Shine a light on recruitment

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

Winning factors for a fruitful campaign

‘We’re struggling with recruitment. We can’t seem to find the people with the skills we need to grow and achieve our goals’.

Like a broken record, this refrain is echoing more and more in my ears. So much so that recently a former McKinsey colleague and I worked through the critical success factors for recruitment – and for avoiding this problem.

But why does this problem occur? It seems that people expect recruitment to be easy – or for it to happen on its own. ‘After all, we’re buying’, they say. Or, ‘We’re a client facing organisation and have engagements to deliver.’ But anyone who has run a successful recruitment campaign will tell you that these are the wrong mindsets. Recruitment is like sales – focus is key. You also have to sell the role and the package to prospective employees and run the process like a well-orchestrated marketing and sales campaign. Similar to marketing and sales, this can all be hard. And similar to marketing and sales, if you don’t do this, you don’t see any material results!

So, what does an organisation with the correct mindset about recruitment look and feel like? What are the hallmarks of a successful campaign? I try to paint a picture here.

1. The Chief Executive shines a light on recruitment. He is involved in the process. Recruitment is high on his or her agenda – and on the agenda of the weekly leadership team meetings. He wants to know the numbers – outstanding vacancies, pipeline, numbers recruited last period and whether the situation is worsening or improving. He encourages everyone to find ways to make recruitment more effective. He conveys a sense of urgency and importance about recruitment.

2. The right people are involved. Typically, recruitment involves a team. A team that includes the hiring manager and peers of the prospective recruit – to make sure that the person being recruited has the right skills and experience, and will ‘fit’ into the organisation. A representative from human resources runs a well-defined and well-oiled process; and one or more executives focus mainly on convincing candidates that the organisation is right for them and on painting a rich picture of the opportunity open to them should they choose to join.

3. Everyone has the right mindset: selling, not buying. High quality candidates always have other options. They typically know what they’re looking for too. They’re not commodities – and don’t respond well to being treated as such. So similar to the pursuit of new business opportunities, recruitment is as much about persuading them that your organisation is the best one for them as it is about qualifying whether or not they are suitable. Let’s not forget filling the pipeline too – who is raising awareness of your business amongst prospective recruits and encouraging them to express interest in joining? What do the early stages of the recruitment pipeline look like?

4. Attract good quality candidates: like opportunities, you need to know what an ideal candidate looks like and to go out and attract them. How clear are you about the job and person specification for the roles you’re trying to fill? How realistic are they – do they reflect people available in the market, or do you need to rethink your specification and how you will acquire the skills you need? Do you have high quality candidates queuing up to work for your organisation?

5. Sell the role (and the package) well. Anyone who knows anything about selling will tell you that this isn’t really about selling at all – it’s about understanding your ideal candidate’s needs and aspirations, and then positioning your offer so it’s relevant and easy for them to buy. Research and questioning here are key. Selling the role and package isn’t just about extoling the virtues you think your organisation has. It’s about positioning and packaging them so they’re relevant to ideal candidates – and tuning them to the candidates who choose to sit opposite you during the recruitment process.

6. Operate a rigorous and rapid interview process. As with sales, you’re operating in a competitive environment. Candidates will also be pursuing more than one option. In addition, you need to ensure that you only recruit the right people – suitably qualified and experienced people with the right attitude. So, it’s important that you’re clear about your requirements – typically in the form of a job and person specification; that the right people assess and qualify candidates promptly and in the right way; and that any offers are made and closed swiftly. A professional and punctual approach will not only help you fill your outstanding vacancies quickly. It will also help you develop a reputation for being an exemplary organisation amongst the community of your ideal candidates.

If you would like to discuss what might be done to improve your recruitment practices so your organisation can find the people it needs to achieve its aspirations, please get in touch. An initial conversation is almost guaranteed to identify key opportunities to improve your recruitment practices and to get you moving more quickly.

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