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How to hire strategically

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

Amidst a fierce talent war and an ever-growing ocean of competition, Employers are often guilty of hiring without a clear aim or plan in place. Lost in the panic of a vacant position and a shrinking talent pool, it’s easy to feel frustrated and snap up a candidate for the sake of shortening the process.

Within a few months, you’re somehow back to square one. If the cost of a bad hire wasn’t enough to scare you the first time round, now you know the real consequences of a difficult recruitment market. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to determine a clear hiring strategy, and stick to it from start to finish. But where to begin?

Define the business requirements

Before you start window-shopping the jobs market for the dream candidate, consider the business requirements for the position: how will the new hire solve a particular organisational challenge? Which key skills are lacking from the team?

All too often, Employers confuse what they need, with what they want. Having already browsed through a number of LinkedIn profiles, the original job description soon evolves from a clearly defined role, into a free-flowing thought train that demands a silver-bullet, multi-skilled star-player.

Unsurprisingly, when these standards are held up through interviews, Employers are left sorely disappointed with the shortlist. Staying focused on the current skills gaps and business objectives should help you centre on the original challenge: now it’s time to find a solution.

Take a pipeline approach

Employers have a tendency to wait until the need arises before engaging talent. At this late stage, their pool of prospective employees is limited to those eagerly seeking employment. Therefore, the candidate they select may not actually be as perfectly suited, as someone outside of this catchment.

Instead, Employers should adopt a “pre-need” mindset; they should aim to build and nurture a steady stream of passive Candidates, whose skills complement that of the business.

Social media sites such as LinkedIn make for a great place to engage passive Candidates, but don’t restrict yourself to the main channels: your “purple squirrel” might prefer to frequent specialist forums and online communities dedicated to their particular line of work.

Build a diverse team

When screening Candidates for an open position, it’s natural to choose people who remind us of ourselves or the people we trust.

This is what’s known as ‘unconscious bias’, something that most of us are guilty of because ultimately, it’s in our nature. Unfortunately, it’s this way of thinking that causes a lack of diversity in the workplace: soon, teams comprise of clones who all think and act the same.

That’s not culture, that’s cult.

Today, it’s well-known that a diverse workforce makes for a more successful business. There’s no need to get the quotas out for each and every hire, but it’s a good idea to actively remind yourself of this behavioural pattern throughout the entire process, to ensure you don’t fall into the trap.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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