10 Things That Smart Businesses Are Doing To Beat The Skills Shortage

Monday, March 6, 2017

Before any Hiring Manager takes a deep breath and braces themselves for a deluge of Recruitment industry whingeing about lost candidates and slow feedback, this blog is written in recognition of the genuinely constructive, supportive and engaging approaches that I have personally witnessed within my recruitment sphere.

The recent REC Labour Market Report highlighted a 17 month continual downturn in the availability of permanent candidates across all sectors, one day to the next there is a skills gap news story.  If it isn’t the engineering skills gap, it is the Health Services, if isn’t the Health services sector it is Civil Engineering, if it isn’t Civil Engineering then it is IT or Finance – you get the picture!

Reflecting on 2016 and current recruitment programmes I am supporting, I have captured the ten key factors to attracting AND securing your desired candidates below.  Without doubt some will hit a businesses fixed and variable costs but in numerous instances, many of these factors cost the businesses that utilised them virtually nothing.


1)  Grass Roots

Develop talent – Graduate and Apprenticeship programmes will no longer be the reserve of corporations. All businesses from SMEs to small start-ups can benefit from this technologically savvy and energetic talent pool.  Find a recruitment partner with genuine reach into the Graduate sector to enhance candidate attraction.


2) Improve the hiring process

Streamline your recruitment process. Identify all the stakeholders in the hiring process and engage them simultaneously, rather than passing candidates along a seemingly never-ending staircase only to find out a senior manager felt they lacked the relevant drive. Where possible try to complete all aspects of the recruitment process in a single day.  Smart business involve even VP level representatives in recruitment at increasingly earlier stages to prevent roadblocks later. Time kills deals in business and it definitely kills your recruitment processes when competing neighbours are doing it three times quicker than you.


3) Make the candidate want to actually come back

Create a positive candidate experience. There is no recession, candidates have acres of choice in the market and whilst no business should ever appear desperate a warm, engaging and detailed candidate experience from polite and interested managers is essential.

A recent Graduate programme I ran for an SME managed to attract 14 candidates away from competing offers from blue-chip organisations, based on the quality of their engagement and the genuine effort and warmth of their recruitment team.  Candidates that felt they were just a number elsewhere, often being handled at arm’s length and waiting weeks to get answers to questions went elsewhere.  I was delighted to witness how the business I am partnered with, made them feel welcome, respected and engaged and this enabled to attract exceptional talent.


4) Whole package above salary

Pay the best salary your business can offer and ensure the WHOLE package is emphasised.

Increasingly, factors such as personal flexibility, bonus, private health and most of all DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS.  If candidates are less mobile in the marketplace, they will be focused on longer term considerations.


5) Define, define, define (define again)

Define the role. Candidates love to receive something tangible – a role profile, a copy of the structure, training plans, and a copy of the business’ visions and values.

Job title and Salary on a ‘post-it’ note is not acceptable for candidate attraction in 2017.


6) They choose the right recruitment partner

If they partner with a recruitment agency they do it with a smile!

Recruiters at their best can create massive cost savings for the business, streamline the recruitment, save weeks of wasted time and undertake sections of the process to free up HR and Line Managers time.  Choose your recruitment partner wisely. Are they aligned to your business’ vision and values with industry and degree-qualified recruiters in their delivery team?

Sadly some businesses select the cheapest agency they can find. This non-partnered way of working means the agency will throw in unqualified and irrelevant CVs in and sit back and wait for the offers – instead of adding value to the process and candidate experience.


7) Intelligent Marketing

To enhance talent attraction, be prominent with your marketing to get noticed by candidates. If you are not able to do this then let the recruitment partner be your brand evangelist, let the recruiter earn their fee with value-added candidate attraction services such as open evenings, social media marketing and pre-screening/assessment centres.


8) The Offer Process – avoid the ‘Valley of Death’

Make a decision quickly and follow it with not only a warm and welcoming offer pack but also an immediate invitation for the successful candidate to return for lunch/meet the team/half a day in training etc – the list of ways to engage a new starter is endless.

Smart businesses alongside their recruitment partners work hard to avoid the ‘valley of death’ between a candidate verbally accepting a position and their first week in the job.

Usually together they meet and meet often. The chosen candidate enjoys a personalised experience and then compares this to their other offers (they will all have more than one!). Have the people competing for their skills and energy made them feel as welcomed, supported them, delivered a streamlined candidate experience and used a knowledgeable and engaged recruiter who the candidate felt was part of the process?  If the answer is no, then it is obvious which route the candidate will take.

Sadly, based on post-interview candidate feedback, some businesses are still recruiting in an often rude and aloof manner with the naive assumption that there is endless supply of candidates who are seeking to be humiliated or belittled at interviews for jobs that were never correctly portrayed to them, in business that offer seemingly no progression or evidence of social responsibility.

We are not in a recession, we are not experiencing high unemployment – we are in the worst skills shortage in living memory for most businesses.


9) Testimonials.

Smart business use recent hires in their interview process and in their candidate attraction material whether they recruit directly or via a consultancy. Three businesses I recruit for regularly invite new employees to meet potential candidates to showcase their confidence in their business and also the positive way their new hires are supported.


10)  They actually hire someone!

Smart businesses take the measured decision that all hiring to some extent carries an element of risk but rather than find obscure and often disappointing reasons not to hire, they measure the risk and ensure their talent development plans work – rather risk the far more costly sin of failure to deliver to the customer.  Customers won’t be sympathetic to a business that says ‘we’re sorry the new technology is late but you know our MD, he is a fussy character at interviews’ – they will simply go elsewhere!


For more information on our Graduate Assessment Scheme please contac James Colley.

James Colley – MA FIRP | Associate Director | Consilium Recruit
Consilium House, Timothys Bridge Road, Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 9NR

Why not add my contact card to your address book?

01789 201040

07971 636205


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