Every attempt to try and understand what’s on the agenda for CEOs, HRDs and businesses in general will arrive at the conclusion that finding and keeping people is our main priority. The way we attract and retain, engage and develop, reward and recognise are the key differentiators for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors.
As someone who has spent most of their career around recruitment and HR this comes as no surprise. It has always been like this. The goals may remain similar but the way we achieve them changes through a mix of technology, aspiration and economic and commercial pressures. Whilst most companies outwardly seem to be going about their recruitment and attraction as if it was business as usual, under the surface there are new factors driving the way they do it.
Our networks grow and grow. Every business is probably connected in some way to their next hire. Employees, contractors, alumni, previously unsuccessful applicants, clients, customers, collaborators, suppliers, Facebook fans and brand advocates all have networks. The answer to that hard-to-find skill may already be within the organisation. Everyone is a recruiter. From the barista brewing your coffee to the uber driver who got you home, everyone you interact with could lead to the next hire for wherever you work. The skills you need are in these extended networks somewhere, though most corporate recruiters will struggle to find them. Technology may eventually help as the strength of connections and reach of network become more visible and quantifiable, enabling more creative ways to target and reach out with the right message to the right people at the right time.
Connections are nothing without relationships. You may know people or have access to them, but will they reciprocate in a two way conversation? We need to get good at rejecting those who show interest in working for us and at exiting those who do work for us. We’re careful about the experiences we give customers and clients and the same must follow for applicants, candidates and alumni if we are to benefit from their referrals and connections. Remember that as roles evolve, and we hire for positions that didn’t exist a couple of years ago, then those we reject because they’re not right may increasingly be not right, right now. Workers will dip in and out of businesses, specialisations and projects so we may be hiring less for long term fit and more for contribution, adaptability and future potential. Recruiters, and some employees, will be judged by the strength and reach of their relationships, not by their number of connections. Recruiters will need to show influence in a competitive labour market.
Are you a good place to work? Are employees able to develop their careers and skills with you? Two questions uppermost in the mind of jobseekers as more information becomes publicly available about the type of employer you are. Your HR processes, the way you manage, lead, encourage, reward and recognise employees and contract workers is no longer a closed book. The salaries you pay and the opportunities you offer are now on sites like Glassdoor. We’re increasingly in a ratings economy with many more opportunities around the corner for businesses and their employees and flexible workers to be rated and ranked. Buying decisions are now based on reputation and the experiences of others, and employment decisions will follow.
Much advice and guidance is given to managers and leaders about making bad hiring decisions, with less going the other way – helping jobseekers to avoid making bad offer acceptances. The increasing visibility of the employment experience is an important development in redressing this balance.
Reputation is important and culture plays a big part in how it grows . Most poor employment experiences come from expectations not met and promises not materialising. The whole concept of organisational culture and employer brand has gained much traction but its not a marketing campaign nor a glossy brochure. Whatever the purpose, values or guiding principles of the organisation, the people who are thinking of working in or with the business want to know them. Not only the ‘way we do things round here’ but the why and how we do them that way. For recruiters this is becoming a key driver – whether job seekers ask about it or not its the culture they want to know about. Salary and rewards are important and in a tight market can be a differentiator, but without a culture that will help them and support them in doing their best work and being happy, enable them to grow and develop, then rewards will no longer be enough.
Talent attraction, attention and acquisition is changing. Are you ready?