4 Things Recruiters Should Do Differently

Recruitment is changing. The way that organisations attract, hire, onboard, engage, and retain the people they need may be a significant differentiator but increasingly also defines their ability to grow and succeed as a business. To facilitate this Talent Management is no longer purely about developing a group of early-identified potentials, but instead represents the route to developing and honing the range of skills and capabilities that will be needed to meet evolving commercial challenges.

However the role of HR develops, the need to acquire, develop and curate skills and knowledge will continue to be a key part. This acquisition and deployment will come through a mix of permanent, interim, freelance and collaborative employment models.

The issues facing hiring teams are well documented. Allegedly they keep CEOs and HRDs awake at night, and top the list of concerns on most business surveys. Moaning and worrying won’t solve the talent puzzle though. We need to look at how the wider recruitment ecosystem is shifting and maximise potential opportunities. Expecting to solve your own skills shortfall by hoping to grab someone else’s is no longer a viable option.

Here are four opportunities for smart recruiters to start doing things differently in 2016…

Turn Shortages into Opportunities

We know there’s a skills shortage. Everyone is struggling to find the specific skills they need. Or are they? No recruiter ever got fired because there was a skills shortage…but maybe this means that individual reasons for shortages don’t get scrutinised. Are recruiters and hiring managers being lazy and waiting for a fully formed candidate who ticks a dozen boxes? If your business capacity is really impaired by a lack of skills then it must be time to find another way to satisfy demand. Redefine the problem. What exactly are we short of? Maybe invest in training or apprenticeships. Look for someone with knowledge and capability close to what you need and invest in bridging that gap. Look at more collaborative ways to bring capability into the organisation whether through flexible workforce approaches or partnering with third parties. Start drilling down with hiring managers on their wish lists and filter out the absolute necessities from the nice-to-haves. Break down the unfillable roles into smaller parts and see if there is a way they can be done differently, using other employees or by hiring someone with a complementary skill set.

The opportunity is for recruiters to add real value and help solve their organisation’s problems, not to offer the same excuses and apportion blame elsewhere.

Collaboration Within the Ecosystem

Modern recruitment is an ecosystem and we are all part of the solution. Our networks grow continuously. For a business this includes employees, alumni, collaborators, suppliers, contractors, clients, customers, digital connections and influencers. Recruiters can use these networks, and their own. Everyday contacts – barista, uber driver, conference attendees, everyone in your yoga or pilates class, fellow commuters, social friends – can lead to even more contacts. There are third party staffing agencies and a plethora of labour providers. Manage these connections. Take care of how you exit employees, reject applicants, and engage and pay freelancers. Communicate and share the wider vision and the hiring needs.

The future for recruiters is also in third party collaboration. Working closely with agencies and other labour providers as partners and not purely as suppliers. Make the partnership part of the internal offering; bring their insights and wider knowledge of trends and availability in your sectors and disciplines into the business. Choose collaborators carefully though as there must be trust, on both sides. That crucial next hire could well judge you as much by how you find them as by the strength of the opportunity you offer.

Win The Ratings Battle

We’re in an experience economy. And a ratings economy. The people we are trying to find put faith in what other people think about us, and judge us on the type of experience they get. Personal trust and peer capital are crucial, and the best recruiters will know that every part of the hiring process has to be functioning just right. Delayed decisions, endless hoops, poor information, disinterested interviewers and a lack of communication and feedback should play no part in a 2016 hiring function, particularly one that is competing with other organisations for skills that are in short supply and high demand. But they still do. Despite the growth of review sites, and the transparency that social media affords for exposing lazy practice, many organisations are still offering job seekers a poor experience.

Smart recruiters should know that jobseekers increasingly judge companies by how they go about hiring their new people, and make sure that if an offer should be rejected, it won’t be because of the recruitment process.

Understand What Candidates Look For

Candidates aren’t just looking for an offer. They want to join an organisation that will invest in them and help enhance their skills, capabilities, knowledge and experiences. Across sectors, disciplines and borders. The offer is no longer just about a salary and a job title, but now also about future opportunities and HR processes. How will they be managed, the level of support, how will performance be assessed, how transparent are goals and feedback, what is the range of rewards, how good is the onboarding, and what is the potential for development? The chances are, if your business is falling down in those areas it may well be obvious from publicly available information.

Good recruiters know that candidates value honesty. They showcase what is good about the business, offer information about future potential and don’t try to cover over shortcomings.

There’s no need for excuses or to hide behind lazy assumptions. Recruitment may be changing but it is also exciting. There are new opportunities offering plenty of scope for the best to differentiate themselves, positively represent their organisations and add real value.


The Year of Recruiting Sensibly


I had a lot of fun putting together my last two blogs – an allegorical fable about impulse recruitment, poor on-boarding, weak management and blinkered selection criteria – which drew from many scenarios encountered during my years as an agency recruiter, and from my current day to day interactions with job seekers.

There were some serious points to be made about mistakes and frustrations in the recruitment process, which I wanted to cover in an illustrative way. I’ve now listed some of them below…they may bring a bit of context to the story of Frank the Fish.

So as we begin a new recruiting year, let’s be sensible. This is what I want to see more of…and I know that every job seeker would like to see more of it too:

  • Properly defined recruitment brief. The why, the how, and the who of a perceived vacancy should be carefully thought out, budgeted and planned for. Knee jerk hiring decisions rarely produce long term beneficial results.
  • Robust on-boarding and assimilation. Once you’ve identified the person then how are you going to bring them in and get the best out of them?
  • Effective management. Who will manage them? Do they fully understand what the business wants from the new recruit? And can they incorporate them in a team or division that may not understand the rationale for the hire?
  • A proper plan for success. How will you measure whether it’s working out? Have you managed the new employee’s expectations…do they know how you will assess, manage and monitor them, and what is expected of them. And what will happen if they don’t measure up, or if something unforeseen happens to casts doubt on whether you need them.
  • Consider an ex-employee. So many companies close the door to re-hiring even when one of their alumni may be the most suitable candidate available. I tried to put a few clues in the story to show that Frank’s company hadn’t properly replaced him. Humility can be more potent than pride…on both sides.
  • Look at the person, not just the CV. This is not a new problem, but it seems to cause the most frustration. It may have seemed a stretch in my story to infer that companies wouldn’t consider Frank because of the previous 3 months, but unfortunately it isn’t. It’s a familiar tale. Look at what someone can bring in to a business, don’t try and second guess their current mind-set or skill-set based on recent events.

And one last thing.

Every person you hire is part of another network – friends, family, alumni and online connections. This network plays an important part in the decision and they will be affected by the decisions that you make about the employee. Each candidate will have their own motivations, commitments, concerns and goals.

I’m not absolving them of their obligations in a new role, nor suggesting that a poor hire is kept on for the sake of their kids, but suggesting a little sensitivity about someone’s situation before the decision to hire – particularly if there is some doubt over fit or the long term viability of a role. The ramifications of unsuccessful recruitment are felt by many, so maybe more care is needed to get the match right.

Let’s recruit sensibly this year…and get the best results for everyone.