviours. So when reviewing applications and interview performance, think about what you can train and develop easily.

3. It’s highly likely that you’ll need to rework the job advert copy so it reaches people that you may not have done before. Those returning from career breaks, changing careers or maybe those returning to the workforce following illness or semi-retirement. Ask someone not related to your organization to read through it and ensure that the jargon isn’t off-putting. Does you role really need to be full-time? Does it always need to be on site for all the working hours? The more flexibility you can include, the wider the talent pool you can reach.

4. Additionally, if you can consider people without industry experience, you open your organization up to fresh ideas and the translation of skills, knowledge and practices which could help you innovate and reach new customers. This is particularly true of ex-Forces. So again, remain open minded and consider someone’s potential as much as what they could deliver on day 1.

SPREAD THE WORD

5. Next, advertising roles just on your website or on free sites such as Indeed is unlikely to reach the audience numbers you need. If you’re not already, you need to get it all over your networks via social media and good old-fashioned networking. Where you can, engage your workforce to help you. They may know of groups on social media where your next target employee could be “hanging out”. Equally, they may introduce you to platforms that you might not previously have considered such as Instagram and TikTok. The secret here is to remain open minded and to experiment.

6. Don’t forget to liaise with your local colleges, Job centres and organizations supporting disadvantages groups back into the workplace. Again, some fantastic people can be recruited this way who simply need someone to look at them for what they can offer.

7. Also, do consider recruitment agencies. You might think of them as expensive. But if a role going unfilled is costing you in delivery of production/services, then any fees might pay for themselves pretty quickly. Most agencies will have a pool of talent ready to go. They can save you the time and frustration of advertising with limited, in any, return. And if you select your agency well, they can help ensure you get the type of people that you need by taking some of the assessment burden from you as well. They can be particularly good value for money for organisations that do not have any dedicated in-house recruiters. Also, you may not need to pay anything until you have an employee who has successfully started with you, so the risk is greatly reduced.

8. There are many good recruitment agencies out there. Some specializing in particular industries, others in specific talent pools (like us – we specialize in ex Armed Forces). Ask your network for recommendations. If we can’t help you, we know other recruiters who could.

EFFICIENCY AND COMMUNICATION

9. Do ensure whatever recruitment process you choose, that it’s efficient for both you and the applicants, and has plenty of opportunity for feedback and communication, again from you and the applicant. Many job applicants get frustrated with processes that are long, convoluted, and complex and/or where there is a lack of feedback and communication to keep them updated on progress. (Again, this can be an advantage of using an agency, as we can do a lot of that communication for you, provided you can give the key messages.)

10. With your selection processes, an interview or even a series of interviews are poor indicators of success. Where you can include some form of assessment from the day-to-day activities of the role. We recognise that for some roles this could be tricky for commercial, safety or insurance reasons. But with a little creativity, it’s probable that you could come up with something. This will be particularly useful for assessing someone’s approach to a problem they’ve not encountered before, their communication skills as well as their potential approach to customers/stakeholders or their fellow team members.

INNOVATION

Innovation is going to be the name of the game. We don’t mean doing something wacky and cheesy. That would probably work in the short-term but in the longer term, you’ll be back to square one, and possibly with a reputational issue to work on as well. But you will need to loosen some of the traditional markers you might have previously used in recruitment. Open your talent pool to people with non-traditional backgrounds.