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How to tackle those ‘hard to fill’ positions

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Hiring managers have never had it so hard. Unemployment remains at its lowest levels for half a century, and the ability to find the right people for the right roles and at the right time isn’t getting any easier – there are simply more jobs than people to fill them. But this should not mean that you cannot find the talent you need. It is a matter of focusing on those elements of your recruitment process that are not working as well as they could.

Since we started Allen Associates over 20 years ago, the recruitment landscape has changed immeasurably and weathered its fair share of storms. Whether at times of buoyancy or difficulty, the need for employers to continually assess, reassess and recalibrate their hiring stretch has been the one constant. So, with three-quarters (72 per cent) of employers expecting competition for talent to increase further, what areas of their existing recruitment practices should employers be looking at?

Act fast

Whilst it is incredibly important to ensure that the right hire is made so as to avoid any costly mistakes, biding one’s time runs the risk of that employer missing out on the talent they really need. We exist in a candidate poor environment, where top talent has the luxury of choice over where they can work given the number of vacancies available and the reduced level of competition between candidates themselves. If a great individual comes their way, we advise our clients to move forward at pace. That means seizing the initiative by contacting the candidate immediately to make the offer, negotiate terms, and confirm acceptance of the role.

Great talent will not hang around and if an employer is slow to act there is a real risk that they can be gazumped if that candidate is tempted by another role they may have interviewed for at the same time. Speed is very much of the essence.

Get the compensation offer right

Over the last 12 months, real wages rose at the fastest rate for more than five years. The same period has also witnessed employer hiring intentions continue to go through the roof. This is prompting many more candidates to re-evaluate their position and decide if there are potentially better and more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. They are probably right.

Today’s candidates are increasingly savvy, especially when it comes to money. Easy access to salary surveys and online checkers enable them to see what level of compensation they can expect to receive for performing a role in any given location. They want to ensure they are paid what the market says they should be paid. So do your homework and have a look at the salary being offered for comparable roles and if yours isn’t competitive enough, you might struggle to attract the talent that you need.

Sell the role in the right way

As a business, we have supported hundreds of employees throughout Oxfordshire and London. Whenever we start working with and a client for the very first time and they provide us with a description of a role they are currently hiring for, quite often it has been written by someone in the HR department without the input of those elsewhere in the business.

Candidates often feedback to us their frustration at roles that seem identical in nature – lacking any real insight into the business, the culture of the organisation, and more worryingly the expectations of the role itself. Put another way, they appear to follow a standardised template that doesn’t really tell a story to excite and engage potential candidates.

This can easily be overcome by involving the candidate’s future line manager, colleagues and of course those in HR itself. We find this approach is critical to the success of any job description and we both encourage and work with our clients in taking this approach. In doing so, they are able to maximise the impact of how the role is perceived in a way that resonates with the right people in the right way.

These suggestions are by no means a definitive list. However, they have been proven to dramatically improve the Hiring outcomes for employers. At a time when competition for great talent is at its highest, hiring managers need to pull out all the stops to ensure that they position themselves as employers of choice in order to fill those hard to fill positions. That is precisely what we have been doing for more than two decades and this has proven to be a key reason why the majority of our work is generated by a plethora of organisations who call upon us time and again to help resource their next business-critical roles.

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 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.

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