Management consultants McKinsey once said that “The war in the 21st Century will not be for market share, it will be for talent – with market share and profit occurring as a natural by-product of attracting and retaining the right people”.
In my experience, many employers consistently fail to recognise the following 3 things;
A) That Recruitment is very much a 2-way street
B) That top talent will always have multiple job offers if they’re in the market for a move and
C) That top talent are qualifying potential employers equally as hard (if not harder) than the employer is qualifying them!
The fact is that the balance of power no longer rests with employers – it rests with the candidates and their decision to accept or reject any offer you might extend to them is the sum of the opinions they have formed about you and your business during the selection process.
What this means for employers if you want to tap into the highly skilled and highly sought-after passive candidate market, is that you have to think of better ways of reaching out to them than sticking ads here and there and expecting the world to beat a path to your door – it just isn’t going to happen.
Using outdated methods in the vain hope that some top talent will apply out of desperation and interviewing with feudal arrogance in an environment of candidate scarcity are just not compatible – period!
So what can you do?
Here are a 5 easy to implement and cost-neutral (or very low cost) things you can do to increase your chances of recruitment success;
Upon his capture for the 3rd time by the FBI, prolific American bank robber Willie Sutton was asked, “Why do you rob banks?” to which he was alleged to have replied, “Because that’s where the money is”
Sounds a bit obvious doesn’t it, but in recruitment terms what this means if you are an employer, you need to go where your target employees are likely to be i.e. you need to join industry member organisations and attend their networking events.
Not only does this give you the chance to meet potential future employees, but because the relationship is already established, it takes the inertia out of the process, which means you can potentially appoint much more quickly when the need arises.
2. Creating a positive 1st impression
You can tell a lot about a company by the warmth of its welcome and in a recent survey over 1,000 business professionals by serviced office accommodation provider Business Environment, almost 50% of them said that they wouldn’t want to do business with a company where the first contact (either face to face or over the phone) was a negative one.
This rule clearly applies to any business professionals you’re looking to recruit.
Why would anyone want to work for company A that has the rude, unhelpful, dis-interested and mono-syllabic receptionist, when company B’s receptionist smiled at them, made them feel welcome, offered them a tea or coffee and generally didn’t make them feel like they’d crawled out from under a rock to ruin their day?
3. Removing the Barriers to Successful Recruitment
- Recruitment process too long and lacking in flexibility - typically 8-10 weeks (minimum) from candidate search to job offer.
Now I’m not saying you cut of stages of the process. You definitely need answers to all of your questions. What I’m saying is that during this time, great candidates are being offered and accepting jobs with nimbler and more agile employers’, so try and condense the process into as short a space of time as possible.
Received Wisdom: Hire Slowly – Fire Quickly
My Wisdom: Hire Thoroughly, but Do It Quickly!
- Interviewer Arrogance
Arrogance is unattractive – lose it immediately and try showing a bit of vulnerability instead.
Try closing the interview with “We’re always looking at ways to improve the candidate experience. Tell me about yours?”
If the candidate’s experience was a positive one, you have reinforced it in their minds. If it wasn’t universally positive, you have given yourself the opportunity to thank them for their feedback and you can then go away and fix the problem. By the way; NO-ONE ELSE DOES THIS!
- Interviews during office hours
Why make life difficult for great candidates? Most middle and senior managers I know are often in the office until the early evening, so if the candidate can’t make it during the day, offering to see them on an evening might remove the risk of losing them altogether.
4. Invest more time in the selection process
Whenever I arrange interviews, I always tell the candidates to invest some time to do some research on the company, check out the website and to prepare some questions. I also tell them to make sure they arrive in plenty of time so that they can compose themselves before the interview starts.
Same rules apply to you as employers.
You need to set aside some time on the day of the interview to read the candidate’s CV again, prepare some questions about their challenges and achievements etc. Check that their LinkedIn profile corresponds with the dates on their CV and make sure you start on time to ensure you present your company in the best possible light in order to bear favourable comparison with other potential employers.
5. Hanging on to what you’ve got
In the same way that it costs at least 5 times more to secure a new client than it does to keep an existing client, it costs significantly less to keep an existing employee motivated and at the top of their game than it does to replace someone.
As the recession recedes and demand for talent increases, it will become harder to attract, turning the effect of losing a key employee, into a double-whammy, so as employers, you will need to identify who is critical to your business and ensure you have a strategy in place to retain their services.
Sounds like hard work huh?
Maybe, but if you’re going to fight the war for talent, you have to win, because losing just isn’t an option!
More recently, Larry worked in Executive Development for global leadership development organisation Vistage, during which time he helped to train and coach some of the UK’s best known business Executives to lead Vistage CEO peer groups.
Larry is now the Owner/Director at The Syncopa Consultancy, specialising in Executive and Management Appointments, Effective Interview and Recruitment Practice Training and Public Speaking on the subject of Attracting and Retaining Top Talent.