When speaking with clients, there is one question I am repeatedly asked: Why are we struggling to recruit?
It’s an ongoing challenge, and a topic for a good, honest conversation but, in the past month or two it has moved higher up the agenda as businesses seek to understand why they are not attracting the right candidates and more importantly, what we can do to find solutions.
Right now, there simply aren’t enough quality people to go around and, when your company is hiring, that means you can often find yourself sharing what you believe is an attractive opportunity, but you can’t seem to find the right person.
When recruitment is an add-on to your role and you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, it can be difficult to work out why, so I’ve pulled together my thoughts on the most common issues, and what you can do if you are in a similar position.
I cannot stress the importance of speed enough when recruiting. Not only does it create a good impression about how your business operates, but it also shows you are interested in the candidate and decisive. This means you are less likely to lose out to another firm. The only potential drawback is if you move too fast without understanding how far along the “changing jobs” journey someone is, however, this can be overcome with some sensitivity.
When someone attends an interview, if they don’t warm up to the host, it doesn’t matter how good your company or the opportunity is. If people don’t like who they meet – and have options – they will not take the job. You need the first point of contact to be an enthusiastic advocate for your business. Someone who will put people at ease, can sell the opportunity and workplace well, and is confident, friendly and a good communicator.
This extends to the interview format and what works best. Consider how many people meet the candidate. You shouldn’t need more than two, as it makes the meeting less appealing for the candidate to open up and harder to create a personal connection.
Tests to quantify values or competency need careful consideration in terms of timing. If personality is key, you may want to assess it before the interview. A technical test alongside an interview will unnerve many applicants, so is best managed carefully; with the reasons for the test explained.
Be Flexible with Experience
With the absence of the ideal candidate, my advice is to be flexible in the experience you consider. Have an open outlook toward training in some areas if you find a person who is the right fit culturally or has needs that require a certain level of flexibility on your part. As a guideline, I’d recommend you don’t dismiss a CV if it includes more than 60% of what it is you need.
What exactly are you offering people and, perhaps more importantly, does it align with what they see as an attractive work-life integration? The answer may well depend upon your age and outlook. What was once typical is no longer desirable for many. If you want someone in the office 9 to 5, five days a week, you will struggle to fill your vacancy. Again, flexibility is key, as you may need to consider different working patterns just to measure up to your competitors.
You may note that salary has not been mentioned. It goes without saying that you need to be competitive and know what the market rate is, as, if you do, money is rarely the reason a candidate will turn a good opportunity down.
In a difficult market, with technical shortages that aren’t going away, you have to be realistic and open to changing your approach. Whilst there is no silver bullet to solve your staffing problems overnight, these key areas should certainly help.
Have you ever gone through the recruitment process and found the ideal candidate only for them to reject your job offer?
In a perfect world, everyone would agree to join your team, but the truth is that this is an all-too-common problem for employers and a growing issue in what has become a heavily candidate-driven job market.
From my experience, when talented accountancy professionals begin to look for a new challenge in public practice, they very quickly discover they have plenty of choices; often before they’ve even convinced themselves that they genuinely want to change their role.
In contrast, when employers uncover a candidate who appears to be a great fit for their team, due to the lack of available people, they tend to act quickly. While showing early intent is the right thing to do, it is also important to remember a candidate in demand needs time to build a connection with your business before they will choose you. They need to understand why your organisation is the right place for them to progress in their career, rather than going elsewhere.
So, how do to swing the decision in your favour? The first thing I suggest is to review your current recruitment process.
Begin by asking yourself whether an hour-long interview is the right format for someone to decide whether they want to spend 37 hours+ every week with you and your team. I’m not sure it would be enough for me, but your recruitment process is probably more in-depth than that already. Even so, this question is a good place to start.
With online interviews continuing in popularity, another consideration is whether people have met face-to-face. Have they seen the working environment first-hand, or spoken to any of the other employees they could be working with?
A lot of people make their final decision based on the emotions they felt during the interview process. That is why it is important to make sure it is fit for purpose. Even if this is more time-consuming, trickier to arrange, or requires a little longer to plan, once you have a two-way process in place that allows you to get what you require from the candidate but also connect with them on an emotional level and share the benefits of working in your business, you should begin to see acceptance rates climb.
There are other factors that you can influence to improve your appeal. If you suffer from low job acceptance rates, a good approach is to tackle the issue head-on and spend time trying to understand why candidates have previously turned you down.
Your recruitment partner will be able to help with this, but knowing whether the rejection is commonly down to salary and benefits, the role itself, personal restrictions (i.e. commute), a bad feeling about the company culture, or simply a better offer elsewhere, will help you to remedy problems going forward.
Rethinking your initial screening process can also lead to being able to spend more time with the right people at the interview stage and beyond. Benchmarking your salary and benefits against competitors will help you to be more competitive with your offers.
If you are keen on a candidate, you should always invite them for a second meeting. Even if it is for an informal coffee or a tour of the office, it will give you both a chance to dive a little deeper, to ask questions that don’t always fit well in an initial interview, and it will also give them a chance to see potential colleagues and get a feel for working in your business.
Whatever your recruitment plans, the most important thing is to ensure that you treat candidates with respect and communicate with them effectively and honestly from the outset. Being genuine will go a long way toward building trust; something that is critical when it comes to making a final decision.
Find out why people could be turning down your job offers, and what you can do about it.