After taking part in a recent roundtable virtual meetup event with NI businesses it was clear there is a huge fear for employers when it comes to attracting and, just as importantly, retaining the right talent. I thought it would be valuable to share some insight from a recruiter’s perspective to hopefully help startups, scaleups, and SME businesses in NI with their own recruitment pain points.
Perhaps with many years of managing countless recruitment processes end to end for clients, VANRATH know how to control the outcome, and so we replace fear with assurance. However, not every company can afford to use a specialist recruitment agency every time they recruit. And that’s perfectly understandable.
We work with businesses who need our help and value our input, and ultimately come back to us time and time again, knowing they have invested in a service that delivers results. Our objective is to demonstrate we are the experts in NI recruitment and it’s vital our customers are testament to that.
Some clients may trust only VANRATH with their entire process, some may choose to come to us only with critical hires, some may use a variety of sources, and some will do most recruitment directly internally. Regardless of the reason or method for recruiting there are common factors that need to be aligned to make it a success. As a specialist consultant, I felt it would be worthwhile to share a little insight into attracting and retaining the right talent for your business.
A quick thought provoker;
If you were to recruit a Sales, Marketing or any professional into your business, what percentage of working time would you invest into thinking through the process, implementing the process, hiring, and onboarding?
Think of the same scenario, but imagine you were hiring your friends and family, or your closest people you surround yourself with outside of your professional life, what percentage of your time would you invest into thinking through the process, implementing the process, hiring, and onboarding?
Do the two percentages above match? If not, why not?
You may think, that’s a crazy question, they’re two completely different things….Are they though? People often say – ‘You spend as much time with your colleagues as you do your family’ – and rightly so. While the world becomes more remote reliable that may not be highly accurate in a physical context for this exact moment in time (until some normality resumes), but it’s accurate in terms of one team of people dedicating a large portion of their life to be engaged in one objective.
When hiring staff your number one goal is to gain an employee who can go out into the world and live and breathe the same values your business does. Becoming a brand ambassador, protecting the interests of your business, and enhancing its positive interactions with the working world around it. Is that not similar to how families work? The point I’m getting to is that if you carefully nurture your personal network and personal relationships, why not carefully nurture your professional talent?
Why do candidates leave?
Speaking from my own experience with Sales & Marketing candidates I find that a large majority of them share the same reasons for leaving – engagement, glass ceiling, nothing more to achieve, lack of variety to their work and a sense of feeling that they can offer more.
A recruiter’s worst nightmare is working with a candidate who is purely in it for the money. I simply push back on a candidate and ask if offered more money right now to do their current job would they forget about searching for a new job. If there’s a hesitation before answering I know they could be wasting their own time, any potential employer’s time and my own time.
There will be other cases where reaching sales targets, or marketing objectives are met and aren’t incentivised well enough, and in these cases it’s understandable why a good candidate will want to leave, but ultimately most of the time people walk out the door because they’re not engaged in the vision of the business.
The secret formula…How to attract the right talent and how it doesn’t cost a penny!
Do people move for money or career aspirations? As mentioned already, some talent will move for money, but the right talent will move for the right career opportunity.
In our experience, we partner with companies who truly value their staff. Typically these businesses do a great job of clearly positioning their vision and values, which means attracting the right profile of candidate.
It’s costly to keep up with the latest trends – canteen luxuries, enhanced benefits, table tennis etc. These things are brilliant for staff morale and a great break away method, however, businesses will always compete in this arena. There will always be somebody bigger and better, offering bigger and better benefits.
Job satisfaction is the golden goose that candidates cry out for. If your employees’ personal values align with that of your business you don’t need to worry about gimmicks luring them away to competitors, or more ‘attractive’ employers. If a candidate can join a business and become a key player in that team they will feel fulfilled, closing off the risk of wandering out the door.
It isn’t all plane sailing, it’s important to ring fence your recruitment, onboarding, and personal development to retain staff.
Recruitment isn’t finished when your new employee walks in the door. It’s a 24/7/365 job.
Input = output. The work put into onboarding a candidate in months 1-6 could mean retaining them for years to come. If a new employee shares your business vision and values they are highly likely to dedicate their career to making that vision materialise, and become a strong brand ambassador in the process.
Attracting more of the right talent.
When you buy a product in-store or online you’re very quickly prompted to leave a review. Why is this? Because people buy from people. If your staff believe in your product/ service/ business they are likely to recommend to their friends, family, and most importantly their peers.
If you ask any recruiter what their main source of quality candidates is they would quickly tell you it’s referrals. Yes, advertising space digitally or traditionally is costly, but it won’t always attract the right talent from your targeted talent pool.
How much do referrals cost your business? Not a single penny. Great people bring great people along, if they believe in the vision and direction they’re headed. Recruitment shouldn’t be a race to 10,000 employees. It should always be quality over quantity. If you have 10 staff who live and breathe your vision and values they are more impactful than 50 staff who don’t. Their productivity will be higher, meaning the quality of work will be better. Steadily adding to a settled, stable workforce means new faces will embed better and not upset the culture of your business.
4 important pointers when recruiting;
Job Definition – Define the job properly – give structure to the majority of what you want the person to deliver. A large organisation will have lots of structure, however, a startup may mean wearing many hats, but if the employee knows they’re delivering on their core expectation, when asked to step into other shoes they look at this experience as upskilling themselves, rather than taking long term focus off their key expectation (delivering sales/ marketing strategy etc), then losing direction and feeling out of sync.
Put time into the recruitment process – you’re spending a large part of your life with these people. Just because a CV says they come from the right type of company/ industry that fits your business doesn’t mean this candidate will go to war for you. It’s important to understand their characteristics first. Put as much emphasis on this as you do with their background. They of course will need to be proven in what they do. Whether it be selling, marketing, accounting, personnel management etc. However, should there be as much emphasis put on coming from the same industry if they have a proven track record of delivering and their characteristics show the potential to learn your product? I feel smaller businesses who struggle with candidate attraction miss a trick here. Spend more time understanding the candidate than jumping to assumptions with what’s on a CV.
Process doesn’t end at offer acceptance - until the employee is inducted and integrated into the business (part of the furniture and bought into the main vision) they aren’t fully on board. The first few months of onboarding are super important, especially in the turbulent time we’re living in. You don’t need to dazzle employees with lots of incentives and rewards if they’re engaged in your vision and pulling in the same direction. However, it can be daunting coming into an environment where there isn’t clear signposting at every turn, so put yourself in your new employees’ shoes and strip it back to basics. Guide their thought process along to align with yours and that of the business.
Personal development – whatever way it’s outlined it’s super important to ensure an employee feels like they’re on a professional development journey. It doesn’t necessarily have to be world-changing objectives or a rigorous personal development plan document, but small, manageable goals along the way to achieving annual sales targets can give a sense of satisfaction and self-growth. Yes, arguably you can tie in financial rewards or incentives for achieving these, but the employee engagement comes mainly from a sense of achievement. A fun analogy for gamers from a few too many moons ago - Sonic the Hedgehog simply had to get from one side of the screen to the other, but along the way what kept things interesting was collecting gold rings and the odd shiny box. It took a whopping 100 rings to get an extra life, which was a lot of work for one small reward, but the point being it gave you (and Sonic!) a sense of satisfaction and achievement, so you never took your eye off the chance to get a few extra rings. The same can be said about personal development plans – achieving objectives, no matter how big or small, no matter if rewarded or not, will ensure an employee is engaged in their job, which in turn makes your company successful.
First steps in a recruitment process?
This has been a snapshot, but hopefully an insightful one for you and your business. If you would like consultative advice on how to go about recruiting the right talent for your business reach out to me and we can discuss confidentially.
I’ll give as honest an opinion as possible on what will help grow your business. If it’s outside the world of Sales & Marketing I’ll be happy to refer you to a colleague who specialises in the discipline you’re looking for.
VANRATH have expert consultants in the following areas in both temporary and permanent staffing solutions;
Sales & Marketing
Accountancy & Finance
Engineering & Manufacturing
To contact us you can reach the office on 02890 330250, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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