Recruitment challenges and how to deal with them

I am Anthony Marc and I have had several strategic human resource meetings with directors, functional managers and unit heads from different industries, sectors, and corporate sizes talking about how to deal with recruitment and people challenges and how to get the right candidates on-board in less time - and how to keep them in business for a considerable amount of time. 

Below publication is the second longer HR article following my earlier post about HR trends in 2018. Feel free to post your comments and share with your network. I am happy to hear your views and I wonder: How do you find strong candidates in less time and how do you keep them?

Recruitment challenge 1: Candidates select offers among various recruiters from different HR firms, and many candidates have multiple job offers. 

- Solution: Make the interview a better experience

I am not talking about showing fancy offices or to provide delicious coffee and cake which is often expected by the candidate, and I am not talking about greeting the candidate with a smile that sometimes shine desperation or an attitude of - "you need us more than we need you". Instead, candidates (job seekers) want business questions answered early in the interview stage. According to my experience and what I heard from top recruiters and HR strategists, many recruiters may be good sellers but have little / insufficient understanding of the industry or the business strategy in order to be able to answer specific questions from the candidate. It could be questions such as: How does the firm implement talent management strategies? How does the firm (the hiring manager's firm) tackle weaknesses such as A,B and C which the candidate came across online? Why is there such a high level of negative comments about the hiring manager's firm according to glassdoor reviews? What is being done to tackle that? Moreover, the recruiter also need to ensure a 2-way communication with the hiring manager across the entire hiring process, and the hiring manager needs to devote enough quality time to provide helpful feedback. This depends very much on the relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager - see point 4 in this article for more information. 

Recruitment challenge 2: Recruiters from multiple firms are fighting for same resources 

- Solution: Stop acting like desperate sellers with little / no interest in the candidate

First of all, cold calling and LinkedIn Inmail are not enough to catch the attention of suitable candidates. A recruiter needs to build his/her employer brand through social media, 2-way interactions, curated content, created content, and to arrange with events and seminars as part of giving free and useful information to hiring managers and candidates. Talk about industry trends, challenges, and what the latest client acquisition means for the need of getting new human resources. Talk about relevant and specific opportunities and success stories, and give career advice from successful people - not general advice that can easily be found online. Create videos talking about your recruitment business and why so many hiring managers and candidates chose to work with you. Illustrate more in detail how your candidates advance in client organisations. Don't just say: if you do well you will climb...have detailed explanations and examples: who is supporting the candidate in his/her career aspirations? How? Can the candidate work remote? How is the job transfer done between departments and regions? When in time can the candidate expect to climb the career ladder for a particular job? A recruiter may also want to offer referral programs; I witnessed several blue-chips doing this such as to provide up to 5,000 £ per newly hired candidate that stays in the business for a considerable amount of time. 

Recruitment challenge 3: Shortage of great talents that meet hiring manager's demand

- Solution: Data driven HR management

Use data to speed up the hiring process at a higher standard. Tools such as Talent Pool Report is data driven and shows the recruiter what city is the best choice when seeking talents for a specific job position. The recruitment firm may also start further education courses to fill the knowledge gap on the market, or, to work in close cooperation with universities to supply critical skills needed on a rapidly changing job market. 

Recruitment challenge 4: The hiring manager spends insufficient time with the recruiter 

- Solution: Learn how to establish long term relations and how to keep them

First of all, many hiring managers I spoke with last years state that too many recruiters don't understand their business, and, that this turn them off (hiring managers), hence avoiding to spend that vital extra time with the recruiter during the screening and interviewing process. At the same time, the recruiter desperately needs ongoing feedback from the hiring manager to adjust expectations or to prepare a counter offer for the right candidate. The recruiter also needs an accurate job description from the hiring manager and the information provided must be clear, and up to date with correct information. Misleading or wrong information will likely turn-off the job seeker. I also want the stress the important of having recruiters who work on a higher fixed salary and less bonus, to encourage the habit of spending quality time with the job seeker, and hiring manager. And, through my experience last decade in roles such as recruiter, job seeker, and manager (people manager, sales manager, project manager), I am convinced that the best recruiter is someone that has the education and experience from a certain industry, a certain job, and sometimes a particular corporation on top of a passion for people development. So let's assume that you are going to hire candidates for Google:

That is to say, if you are an engineer, who happened to have switched into recruitment / HR Management and with the experience of working at Google or similar firms, then you should know the perks, the ups-and downs and underlying success factors that a hiring manager may not always reveal. In your position as Google recruiter you can therefore ask additional attitude, situational and behavioral questions to get best possible candidates for a particular engineering or technical role in less time and at less risk of hiring failure - which is extremely costly for the hiring manager and the recruiter. Too many recruiters are having the "tick box" mentality with too few (or irrelevant) follow-up questions when aiming to dig deeper into the thoughts, real aspirations and capability of a candidate (job seeker). In addition, the recruiter needs to build and maintain strong relations with hiring managers, which can be done by offering free and valuable seminars, and workshops, but also, by offering fun events that can help the hiring manager to bring his/her workforce closer for better team work should this be demanded. It is also vital that the recruiter shows the hiring manager early on in the process, if there is a lack of talents in a certain field, in order to adjust expectations. The recruiter can also help the hiring manager with panel interviews and candidate tests to ensure that the hiring manager makes better business decisions.   

What else can a recruiter do to hire the right candidates in less time?

- Give helpful and objective career feedback when a job seeker has been turned down for a particular job (especially those who joined face-to-face interviews). Is the job seeker lacking certain skills and knowledge - if yes what are they? Is the personality not fit for the organisation - and why? What personality is really sought? Can you recommend the job seeker other suitable jobs/ firms to approach as part of helping the candidate forward? This will ensure that the recruiter stands-out as a trusted and serious recruiter, and the personal brand will peak. This can also help the recruiter with the so important word-of-mouth marketing of future top candidates for upcoming job positions leading to faster recruitment, at less cost and with a happier hiring manager as a result.  

A recruiter also needs to better follow up sent and received emails. Silence from a candidate does not mean "not interested"; the job seeker may instead expect the recruiter to hunt him/her and the job seeker may respond to recruiters who show most interest in the candidate. The recruiter can also use certain IT tools to become more efficient and effective in finding and contacting talents such as Contactout, chrome extension prophet, or SourceHub. 

If a candidate turns down an offer - then this should be seen as a chance for the recruiter to bargain with the client and the hiring manager. Be prepared to have best possible and worse case scenario offers should this be reality. Ask the reasons for why the candidate turned down a job offer and work hard to find a solution together with the hiring manager. And the ability to reach mutually beneficial agreements often depends on the recruiters (or the recruiting firm's) previous success stories, and  the recruiters' relations with the hiring manager. Remember that in the end, people buy from people, and if the hiring manager likes and trust the recruiter, he/she is more likely to alter the demand and requirements of an open position which can help the recruiter to convince the candidate of signing the deal. 

Also, in order to avoid getting to many unqualified candidates in the recruiters' net, a recruiter needs to be very clear in the job ad of what is sought (job skills, competencies, personality, salary range, what is required and what is preferred but not a "must have"). And make sure that the recruiter places the advertisement in sources where the pool of strong candidates can be found. It may be better to target an industry specific magazine than if seeking specific skill sets, being one example. And the recruiter shall avoid to ask the candidate questions when the answers can be found in the CV or, in the cover letter, because this habit shows how little prepared the recruiter is or how little interested he/she is to help the job seeker.

When I was recruiting I was usually skipping classical questions such as: tell me about yourself, and instead focus my limited time on key questions such as: give me a relevant example of why you are the candidate of choice for this role? It is also vital to listen to answers and probe. I also kept transferable skills, as well as situational and behavioral questions fresh in my mind when asking certain tailored interview questions. Example: If you seek a strong seller - don't get stuck in whether the candidate hit his/her sales targets in previous roles, as there can be other reasons (out of his/her control) of why this did not happen, but the candidate can still be a very good seller - or have the ability to become a very good seller. A strong seller is often very active and good at sports requiring perseverance together with an entrepreneurial "never give up" mindset, and such candidate is likely to have one or more out-of-the-office interests that the recruiter needs to uncover when seeking a top seller in this particular example. 

Conclusion: A very good recruiter that finds suitable candidates (job seekers) at less time needs to build his/her brand online, as well as to spend time on building long term relations with hiring managers. There are hundreds of IT tools that can help a recruiter to become more effective in communicating and finding talents, hence, a close cooperation with IT or a business analyst is key to uncover best possible tools. A very successful recruiter also has the education and job experience of a certain industry and often a certain corporation which help the recruiter to ask questions that would uncover traits and skills needed for the job; questions that would never be revealed by the hiring manager, but that can help the recruiter to get best possible candidates in less time. The recruiter further needs to be more honest and open with candidates that are being turned down, especially those that has joined an interview, and help them with advice of where to seek for a suitable job. Today, it is about building your online brand as a trusted recruiter or HR specialist when seeking to attract top talents. 

Written by Anthony Marc

Director of BL&MT

Copyright (C) 2018. Anthony Marc. BL&MT All rights reserved.