I have to admit it — I have never ever seen it this bad — and I have been recruiting for almost 25 years. It’s a wasteland out there. Where have all the great candidates gone? And more importantly, what are we going to do about it?
If we had put an ad out for an Executive Assistant a couple of years ago, we would have typically received about 150 responses of which 30-40 would have been great candidates. Today, with the same ad, we would be lucky to get 20 responses with just one or two worth pursuing. So you had better have a great role to offer, superior candidate management and you must move with speed or you will lose them to your competitor.
So where are they hiding? Why do we have this problem? What are we going to do about it?
- Where are they hiding? It’s no longer sufficient or productive to just look at the active candidate market (those candidates who are actively looking for work). You need to be searching and approaching candidates in the passive market too. In other words, those candidates who are happy enough in their role but could be tempted away for the right opportunity. There is a warning here – make sure your own existing employees are fully engaged and can’t be tempted away from you! Please note too, that targeting the passive candidate needs a very different skillset and can also take longer.
- Why do we have this problem? I have been giving this a lot of thought and I believe that this problem started way back in 1996, when the government reversed the Training Guarantee Levy, where business was required to spend 1% of revenue on training. Yes, sure there was some abuse of the program – often by way of junkets to Bali – but the benefit was that the capability was being actively developed. When was the last time you sent an employee on a training course? Everything is done ‘on the job’ these days. Then came the GFC and people lost their jobs and took any job they could get – sometimes not in the same profession. Again, the result was a lack of skill development. Add to this a strong desire on both sides of the employer / employee equation to get the perfect candidate and the perfect role — then “Houston, we have a problem!”
What are we going to do about it?
Well, here are my tips to avoid this concerning trend so you can continue to grow your business faster than your competitors:
- Think ‘outside the box’ – could someone from a different industry or with a different skill set transition into your role?
- Look to proactively develop your current team – build Development & Succession Plans.
- Search for 60% of the skills but 100% of the attitude – ensure there is a cultural fit then develop their skills.
- Build and maintain a ‘great place to work’.
- Make sure all your candidates receive a great candidate experience – effective candidate management is critical – at all stages of recruitment.
- Ensure that you follow a consistent interview process.
- Make sure all your interviewers have been formally trained, so they are not letting you down.
- Know, articulate and sell your Employee Value Proposition (i.e. what’s in it for them).
- Use multiple sourcing channels to find candidates.
- Build talent pools – a group of candidates that you develop a relationship with to shorten the recruitment process and increase your acceptance rates.
Our recruitment assignments have been dramatically increasing and the reason for this is that employers can’t just do what they have always done and throw an ad in Seek and get a result. It is truly a ‘war for talent’ out there and for the majority of businesses – your employees are critical to your success.
Are you struggling to recruit at the moment?