January 6, 2022
Talent shortages continue to confound all sectors of our economy and everyone is feeling the pinch in different ways. Employers are contending with competitive hiring while employees are feeling pressed to pick up the slack on their shorthanded teams. The myriad contributors to this drought range from demographic shifts to H1B VISA restrictions; hiring backlogs to the talent pool’s cultural and personal re-evaluation of their work/life balance.
I want to explore some of the strategies and tactics that have proven successful for our clients in our practice. Deploying any of these approaches can often help alleviate hiring challenges.
Once an organization reaches a certain size, hiring in-house recruiters becomes a necessity. In-house recruiters can come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from job posting & interview coordinators up to strategic growth and New Business resourcing executives. It’s important to understand your growth trajectory when hiring talent acquisition professionals. Assess a recruiter’s competencies against your growth plan; going slow and steady by hiring a coordinator might do. Rapid growth might require more of a talent acquisition (TA) strategist with proven knowledge of your competition space.
It’s important to note that in-house recruiting teams often feel significant pressure, with high expectations but limited resources. In rapid growth settings, hire a TA professional who has built a recruiting organization. You’ll need a leader who can develop their team and design an effective hiring system. Get them the resources they need to get the job done. Those resources aren’t always simply monetary - the most effective recruiting is always paired with committed hiring leadership across the organization.
Leaders on the Front Lines
Leaders who “get” TA understand they need to be the hook that attracts great talent to their teams. Putting yourself on the front lines of the interview process can help your TA team open doors that would otherwise remain closed. I’ve witnessed leaders doing this consistently over many years. When facing tight talent markets or pivotal growth periods, this involvement is even more crucial. Leaders who put themselves on the front lines of talent acquisition can be game changers, illustrating to candidates they are valued.
Prioritize Talent Acquisition Across the Organization
Your in-house team or third party recruiting firm just worked their magic and brought you a pool of exciting candidates on a critical hire. You have five of your most valuable employees tapped to interview the pool. You even brought in a consultant to help them hone their interviewing skills. The process drags on. Your interviewing team is busy managing clients and executing growth plans. Interviews get scheduled, rescheduled, cancelled, and eventually all those great candidates have accepted other positions or pulled out feeling like it was all a waste of time. Word leaks across the talent market that the company isn’t worth pursuing because of this.
In my experience, great employees often prioritize the non-hiring parts of their jobs over interviewing and hiring. The hiring process is perceived as an add-on to their responsibilities and perhaps left out on their job description when they applied. It’s an afterthought.
Making your company great at talent acquisition requires making it a priority for everyone involved in hiring and managing people. Hiring managers need to know it’s alright to carve the necessary time to get the best talent on their teams. Prioritizing TA comes from the top through policy and example. As a leader, don’t be the one that’s tough to schedule and interview. Lead by example, making interviewing and hiring a priority for you and the rest of your company.
Candidate experience (CX)
At first glance, a candidate’s experience might not feel like a big deal. However, the time between a person clicking the “apply” button to an accepted offer is absolutely crucial. Invariably, everyone has worked to make a great first impression at an interview to land that job they really want. Your hiring efforts should reflect the same commitment to a stellar first impression. The interview process should be coordinated and orchestrated so both sides get a solid understanding of what it would be like to work together. The process should give the candidate a realistic glimpse of the company, the position, what growth looks like, and how they succeed in the role.
Third Party Recruiting
Outside recruiting firms can be a solution to augment your internal TA team when things get tough or you absolutely need to get a role filled. There are two significantly different types of recruiting firms; contingency and retained. Contingency firms work on a no-win/no-fee basis. There are super solid contingency firms out there, but be aware: they all have to rank the projects they land and work only on the projects they think they can fill.
If you have a critical hire in a tough talent pool, you might want to consider a retained search approach. A financial commitment up front allows the retained search firm to deploy a robust process dedicated to your role. With client collaboration built into the process, retained firms close a significantly higher percentage of search projects. The commitment goes both ways - Retained recruiters can afford to be more focused on the task at hand, typically working 3-4 projects at a time versus a contingency recruiter’s average of 10-20 concurrent projects.
Make it Fun for Everyone
Hiring feels like an impossible task these days. If it feels like a burden, then it will likely come across as such. Whenever possible, keep optimism and positivity a key component of your endeavor. Lighten it up! Make it fun! Making solid, lasting positive impressions and relationships with every candidate you meet will have a ripple effect in your talent pool. Your employer brand will improve, your hiring team will enjoy interviewing, and you are more likely to land talented and engaged candidates.