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The War for Talent: Tips on How to Succeed in a Candidate Drought

  • July 21, 2022

The job market in 2020 was undeniably challenging with across-the-board hiring freezes, redundancies, and re-structures that hit many professional sectors; marketing, sales, and finance being no exception. And, whilst much has been documented about the inferred bounce-back this year the arguably still-present backdrop of the global pandemic, and ongoing economic pressure, it’s clear that it’s not plain sailing just yet for those in the hiring seat.

The general UK labour market in hiring terms is certainly buoyant as we near the second half of 2022 following a real step-change in vacancies advertised from February last year when volumes far surpassed the hiring activity of 2019. Yet, the wide range of choice for Candidates – real golden opportunities across all many sectors – is coupled with market uncertainty and jobseekers that are still relatively cautious about a move in the current climate. Whilst this competitive landscape certainly creates strategic organisational challenges, there are steps that businesses can take to ensure they tap into active and passive talent pools and focus firmly on their retention strategies to ensure their existing talent is not being lost to competitors.

Don’t discount the cost of employee retention

While there is certainly a renewed appetite for hiring and recruitment of new talent across most professional sectors, it goes without saying that business owners should keep a keen eye on staff retention and attrition particularly those operating in niches or regions that have a short supply of skilled and/or qualified professionals. And whilst generally speaking we’re not seeing illimitable job-hopping (at the moment at least), the commercial cost of losing A-grade employees can be significant as well as impacting team productivity, and the loss of knowledge and skill from the business. To rely solely on recruitment would be unwise; instead, concomitantly focusing on employee engagement, remuneration and rewards, clear progression, and staff development as part of a wider retention strategy is essential in the current climate.

Be aware that your reputation (and brand) will precede you

A strong employer brand undoubtedly aids recruitment strategies to attract top-tier candidates, especially in competitive markets where a candidate may have multiple opportunities, and offers, on the table. Jobseekers will always be mindful of your brand, market position and reputation as well as prestige amongst their professional networks.

Employees, perhaps more so in the last decade, are engaged by laser-sharp Corporate and Social Responsibility programmes that give the organisation (and their work) purpose, a sense of worth and impact on the wider society – so it’s imperative that jobs advertised go above and beyond the basic role profile. Successful hiring campaigns should focus on what the candidate can expect as an employee of that business – there should be an element of ‘selling’ the benefits, the culture, and the development opportunities available.

Savvy jobseekers will no doubt do their research and lift the bonnet on the inner workings of your Firm – so ensuring your employer brand is reflected well across review sites (Glassdoor, Google Reviews) and across your own social channels will help to bring advocates within your existing workforce to the fore, and really add to the credibility and authenticity of your brand. Directing jobseekers to internal success stories and case studies on your site, or a vibrant ‘Work for Us’ section will really help to bring the role to life and give creative insight that allows candidates to visualise themselves working for you and being part of the fabric of your business.

Don’t discount contracts that offer training

We often speak to candidates who are considering a move to new sector. And, whether that catalyst is redundancy, a change in personal circumstances or because of a prolonged career break – we do advise that it is indeed possible – although not always easy or straightforward.

It is often par for the course that business owners and Hiring Managers will primarily look to attract candidates with proven track records, specific sector-experience, and demonstrable evidence of suitability for the role – but offering training opportunities if you are able could really open the door to candidates that are a great fit culturally, and willing to upskill.

The onus may not necessarily be on the end Hirer to provide or run the retraining course – there are a multitude of free and subsidised training online for a plethora of subjects and skill sets, so as hirers, being receptive to candidate profiles that indicate more recent training, or discernible industry knowledge could pay dividends.

Casting the net wider…consider home/remote/hybrid options

The pandemic has certainly brought about a lot of change across many professional sectors, not least the urgent acceleration in technical solutions to support homeworking en masse. And, after arguably a shaky start, most businesses have on the whole embraced the advancement of systems development to support everything from project management to internal communications channels to drive business forward across a fragmented workforce.

We are still, even a couple of years on from the first national lockdown, inundated with headlines focused on how (and where) we will work in the future. Hybrid working certainly seems to dominate and seen by many as the most likely future state across many professional sectors. We are already seeing a marked increase in home- and hybrid-contracts being offered, especially for businesses who are looking potentially outside of their locality or where options may have already been exhausted. Whilst this solution may not work for every business and does come with much-documented challenges on a longer-term basis, it does mean that traditional recruitment based on commutability is cast aside and can really open up opportunities to a much bigger pool of suitable candidates.

Whilst reporting around ways of working rumble on, business lobby groups have argued that it is ultimately down to the firms themselves to decide where that work is done. Whatever the outcome, the work-from-home guidance is still a hot topic of debate, with businesses ultimately having three choices – ‘home, hybrid, or hub’ – a mantra coined by Lloyds Banking Group who have shared their model and how they believe it will allow their people to work more effectively. Whilst there are some business owners that ultimately may wish to return to ‘normal’, casting the net wider by reviewing the feasibility of home- and hybrid- contracts may be a wise commercial move – especially as, put simply, it is what many employees want.

Make them an offer that’s hard to refuse

We see time and time again the recruitment process fall down at the final hurdle – when the interviews have taken place, the Candidate ticks all of the boxes in relation to the role, and the offer is put together…. only it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Taking time to consider an offer that is compelling is vital, although equally it’s important that the individual in question is not left waiting unduly; particularly if there are other Firms, (your competitors) in the side lines also vying for attention.

The Financial Reporter recently recounted research conducted by analytics company, Visier where over half of financial employees in the UK are reported to be actively looking for a new role in the next 6 months. And, from talking to candidates, we often see the same pattern – namely a role that addresses work/life balance, progression and career development opportunities, training and upskilling programmes, and fair remuneration. It is also good practice to review salaries and wider benefits packages across your own competitors for benchmarking purposes. After all, what may seem like a compelling offer may turn out to be a damp squib if some due diligence on market rates isn’t conducted at regular intervals.

HR Professionals from Forbes Human Resources Council defined what makes a successful job offer including the following pointers:

  1. Start conversations around salary early so no one is left guessing.
  2. Be transparent about things like bonuses, benefits, and compensation.
  3. Build a relationship throughout the hiring process – building trust and having open and honest conversations from the get-go.
  4. Don’t compete solely on ‘the package’ – a holistic employee experience that is instilled in the culture is more of a focus than ever. Highlight this wherever possible.
  5. Do be open to special requests – understanding what is important to candidates and listening to the ‘whys’ is good practice and may offer competitive edge if taken on board.

Don’t panic hire

Hiring during a skills shortage can sometimes instigate rushed or knee-jerk reactions particularly when recruitment projects have been running on longer than anticipated, and especially when the unfilled role is impacting the bottom line. Once hiring budgets have been approved and the job specifications are written and published, there is often, in our experience, an element of urgency to move through the process – yet moving too quickly and not taking due care and attention with a thorough review of candidate profiles can be costly in the long term.

In a survey from People Management, some 39% of hiring managers realized that they had made the wrong decision within two weeks of the new recruit starting. What they may not be aware of however is that in most cases* the true cost to the business of this decision is roughly 3.5 times their annual salary – which in the current climate will be difficult to absorb.

Working with recruitment specialists will allow businesses to enhance their search capabilities to get the right ‘fit’ first time, every time. With the rapid acceleration of video platforms and tech to support the likes of virtual onboarding, candidate screening, assessments and shortlisting can be further enriched and really add value to what can be a complex and difficult process. Being resolute around what type of individual or individuals are right for your business is still imperative and moving away from this or making compromises to get the role filled quicker may come back to bite you.

Don’t go it alone – enlist the help of experts

Utilising a sector- and regional-specialist recruitment agency will undoubtedly give you a head start with your hiring campaigns – furnishing you not only with market insight and that helicopter view of the hiring landscape, but the inside track on movement and access to talent pools of active and passive legal professionals.

At Clayton Recruitment, our consultants can offer practical, honest advice on the fillability of roles, salary benchmarking and insight into requirements and drivers of jobseekers in the current climate.

Experienced, qualified candidates are often time-short and as such are increasingly approaching agencies to represent them in the market rather than go-it-alone. Skilled in ‘selling’ your business and elevating your roles through strategic marketing – it makes absolute commercial sense to bring in the experts when the hiring landscape remains complex, and the candidate, at least for now, is King.

It is certainly clear from conversations that we have daily with leading businesses across the country that many are actively rethinking their talent strategies at all stages of the employee lifecycle – to attract, engage and retain skilled professionals in a highly competitive job market.

If you are actively searching for a new hire at the moment, we’d love to speak to you. Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can enhance your hiring strategy.

What’s Next?

We are on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for both our legal clients and jobseekers.

Contact the Clayton Recruitment team today if you would like support to develop your recruitment strategy or job search in the virtual age.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989, and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis.

If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121.

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8 steps to successfully recruiting new staff

  • May 23, 2018

Hiring new staff is no easy task. You need to consider any relevant qualifications, hands-on experience, area of specialism, salary, bonus; the list of things to think about is endless. Yet that doesn’t seem to stop companies from hiring; the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that employment rates are at 75.6% – the highest rate since 1971.

Despite economic pressures and doubt over the UK’s future relationship with Europe, businesses are still hiring employees in their droves. With all that recruitment activity going on it’s easy for the process to cause upheavals to the day-to-day running of your business. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to make your hiring process as efficient and effective as possible.

Tips for hiring the right candidate

Whether you’re taking on one person or a whole new team, follow these steps for a smooth and successful hiring process:

  1. Act fast: When a candidate responds you must act quickly. The longer you wait to get back to someone who shows an interest in working for your company, the greater the risk of them being snapped up by the competition.
  2. Project your brand: Treat your potential employees like you would your clients – show them what’s so great about working for you and demonstrate that your business is an attractive place to work. For a greater insight into employer branding our blog has everything you need to know.
  3. Avoid mistakes when hiring: It is absolutely crucial to get the hiring process right, not just from a business perspective, but from a legal perspective. Ensure that the person handling your recruitment is experienced and has a sharp eye for detail so that you won’t be exposed to accusations of discrimination or lack of due diligence. This will avoid costly legal proceedings and a lot of embarrassment. Which takes us to our next point…
  4. Dodge recruiting blunders: Ensure that your recruitment agency is experienced and won’t make costly errors. Having an external recruitment provider cause an issue is unlikely to be any less embarrassing or uncomfortable than if the mistake was made in-house.
  5. Be clear on how you will go about recruiting: Will the process be in-house or outsourced? Will there be a single point of contact within the business, or will recruitment be handled by a group of people? Having a clear process in place ensures all parties know where they stand and will enable those responsible for hiring to respond quickly to candidates, giving you the best chance at hiring the right person.
  6. Be transparent: If you’re going to attract the very best talent – and retain that talent – you need to be upfront and clear about everything: expectations, culture, the type of work available, salaries and bonuses. Any unexpected surprises could just put potential candidates off your business or see them jump ship shortly after joining you.
  7. Have a plan for the interview stage: A clear process for assessing candidates is crucial to screening the most suitable talent. Again, it’s worth considering whether this is something that will be handled in-house or externally. If handled externally, ensure that your recruitment consultant has clear guidelines as to what you are looking for – they may be able to conduct a brief initial interview with candidates and narrow the focus of your search, so you can consider only the best.
  8. Ensure the recruiter understands the job spec: Nobody knows your staff or the vacant position you need to fill like you do. That’s why it’s so important to give a clear, detailed and accurate job description to whoever is doing your recruitment – especially if you’re handing the task over to an external recruiter. Make sure they understand the job spec entirely, as being able to accurately represent your business to prospective employees stands you in good stead for finding the person with the skills and experience needed. It may be a good idea to enlist the help of a reliable recruitment specialist who has the experience of recruiting for your industry and is familiar with the intricacies of the sector.

Hiring the right person is tough for any organisation, and especially so in the competitive climate that many professions are party to. We hope these eight steps will make recruitment efficient and straightforward, so you can successfully appoint the right person to the post. Not only will a clear recruitment strategy and a trusted recruitment partner make the hiring process better, it’ll give your company the boost it needs to thrive in the long term.

You might also like to read our blog on How to handle a counter offer situation, and if you’re looking to recruit now, get in touch with us by calling 01772 259121 or Register a Vacancy directly online.

Click the following link to download our latest report on trends in recruitment: The 7 critical recruitment trends for businesses that will impact your talent pipeline in 2019.

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Talent drought: how to attract the best against the odds

  • April 24, 2018

Commercial talent; often it feels as though there isn’t any! And it’s not just a feeling either; in January, the British Chamber of Commerce published findings that skills shortages in both service and manufacturing industries were reaching ‘critical levels’. The headlines make for sobering reading, although it’s not all doom and gloom. Businesses can take specific steps to give themselves a much better chance of attracting, and retaining, the very best talent: a strong employer brand and a reliable recruitment partner could make the difference your company needs.

Building a brand: need to know

If asked to name a famous brand, there’s probably half a dozen or more that you could name off the top of your head. We’ve all heard of consumer brands like Coca-Cola, but what about employer brands?

An employer brand should be to your potential employees what your market branding is to the people that buy your products and services. It should be appealing and should essentially portray your business as a desirable place to work – as it is, no doubt. An employer brand might showcase the following aspects of your company:

  • Success stories – what kind of achievements have your staff made since working in your company?
  • Culture – is it work hard, play hard, or do you encourage staff to pursue a healthy work/life balance?
  • Quality of work – is the work varied, challenging and interesting?
  • Training and development – what opportunities are there to enhance skills, and how might a candidate grow their career with you?
  • Benefits – apart from salary and financial reward, what are the benefits of working for your business over and above another?

Reassurance

Post-recession and post-Brexit, those on the lookout for a new job want to know that the company they decide to work for is a solid investment of their professional time and skills. Businesses need to reassure potential candidates that their prospects are good and that the company offers a good fit in terms of values.

A strong employer brand shouldn’t just work to attract new talent, it should help to retain existing talent. In fact, one of the most effective ways to devise a strategy for creating an employer brand is to communicate with your existing staff. Find out what motivates them, what they would like to see more or less of, and how their experience could be improved upon and you’ll have a good idea of what potential employees are looking for.

Getting the right support for your employer brand

Having an employer brand is valuable and should pay dividends in the long term. A great employer brand, however, takes time to create, establish and maintain. And all the while the war for talent rages on. The very best talent work hard and it’s hard work to attract them to your company too!

A recruitment partner that works in the background while you concentrate on your own brand-building activity can be incredibly beneficial. An established recruitment agency will already have their own brand and a good reputation, which reflects well on your business and provides reassurance to the candidate. What’s more, a recruitment agency, especially one with a broad spectrum of commercial experience, will have their ear to the ground and be able to keep you informed of candidate feedback and motivations to be aware of when establishing and maintaining an employer brand.

Not just a helping hand

Clayton Recruitment’s regional analysis of recruitment trends in the North West found that vacancies are on the increase across all industries from commercial finance to logistics: it doesn’t appear that the skills shortage will be coming to an end any time soon. The benefit of working with a recruitment partner is that while you’re busy building up your employer brand, the agent can access their existing pool of talent to find you the best candidate.

An agency that understands and has plenty of experience in commercial recruitment is key too. They can use their extensive and wide-ranging sector knowledge to filter out the very best talent that matches up with your needs. And while the skills shortage isn’t likely to disappear overnight, it can take a weight off your shoulders knowing that a professional is handling your company’s recruitment.

If you’re thinking of creating an employer brand or think that your existing brand needs re-developing, then why not get in touch with Clayton Recruitment? We’d be happy to chat about employer branding or help with finding the best talent for your business.

If you’d like to find out more about building an Employer Brand, please download our guide here.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of using a specialised recruitment company, have a look at our blog on how to get the best out of your recruitment company.

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